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Kmart to card buyers of violent video games

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Executives of retail giant Kmart are expected to announce Thursday a new policy requiring proof of age for the purchase of violent video and computer games.

Kmart officials are to lay out their new policy at a Capitol Hill press conference, accompanied by senators who requested the retailer step up efforts to prevent children from buying violent video games at the store's more than 2,000 outlets nationwide.

"While manufacturers have put ratings on the games, we think education has to occur with the retailer too," said Dale Atley, Kmart's Vice President for Public Policy.

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Kmart will ask for proof of age to make sure no one underage is purchasing any video games with an "M" or "Mature" rating, which the industry intends for those 17 and older. Officials said "M" rated games constitute about three percent of Kmart's video game sales, but will not disclose the profits from or exact volume of those sales.

There are six video games ratings voluntarily set by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), which was created by the industry itself. "EC" for early childhood, "E" for 6 and older, "T" for thirteen and older, "M" for 17 and older, "AO" for adult only and "RP" for rating pending. Kmart does not sell video games with an "AO" rating.

Atley said it will take a few weeks to get the registers and computers set up to identify all "M" rated video games and to have signs made and displayed in the video game section to explain the store's new policy.

Kmart also intends to use its Sunday circular, which a spokesman says reaches 72 million homes, to better educate the public on the ratings system.

"It's the self-regulation that everyone was hoping for, so it's not done for us," said Kmart spokesman Frank Buscemi.

He said Kmart's goal is the have the system up in full force for the holiday season.

Nine senators, including Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, wrote to a number of retailers like Kmart, Target and Toys-R-Us in June, asking them "to stop selling ultraviolent, adult-rated video and computer games to children."

According to a spokesman for Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, Kmart was the first to respond.

Kmart officially will also hold a press conference in Chicago Thursday with Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan, who has declared it a top priority to end the sale of violent video games to children.

Prompted by Ryan, Sears and Wards, two major retailers decided to stop carrying "M" rated video games.



RELATED STORIES:
Senator Decries Violent Video Games
November 25, 1997
MPAA ratings system gets 'F' from critics, filmmakers
August 23, 1999
IT companies propose Net rating system
May 17, 1999
FCC clears way for TV v-chips
March 12, 1998

RELATED SITES:
Kmart
Entertainment Software Rating Board


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