CHICAGO – Electronics retailer Circuit City plans to stop selling mature-rated video games to customers under age 17, joining a growing list of companies that have instituted such policies under pressure from politicians.
The new policy was outlined in a letter this week to Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan and confirmed Wednesday by Circuit City spokesman Jim Babb.
"We just felt that this was the right thing to do," Babb said. "We still believe that parents are absolutely the primary authority on what their children should see or play. This policy is a reinforcement of that philosophy."
Starting next month, workers at Circuit City's 627 stores will be advised to ask for identification from young people who attempt to buy "M"-rated video games without a parent along, Babb said. The policy also applies to R-rated movies and music CDs with parental advisory warnings sold by the Richmond, Va.-based company.
Ryan and several U.S. senators have led a charge against the sale of graphically violent video games to children. They contend that participating in such realistic depictions of killing can desensitize young people to violence.
"The attorney general is gratified that Circuit City is joining other giant retailers in the quest to lower the level of violence engulfing our children," Ryan spokesman Dan Curry said.
Target, Kmart and Wal-Mart announced similar policies last year. Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Co. had earlier agreed to stop selling the games altogether.
The Federal Trade Commission has been monitoring the video-game, movie and music industries since finding last year that they advertised products with violence and vulgar language to minors. An FTC report last month found improvement among video-game promoters but said they still marketed adult games in teen magazines.