ESA counters Hill & Knowlton's 'unprofessional and unethical' release of research


Just as various outlets are reporting about a survey by market research company Hill & Knowlton, which stated the 60% of parents would like to see government regulation of mature and violent video games, the Electronic Software Association has responded to the news with a statement to Joystiq. Actually, "statement" is a light way of putting it. The ESA, the industry lobbying group, has pimp-slapped Hill & Knowlton and called them out by saying their "decision to release these findings was both unprofessional and unethical and its timing is questionable."

In the full ESA statement (found after the break) they explain that the research was done for a proposal Hill & Knowlton made this summer to them, but only a portion of the information was released now. They say the research was done in an effort to win the ESA's business and the release today doesn't represent an accurate picture of the findings, which also included:
  • More than two-thirds of 18-34 year olds currently play video games.
  • Less than 1 in 5 Americans think playing video games is a negative way to spend time with friends and family.
  • More than half of families think that video games are a positive way to spend time together.
  • Educational video games are perceived to provide more learning than TV or DVDs.
Joystiq was also given the PowerPoint presentation created by Hill & Knowlton which shows the original full research and gives far more detail than the choice bits released today. The presentation can be found below in the gallery.

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Full statement by ESA to Joystiq:

Today, Hill & Knowlton released the findings of research it conducted on the American public's views about the computer and video game industry. According to the agency's findings, a majority of respondents believe that the government should regulate the sale of mature content video games.

We understand that parents have concerns about mature content getting into the hands of children and we are working to help make sure that does not happen. To achieve this important goal, the ESA strongly supports a variety of efforts aimed at educating parents and retailers and allowing them to control mature content. We support the ESRB, which is the nation's leading rating system working to educate and empower parents with game information. We have also worked within the industry to ensure that password protected, robust parental controls are included in all new video game consoles sold. In addition, we work with retailers to encourage the enforcement of policies that prohibit the sale of mature games to minors.

The research released today was conducted by Hill & Knowlton for a proposal the agency made to the ESA this summer, but only a portion of it was released publicly now. Hill & Knowlton's decision to release these findings was both unprofessional and unethical and its timing is questionable. The research was done this summer and only performed in an effort to help Hill & Knowlton win our business. In addition, the release of only part of the findings paints an inaccurate picture of the entertainment software industry. The other research conducted by agency but not released showed:

  • More than two-thirds of 18-34 year olds currently play video games;
  • Less than 1 in 5 Americans think playing video games is a negative way to spend time with friends and family;
  • More than half of families think that video games are a positive way to spend time together;
  • Educational video games are perceived to provide more learning than TV or DVDs.

Thank you.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.