Video Games can be good for children


As reported on the TVNZ website, a study by the University of Auckland has been looking into how sustained use of games which have an active element, like dance mats or motion sensors, can be good for overweight children.

More than 300 children took part in study and results showed a positive effect on the body mass index of the active gamers aged between 10 and 14, compared to the control group of children who were not regularly playing the games.  Whilst the effects were small, it did show that gaming could certainly play a role in helping children stay active, and be used to develop rehab programs.  To read more, click here


Final Analysis Shows Huge Support For R18+ Computer Game Rating


The Federal Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Brendan O’Connor has released the final analysis of feedback from the public on introducing an R18+ classification for video games. The final report will be tabled at this Friday’s (December 10) meeting of Classification Ministers and will help inform their decision making. More than 58,400 people responded to the call for submissions on the proposed new adult only category.

Of those that responded, 98.4% voiced support for an R18+ computer game classification.

To see the official release and comments, click here

Parents Master the Controls: Games Industry Launches Video Series


Sydney, 8 December 2010 – The Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (iGEA) has today released a series of ‘How to set-up Parental Controls’ videos to help parents manage healthy video gaming habits for their children.

The videos, hosted by iGEA ambassador and sports presenter Stephanie Brantz and Auckland journalist Kate Palmer, both of whom have three children, provide step-by-step instructions to show parents how to activate parental control features on popular gaming consoles, including the Sony Playstation, Microsoft XBOX, Nintendo Wii and a PC.

According to Brantz, who is also a mother of three, using the parental control features gives her the confidence that her children are playing age appropriate games for a right amount of time.  (more…)

Government poll supports an R18+ classification


In December 2010 Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, released the results of a national telephone poll conducted by independent research company Galaxy research which found 80% support for the introduction of an R 18+ classification for computer games.

The poll covered 2,226 respondents aged 16 years and over from all Australian States and Territories.

The poll asked participants to indicate how strongly they agreed or disagreed with a number of statements relevant to an R 18+ classification, then answer the question ‘Should there be an R 18+ classification category for computer games in Australia?’ These poll questions are included in the report which is available for download.

A wide range of demographics were covered, including; age, gender, capital cities (versus elsewhere), work status, marital status, household income, children under 18 years in the household and level of education (below year 12 and year 12+). Age, gender and location demographics were weighted to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.

Download the telephone poll results:

Stephanie Brantz asks ‘How Much of a Good Thing is too Much?’


When it comes to kids and gaming – opinion varies widely.

In one camp are those who believe computer games and television are the root of all evil, while at the other end of the spectrum are those who use and abuse the ‘technology babysitting’ services (whether it be computer, gaming consoles, televisions or DVDs) on a regular basis.


Stephanie Brantz writes about her gaming experience as a parent


Can you remember your first video game? Mine was Space Invaders played on the basic ATARI console. My second?  Donkey Kong – groundbreaking!   This was of course some time ago….my kids haven’t even heard of Donkey Kong.

Gaming has come a long way since the early 80s. The technology has become exceptionally sophisticated, and now has some pretty amazing real life qualities. Whether its sports, action or kid’s games, video games today can be pretty immersive and the days of pixels bouncing across the screen like in my adolescence are well and truly gone.

It was my eldest son who introduced me to the wonders (and dangers) of the life-like atmosphere on offer for modern day gamers.

He too has come a long way. First children often develop well before you are prepared.  A decade ago, I thought he was still in the land of the Teletubbies where my greatest fear was that he would lose his command of the English language.  Not so, wacky cartoons where the enemy was regularly and brutally slain were the order of the day. At this stage he had a toddler brother and a sister on the way and I freely admit, I had become busy and taken my eye off the ball.  These days, I’ve found even more diligence is required.  (more…)

Close Up – Video Game Stereotypes are being re-created


Tuesday 13 July 2010, the program Close Up on TVNZ featured a story about the revolution about to take place in the gaming industry.  To watch the story, click here

Peter Beattie adds support to the R18+ debate


The former Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie, has written an Opinion piece for the Australian lending support to the R18+ debate.  Peter has recognised the contribution that games make to the Australian economy and entertainment in general and suggests it’s time to make an R18+ rating a reality.  To read this piece, click here

Kotaku features a great story about protecting children when gaming online


Brian Crecente over at has written a great article on how to protect, not isolate your children when they want to play games online.  There are even some pretty good instructions to ensure parental controls are set and recommendations as to how to monitor your children when they want to move into this arena.

To read the article, click here

The Byron Progress Report 2010


In 2007, Professor Tanya Byron was asked by the Prime Minister of the UK to conduct an independent review looking at the risk to children from exposure to potentially harmful or in appropriate material on the internet and in video games.  The Byron Report was released in 2008.

Professor Byron has since began her progress review and on 29 March 2010 published Do we have safer children in a digital world? A review of progress since the 2008 Byron Review

Stephanie Brantz appointed as Ambassador for iGEA


 Stephanie Brantz appointed video and computer games ambassador

She might be able to keep Lucas Neill on his feet against the Italians when playing FIFA World Cup on her Xbox, but the recently appointed ambassador for the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA) still thinks leaning to one side prevents her ball from entering the gutter when playing Tenpin Bowling on Wii Sports.

Sports reporter, Stephanie Brantz is the first ambassador appointed by the iGEA, an industry body representing Australian companies that publish, market and distribute video and computer games.


Safer Internet Day 2010: Think before you post



Safer Internet Day is an annual international event which aims to raise awareness about the safe and responsible use of new technologies—especially among children and young people. Organised by Insafe, the European internet safety network, Safer Internet Day will take place on Tuesday 9 February 2010.

This year’s theme is ‘Think before you post’.

In 2009, Safer Internet Day was celebrated through 500 events in 50 countries all over the world.

Safer Internet Day activities are co-ordinated in Australia by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA). Australia has participated in Safer Internet Day celebrations since 2004, when the event was launched internationally by the European internet safety network, InSafe.

‘Think before you post’ is an important topic for young people as the risks are both personal and can have an impact on others.

The ACMA, through its national cybersafety education program, Cybersmart, will mark the day with a series of internet safety events and activities. These include:

  • a Cybersmart Detectives activity involving schools across Australia
  • Launching cybersafety-themed videos produced by children and young people on the Cybersmart website
  • A ‘Hot Seat’ in children’s networking website SuperClubsPLUS Australia for upper primary and lower secondary school students
  • A mailout to all Australian local councils and public libraries with Safer Internet Day posters and other cybersafety materials.

A broad network of partners supports Safer Internet Day across Australia.

Think before you post

‘Think before you post’ is an important internet safety message for children and young people. It applies to both their use of the internet and mobile phones. A simple technique of stopping to think about the consequences before sending or posting online may help to reduce the negative experiences online.

The Cybersmart website provides easy-to-recall tips which detail some of the most important points. These include:

  • Think before you hit send or post. Once something is posted, it can be online forever.
  • Don’t post anything you don’t want others to know—or that you wouldn’t say to them face to face. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
  • Remember that private images and videos you send or post on a social networking site may be easily passed on to others and uploaded to public sites. Once they’re up, it’s almost impossible to remove them completely.
  • Respect other people’s content and be aware that if you post or share their content it might breach copyright laws. For example, a photo that your friend took is their property, not yours. You can only post it online if you have their permission.
  • Keep your personal information private. Don’t share personal details like your name, address or school with people you don’t already know in real life.
  • If you plan to send private information to anyone using your mobile phone, talk to a trusted adult before you send. Be cautious.

For more information, visit


The ACMA’s Cybersmart program

The ACMA provides comprehensive cybersafety initiatives and education programs as part of the Australian Government’s cybersafety policy. The ACMA’s program, Cybersmart, includes undertaking targeted information and awareness-raising campaigns, activities and programs, developing cybersafety education materials for use in schools and at home, and researching current trends in cybersafety.

The Cybersmart program includes:

  • The Cybersmart website This website provides a comprehensive, one stop shop for cybersafety information aimed at young people, parents and teachers.
  • Cybersmart Online Helpline service—provided by Kids Helpline, this service offers free, confidential online counselling to young people who have encountered negative experiences online. The Cybersmart Online Helpline is accessed through the Cybersmart website.
  • Targeted information and awareness-raising campaigns and activities, such as Safer Internet Day and participating in National Child Protection Week.
  • Developing cybersafety education materials for use in schools and at home. These programs are designed for children from 5 to 15 years and include Hector’s World™, CyberQuoll, CyberNetrix, Cybersmart Detectives and Wise up to IT.
  • The Cybersafety Outreach program of Professional Development for Educators and general internet safety awareness presentations for parents, teachers and children.
  • Researching current trends in cybersafety and young people’s use of online media.
  • The Cybersafety Contact Centre offering callers information and advice about internet safety issues and concerns. Telephone 1800 880 176.
  • A complaints hotline for members of the public to report offensive internet material. Visit:

Retro Gaming Weekend at the Powerhouse Museum


The Powerhouse Museum is letting you relive the golden age of video gaming during a packed weekend of retro gaming, 29-31 January 2010. Play 80’s arcade games, learn about game creation and design and a whole bunch more.

Full details can be found on their website here.

Parents all thumbs when it comes to gaming controls


Parental controls on gaming devices overlooked by parents

Despite the importance of age-appropriate material for children and ensuring the balance between playing video games and other forms of recreation, many Australian parents are unaware of the parental controls built into popular console gaming devices.

A Newspoll study of over 500 parents* revealed that just 26 per cent were aware of the controls within most  consoles to help manage the amount of time their children spent playing games, and a further 49 per cent of parents were not aware of classification locks.

Commissioned by the industry body, the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (iGEA), the survey found that when parents were given the choice of using classification and time settings and notifications, 79 per cent would versus 21 per cent who would not use the controls.

According to Ron Curry CEO of the iGEA, the study was commissioned to better understand awareness of the tools amongst parents.

“Interactive gaming is played by young children, teens, Mums and Dads and as a popular family past-time, we want to equip parents will the tools to ensure their children enjoy the best gaming experience.

All of the popular games platforms have built in controls to help parents ensure that the children are playing games that are suitable for their age. The majority of platforms also have specific tools to help parents manage the amount of time their children spend playing games. .”

“Up to 88 per cent of Australian homes* have at least one device for playing video and computer games and we are urging parents to be aware of the settings that can help families ensure healthy gaming habits,” said Curry.

Of the 21 percent who wouldn’t use any parental controls; 38 per cent weren’t concerned about the length of time their child played for, 34 percent weren’t concerned about the type of games played and 22 percent believed their child could override the parental lock.

Well known adolescent psychologist, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg believes young people need a moral compass and urged parents to take a greater interest in their family’s video gaming habits and to use interactive entertainment to help bring families together.

“In a few quick steps, parents can create password-protected profiles for each family member that help balance time spent on gaming and other activities and ensure their children only access age appropriate content,” Dr Carr-Gregg said.

Stephanie Brantz, Channel Nine sports reporter and mother of three enthusiastic gamers, believes the best strategy is to get involved and take on the kids.

“Being a competitive person at heart, I’ve had some enthralling battles racing cars and playing tennis, especially with my eldest son who’s built up amazing dexterity from gaming.  Initially, I stood on the sidelines while they played but now it has become a popular family activity and you relate to kids on their level,” Stephanie said.

Through parental control settings on gaming devices, Stephanie sets a daily play limit of one hour per day for each child and closely monitors what games are played.

“Gaming in our house is on par with watching TV and similar to other interactive entertainment, all kids need a healthy balance between spending time with family and friends, outdoor activities and playing video games,” she said.

Confirming gaming’s status as a mainstream family activity, the Newspoll revealed 69 per cent of parents either regularly or occasionally play video and computer games with their children – Dads proving to be the biggest fans – 81 per cent participating compared to 59 per cent of Mums.

“Interactive games are played by all generations across the entire household and publishers continue to produce quality games to meet the demand.  Family games are the best selling genre and 67 per cent of all games sold last year were G or PG rated titles,” Curry said.

Other interesting statistics from the research included:

  • Of the parents surveyed, males had a higher awareness of both parental control functions (66%) compared to females (40%).
  • 54% of parents said the parental lock functions would mean there would be fewer arguments about video game usage in the household
  • 85% of parents said the parental lock functions would provide a safeguard to prevent their child from playing games with inappropriate content
  • 73% of parents said the parental lock functions would help establish a routine around playing video games

–       Ends –

*IA9 is based on a national random sample of 1,614 households in which as many adults responded to more than 75 questions providing over 300 data points in a 20-minute online survey. The survey was fielded by Nielsen Research in July 2008.

* Newspoll research was conducted nationally involving 535 adults with dependent children aged up to 17 in the household.  The research was conducted over the period 12 – 15 of November 2009.


iGEA CEO Responds to Atkinson’s Form Letter on R18+


I’ve been pondering over whether to reply to South Australia’s Attorney-General Michael Atkinson’s form letter on the R18+ classification for computer and video games.  What’s been stopping me is that to do so requires an enormous amount of effort (which is fine), frustration and also a great deal of patience for reasons indicated below.

To reply in some glib way wouldn’t do any justice to the debate and a superficial response would offer little constructive input.  However, the debate is important and one that has been largely hijacked by Atkinson whose invective, in my view, is full of moral panic, misinformation and factual inaccuracies.

So, at the outset I warn you about the length of this analysis of Atkinson’s letter. I also resign myself to the fact that only the ‘converted’ will probably take the time to read it in its entirety.  For ease I have included extracts of Atkinson’s letter, which I hope will give context to his argument.  I will leave selective paraphrasing to the political experts.


Futurelab Gaming in Families Research: Parents’ & childrens’ views on and experiences of gaming


Ipsos MORI recently conducted research on behalf of Futurelab consisting of two surveys – one with parents of children under 16 and one with children aged 5-15, with the key objective of examining their views on and experiences of video/computer gaming.

A full copy of the research findings can be downloaded here.

Nintendo CSR Report 2008


To read Nintendo’s Corporate Social Responsibilty Report Click Here

X360 Family Timer Fact Sheet



A new addition to the Xbox 360 Family Settings called the Family Timer.


The feature is available on new game discs purchased at retail stores and is available as a software download via Xbox LIVE for owners of older consoles.

 Product Overview:           

Xbox 360 added the Family Timer to its existing set of industry-leading parental control features intended to help make the Xbox 360 experience safer and more secure for the whole family.  

The Family Timer enables parents to set the amount of time their Xbox 360 can be used by members of their household by day or by week. For example, if a parent has allowed their child to play the Xbox 360 for two hours a day, they can set the console to allow for only two hours of play a day. After those two hours expire, the child will not be able to use the console again within that 24-hour period, unless additional time is granted by the parent.


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