electronics

Microsoft, Best Buy Launch 'Game Smart' Campaign

Video games are now an essential part of American family life. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 65% of American households play console or computer-based video games. And with this increased prevalence are increasing concerns--and possibly disagreements--about what would be a "healthy" amount of gaming for kids.

To help address those concerns, Microsoft--in concert with parent advocacy groups and Best Buy--has launched a public service campaign to help parents and kids determine what is age-appropriate when it comes to digital media, particularly the Xbox 360 and Windows-based PCs. The initiative, "Get Game Smart," involves an extensive Web site designed to help families understand how to use digital media in healthy, balanced and appropriate ways.

The site, www.getgamesmart.com, includes updated information about parental controls and ratings, as well as tips such as a gaming pact that both parents and children sign regarding gaming, online and general media behavior. The site also includes an expert Q&A section, and a blog offering advice about how to reduce family friction when it comes to video games and media activity.

"Get Game Smart is unique because it combines a variety of activities that both educate and engage families," says Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, in a Q&A on the company's Web site. "It's designed to help families establish a dialogue around video game safety and screen time in their homes."

In addition, the company has launched a search for parents and teens to become Get Game Smart ambassadors, charged with educating their peers about responsible gaming choices. Interested parents and teens submit a video highlighting their family's approach to digital gaming, such as their rules and rewards. The videos will be reviewed by a panel of celebrities and experts for finalists, who will be chosen by popular vote.

The Web site also includes a sweepstakes, which families can enter by completing various "smart gaming" activities and media use. Winners will receive Best Buy gift cards.

Microsoft is promoting the initiative through buttons on its Xbox360 Web site and through an outreach to influential parenting and gaming blogs and various social networking sites, according to a company representative.

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