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Get Smarty – Microsoft unveils family gaming initiative
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Get Smarty – Microsoft unveils family gaming initiative

by Andrew BryantJanuary 14, 2009

Photomanip courtesy of SmokinBaldMonkey (whoever you are!)Microsoft really are doing their damnedness to shift their Evil Megolamanic Empire image.  First they release a Beta for one of their Operating Systems that is both a) relatively bug free and b) actually quite damn good.  Now they’re pioneering another gaming initiative.

Granted, Microsoft’s initiatives are often like Sony’s proprietary format grabs – fraught with danger for consumers, designed to maximise profits whilst essentially achieving nothing and often failing dramatically – Betamax, Microsoft BOB, Minidisc, Games for Windows: Live, UMDs…  All abject failures!  Blu-Ray would be on that list had they not had a built-in audience in the Playstation crowd.

Still, in this litigious dangerous buck-passing world, a little big of common sense goes a long way if it actually hits home and the new GetGameSmart initiative from Microsoft seems to be designed to educate parents & families on the pros and cons of the gaming industry.

A soundbite from the press release (read more for the full skinny)…

It means developing healthy habits when it comes to playing video games, watching TV and surfing the Web. It’s also about understanding online safety, setting screen time limits and making rules about what’s OK and what’s off limits. Take the Get Game Smart Family Challenge and we’ll help you create a fun, balanced media environment in your home.

Whether this will go any way to solving the whole ratings issue, so prevelant in the industry as of late, will yet too be seen.  Granted, nothing is going to stop snotty kids with ADD from convincing a parent to buy them GTA IV if neither the parent nor the store selling it cares.

In ironic news –

The goon who shot his parents because they took away his Halo 3 got a murder sentence handed down on him today.

Microsoft Encourages Families to Get Game Smart

Safety education campaign helps families manage video gaming and media use; company starts nationwide search for parents and teens to serve as gaming safety ambassadors.

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — With 65 percent of American households playing computer or video games,(1) it is more important than ever for parents and caregivers to be aware of — and have access to — resources and tools to manage their children’s digital media use. This is why Microsoft Corp., along with the nation’s most prominent children’s media advocates and consumer electronics retailer Best Buy(R), is encouraging families to Get Game Smart with a first-of-its-kind approach to educating and engaging American families. Get Game Smart is a new public service campaign designed to help parents and kids maintain a dialogue about balanced and age-appropriate media use and, more specifically, video gaming on the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system and Windows-based PC in their homes.

Get Game Smart gives families resources and incentives to put media use rules and guidelines into effect at home. Families are encouraged to participate in a variety of fun and engaging online and offline activities to help ensure they are using media in ways that are healthy, balanced and appropriate. There is even an opportunity for teens and their parents to become Get Game Smart Ambassadors, where they will actively inspire other families to make safer gaming choices.

“I’m a dad, and I know how important it is for parents to get involved with their children’s video gaming and media experiences, not to mention feel equipped to make sure those experiences are as fun and safe as possible,” said Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment & Devices Division at Microsoft. “Get Game Smart demonstrates Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to this effort and complements the award-winning Family Settings tools we built into our products like Xbox 360 and Windows Vista. These offerings allow families to get the most enjoyment out of today’s digital entertainment.”

The new campaign Web site,, brings the most current information about parental controls tools, expert tips and resources together online. At, parents and caregivers can find all the information they need to say “yes” to what their kids enjoy, ensuring they use appropriate media safely. An expert blog on the Web site will tackle current issues such as reducing family friction when it comes to video games, and will inform parents of trends so they are ahead of the curve when it comes to video gaming and online safety.

As part of the Get Game Smart campaign, Microsoft is also conducting a search for parents and teens to serve as Get Game Smart Ambassadors — new messengers who will help educate their peers on making smart video gaming and media choices. Starting today, parents are invited to team up with one of their teens and participate in the nationwide search by submitting a brief video that spotlights their family’s approach to a responsible digital lifestyle, including rules related to video gaming.

Video contest finalists will be selected by a panel of judges that includes Mike Gallagher, president of the Entertainment Software Association; Wendy Smolen, toy expert, co-founder of Sandbox Summit LLC, and editorial director of Toy Wishes Magazine; Parry Aftab, founder of and child safety advocate; Casi, teen cybersafety expert as a WiredSafety “Teenangel”; and fellow “Teenangel” Victoria Justice, who also stars in “Zoey 101” and Nickelodeon’s upcoming movie “Spectacular!”

Contest winners will ultimately be chosen via popular vote at and will receive prizes including an Xbox 360 entertainment system, a suite of Xbox 360 family-friendly games, Zune digital media players, Insignia(R) 7-megapixel digital cameras and cash. Winners will also become Get Game Smart Ambassadors and join Microsoft and other influential voices in a new forum for maintaining a dialogue about gaming safety.

“We are thrilled that Microsoft is taking the lead here. This is a meaningful and fun campaign to get families to enjoy technology together and help them make smart decisions about balanced use of online media and video games,” said Parry Aftab, a leading expert in children’s online safety and Get Game Smart Campaign partner. “The campaign reaches parents and their children in fun, effective and creative ways.”

Another component of the campaign is the Get Game Smart Family Challenge Sweepstakes. Families can enter by completing various activities related to smart video gaming and media use. One grand-prize winner will receive a $5,000 Best Buy gift card and 100 winners will receive Best Buy gift cards for amounts worth up to $250.

Microsoft’s partners in this public service effort include Best Buy, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Entertainment Software Association, Entertainment Software Rating Board, GetNetWise, iSAFE Inc., National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, National Institute on Media and the Family, National Urban League, NetSmartz Workshop, Parents’ Choice Foundation,, Web Wise Kids, What They Play and

More information about the Get Game Smart Video Contest and Family Challenge Sweepstakes, including Official Rules, can be found at

About Xbox 360

Xbox 360 is a premier video game and entertainment system. It is home to the best and broadest games plus more standard and high-definition movies and TV shows on demand than any other device connected to the TV. The digital center of the living room, Xbox 360 blends unbeatable content, including personal pictures and music, with a unified online social network to create a limitless entertainment experience that can be shared at home or across the globe. More information can be found online at

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

(1) Entertainment Software Association 2008 Industry Facts

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About The Author
Andrew Bryant
The resident PC elitist fanatic enthusiast, Andrew’s grim outlook on the industry provides CNS with a hefty dollop of its news content. Oh, and he has managed to convince Barry to let him review stuff too! Hilarity ensues!

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