Q&A: Microsoft Encourages Families to Get Game Smart

REDMOND, Wash. – Jan. 14, 2008 – Microsoft is teaming with the nation’s most prominent children’s media advocates to launch a new public service campaign called Get Game Smart. The program takes a first-of-its-kind approach to educating and engaging American families in an effort to help parents and children establish a dialogue around media use, including video gaming, in their homes.

Microsoft’s president of the Entertainment & Devices division, Robbie Bach is committed to the issues surrounding video gaming safety. Two years ago, Bach inspired the launch of the first parent education campaign by a video game console manufacturer.

PressPass spoke with Bach about Microsoft’s continued commitment to media safety and how Get Game Smart will further increase awareness among families.

PressPass: What is
Get Game Smart
all about?

Get Game Smart is part of our effort to give parents the tools and information they need to help manage their children’s media use. The campaign offers a variety of components designed to help parents and kids of all ages address media use and video gaming in their households. The main components include a new Web site at www.GetGameSmart.com, a fun Get Game Smart Family Challenge Sweepstakes and a nationwide video contest to identify Microsoft’s new Get Game Smart Ambassadors, who can educate their peers about safe gaming choices and really inspire other families to talk about appropriate media use.

PressPass: How does this new approach fit into Microsoft’s efforts around gaming safety to date?

Bach: This is an area we’ve been passionately committed to since the first Xbox launched in 2001. We know how much fun kids can have in the digital age. At the same time we also know parents have legitimate concerns when it comes to their children’s video gaming and online activity. To complement the Family Settings tools we’ve built into our products, we launched an initiative two years ago that proactively educates parents on the tools and technology that can help them manage the family’s gaming activity at home. Now, we’re taking this initiative even further with the launch of Get Game Smart.

Get Game Smart is unique because it combines a variety of activities that both educate and engage families. It’s designed to help families establish a dialogue around video game safety and screen time in their homes. We’ve strengthened this effort with the help of more than a dozen partners who are supporting the program in a variety of ways, including prize donations, Web site content contributions and as video contest judges. I think this is a testament to the progress and collaboration we’re seeing within the industry.

PressPass: What will families find at



Bach: GetGameSmart.com is a new web resource where families can find valuable information to help them make educated decisions about balancing media use and video gaming. The site also offers a variety of fun activities as part of the Get Game Smart Family Challenge Sweepstakes to inspire families to take those important yet simple steps that will help ensure they’re enjoying digital media in appropriate ways. Best Buy, one of our longstanding campaign partners, is supporting the program and providing gift cards as prizes to help motivate families to participate in this program.

In addition to the prizing opportunities, GetGameSmart.com provides parents with up-to-date reports on video gaming, guides for using parental controls and tips from our partners and other experts in the field. There’s also an online forum where parents can ask questions about the challenges they face on topics like age-appropriate video games, screen time and understanding new trends like social networks.

Robbie Bach, President, Entertainment & Devices, Microsoft

PressPass: What are the
Get Game Smart
Ambassadors and how will they be chosen?

Bach: Starting today, we’re searching for a group of passionate parents and teens to become our new Get Game Smart Ambassadors. We want these Ambassadors to collaborate with Microsoft and provide real-life insight into the concerns that parents and teens have today around the use of digital media and entertainment. They will be new messengers helping to educate their peers on this important information.

In order to identify our Ambassadors, we’re conducting a nationwide video contest for parents and their teens. We want parent-teen teams to share their perspective on addressing screen time issues at home with a video. The videos will be evaluated by a panel of judges who will select finalists for a popular vote on GetGameSmart.com. We’ve recruited some great judges like Mike Gallagher, president of the ESA and Parry Aftab, who founded WiredSafety.org.

PressPass: Can you tell us more about the
Get Game Smart
Video Contest?

Bach: Absolutely. Starting today through March 6, we’re inviting teams of one parent and one teen to create a short, original video that’s fun, informative and stresses the importance of establishing rules about video gaming and media use.

Parents and teens can find more info on the Get Game Smart Ambassadors, along with contest rules and prizes at our Web site – GetGameSmart.com.

PressPass: Do you have guidelines to balance digital media intake in your household?

Bach: In our house, we strongly believe that a balance between media use and other activities is necessary and we’ve established rules for our family to make sure our kids are spending quality time on their school work and being active. Though our kids love their games and we want them to have fun, we also want them to find entertainment in a variety of ways – whether it’s sports, music or playing outside with friends. Diversity and balance are key.