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Video gamer Scout has a golden touch

It was when Hillary Clinton launched her attack on video games that the seed was sown in Colleen Stone's mind for her Girl Scout gold award project.

Now, more than 90 hours after starting the project, the Math and Science Academy senior has been awarded a $1,000 gold award scholarship for her project, which tackled the issue of parent education on the subject of video game ratings.

"I guess it all started when Hillary Clinton started getting public about video games and video game violence," explained Stone. "It was just a blatant disregard for first amendment rights...

"That was a slippery slope that would easily have transferred to books and movies and newspapers, and that really disturbed me."

Rather than ban all violence or regulate the industry more harshly, Stone's project took the view that parents needed to be better educated about the ratings system, so they were more aware of what was appropriate for their kids.

"Parents had no idea what the ratings were, so they would buy a game for their child that they thought looked OK," said Stone.

"It turns out to be an M-rated game -- it's the 'Sopranos' of games, and you don't show the 'Sopranos' to a 10-year-old."

Stone decided to address this lack of knowledge in the form of a seminar, and sourced two speakers -- a manager from GameStop in Woodbury, and a representative of the National Institute on Media and the Family -- who gave their views on the challenges facing families and the video gaming industry and its watchdogs.

She also videoed the whole thing, editing it down into a 10-minute DVD interspersed with a voiceover and video game clips, explaining the different ratings to parents wishing to educate themselves on the subject.

Stone, who will be heading off to Johns Hopkins University in the fall and hopes eventually to work in the fields of video game design or robotics, has made 250 copies of the DVD which she is now sending out to a number of organizations.

She has also started her own website which features the DVD content, plus a monthly article aimed at informing parents on new developments in the video gaming world.

"I was worried this was just a pet peeve of mine, but deep down, it's a constitutional issue," said Stone.

"Some games can be so beautiful -- some of the games I put on, my mom will just stop and stare...

"That's why I think I did this. Video games are not evil."

To view Colleen Stone's 10-minute DVD explaining the ratings behind video games and exploring some of the issues surrounding games, log on to