Digital Drinks

Beer Pong controversy


Designers at JV Games modeled Beer Pong, a video game for the Wii, after a drinking game in which players attempt to throw ping-pong balls across a table into half-full cups of beer. Although there's no alcohol involved in the electronic version of the game (computers aren't that advanced yet), Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal nonetheless pressured JV Games to rename the game Pong Toss and to replace its pixelated cups of beer with pixelated cups of water.

The beer version had been rated "T" by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, meaning it's appropriate for players 13 or older. (The new version is rated "E" for "Everyone.") Blumenthal called the original rating "absolutely inappropriate," telling Fox News the game "obviously glorifies and promotes the use of alcohol. The name of the game plus the depiction and reference to alcohol, in my view, very much really promoted drinking, possibly binge drinking."

JV Games' concession follows a general crackdown on drinking games at several universities, which are encouraging students to use water instead of beer. But even that may not be enough. Dartmouth College recently banned water pong, which Dartmouth Community Director Kristin Deal told Time "can be just as dangerous, if not more so," than beer pong, given the possibility of water intoxication.