Turn on your console, put in your 18+ game, go online and you will find the majority of gamers are clearly underage or a certain part of their anatomy hasn’t dropped yet. Children playing adult rated games are prolific, Call of Duty is the school boys choice and any game seems accessible to them. Should we be concerned that our children are virtually splattering the guts of zombies? Or popping headshots in to civilians on Grand Theft Auto? Maybe.
So I go to a lot of midnight launches, mainly because I like to converse with gamers and get involved in the excitement of a killer new game launch. Whilst there I notice everytime, without fail, a line of dads and mums buying the game for their child, usually with their child on their arm. So retailers know they are buying for their child but obviously can do very little. Is this irresponsible parenting? Do they know exactly what their child is playing and getting exposed to? Obviously, they must know the game is graphic in some way. They know it won’t be like Barbies Horse Adventures, all innocent and pure, so obviously games are not seen as that big of a deal regardless of their content.
There seems to be a lenience towards games we don’t see with other forms of media. I wonder if the same parents would let them watch an 18 rated movie or whether games are seen as just a bit of fun. You will find some games have a lot more consistent violence than any movie they could watch but because it’s all virtual it must mean it’s ok to them. I’m not saying that playing a video game will turn your child in to an axe murderer or make them want to re-enact the violence they see in a game but how old is old enough to be responsible? Watch the below video, it shows a 5 year old boy playing Call of Duty and getting visibly angry and frustrated.
So, what on earth is the point in giving games age ratings in the first place? These guidelines are obviously being ignored by parents and children alike. I would go as far as to say they are marketed at younger teens, the guys who are ‘Youtube famous’ for gameplay videos are usually under 18 and the fans who emulate them are of a similar age. At the grand old age of 26 I feel old playing games, in fact I often get commented on for being old whilst online. Since when was 26 old? I guess I’m just a lot older than the demographic who play online games these days.
We shouldn’t scrap the whole age rating system but changes need to be made. I remember Xbox Live when it first started required a credit card but that will never be implemented again because of the huge amounts of money teenagers generate. Maybe parents need to be more responsible or the age on these games needs to be lowered. The industry contradicts itself by slapping an 18 tag on a game but markets the game and associated accessories at a much younger audience. As a parent myself I anticipate my children to play video games when they’re old enough. As an adult it should be my responsibility to play through the game and to at least know what is being put in front of my child. Maybe this is what is going on already and the Video Standards Council are being too harsh.
Any thoughts guys?