Had a very interesting night tonight on Twitter. I noticed a woman say she had bought her kids Bulletstorm (a really fun but uber-violent First-Person Shooter).
I asked what age her children were and she said 10 and 13 years old. This made me take a step back. I was actually stunned. A 10-year old playing Bulletstorm!! Madness. I have a massive list of games that I wouldn’t let a 10 year old play and that is one of them…there is a blurry line as to what age I would let kids play that game but 10 just seems to be a tad too young.
I’m not judging the mother here. Maybe she believes that her kids are sensible and stable and can handle playing that kind of game. She probably knows them better than anyone and she even said she knows her kids ‘know it’s only a game’ but what happens when they go to school and tell their friends.
Those other kids will want to play it. They will want to get their hands on it. Or they will want to head to their mates house to play it.
And this is where i have the problem I guess. We have ratings for a reason. Many of us in Australia have been fighting for an R18 rating to ensure that certain games are seen by certain audiences. It’s for a reason. Across the globe there are a lot of games that have an 18 rating because the content is deemed unacceptable to 10 year olds in the eyes of most gamers.
I have grown up playing games. I play Pong back in the 70s and I have played every single GTA game. I played Modern Warfare for hours and hours (not Black Ops though that was a bit shit). Hell I even played Leisure Suit Larry when I was 16 and was baffled as to what a profalactic was but I believe that we have rating systems for a reason.
Yes they are a guideline
Yes they are an option.
But if a storeowner sells a 10 year a copy of an 18 game in Britain or an NC-17 game in the US (I think that’s the rating) then they can be fined a damn lot of money because it is illegal.
In Australia there are some people who don’t believe an R18 should be introduced and who are doing their damned best to stop it ever happening.
I could go on but the amazingly talented writer Mark Serrels who writes for Kotaku in Australia says it so much better than I:
Ultimately it is the choice of a parent to choose what film their kids watch, what content they see on the internet and what games they play.
I have no doubt the mother I spoke to is a good woman who knows her kids and I hope she sits with them while they play. But for the handful of fantastic mothers and fathers out there there are also a whole bunch who just want their kids out of their hair and will buy them any game just to keep them away…and that’s where the problems arise.
We need games ratings in this country.
We need parents to adhere to the ratings to ensure that those trying to stop the R18 don’t get any more fodder for their battle against us.