Should Gaming Age Ratings Be Enforced?

They should have mental age ratings too.

The New Zealand government’s Chief Censor, Bill Hastings, has suggested that parents who buy games for under-age children should be prosecuted. Describing the policy as “shock value”, he told New Zealand’s The Dominion Post (reported by, “It would send out a message that the enforcement agency means business.”

Any time government officials start trying to get involved in videogaming matters, the response is quick and angry. “Get off our lawn!” cry out the gaming community, afraid of the vote winning moves in response to rumours and ignorance. But here’s a thought. Maybe Hastings is right.

While the job title “Chief Censor” may be a sinister one, and while my understanding of the New Zealand government comes from Flight of the Conchords’ recent NZ prime ministerial visit, it’s important to realise that Hastings is not calling for either the censoring of games, nor for a ban on their sales. He’s suggesting that the laws already in place be enforced.

As reported by, Hastings explained that people do not take gaming age certificates seriously. “They might think the offence is silly, but it ain’t”. He suggests up to three months in prison, or a $NZ10,000 (£3,500) fine.

“That’s what the law says, but . . . you’re not going to have police officers in every bedroom… There would certainly be some shock value to prosecuting a parent who gives their under-18 child access to a restricted game.”

Of course there remains an enormous gap in people’s knowledge as to what adverse effects playing adult videogames has on children. The NZ politician makes some spurious claims of unmentioned studies that prove the damage caused, but still focuses his argument on enforcing the restrictions already in place, rather than imprisoning developers. Perhaps this is somewhat spoiled by the country’s banning Manhunt, but maybe this new angle could be progress. (Hastings is also suggesting that all games, not just those with objectionable content, be required to receive certification from classification boards, as with films.)

I’d argue that enforcing age ratings on games is perhaps essential, and not because I’m worried about seven year olds playing GTA IV. I’m worried about 31 year olds not being able to play GTA IV.

Obviously the effect on the young shouldn’t be crassly dismissed. The suggestion that graphic violence will do permanent harm to children is one I want to see some evidence for. (Although I realise this is deeply problematic, as deliberately showing potentially harmful footage to children might run into a small problem of ethics.) But my common sense says that kids get scared, and scary stuff doesn’t need to be a part of kids’ lives. I’m not concerned that your child getting hold of Manhunt is going to turn him into a serial killer. It isn’t. But I would be worried that he’d have horrible nightmares, or a generally unhappy time. And that seems worth caring about.

But the selfish motivation to enforce ratings is to protect my gaming. And more importantly, respecting adults and choice. Some games are designed for only adults to play, and in a society where those games are accessible to all ages, it makes it massively more likely that adult gaming will be increasingly censored. In fact, in a world where all games can be played by all children, they probably should be censored. I don’t want that world. I want to be able to play games with violence and swearing if I choose to. (And as it happens, I generally don’t choose to. But I want to be able to choose.)

Parents are not informed about games, and this is primarily because most attempts to inform them come from hellraising ignoramuses trying to score a headline. Hastings told the Dominion Post, “For the first time in history, kids are more savvy with technology than parents … parents need to get up to speed on the digital divide. They need to look at what their kids are playing and doing.” But I’d suggest that even awareness isn’t enough. I remember working in EB when I was 19, when parents – with their young children – would bring the latest 18 certificate game to the counter. I’d say to them, “Is this for your kid?” They’d say it was. I’d point out the 18 on the box, and they’d tell me they didn’t care. They’re an adult, and the only thing I wasn’t allowed to do was sell the game to someone under the age on the box.

So why are people reacting with shock to the story? Well, perhaps it’s a matter of balance. Obviously any suggestions of restrictions or censorship are going to anger many. But perhaps the big mistake Hastings is making is the proposition of jail time. This is enormously counter-intuitive. If he believes a parent is being neglectful when buying such games, then how putting them in prison is supposed to improve this is not clear. Clearly the threat of it might have an impact, but I cannot see how enforcing it could ever help anyone. And taking all of a family’s money isn’t likely to help anyone either. I’d argue for more imaginative penalties, proportional to the individual. Consequence is fine, debilitation perhaps not.

Or is this an invasion by the state into how people raise their families? Should parents be free to let their children play whichever games they choose? Are age ratings unenforceable without ghastly phrases like “nanny state” rearing their heads? Indeed, how could the law be enforced if it were in place? Short of the police raiding homes and checking for copies of Saints Row 2, it’s hard to imagine what could be done. Is the threat of a penalty, even if it’s unenforceable, enough to protect children from adult games, or indeed protect adult games from children? Let us know what you think.


  1. Dolphan says:

    Umm, what? You’re worried it’ll scare children? Are we talking about a 14 year-old playing an 18 here, or a 5 year-old?

    Surely, unless a child wants to be scared, it’s not going to play a game that scares it. We’re not talking about parents forcing their children to play games here.

    Seriously, I’m just flabbergasted by this. “Scary stuff doesn’t need to be a part of kids lives.” WTF? Of course it does! Children enjoy scary things the same way the rest of us do. The ‘hiding behind the sofa during Doctor Who’ cliche exists for a reason. Good children’s books can be scary (Roald Dahl springs to mind). As can good kid’s films, for that matter.

    I appreciate that you may be talking about some other kind of ‘scary’, since Manhunt isn’t really frightening in that way, but still, saying we need to keep children from scary things just seems utterly bizzare.

  2. Alaric says:

    “oh, and as Alaric has pretty much proved, the US really should get over their constitution…”

    I proved that? o.O

  3. M_the_C says:

    I agree that more needs to be done to make parents realise the importance of a rating.

    On the point of identification, I don’t have any and it’s been a real pain. I don’t drive, I have never left the country and yet I find it really hard to do some things (banking).

    On a side note, I was once prevented from buying Bloodmoon (Morrowind expansion) because it had a 16+ rating, I was 18 at the time…

  4. John Walker says:

    I believe the major flaw with my piece is not pointing out that Hastings is being deeply lazy. The problem he identifies – parents not raising children responsibly – is not going to be fixed by preventing their getting hold of GTA. It’s a hell of a lot more hard work than that.

    My approach above was to try to find an angle where it’s advantageous to the adult gamer to see such restrictions enforced. I fear that if children are able to access all games, then all games will be created for children. If these censorious and vote-grabbing people are going to try and score points using videogames, may as well bend it to some advantage.

    This is why I don’t see this as a matter of protecting children. Protecting children is about terrifying amounts of hard work and education. Hell, if Hastings put the effort he’s used for this into raising awareness for more immediate dangers to children, or toward improving funding for education, then perhaps some real difference would be made.

    In the meantime, I want to see 18 certificates making a difference, so I can enjoy my 18 certificate games. I entirely agree that children can cope with encountering scary stuff. As a friend points out to me this afternoon, the completely mundane can terrify a child more than a fantastical horror. I also believe that there’s no cause for frightening children unnecessarily, and if I had kids, I wouldn’t want them to see certain games. Not because I believe it would permanently damage them – I don’t for one moment. But because I think it would be unpleasant for them at that moment.

  5. Dan Harris says:

    Unenforcable. Who buys games from GAME these days, anyway? That’s what the internet’s for.

    Seriously though, I think the rules should be enforced in exactly the same way as for films. That’ll allow the negligent parents to be negligent consistently, the decent parents to make their own minds up given the relative maturity of their particular children, and the smart little shits who know where their father’s credit card is to buy their own stuff.

  6. Optimaximal says:

    Games aren’t linear, and they can last for hundreds of hours. Also, whilst most parents are capable of watching a film, not all have got it in them to play through a video game.

    This is part of the ‘next-generation’ thing – my dad had no interest in computer games past Hang On on my Master System, whereas I will almost surely be able to reasonably advise my kids on such matters.
    Likewise, his dad (R.I.P.) had no interest in movies yet my dad keenly & actively directed me towards such motion picture classics as Star Wars, The Blues Brothers, Das Boot and Apocalypse Now – yes, I may have been underage when watching them but he was quite clear in explaining what significance the films had (well, maybe not SW – that was just a family romp!).

  7. Kommissar Nicko says:

    As an aside, I’ll note that when my sister was about 10, she and I bought a game called Parasite Eve. For anyone unfamiliar, within the first ten minutes, a rat explodes in a gooey mess as it transforms into a gigantic hideous monster. This proceeded to scare her shitless, and was a lesson in children self-censoring.

  8. cliffski says:

    I don’t give a fuck how people bring up their own kids, or what they do with/for them. Except hang on… I have to live in the same world as their offspring. If kids playing uber-violent games without any moral context turn out as hyper-violent happy-slapping street corner thugs that are going to make my life hell, then YES send the cops round their house and fine the fuck out of their parents for knowingly buying them inappropriate games.
    And any store that sells 18+ games to kids should be fined to oblivion.
    Yes this *is* censorship. We censor stuff all the time. Unless you somehow think selling cocaine and machine-guns to 6 year olds is fine, then we accept that society limits what people can do for the greater good.

    GTA will still exist when today’s 12 year olds reach 18, its not like we are banning them from the whole computer games experience.


  9. Matt Kemp says:

    Meat Circus, you’re constructing a straw man big enough to burn Woodward.

  10. Dolphan says:

    To respond to the actual point about enforcing age ratings – I was always under the impression that they were there to allow parental control over what kids have access to, not to prevent kids getting hold of the stuff at all, as if it were alcohol or something. To say that the law should try and prevent anyone watching violent/sexual content in films or games until they’re 18 years old is ridiculous.

    It ignores children’s curiousity for one thing, let alone the staged complexity of growing up and learning to interact with the adult world. It also, bizzarely, penalises and prevents the best possible situation for children to be seeing this stuff in – with their parents knowing what they’re consuming and being able to talk to them about it and help them understand it and how it relates to reality. Instead, it would make it far more likely that they’ll get this stuff from friends or older teenagers and consume it in secret, which is going to be far more detrimental to their development.

  11. Alan says:

    One thing I’d like to bring up I heard on a podcast from the Australian Gamer guys – If someone brought out a game where you could molest children under the legal age, would that be an okay game? Should we allow the free market to decide whether it should be bought or not? I understand this is an extreme case, but where, as a detractor from censorship, do you draw the line?

    It’s not as extreme an example as you think. There are games for sale right now where you can do this (see: the RapeLay controversy from a few weeks ago). No, it would not be an “okay game.” Yes, the free market should be allowed to decide how it’s sold.

    Do you really think we need a law to keep such a game from being sold all over the place? Would Wal-Mart put a game like that on their shelves? Would GameStop? Of course they wouldn’t. They have a public image to maintain that precludes getting themselves involved with anything like that.

    Hell, if I did find a store selling that game I would boycott them. I would make it publicly known that they’re selling that game and do everything I could to get them to stop selling it and make it very painful for them until they did. However, I would not want them thrown in jail or even fined, just for doing something I don’t like.

  12. Alaric says:

    If kids playing uber-violent games without any moral context turn out as hyper-violent happy-slapping street corner thugs that are going to make my life hell, then YES send the cops round their house and fine the fuck out of their parents for knowingly buying them inappropriate games.

    IF is the key word there. IF kids who play these games then transform into giant, evil monkeys with lasers in their eyes, then yes, I agree with you, let’s stomp out their parents before it’s too late.

    Unfortunately I have no proof that this is going to happen.

    Neither do you.

  13. Jon says:

    I can remember WHSmiths not selling me PC GAMER when I was in college because it had an 18 label on the front, I was astounded. I’d been buying it for years and never had any trouble.

    Much like the same I’ve never been challenged over an 18 rated game but am asked constantly for my ID to show I am over 18 when buying alcohol. I find it strange that one age rating is enforced to such a higher degree than the other.

  14. Kommissar Nicko says:

    Ah, Walker. To address your purpose, I do agree that putting fangs on ratings has the potential to make 18-plus games more 18-plussy, and therefore might be sensible. I’d like to be able to bonk hookers and run over children in my Bentley in GTA (or at least shoot the little brats in Fallout 3). However, I’d say that doing away with ratings is a similar means to an end. After all, if every writer, painter, sculptor or film-maker directed every film with the fear that *gasp* a child might see, then the world would be a very bland place. Such people depend on parents (or good god, children) to take the initiative to shield the unwitting.

  15. Telke says:

    I’m living in New Zealand, and I can tell you that the entire ratings system for games needs to be overhauled.

    The way it works, if a game has been rated in Australia, it does not require a re-rating here in NZ (most games do get re-rated, but it’s sometimes used to sneak stuff past). The problem, however, is that Australia currently has no R18 rating for games, only an R15 rating.

    So, a game (GTA4 was a good example, or Fallout 3’s drug names) gets classified in Australia – fails classification – gets “toned down” by ridiculous double-standard moderation – fallout 3 only had to rename their drugs, while GTA had to tone down their blood. – and then, the “toned down” version is shipped to NZ as well, since it’s more cost-effective to ship only one version. Once on NZ shores, it sometimes even gets a rating bump UP – leading to my 16-year old nephew buying GTA4 while holidaying in Australia, getting around the R18 rating in NZ.

    Frankly the entire system needs a cleanup. Also of note, the politician’s statement is the typical post-new-government-elected statements. National has just won the election for the first time in ~12 years, beating Labor soundly.

  16. matte_k says:

    A friend of mine works in the local Gamestation, and he says it’s supposedly customer policy to query the customer buying an age rated game if it is intended for them or someone else, and if the customer or intended recipient is/looks underage, then they can’t make the sale.

    Now here, one of a few things happens. Either they’re upfront and honest, and agree that the purchase is denied to them because of the restricted content, or they lie and say the recipient is the correct age to get the game, thus breaking the legisation, or (and apparently this is the most frequent reaction) get very angry about being questioned and possibly being refused the sale, causing a scene in the shop.

    I’m not sure if that’s indicative of something across the country, but it suggests that it’s pretty hard to enforce such age restrictions if the people you’re applying it to refuse to abide by it, even going so far as deception.

  17. Alaric says:

    Ah, the post-election chest-beating explains it. Thanks Telke!

  18. Dolphan says:

    Cliffski, you don’t ‘censor’ drugs or guns. There’s a difference between restriction and censorship, which only applies to things that function at the level of ideas. There’s nothing inconsistent with being against censorship and not being a complete anarchist.

    That said, most people are ok with a certain amount of censorship when it comes to children, since they’re more vulnerable than adults. But even that should be justified with actual evidence that they’re doing them some harm.

    John – there’s a massive difference between “if I had kids, I wouldn’t want them to see certain games,” and “I think the law should prevent any parent from allowing their children to see certain games.”

  19. Ginger Yellow says:

    I do think certificates need to be legally binding, as they are in the UK, but for multiple reasons the onus should be on the retailer, there should be room for parental discretion and the law should be consistent across media. As a matter of practicality, it’s far easier and less intrusive to enforce retailer-side laws using tools like undercover shoppers, as they do for alcohol.

    Incidentally there was an FTC study a year or two back which found that retailer compliance with games ratings was far higher (at 80% or so) than for DVDs. Of course the situation may be different in NZ.

  20. MonkeyMonster says:

    If we sit back and let the parents control what their kids see/do – what happens when they don’t and we and our children have to deal with the mess they turn into. As a society we try to take care of those who cannot do it themselves, this surely includes those children with parents who don’t look after them? There will always be a carrot instead of a stick argument but is it not becoming more obvious in these days that the poor carrot is being ignored…

  21. Meat Circus says:

    @Matt Kemp:

    I’m not constructing anything. I’m just sneering at people and being generally insulting. Sometimes it’s best to call stupidity by its name and not engage it directly.

    The good thing about opinions like Bill Hastings’s is that they’re very easy to ignore.

  22. Matt Kemp says:

    Hell, if I did find a store selling that game I would boycott them. I would make it publicly known that they’re selling that game and do everything I could to get them to stop selling it and make it very painful for them until they did. However, I would not want them thrown in jail or even fined, just for doing something I don’t like.

    So, grassroots censorship rather than government-based? How is this different from the practices of a Mr. Thompson?

    I’d just like to clarify – I don’t really think that people should be banned from seeing everything. I just think that, if parents refuse to take responsibility (which seems to be the situation we find ourselves in) and insist on blaming authorities for allowing this, then their ability to take responsibility should be taken away as they’re obviously incapable of using it. People who actually care will still break the rules, but they won’t be the ones complaining if their child turns into a mini-Bellic.

  23. Optimaximal says:

    I proved that? o.O

    Well, not directly, but by calling the UK the ‘1984 Recreation Society’ you’re insinuating that we are a lesser society because we can’t hide behind a piece of paper that gives us free reign to shoot people (accidentally ofc – they shouldn’t be breaking into my house) or complain loudly when an official board has to step in because you don’t seem to be able to raise kids properly.
    The UK may have the same problem, but at least the law can legally blame the parents or the seller – it’s not the industries fault.

  24. The Sombrero Kid says:


    this is because people don’t enforce laws just because, thankfully they use their brain and come to the conclusion that laws on limiting alcohol abuse are sensible and laws limiting the use of games are largely ridiculous, children are generally pretty good at steering clear of things that will scare them witless more so than a lot of adult i know so i’d argue that children should be allowed to self censor just as adults are.

  25. Matt Kemp says:

    Meat Circus: I’m just sneering at you and being generally insulting.

    Sometimes it’s best to call stupidity by its name and not engage it directly.

    I’m presenting an opinion different to yours, and I like to think that I’m presenting it relatively politely. So far you’ve accused me of reading the daily mail and insinuated that my hackles will be suitably risen by the possibility of gays and immigrants, and making an ad-hominem attack disregarding my opinion because of a choice in reading material (which, FYI, I don’t read).

    I’d argue you’re the one being insulting.

  26. Dolphan says:

    MonkeyMonster – Nobody other than parents has a cat in hell’s chance of exerting any kind of control over what kids see. Trying to prevent kids from seeing 18-rated stuff is a) Not possible and b) Probably not good for them. Imagine we could prevent them seeing anything like that. Would that mean they would turn up at age 18 magically prepared to deal with all this stuff that’s been kept from them until now?

    Some people will be bad parents. They’ll let their kids see and do whatever without giving them any kind of context to it, without helping them learn about what it means and how it relates to reality – without helping them grow up. This is a problem. It’s not a problem you solve by trying to restrict games and films (and thereby restricting good parents).

  27. Meat Circus says:

    @Matt Kemp:

    I changed that comment because I wanted to point at that I wasn’t specifically sneering at you, just the manifest stupidity of Hastings and the entire Daily Mail set.

    As has been pointed out upthread, the proposal is unenforceable anyway, making this an amusing yet pointless discussion.

    But yes, I was being insulting. As I said, it’s sometimes best to call stupidity by its own name, and not engage it head-on.

  28. Meat Circus says:

    Can I also point out that, once again, Cliffski is being a complete loon?

  29. Alaric says:

    Optimaximal, don’t get me wrong, I am an anglophile and I love your country, its history and its people. However, as I mentioned before, I was born in the USSR, which I was fortunate enough to have been able to escape. My problem with the modern day UK is that it is approaching that evil place uncomfortably close.

    Right now I live in the US, which I also greatly admire. I think its Constitution is in fact a great document. I think the right to own weapons, which you made fun of, is a distinguishing characteristic between a slave and a free man. However, with that said, I still see a lot of problems here.

    So… the US is not better than UK. Still, having seen both I find that it grants an individual more freedom and more ability to maintain his or her dignity.

    Fear not though, the way things are going right now, we’ll catch up in no time and then I’ll have to run again. Sadly, I’m running out of places to run to. =(

  30. Matt Kemp says:

    Meat Circus: As I said, it’s sometimes best to call stupidity by its own name, and not engage it head-on.

    Because that’s the way to solve problems, ignore them? I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with discussion.

    Like you say, it’s practically unenforceable. I’d rather see a sales-based policy, where if you sell a game to a minor or to someone with intent to supply to a minor, you can be punished. Still, I’d rather see someone taking a semi-proactive response than taking the easy way out and purely blaming games or calling for outright bans.

  31. The Sombrero Kid says:

    the fact remains that the sickest stuff anyone has ever/will ever see in the modern age is 1 click away for everyone and completely uncensored/uncersorable censoring games is an impotent attempt at controlling a generation who are becoming more and more adept at circumventing your controls this was true when predator was my favourite movie at age 8 and it will be even more so when my 8 year old son of the future watches 1 man 1 jar 3000 on the super future internet of the future without my permission, the censorship debate is a shiny stick politicians use to distract your gaze from their culpability in things that actually matter.

  32. meeper says:

    Am I the only one who isn’t so caught-up in ensuring that their hobby survives unmolested that I see this as a further attempt to marginalize the role of parents? The issue at hand isn’t whether teeth should be given to ratings agencies, it’s that the rights of parents in how they raise their young are being grossly violated.

    Regardless of any legitimacy to the theory that exposure to violent games produces violent children, how far are we going to let government go in dictating how we’re allowed to raise our children?

  33. Dolphan says:

    With all respect to your life story Alaric, the right to own weapons is a pretty poor way to characterise freedom.

  34. Alan says:

    So, grassroots censorship rather than government-based? How is this different from the practices of a Mr. Thompson?

    The difference is that government censorship is practiced through coercion and threats of jail time/fines, with the authority of violence. Not buying from a business because you don’t agree with their practices is simply how the free market works. Everyone does it all the time, and selling kiddie porn would certainly be a practice I don’t agree with.

  35. Dolphan says:

    In light of meepers comments, I should point out that my comments above about not limiting parents ability to manage what their children consume is NOT based on any ‘rights of parents’ – I don’t believe parents have any rights of this kind. I’m arguing from what I think the best situation is for the children.

  36. Thought Police says:

    “We don’t intend to let this place succumb to the same mess of abuse and hostility the internet’s reknowned for, so think carefully before you post. Don’t insult. Don’t be a troll. Be a decent human being.”

    link to

    “I’m not constructing anything. I’m just sneering at people and being generally insulting.”

    John? We totally saw that cheeky post you just buhleted. The one in which you blithely admitted that Meat was “just being insulting”.

    And Meat, if you want to engage in petty name-calling and needless ad-hominem, the Eurogamer forums are third on the left.

  37. Alaric says:

    I don’t insist on forcing anyone to own weapons. =) I’m a pretty cool guy like that. =) Still, I don’t see how it’s anyone’s business to tell me what I should or should not own. As a sane, adult citizen I am perfectly capable to deciding what’s good for me.

    Now, if suddenly decide to become a criminal, then (and only then) should I be deprived of my freedom, including the freedom to own potentially dangerous items.

    So far neither myself nor any of my weapon-owning friends have done anything antisocial. Criminalizing us would be… wrong.

  38. Mister Adequate says:

    The only way parents are going to end up informed about games is when gamers start having kids.

    What goes on in someone’s own home is not the business of the government unless real harm is done. If a parent judges that their kid can handle something, then nobody can stop them.

    Aside, of course, from the ridiculous practical problems here. What, are staff going to be required to inquisit all purchasers of games to make sure they know what they’re on about and thus not buying it for someone else? And if they’ve obviously never played a game in their life, how do you prove it’s for their kid, and not their brother-in-law?

  39. Ian says:

    “Still, I don’t see how it’s anyone’s business to tell me what I should or should not own. As a sane, adult citizen I am perfectly capable to deciding what’s good for me.”

    Where does that line get drawn?

  40. Spludge says:

    Permit me to put a different slant on this via my experiences.

    I’m well above the age to be caught up in all this nonsense, without being advanced enough in time to be called “old” by the majority of people (I’ve just entered my second Chinese zodiac). I’m also Australian (Don’t get me started on the 18+ thing).

    Every school holidays for the last couple of years, I’ve been involved as a leader in the Salvation Army in Western Australia’s School holiday camps. The campers are 7-12 years old, and almost all clients of the Department for Child Protection (DCP hereafter). They’re often violent, frequently make inappropriate sexual comments, swear their mouths off, and are generally racist (not helped by the fact that we usually have a disproportionately large population of indigenous Australians on camp)

    I am convinced that letting these kids play GTA4 is amongst the worst ideas ever postulated. Heck, I wouldn’t risk any of the Halo series on these guys, and that stuff is super-tame.

    But these kids ended up as they are because adults let them down. Abused them. Neglected them. Never put any thought into raising them. (Granted, some are also there because their folks died, but those guys I’m not so worried about). And I have no doubt that they wouldn’t even consider the appropriateness of a game if they bought it for their kids.

    If parents won’t protect their kids, the the government must, if only because it will give these kids a better shot at a normal (and not crime-ridden life), and that’s all that enforcing that law would do. Because, let’s face it, it’s not the responsible, caring parents that will be affect by this, is it?

  41. Meat Circus says:


    In libertarian jurisprudence, when you start threatening the liberty or health of others.

  42. Gap Gen says:

    I don’t see the hostility towards enforcing age restrictions on games. If you’re going to put age ratings on things at all, you might as well enforce them, otherwise ratings are a waste of time and money. Like I said, it entirely depends on how it’s implemented – it might be that a night in the cells is enough to shock some errant parents into being responsible, like the mother who was imprisoned for letting her kids play truant.

    I’m not sure what the extent of research into the effects of violence on children is. I know that one study found that children copy violence (they showed children a video of a man being nice to / punching a doll and the children mimicked the man’s actions when in a similar situation).

    As for games becoming more adult, it’s possible, but it also depends on other factors. Many games are still in the Hollywood-action-film stage – although some games are very good at doing that, like CoD4. The distinction between “adult = sexy & violent” and “adult = intelligent and mature” often falls in favour of the former as far as popular media go.

  43. Tyshalle says:

    I don’t understand what business it is of government what games parents choose to buy for their kids.

    I get that many parents just can’t be bothered to raise their kids, but I’m sick to death of “laws of morality” like this that cater to the dumbest and laziest amongst us, at the expense of good parents who raise a mature kid and deem it to be perfectly acceptable for him to play a game like GTA IV. This idea that innocence equates to ignorance is a ridiculous one, invented by small minded politicians and mothers alike.

    Laws like this simply should not exist. I’m fine with the rating system, and I’m even fine with not allowing kids to buy M-rated games and tickets to R-rated movies. But if a parent brings them, I don’t see what the big deal is. It ought to be up to the parent to decide how to raise their kids. It’s nobody else’s business, period.

  44. John Walker says:

    I deleted it because Meat had already said the same by the time I posted it.

    I have not seen Meat directly insult anyone. If he does, as ever, I will censor him. Until then, I think people are going to cope.

  45. Zaij says:

    I dunno, the thing about these age ratings is that they are more of a guideline than an enforceable rule. I know a lot of 14 year olds that are probably smarter and more mature than people my age(21), but because they don’t hit some age limit which is based on assuming all people that age are equal, they’re not allowed to play?

    If there weren’t so many terrible parents around, I’d say it’d be up to them to decide if their kid is mature enough to play. As it is, they’d do it anyway and probably make the wrong choice.

  46. Meat Circus says:

    John Walker smells of [flowers – Ed].

  47. Thought Police says:

    Why, my name is John Walker, and I take great personal offence at your totally fallacious comment!

  48. Matt Kemp says:

    Tyshalle: Laws like this simply should not exist. I’m fine with the rating system, and I’m even fine with not allowing kids to buy M-rated games and tickets to R-rated movies. But if a parent brings them, I don’t see what the big deal is. It ought to be up to the parent to decide how to raise their kids. It’s nobody else’s business, period.

    The problem occurs not when the parent replies ‘I know is is M rated, I am allowing my child to play it’, but more ‘I don’t care, just put it through the till’.

  49. Dolphan says:

    Tyshalle, it is somebody else’s business how a parent raises their kid. Namely, the child’s. In fact, it’s far more the child’s ‘business’ than the parent’s. And children have no protection whatsoever, in themselves, against the ideas or actions of their parents.

  50. Alaric says:

    Instead of screwing with good parents and other innocent people, the government should just prevent the undesirables from having children. And from voting.


    I’m not actually sure if I mean that. I need to think.