Grumpy Gurevitz: Auch Aye the Noo

What makes me think that this game is for 15 year olds and above?

I was on holiday recently, visiting family in Glasgow. A lovely place with lovely responsible people. Whilst there, we had a day in town to look at some shops and keep my wee one occupied (we had already done Loch Lomond and the transport museum).As one does, we went into a shopping centre and low and behold we were in a store, which also happened to include a GAME. For our international readers, GAME is the largest specialist game retailer in the UK.

Somehow, I managed to get separated from my family and I found myself in the section which encompassed GAME. Finding myself with some vouchers and reward points to spend I perused the shelves for a second hand deal which, after some time, I found in the Xbox section. Anyway my buying habits aside, whilst waiting to pay along came a grandma with her grandson. He was holding a copy of some wrestling game (they are all the same to me), and handed it to Grandma to buy (lucky him).

Now the guy behind the desk did exactly the right thing (GAME management would be proud). He pointed out that the game was for 15 year olds or above (this kid was not near). The Grandma responded by saying ‘oh that’s ok’ in a kind of ‘whatever’ type way and went ahead and purchased it.

Perhaps like this Grandma the game was really for her and she was just too embarrassed to admit she was a gamer?

Over the last few years our industry has come under a lot of attack about not have clear signposting about the content within a game, but here is your typical example of what really happens on the ground floor. Should Mr Vaz be reading, lets go over the facts:

  • The staff brought to the attention of the person purchasing the product (who was of age), that the age was deemed to be unsuitable for people under 15 years of age.
  • The game in question was a Wrestling game. With a picture of big aggressive guy in spandex on the front of the box.
  • It had a big 15 on the box too.

What other information would Mr Vaz, and those who come from the House of Vaz, have liked the staff to have presented? Mr Vaz you might argue that perhaps suspecting that the game was for the young boy, the store should have had a legal barrier on them from selling it anyhow. However take the boy out of the equation just for a moment as the point I’m trying to make is not how to tighten up the process, but how the weak link is the fact that many adults are quite stupid.

Even if the boy had not been there, the Grandma might still have gone and purchased the game. The same one. With the same angry man in spandex with a title relating to wrestling plastered across the cover. Indeed it would have had the very large box in the artwork with the number 15 in it. Having lived in a country where we have grown up seeing age ratings it can be assumed that rather than meaning the number of discs the game comes on, she would have taken it for granted that it was an age rating.

How is it so many adults do not seem to take the type of content in video games seriously? Perhaps the government and industry could do a TV and cinema campaign explaining it? That could be a good thing for the industry. They have tackled drink driving, not just by prosecuting people, but by making it socially unacceptable to drink and drive or be with people who do. Perhaps the campaign would focus on parents and not children, being run during evening television and across billboards, educating them as to how socially unacceptable it is to ignore the age ratings.

Part of the problem may be that some of the ratings are actually quite high. Higher, in many respects, than that of equivalent DVDs or TV shows. Wrestling, for example, is a daytime TV show; yet when it becomes a game, our understanding of how suitable for children it is changes for some reason. This can be seen as the game industry being more stringent and stricter than TV and film, which is possibly a good thing. However it has the potential to undermine the rating system as many adults, when they eventually see the game, wonder what the fuss was about in the first place. If the public see a disconnect between the rating and the actual content, images and gameplay experience then this will undoubtedly result in them ignoring the warnings.

It’s an old lesson, but if the industry and media cry wolf, then eventually people will stop reacting to the alert if the wolf always ends up being a King Charles Spaniel.

Yes - how threatening does this dog look to you? But if the Sun newspaper wrote about it you would think it was related to T-Rex.

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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands. He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person 'free world', narrative driven and portable gaming. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

3 comments

  1. Oni-Samurai /

    Is it the word “game” that automatically stupifies adults?.. its a game like monopoly, or hide and seek, hungry hungry hippos. suitable for all kids.
    And the 15 rating obviously means, its not suitable for anybody 15 yrs and over. just kids.

  2. Blighty /

    This thread apeases me.

  3. Sid Wright /

    “Lo and Behold” means “See and Notice”.

    “Low and Behold” suggests “around ankle level”

    Perhaps you were in the basement?

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