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Playing Games

Once again Gaming has hit the news, thankfully it’s nothing to do with my employer this time, I guess once the good news starts rolling in its far less interesting to report.

Today’s reports are based on comments made by Alison Sherrett, the former president of the Association of Teachers.


Infants are being allowed to stay up until the early hours playing 18-rated games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto because of a failure by parents to impose greater controls

I began to reflect on what children have been playing over the last few years and realised we have noticed a marked increase in the aggression in general.



Now as it stands, when it comes to stories regarding the Video Games Industry this is pretty sensible (see here, here and here for some lesse sensible ones!), and on top of that I don’t totally disagree with what she says.  She does at least highlight that the fault is that of the parents, which is unusual; normally it’s the publishers and the retailers that are held accountable.

Obviously it has sparked the usual debate about whether the industry itself does enough to educate people, whether the games themselves should exist and obviously whether they are responsible for the behaviour of the people playing them.

As it stands there is no scientific link between behaviour and video games, no more than there is with watching films, reading books or playing swing ball. Sure sitting up until 3am on a school night is likely to make a child less productive, grumpy and difficult to deal with, but if they had been doing so studying rather than playing games, we would be applauding their work ethic not writting a report on how studying makes children behave worse.

As I said I agree with some of her statement, I do think it is a failure by parents, now that’s maybe a harsh thing to say. I don’t have kids and so it’s easy enough for me to sit here on my high horse, but as someone who regularly deals with said parents, their overall attitude to the content of video games is depressing.

I’ve watched parents buy GTA, MW3 and more for their pre teenage kids and despite being told of the content happily handing over there cash anyway.

In the past, during the height of GTA:Vice City I had a staff member who after advising a customer that the game really was unsuitable for their 8 year old son, and her respective dismissal, proceeded to inform her that in this game you could use a double ended purple dildo to beat an old granny to death. Tragically despite this brutally honest and unorthodox way of informing her of the content she still bought little Timmy said game.

One of the arguments often trotted out is that parents are not informed enough.


All games carry age ratings and at least in the last 5 years or so additional information on the reason for that age rating, whether it be language, violence, drug use, etc. Age ratings are not a new thing, they have been placed on videos since 1912, and recognisable in their current form since 1982, sure the design has changed a little but not enough to make you not realise what it stands for.

And even if somehow they had no idea of what these age ratings meant, retailers will generally inform them, not to mention that pretty much every controversial big name title will feature heavily in the nationals upon its release, and is they example above shows even when informed they will still make the same decision anyways.

The second  classic excuse is “all his friends have it, what can you do?”

Well frankly a lot, sure you can’t control what little Timmy does outside of your house and you can’t choose his friends, well you can but I’m not convinced that type of parenting is any more beneficial than sitting your five old down in front of IT and throwing him a clown themed six birthday.

What you can do however is refuse to reinforce that behaviour, buying him the latest GTA is hardly telling him that you have an issue with him playing it, or think it is unsuitable for his age group.

If little Timmy came home from his mate Dave’s house and told you how Dave’s mum gave them a crate of fosters, a pack of smokes and sat them down in front of Caligula; that you would be adding any of the above to his Christmas list.

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  1. July 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm

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