Thursday, 1 March 2012

[Old News] Vaz Statement

This was originally written for a gaming website, however...although it was meant to appear online at some never actually did.

And so, after digging it back up, I figured why not post it on here anyway. So here it is.


Violent Videogames + Kids = An Issue.

I've just been reading about Keith Vaz, a UK politician who is one of those people who have an issue with videogames. He's recently put together an 'Early Day Motion' which states the following:

That this House welcomes the call by Shigero Miyamoto, creator of Super Mario, for people to drop their joypads and venture out into the sunlight once in a while; recognises that video games have addictive properties; notes that children flourish when they undertake a variety of extra-curricular experience; further notes the current Hungarian EU Presidency priority of protecting minors from harmful audiovisual media content in media legislation; is concerned about the potential impact of violent video games on those under 18; and calls on the Government to ensure the purchase of video games by those under 18 is carefully controlled and that parents are encouraged to limit the amount of time children spend on video games.

Keith has been in the headlines before in regards to gaming. He was against the release of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Manhunt and Bully. His motion can be found here.

OK, so yes, people need sunlight. And yes, I know a few people who'd rather spend most of their life in front of gaming consoles. I don't  have an issue in encouraging kids to get outside and have some real fun (even if it is running around with fake guns acting out Call of Duty). That's not the issue I've personally got a problem with. Its the violent games bit...

Mr Vaz calls upon the government to ensure that the purchase of 18+ games are being carefully controlled, which is fine, if it weren't already for the fact it is being controlled.

I've been selling games for years, and during which time I've had to read and sign countless of documents in relation to selling games to minors. Anyone who purchases alcohol will be aware of the Challenge 21 policy, which is now in place when selling games. The whole weight of the law can come crashing down upon me if I were to sell an 18 to someone under that age without I.D. There are already people out there watching us covertly to ensure we stay true to our training, and god help us if they see us not doing this.

Not only that, and I know this can't be said for everyone...but I've worked with a large number of fellow employees who all agree with me when I say its morally wrong to be selling GTA to Little Timmy anyway. We're not all bad people who don't give a walnut about who buys the game as long as its cash in the till, which makes Mr Vaz's statements about making sure the purchase of games is being controlled feel a little like being slapped in the face. I know of course that some people don't care who they are selling to, which is a real it is those people who make the rest of us look bad.

So, how can we control what kids are playing?


Not education for the kids playing them, but education for the parents buying them.

I've lost count on how many times I've gone through a conversation similar to this...

Oh, they'll only go and play it at their friends house anyway!
Perhaps you should chat to their friends parents then? Just because they are playing it elsewhere doesn't mean they have to play it at home too.

But it's only a game!
Correct, but he/she will be blowing heads off. Drug running. Stealing cars. Listening to a swear word after every other word. This isn't Mario you know.

Well I can't stop them playing it eventually
YES YOU CAN! Just don't buy it!

Oh I'll just get it, I'll just watch him while he's playing it
But...he's six years old! *sigh*, that's £19.99 please.

I once had a guy say to me after a conversation similar to the one above, I'll just mute the TV. Great..that's just...great.

Thank goodness not every parent/guardian is like this however. A number of them, once I've explained the reason behind the age rating (or even in some cases pointed out what the 18 in the corner actually means) they've then decided to not go ahead and purchase it, which is quickly followed by evil looks from the kid who wanted to play it aimed in my direction.

I'm not saying it would be an easy task to educate parents/guardians about videogame ratings and content. A T.V advert perhaps, making people aware that the content in 18+ games are along the same lines as 18+ films. We've all seen the...

You wouldn't steal a car, you wouldn't steal a handbag, DOWNLOADING FILMS IS STEALING
...advert. It could be directed along the same lines. Maybe even something like a government backed day/week of awareness about gaming.

Anyone who is willing to buy a game with an age rating higher than the age of the child needs to be educated more in the content within these games. It's too easy to constantly blame retailers for selling these products, or even blame the developers for creating it in the first place. What older gamers don't want is to see less of these games being released due to kids 'possibly' getting their paws on it.

Developers create these games as there is a huge market for them, and millions of people have a ton of fun playing them. Retailers have procedures in place to prevent the sale of age related products to minors. The only variable which isn't currently being monitored is the people responsible for purchasing/choosing to let kids play these games.

The last sentence Mr Vaz put into his statement I can agree with...limiting how much time kids spend playing games. Perhaps he didn't realize the hint that the problem could lie with parents/general people who supply games to minors.

Perhaps my little rant here is a bit too critical based upon his short statement. I just find that a lot of people who don't understand gaming and indeed gamers quickly jump to the wrong conclusion.


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