Games and The Rating System

One of the things that really annoys me about working in the games industry is the stupid questions people keep asking me, and all the media nonsense that accompanies the release of many games. Whenever a new game that includes any amount of sex or violence, people go out all over the media and they always scream ‘think of the kids’

I have a plethora of things to say on the matter, most relating to people applying some common sense or minding their own damned business (and some of which I have covered in my Gaming Ethos in the About section) but I would like to go over the following points again, as they are some of the main issues that bother me.

Think of the kids!? We have!

Just because its a video game, doesn’t mean its designed for kids – what do you think the bright red ’18’ sticker on the box means? No-one complains about violent films any more, because kids aren’t allowed to see or buy them, and the same is true for games. The developer knows GTA is violent, as does the publisher and so rates the game 18. The game store knows the game is 18 rated, and wont sell it to a child (if for no other reason that staff can now be fined for doing so).

If the parents are stupid enough to buy the game for the child then they’re clearly moronic and have no right to complain. If the child managed to acquire it by other means, then parents should stop them playing it, it really is that simple. If you are a bad parent and don’t care enough, or lack the authority, to control what your own child plays, then the child clearly has bigger problems that being exposed to the content of these games!

Its not real!

Its not real, its just a game, and games don’t affect everyone in the way that people seem to think. People don’t play Mario and go around banging their heads against bricks trying to find coins, or eating weird looking mushrooms cos they think it will make them fly (… OK, maybe the last one isn’t a very good example, but you get the idea).

OK, If some people have problems differentiating the virtual world from the real one then perhaps they shouldn’t be allowed to play the games. But there’s a sense of inevitability about most of this: People with violent tendencies are going want to play violent games, and people with addictive personalities are going to get addicted to World of Warcraft. Its not the developer’s fault for making the game, and the rest of us who have restraint and can manage our play time shouldn’t be punished.

Negative press? More like fuel for Success!

The vast amounts of media controversy that surround the launch of a new GTA game probably at least double the sales of the game, and mean that more people (including the children) are aware of its existence. If you just kept your big mouth shut, the game wouldn’t sell as well, but by winging and whining about it you are only helping the games company shift the bloody thing! The fact that there were sex scenes in the first Mass Effect caused a lot of fuss in the run up to its release, but I’m sure that all it achieved was an increase in sales!

Not all games are GTA!

People seem eager to damn the entire industry based on games like GTA, but they forget that for every GTA there is a Wii-fit, a Mario Kart and a Brain Training. There are plenty of harmless games and, even before the Wii’s popularity, are quite big sellers. I’m not defending GTA, Call of Duty or Postal, but they aren’t all the same.


I’m not defending violent games, any more than I’d defend the Saw series of films, but but people are basically just overreacting to a new medium that they haven’t taken the time to research and understand, as they did when books and films originally launched. There are safeguards in place, just as they are in films, and they’re not all bad… so grow up and leave us to enjoy our games in peace!