The latest computer games will be on lots of wish lists this Christmas but parents run the risk of exposing their children to graphic violence and even explicit sex because they haven’t paid attention to the game’s rating.
Just like films, all computer games have a rating from G for General Audiences all the way up to R18+ for Restricted Audiences.
But, from our conversations with our friends who work at EB Games, it seems lots of parents are ignorant of these new standards or just don’t care.
But what these misinformed parents don’t understand is that some of the most popular titles like Call of Duty Black Ops III and the latest Grand Theft Auto (both R-rated) display lifelike and graphic violence, sex and nudity.
And it’s just as real as anything shown in an R-Rated film that they would never dream of letting their 12-year old son or daughter watch.
Often a busy parent gives their child the money to buy the latest game they’ve been pestered about.
But by law, staff at gaming stores are unable to sell MA15+ and R18+ games to anyone without proof of age.
It’s not uncommon for a disappointed child to go unhappily back to their parents after being refused the game purchase because they were under age.
The game store staff, who risk dismissal if they are caught selling a game to an underage customer, have been confronted by these angry parents unloading abuse on them because they refused the sale to their child.
Staff always explain to parents why they refused the sale and also inform them about the game’s rating.
“It’s only a game,” is a common response. “It’s not like a movie” is another.
Sadly, they’re completely wrong.
The latest consoles – the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One – are next generation platforms that offer the most realistic and life-like games we’ve ever seen.
Its actually hard now to distinguish between motion capture and a movie.
Parents who think games are just for kids are also out of touch. The average age of an Australian gamer is 32.
It took a long time for the gaming community to finally gain more accurate ratings for their titles.
The campaign to bring games in line with films and have an R-rating took years.
But now that’s it’s here and displayed just as prominently on the game’s cover, parents are still not noticing it or, worse still, choosing to ignore it because “it’s just a game.”
An R-rated film and an R-rated game are not the same.
In an R-rated film you are just seeing what’s happening. But in an R-rated game you can be a part of the action.
In other words, you’re more than a witness – you have the potential to take part and even initiate the actions that make this an R-rated game in the first place.
So parents, please take note, the game your child has been hassling you for because their mates have it or because they played it at a friend’s house could be just as illegal to buy for them as cigarettes and alcohol.
And we all know what would happen to a parent if they did that.
So why not take the same precautions when it comes to R-rated games.