Friday, May 11, 2012

Still Can't Police Games Properly


So England is attempting to do something to get fewer kids to buy “violent” video games. The rating system is being tweaked and anyone found selling a 12, 17, 18 PEG tagged product to anyone under the required ages could be jailed and face up to a 5,000 pound fine. That’s roughly $8,600 in the U.S. Owie.

Of course the article, and all of the others like it, show 0 information on how they expect to police this new law. Oh yes. It has passed. It sounds awfully like the one the Supreme Court overturned in California in terms of the language. Except this one went a step further and redesigned the rating system used in England.

What I appreciate the most in this article are the comments. They echo the same issues that I have regarding these laws: how to police the law and what’s to stop parents and legal guardians from buying the products for their kids?

Even one comment came from a former gaming employee who did exactly what every employee at a store does. They tell the kid no. The kid brings back a parent. They tell the parent what’s in the game. Just a year ago the FTC conducted a research regarding M/Parental Guidance/R movies, music, and games. Video game stores were some of the best at policing their own policies on what to sell to kids. Not government policies. Their Own.
I won’t even begin to go into the number of store issues and BBB complaints from parents saying that GameStop did one of the following: wouldn’t sell an M game to someone under 17, or wouldn’t sell an M product to the parent that acknowledged that it was a “gift/toy/babysitter” to someone under 17. I may have a lot of unhappy things to say about my former employer, but they were hard asses about that rule and would back up their employees for refusing sale. And that’s something I appreciated.

So what does the British government plan to do to police this new law? Well apparently nothing. Nothing has been updated on official websites. Game dealers are going to do the things they’ve always done. Kids are still going to get the 12/17/18 games through their parents or relatives.

The law will serve no benefit to the system. It will just cause more work to law enforcement, whom probably have little to go off of for fines if it’s just here-say. “This boy says you sold the game to him.” “Well I didn’t. I sold it to his mother.” Mom and dad won’t get fined. They’ll still buy the game and give it to their children. So…where do we draw the line?

Laws like these annoy me. If we have to police games, then we need to police music, movies, art, books, plays, clothing. You name it. It’s offensive and could possibly “hurt” children, then it needs to be stopped! May as well get the plastic bubble out and never move, because that’s what they’re pushing for.

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