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that games are an 18 certificate for a reason?

(207 Posts)
theluckiest Fri 28-Dec-12 01:01:02

Friend on FB has posted a pic of his nephews glued to their xbox. Headsets on, big gamer chairs, not moving for hours. This is actually not the issue but I admit to cracking out the large (super stretchy thanks to Xmas) judgy pants when I saw the conversation under the pic. Kids are 6 and 8. They were playing Call of Duty, Black Ops which is an 18 certificate game. Quite a few replies from other people with witty comments about 'starting them early' and that they will be beating their dad soon enough.

I admit I huffed and tutted. Asked dh what he thinks as he is an occasional gamer and he was horrified as he plays this and it is very graphic. Do people not realise that games have certificates? Or not give a shit as it keeps the kids quiet?

And yes I am prob BU and my judgy pants are straining with the effort but I am a teacher so get judgy about stuff! Last year one of the kids in my class used to include some horrific stuff in his writing about heads exploding, people on fire, shootings. He spent hours playing COD, Grand Theft Auto, etc. with older brothers (he was 7).

Maybe I have finally become an old fuddy duddy stuffed shirt.....I remember watching 18 cert horror movies but am sure I was a young teen then (not 6!!) and games seem far more insidious as you become involved iyswim?

missingperson Fri 28-Dec-12 04:19:00

Sorry - meant to say - so if film ratings OK why not PEGI ratings?

StuntGirl Fri 28-Dec-12 08:25:58

Sorry missing I wasn't being very clear at 3am last night!

When PEGI is used as it should be (so, the way you described) its perfect. The problem arises when people ignore, disregard or just plain don't understand the ratings system. They either think the ratings are similar to those in say, board games where similar ratings are used to denote ability or they do see the ratings but for some unfathomable reason think "it's only a game so it can't possibly be bad "even if it has a big, fat, red 18 plastered across it. They don't understand why it has an age rating, what the difference between the age ratings are or what the content of the game is. So imo that means PEGI fails as a ratings system.

When Byron recommended changing the ratings system it was recommended to use PEGI for simplicity, as opposed to the previous system which used a hodge podge of PEGI and BBFC. It was also recommended to have a big push with promoting awareness of PEGI, which hasn't really happened. So what we've ended up with is a system which doesn't have the familiarity of BBFC and which isn't clearly explained or understood.

I work selling video games so I see this every day, granted its not all parents by any stretch but its a sizeable enough group to make it an issue that needs addressing imo.

ChristmasKnackers Fri 28-Dec-12 08:36:32

stuntgirl you are right, the ignorance of some parents is staggering. I teach in a secondary school where a large proportion of our year 7 boys were taking about getting this for Christmas. All of them tell their parents that its 18 because its hard. We are thinking of running some sessions high listing the content of the games, but also the online environment, which is another problem.

bonkersLFDT20 Fri 28-Dec-12 08:42:33

Knackers Shocking that so many parents take the word of their children on this. Or do you think it's a case of turning a blind eye. No way would I let my year 9 boy play COD.

DingDongBelle Fri 28-Dec-12 09:30:00

If you don't want to play the game you can still see content before giving it to your DC's. look the games up on YouTube - there are loads of clips of footage you can watch to help you decide, without having to play. Don't you think an hour or two is a worthwhile investment for you in parenting your DC? Or even simpler: ask the staff in any gaming shop. They are likely to have played the game and will be able to explain it to you.

Then, once you are informed, it's your decision. Talk to your DC's about why its ok/not ok and what they are likely to see - violence etc. and don't forget there is an increasing amount of sex in games too: many games have playable 'romance' story lines now which often end in characters having sex on screen.

A quick google will tell you all this, and a hour on YouTube will show you. It's not hard to be informed.

Stuntgirl- agree that PEGI isn't ideal. There does need to be some consideration of games as a seperate media- and this clearly doesn't work as people do equate videogames to board games and the suitability system.

But parents should think of video games as playable films and seperate to board games: tell me a board game which contains torture, heads and spines being pulled out of bodies, 'kill-cams' which show a bullet going through a victim like an X-ray shattering bones and scattering brain matter, or a massacre in a shopping centre. Parents have a responsibility to educate themselves too.

I came here to say exactly what you said, DingDongBelle.
SO many parents just go "Oh, I'm not interested so cba to find out anything about this game my kids want." FFS. I get bored watching films, but if I just let my child watch any old film without vetting it first, I'd be lynched!

This subject comes up again and again, and it's always bloody CoD. If I was Queen of Video Games, you'd all love me - I would ban all shooters because they're boring and bring out the worst in anyone who plays them grin

HappilyUnhinged Fri 28-Dec-12 10:42:00

I think a lot depends on the nature of the child. My DD at 5 regularly interacts with me playing games, and while I used to keep anything with violent content strictly for when she is asleep, the rules have been relaxed on occasion and she has spent time watching all sorts of stuff which I would initially have thought unsuitable. Now, I still keep anything visceral to post bed time, but I have been known to run around in Arkham City with her watching, or doing the odd kill in Assassin's Creed with her about. I've found that her ability to discern the difference between fantasy violence and real violence is more impressive than mine was as a child and it feels perfectly healthy.

However, with respect to COD (or indeed, Hitman which I started yesterday) there's no way I'd allow her to watch it, purely because they go out of the way to make the violence so... well... violent.

One thing I do believe strongly though, is that parents have a responsibility to understand fully what their children and watching/playing/listening to. You cannot judge on content of something unless you have watched that thing yourself. Unless a film, for example, is definitely aimed at children, a lot of parents will watch that film before deciding whether they will let their children watch it, and may let them see it but get them to close their eyes and cover their ears during the twenty seconds of material they know is coming up which they don't want their child to see. Games should be the same. Parents should play the games, understand their content and then make judgements on them on a case by case basis, not just rely on the rating provided by a total stranger who has no idea on the reactions a specific child may have.

Oh and when DD asks to play a game herself, she always wants to play something aimed at kids, she likes Lego games, puzzle games, Mario and Sonic type stuff etc. Not once has she ever asked to play something "grown up", she sees those as my games which aren't for her.

Also (I could go on for hours but this is long enough) I think that part of the problem is parents who don't promote other types of non-violent games to their children. If the child in question is only aware of COD type stuff, and has never seen the fun and joy in a puzzle adventure like The Unfinished Swan (a masterpiece) then how can they broaden their minds and enjoy what the medium has to offer?

bruffin Fri 28-Dec-12 10:43:58

Slightly off topic but
I got lord of the rings lego for xmas and it has 3 different ratings
Pegi 7 on the box
Pg and usk 12 on the actual disc

BunFagFreddie Fri 28-Dec-12 10:50:05

I know a lot of adults who happily play COD in front of their kids, but wouldn't let the children actually play it.

The other thing I've found, is as a parent of a teenage DS, he was going round to see friends that have older siblings, and playing these 18 rated games anyway. In fact, most of DS's friends have (or their older brothers have) COD and they have not turned into axe wielding maniacs, they're nice kids and they do their homework etc. Some of them are even from very naice families with posh houses we all know that it's ok for naice kids to do it cause their parents have money and good jobs.

I'm not going to get uptight about it, otherwise I would turn into an overprotective, intruding bitch of a mother. Mind you, a teenager playing COD is different to a 6 or 8 year old.

"Games are often graded in relation their difficulty to complete"

Hahahaha, what absolute rubbish.

Can't believe anyone is daft enough to think that!

AmberSocks Fri 28-Dec-12 11:11:31

I have a 5 yr old and the thought of himplaying one of those kind of games where they kill people just does not sit right with me.

TinkerMcJingles Fri 28-Dec-12 11:12:16

Absolutely no way would I let my 9 year old play COD or any other 16/18 Cert games for that matter. He will be 10 in Feb so he is allowed to play up to age 12 games as they aren't violent/sexual IME, just technically more difficult. He is nagging as his friends are allowed but I am not giving in. Any parents that would allow a 6 year old to play COD is an idiot and extremely irresponsible in my opinion.

ComposHat Fri 28-Dec-12 11:20:41

I hadn't really kept up with video games, my knowledge pretty much starts and ends with Pacman and Space Invaders.

I couldn't see what the fuss was about games and violence until I went round to visit my fiancée's sister and her boyfriend. He was playing the Black Ops game on a massive TV with surround sound.(Quite why a man in his late 40s wants to play on a games console is beyond me but still) It was genuinely unsettling and horribly realistic.

Admittedly I am quite sensitive to depictions of violence. but the thought of a child playing that is pretty horrific.

rogersmellyonthetelly Fri 28-Dec-12 11:21:23

If I wouldn't let my kids watch a film rated 18 why would I let them play a game rated 18? Seems silly to me. If you want to do it, fine but I personally won't. Big difference between firing at space invaders or biffing something on the head until it falls down "dead" and the sort of graphic detail you get on cod. Same as the difference between James bond rated 12 where the gun fires and someone drops dead to the age 18 films where the violence is more graphic.

BalthierBunansa Fri 28-Dec-12 12:25:44

I am a big big gamer, and I agree YANBU. I do find (some) gamer parents are more careful about what they let their children play as they understand the ratings and content better. I wasn't allowed to play 18 games until I turned 18 and I am so thankful for that. I feel playing violent video games much younger will cause desensitisation, which no-one wants.

Video games are a wonderful media, and some of which I consider masterpieces. But age ratings are important.

JenaiMathis Fri 28-Dec-12 12:32:54

I let 12yo ds play 15s once I've satisfied myself that they're suitable (for want of a better word), just as I'll let him watch older rated films.

There are 2 big differences between the games and films or TV though.

First, films tend to be shared. Anything outrageously sexist for example, or where a lead character behaves like an utter arse can be discussed there and then. I love gaming, and could (and did, pre-parenthood) play something like Zelda for 12 hours at a time but the kind of crap ds likes to play leaves me cold, so he'll be playing with mates or alone and without my input.

Secondly, as anyone who had spent the day after a session on edge, ready to take on giant, laser-toting alien ants can testify, the interactivity of games makes them that much more immersive - they can properly mess with your head (man).

As such anyone who lets an 8yo play Grand Theft Auto for example is a fucking idiot.

StuntGirl Fri 28-Dec-12 13:05:22

He will be 10 in Feb so he is allowed to play up to age 12 games as they aren't violent/sexual IME, just technically more difficult.

Sorry tinker, thats absolutely incorrect. And further proof to my point that PEGI as a system isn't working.

ChristmasKnackers Fri 28-Dec-12 13:08:03

I I always loe the argument that people see teenagers play it and 'they haven't turned into axe wielding maniacs'... You really are completely missing the point.

BalthierBunansa Fri 28-Dec-12 13:15:07

Just to make it clear, PEGI DOESN'T RATE GAMES ON DIFFICULTY. I have played very easy 18+ games and hard 12+ games or whatever. They rate games on CONTENT.

ChristmasKnackers I agree, no-one sane thinks video games are going to turn teenagers into axe wielding murders. That's NOT the problem. The problem is that violent video games can cause desensitisation, which is a very very real problem.

EasilyBored Fri 28-Dec-12 13:18:14

I don't know why anyone would let their kid play something like CoD, on trying not to teach DS that violence and killing stuff is entertainment.

There's so much violence not dissimilar to games like that, that actually exists. I don't think an 8 year old is old enough to understand that one is someones real life, and the other is a game? It's messed up, and I get very very judgy about it. DH has a relative who's three year old has his own xbox and plays CoD on his own in his room. That's some fucking dire parenting.

EasilyBored Fri 28-Dec-12 13:19:15

I'm *

ratbagcatbag Fri 28-Dec-12 13:28:26

Ok, going to stand in a minority here, my DSS has been allowed the cod games from about aged 9, rules attached are you turn down the level of violence ( asked at the start of the game) and if playing online, you mute everyone who s not a direct friend, I feel that the deaths in it are very cartoony anyway (as an avid gamer myself). That said grand theft auto and saints row are completely banned in this house as the content is far more adult, in particular where you take on roles of pimps and beat up the prostitutes etc for not earning enough. DSS is now 14, we still won't budge on these games but the shoot em ups are fine.

JenaiMathis Fri 28-Dec-12 13:28:57

Some 12s are really violent. Not gory as such, but very aggressive. It's a bit like Power Rangers, the TV series. As daft as fish but I remember it having quite a negative impact on some 5yos who liked to reenact the kick boxing style fighting.

Skyward Sword is a 12 otoh and I'd have had no problem with ds playing it at 8. Had he a more susceptible and fighty sibling, I'd have not allowed them anywhere near.

Parents need to apply commonsense, basically.

frankinsensible Fri 28-Dec-12 13:42:31

YANBU

Bought a playstation second-hand for ds (13) for xmas which had some games with it. Most of the games were rated 3+ or 7+ but they had also chucked in one rated 18 (Red Dead Redemption). Ds was adamant he wanted to play the 18 game because the others were too 'babyish' and that it was set in the Wild West so would only be like a cowboy film with lots of shooting and maybe a bit of blood which he has seen plenty of in Harry Potter, Batman etc.

I insisted on looking up the Content Advisory on imdb, included amongst all the other violence is a hanged body with it's genitals cut off - ds would have been really traumatised to see such an image.

I agree the PEGI ratings aren't nearly clear enough but basically, as with films, the ratings are there for a good reason. There seems to be a big gap in the market for kids around 10 - 14, I managed to find two 12 rated games for ds that were challenging and gritty enough but I can see how parents of this age range might cave in under pester power.

"Chill out. Games are often graded in relation their difficulty to complete".... how naive can you get... Call of Duty is in no way suitable for 6 and 8 year olds. And that's not being judgemental, it's being responsible. My 19 year old DS (who I wouldn't have bought this for a few years ago) agrees, by the way

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