Video Game Content Ratings: Does Anyone Care Anymore?

Age ratings on video games are used by a number of nations to censor inappropriate content from those deemed too young to view it. There are many aspects of a video games’ content which is taken into account when rating it, such as levels of violence, frequency and severity of language, and sexual images and references. Just as nations pose various age restriction laws on smoking, drinking and driving, the age ratings on video games are there to protect vulnerable parties who could misinterpret some aspects of a video game, whilst also giving the public the tools to make an informed decision on their video game purchases. Whilst under-age drinking, smoking and driving are highly frowned upon in many countries, studies have highlighted the increase in disregard for video game content ratings, as shown by Dr. David Walsh, who published in 2000 that 90% of teenagers claim that their parents “never” check the ratings before allowing them to rent or buy video games. With this rejection of independent reviews on video games, questions regarding where the blame lies, and what this exposure means for gamers who play above their age bracket are becoming more and more frequent.

Whilst the age ratings on video games are not enforcible under law in many countries, the various systems are often associated with and/or sponsored by the government, with some video game stores using them to restrict the sale of certain games from under-aged customers. Perhaps where the problem lies is that the ratings which feature on a high number of video games, are simply guidelines, not laws. As a result of this, the age ratings are often ignored when they should be viewed with user discretion and judgement by parents who buy them for their children. The law on drinking is often broken by parents who judge their children to be responsible enough to drink, so what hope does a mere guideline have for protecting children from content they cannot understand fully, and in extreme cases, cannot separate from reality.

In sociological terms, this is often referred to as copycat violence. It is when young or vulnerable people play video games with inappropriate sexual content or excessive violence, and do not understand that is merely a fiction and is not how normal situations within civilised society function. As a result of this, they relate the situations of violent revenge or manipulation found in video games into their own lives, often as answers to bullying or familial problems, and re-enact them with often horrific and tragic results. Examples of this include various high-school shooting in America such as the Heath High School shooting in 1997, the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, as well as a number of frightening stories in more recent years involving young children taking weapons into their school, to emulate the actions of their favourite video game characters. Whilst these cases are rare, and are sometimes used to cause a moral panic against the influence of video games, it cannot be ignored that children are more influenced and affected by their interactions with media in its many forms.

The fact that stores selling games do not have to employ age restriction policies on their customers means that the responsibility should lie with parents. Just as a parent often censors their child’s television habits, such as not letting them watch past the 9pm ‘watershed’ in the UK, they should monitor more closely what kind of games their child is playing. However, a problem lies in the many strategies children have for getting something they want. As highlighted in a late 2013 Sky News interview with games industry veteran Ian Livingstone, who appeared to discuss the transition for the UK content rating PEGI to become law, was challenged by the news reporter, Eamonn Holmes, who stated, ”You know and I know, and I know also as a parent, I definitely know, that these age ratings are not adhered to. And the reason why is because, no matter what is said, if your ten year old wants this game, he will say ‘ugh, but dad, everyone in class has this game”. This pressure placed on parents often leads to them going to game stores with their child, and buying the game on their behalf. Certainly this is not the parent condoning the exposure of inappropriate content, but more a lack of knowledge and influence on the subject of video games.

With the increasing prominence of the internet, and the current generation being one who has grown up with computers and gaming consoles as heavily influential parts of their every-day lives, more and more people disregard the content ratings on videos as a means to keep their children happy, or keep up with their friends or culture. The disregard for the law by game stores, parents, and even gaming companies, who have a level of obligation to manage who their product is being sold to and played by is only made harder by the advances in technology. Children and teenagers are being allowed to relatively anonymously purchase video games on-line, via outlets such as Steam, Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, with little censorship and concern as to the appropriateness of the games’ content. The lack of regard for the age ratings on video games can only lead to the desensitisation of children to violence and death, making it all the more likely for them to engage in the deviant behaviour they are exposed to from far too young an age. The content ratings are there for a reason, and as just as important as the laws on drinking and other age restricted activities: You wouldn’t let a child walk into a strip-club, so why let them do it on games such as Grand Theft Auto?


The Interview

Noise Cannon

the interview
The Interview is everything you hoped it would be as another great Seth Rogen film. His blend of stoner comedy has long been marmite to the viewing populations, and as the well documented story of the Sony hacks has shown; North Korea have failed to see the funny side. For everyone else this exciting, funny and downright dumb film sees Seth Rogen and James Franco as a producer and talk show host as they decide to interview North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un after learning of his love for Franco’s show.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

My article featured on Noise Cannon

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The finale to the impressive and successful Hobbit trilogy was never going to be easy to create. Acting as the closing scenes of Bilbo Baggin’s adventures for some 80 years until the events of The Lord Of The Rings occur, sowing the seeds for the transition into the aforementioned saga and living up to the quality of acting and effects that previously enchanted and drew even casual Hobbit and LOTR fans to the cinema is a huge feat. Well never fear, because Peter Jackson is in the director’s seat to finish off what he started as a co-writer some sixteen years ago.

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IKEA gives Halloween tribute to ‘The Shining’

Noise Cannon

With the spookiest season of the year on the upswing, IKEA Singapore have shown a darker side to its late night shopping by recreating the famous Big Wheel scene from The Shining. Watch as a little boy wheels through the dimly lit store as lamps flicker and skeletons have parties in the stores’ made up kitchens. The video is well worth watching til the end, with a slightly comedic version of some familiar faces also from The Shining. We don’t know about you, but a flatpack graveyard at night gives us the chills.

Words by Louise Egan

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Gamers’ Playlist: Top 10 Zombie Slasher Songs

Noise Cannon

Gamers playlist halloween

That spooky time of year is just around the corner, with many of us dressing up in scary costumes and drinking and eating a variety of teeth melting things to celebrate Halloween. For gamers this is the perfect time of year to switch the lights out, put a headset on and scare yourself silly with horror games and zombie slashers galore. In honour of the season Noise Cannon has put together the only playlist you’ll need to listen to for a great gaming session on the likes of the Left 4 Dead, Dead Island and Dead Rising series’.

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Afroman’s ‘Because I Got High’ gets pro-marijuana remake

Noise Cannon

Afroman’s novelty song which is well known for documenting the laziness and negative aspects of smoking marijuana has been reworked for a campaign to legalize it. The remix of the 2001 track is a collaboration with online community Weedmaps and marijuana reform campaign NORML as votes which take place on 4 November in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia to decide on the legalisation of marijuana draw near, while Florida will decide on a medical marijuana amendment.

View original post 157 more words announce Mutator Sale

Noise Cannon

gog mutator sale

Today, games website have launched another ingenious sale. Their Mutator Promo allows gamers to take their chances and pick up three mystery “mutators”, each one for £1.29. To take part in the sale gamers need to pick 3 games from the promo lineup discounted up to 85% including Theme Hospital for £0.99, Cannon Fodder for £0.79, Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail! for £0.99, Outlast for £3.09, Broken Age for £9.49, Long Live the Queen for £1.29. This, in turn, gives them access to 3 “mutator” games – mystery titles that will be revealed after checkout. The £1.29 mutator could be anything from a £5 game to a £45 one!

The lineup of both regular games and mutators will change completely after the first 48 hours. The Mutator Promo will last for the next 6 days with an entirely new lineup of both regular games and mutators introduced after…

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