Opinion// Video Games without the Law

Posted 26 Aug 2009 15:38 by
It's time for Chaos... horror, violence and streets filled with car-thieving, crack-addicted, copulating seven year-olds!

The fact that the UK's Video Recordings Act of 1984 has been 'discovered' to be invalid - and that no similar law will be in place for at least three months ? means that retailers will have to make their own minds up about selling games not previously rated for children to children.

I'd like to think about this as a set of actual, real world social experiments in psychology. So far, all the studies ? including the not-so-laughable, despite its obviously heavily weighted title - Grand Theft Childhood, have been fractured documents easy enough to pull apart and based on confused metrics.

We've now got a situation in which video games featuring all kinds of savage content, including drug use, horrible violence and sexual behaviour, can legally be sold to the youngest of children.

Imagine!

The social experiments will be based around the following situations:

1) Retail, staunchly proud of its free market stance, will sell video games about anything to anyone.

Or...

2) Retail, will forget its free market stance for three months, will bow to the fear of retroactive legislation or, worse still, tabloid backlash and attempt not to sell video games about anything to anyone.

In the case of the first event, the experiment will be to gauge if the levels of school shootings, rapes, drug addiction, pregnancies and car thefts among under-18s actually rise, remain static or fall (everybody will be inside playing video games, after all) during or shortly following this moratorium on censorship and brief glimpse at a truly free market.

In the case of the second event, the experiment will be to see how retail defends a self-appointed morality enforcement role over and above the free market. In order not to sell product ? in a free market ? to people who wish to legally buy that product (even if those people are five years-old and the product is Saints Row 2) a shop worker is going to have to go through something like this:

5YO: Give us Saints Row 2, here's the cash.

SA: I'm afraid I can't.

5YO: Bollocks you can't. I know my rights. Sell it to me, or I will report you to trading standards.

SA: It's store policy. I can't sell it to you.

5YO: Are you telling me that your store operates ageism as store policy?

SA: (Squirming, for it is Saturday and his mates are watching) Erm, yes?

5YO: I want to see the manager, and so does my mum.

Mum: Yes, I do.

SA: Look (indicating Mum) I'll sell it to you.

Mum: But I don't want it. Tarquin wants it. Get us the manager.

SA: Mr Hodges! Mr Hodges!

Mr H: Yes, did you tell them it was store policy not to sell PEGI and/or BBFC-rated games to inappropriately aged consumers?

SA: Sort of.

Mr H: (To mum) We are not going to sell this game to that child. Fullstop.

5YO: Do you hate capitalism or something? I have cash. You have product. There is no law against you selling it to me. Sell it to me, you ageist pig.

Mr H: No.

5YO: Why not?

MrH: You are too young, it will warp your mind.

5YO: Okay, sell it to my brother.

Mr H: How old is your brother?

5YO: You're 21 aren't you Derek?

Del: (Dribbling and shaking) Yes.

5YO: You should be aware that Derek has just come out of Broadmoor (prison for the criminally insane, think Arkham Asylum with worse graphics) having served 12 years for crimes so vile that not even Channel 4 could broadcast a documentary about them.

Mr H: (Obviously exhausted) But he's 21, right?

5YO: He sure is.

Mr H: And if I sell it to him, you won't be playing it?

5YO: Most certainly not... no way... no how.

Mr H: 29.99 please.

Yes, the social experiment will be to see how long, without legislation, that argument ? which occurs every week (really) somewhere in the country ? can be extended, curtailed or remain the same for.

The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and does not reflect those of SPOnG.com except when it does.

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Comments

Joji 30 Aug 2009 20:47
1/1
Another dose of egg salad all over the governments face. I wonder what Keith Vaz is doing right now? It seems while the faux practice of selling rated games, might have worked to calm the nerves of the non game playing doom mongers, there was no need for it in the first place.

I remember very well, the day the government first decided upon ratings for video games. I was still in my teens and getting into games as a hobby. From what I recall, it was really that fear, that as visuals improved, they children would be corrupted. This has yet to really be proven conclusive and absolute. At the same time, I would not want to push RE5 in front 5-10 year olds to play.

Fast forward to the present. Society hasn't fallen, or rather its tripped over itself quite well on its own, without the influence of games, and what possible examples many give as such are blown way out of proportion, that they aren't valid (Mass Effect, GTA Hot Coffee, etc). Perhaps my view might be slightly biased in that I play and enjoy games. I do agree with game ratings after all this long term exposure to them, though, as they stop such moaning politicians from bitching, until they find something else negative about them, that is.

But there's a valid point many have missed. This non law, while it works with real retail outlets, is it actually effective in a 21st century internet connected world? It's kind of like, how porn magazine are on a top shelf, but you can easily find porn a plenty for free on the net. Games can be purchased from Ebay etc, and bypass age restrictions local shops impose, and all it takes is a Paypal account and bank account.

The masses will ignore this rating news and buy within their habits still, IMO.
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