Wednesday 7 December 2005/... Askaboutgames.com is a new initiative designed to help parents understand the age ratings system for computer and video games so that they can make more informed choices when choosing games for their children.
Gaming is now a mainstream leisure activity in the UK. The average age of gamers is in the mid-twenties and it is estimated that over half of all males and one in four of all females play games regularly. As with other entertainment forms, there are games aimed at consumers of all ages from the very young to the over-18 market.
However, as recent research has highlighted, consumers, in particular parents, appear to be confused about the age ratings system as it applies to computer and video games and concern has been expressed by some sectors of the media about the type of content that children may be exposed to.
In response to this, ELSPA, the collective identity for the UK games industry, has developed a new website, askaboutgames.com. The site is aimed mainly at parents and guardians who know their children play games but are concerned by negative media perception of gaming.
Media Minister, James Purnell, said: "It's a criminal offence to sell or rent an 18 rated game to a child. To back this up, our penalties are among the toughest in Europe. But too often parents unwittingly allow their children to play unsuitable games.
"I am pleased that the industry is taking further steps to educate parents about video game content. It's particularly important at this time of year. I'd like to remind parents to look carefully at the games they are putting in their children's stockings this Christmas."
Roger Bennett, director general of ELSPA commented: "We believe that through the askaboutgames.com website parents will see that the games industry is as well regulated as all other entertainment mediums. Armed with the facts on game ratings, parents will be able to buy games for their children for Christmas and throughout the year with the assurance that their children are not being exposed to content unsuitable for their age."
Through askaboutgames.com ELSPA hopes to dispel parental concerns over unsuitable content through clear, detailed explanations of game ratings and symbols, why ratings are important, how they work and tips on how children should play safely.
Askaboutgames.com also highlights ways in which consumers can work in the games industry and courses that are available to school leavers to get onto a gaming career path. The games industry brings much to the UK economy through exports, job creation and game sales.
Askaboutgames.com goes live today - 7th December 2005.