Evidence for the Defence

22 04 2011

Some good news from the US: a study by the Federal Trade Commission has shown it is much harder for under-age consumers to purchase M-rated games than it is for them to buy inappropriate DVDs, cinema tickets or music. Using 13 to 16-year-olds as undercover shoppers from November to January this year, the Commission unearthed some surprising disparities in the figures. Music with the Parental Advisory label was, perhaps predictably, the easiest media for kids to get hold of, with 64% managing to get their hands on it. A third managed to get cinema tickets meant for adults and 38% were able to buy R-rated DVDs. So far so predictable.

The figures for games, on the other hand, dropped from an already low 20% to a laudable 13%. Excellent work, chaps. Whilst these figures can’t be translated to the UK market, the gap between games and other media is so expansive as to suggest that broader retail trends, rather than individual store policy or law, are responsible, indicating that the same is likely to be true here as well. Whether these figures will make a difference to those groups campaigning against gaming is debatable – I myself can’t see it making much difference – but at least we have before us some objective evidence that children in the US find it fairly tricky to pick up titles that are patently not meant for them. What the survey doesn’t tell us is whether parents are buying inappropriate games for their children, being unaware of the ratings – but that’s a whole different argument.

In other news, I’m expecting my copy of Portal 2 to turn up tomorrow (in a box: I won’t put up with this newfangled download nonsense), the same day that the new series of Doctor Who starts. As such, I’m going into geek-hibernation, hopefully to emerge sometime on Monday to post something, most probably entitled ‘GlaDOS Versus the Daleks: Who Would Win?’

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