“Mommy, mommy…..Please can I get the new Call of Duty……pleeeeeaaaaase!!!!”
This was the shocking comment from an 8 year old child that I had the unsettling experience of overhearing recently at one of my local gaming stores.
What was even more unsettling was the response I heard from his mother….”Well, your grades are good, so I’ll buy it for you. Only if you promise to keep it up though”
As innocent as the mother’s intentions were, the rest of us hardcore gamers know that for an 8 year old child this was not a good parental decision on her part.
Now, here’s the thing…I do not have any children of my own (scream hypocrite as much as you want), but I do have an 8 year old nephew. As a gamer I know that although it may lie on the discretion of the parent, those funny little numbers on the cover actually have meaning and her child should NOT be playing it.
As much as it was probably none of my business, I took it upon myself to inform the mother about the game she was about to take to the counter to purchase, and after the initial shock of what Call of Duty really had in store for her poor child’s mind (Adult themed blood and violence, and if playing online…an entire vocabulary of unpleasant words and phrases for her child to learn from his online friends)…….she decided to buy Skylanders Giants instead (and yes, I did inform her of the purchasable characters and possible crippling of her bank account)
While I still have no idea whether the shop clerk would have sold the game to the unknowing mother, it wouldn’t surprise me if he did. Technically he wouldn’t be selling it to the child and the shop does have it’s targets to meet. Add to that the potential pressure on the sales clerk to meet those targets, and it might have gone the wrong way.
Unfortunately, many parents who aren’t familiar with some of the more recent games on the market have the notion that all games are for children, and although that may have been the case back in the good old days when the original Nintendo console came out, the gaming industry has grown up WITH those children and adapted to a more mature audience.
It’s up to the parent to make sure that their child is not exposed to things that go against their families values and ignorance in this regard could become a problem later down the line.
There are 2 ratings systems (ESRB and PEGI) that are responsible for the Age restrictions / ratings on these games, and depending on where you live in the world, you should definitely pay more attention to these ratings for the sake of you children. Both sites have an informative layout designed to give parents more information on these ratings and to search for particular games to see why those ratings are there.
Check out these websites to get far more comprehensive information about the games available:
PEGI (applicable to Europe and South Africa) – http://www.pegi.info
The ESRB (The Entertainment Software Ratngs board – http://www.esrb.org
As a parent, these sites are incredibly informative and should help you decide what your kids should be playing. They even have mobile apps that will be able to help you when you’re at the store with your child.