Nobody takes videogame ratings seriously

Opinion: it is time that parents were properly educated

Does this even mean anything to most parents buying games for their kids

As we await the outcome of the ongoing debate in the UK as to the best ways of rating videogames – with the industry-sponsored PEGI system currently pitted against the traditional ratings body the BBFC – it seems that the problem is, if anything, far more acute over in the Far East.

According to the Malaysian New Straits Times, the Secretary General of the Malaysian Consumers' Association and Chief Exec of the country's National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC), Muhammad Sha'ani Abdullah, said this week that Malaysian game retailers and buyers simply do not take ratings seriously.

"These classifications [ESRB ratings] are given by the producers of the games but when they are sold, traders rarely make it a practice to sell according to the recommended age group. They do not see how serious an impact it can have on children," he said.

Renegade retailers

Much the same can be said of many UK retailers and game consumers and the issue is becoming increasingly more worrying for those of us that consider ourselves responsible adult gamers.

We don't want to see gaming become demonised any more so that it currently is, clearly, but at the same time we really want to see parents and retailers act a little bit (in fact, a LOT) more responsibly than they currently appear to be doing.

While there has been some controversy in the British games industry of late regarding a recent UK Government sponsored campaign to promote healthy lifestyles among children (featuring pictures of young gamers slumped and lifeless) there is obviously the vital need for all parents to ensure that their children don't spend too long gaming at the expense of their health and education.

This is in no way a slur on gaming or the games industry. It is just basic and very obvious common sense.

Fine line of good parenting

It is a fine line, but it is one which the parent needs to learn how to negotiate. Communicating with their offspring about the games they play (and the games they are not allowed to play, and why not) is key.

"It is similar to what happened when junk food and fast food became available to children. We are now seeing many obese children," added Muhammad Sha'ani Abdullah

"Similarly, in 20 years, we may have adults who practise the wrong values... Parents must ensure they are not building a generation of fat, violent kids."