Video Game Retailers and Game Classification Attitudes

March 24th, 2008

xbo 360 kidRecently I have been thinking about video game classification in relation to the general attitudes of game retailers. You see this all came about a few weeks ago when I saw the pictured image in a Dick Smiths catalogue (Dick Smiths = Australian electronics retailer). This image is of a child holding up an Xbox 360 and two mature rated games; Gears of War and Halo 3.

Obviously there is a problem here in that the kid is promoting two MA5+ games and in Australia selling MA15+ games to minors is an offense yet Dick Smiths clearly aren’t worried about that. This is pretty minor oversight, I know but I believe that it symbolizes the general attitude that retailers have towards this issue.

Stepping back from Dick Smiths for a while I want to use another example. For my last job I was working at one of Australia’s most successful retailers; Myer. Through my 6 months of work for the company (in the electrical department) nothing was ever brought up o the issue of video game classification. I was never instructed of who I could and couldn’t sell a game to instead it was all left down to assumptions and personal opinion. The same goes for my job before that at Harris Scarfes in which we sold a few cheap DVD compilations.

All video game retailers clearly believe in the classification system as their games display the classifications and in many cases classification information is visible in store, online and in catalogues. Where the problem lies is with the staff and staff training, over the years I have seen and in fact probably have myself been involved in the selling of mature rated games to minors. In every case the staff sell the game without fuss and the issue of classification is ever raised. From my point of view this is all a problem of attitude.

So Why Do I Care?

When I was a kid I watched R18+ movies and played imported R18+ games and I think that I turned out okay. So why do I care? Simple; reputation. As I previously posted it is important for the media and wider community to look favourably at video games so that we can reach the end goal of being regarded as equals with film and literature.

Every time the media screen an (ill-informed) segment related to video game violence it is our industry which is looked down upon. It is another pitfall in the way. The only thing that we can do as an industry is abide by the laws and from there it is up to the consumer.

Unfortunately I don’t see businesses changing, where there is profit to be made why worry about selling a child one of these games?

  • Good point about the importance of reputation and image. I was surprised to be carded when buying Killer 7 a couple months ago, although I didn’t mind. It’s likely that few retailers bother with educating their employees about this issue. But I also think the game industry receives a little unfair criticism, largely because it’s such a new medium. It’s almost a rite of passage for kids to sneak into a R-rated movies, yet very little is said about it because it’s been around for years.

    However, I think it’s not enough for the game industry to just sit back, abide by the laws, and wait. They must also promote a more positive, healthy image. They can’t just wait for opinions to shift on their own. It sometimes seems like the game industry doesn’t mount much of a defense when criticized, which I find a little disappointing. But I know that games will become more and more accepted over time.

  • I have to confess when I saw the photo of the boy with the games, I thought it was a joke. This was actually in a catalogue? Unbelievable. Doesn’t anyone proofread this stuff?

    I agree with Korey. The industry needs to take this kind of thing into its own hands. That’s what the motion picture industry did many years ago, and by doing so they were successfully able to ward off legislation and government censorship. If the industry doesn’t do it, someone else will.

  • You can see the whole page here BTW:

    http://www.ecogamer.com/content/view/511/6/

    Yeah I agree, theres been a bit of talk lately about the industry just sitting back and taking all of this rubbish. We really need to step it up a little.