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Potentially new "AO" (Adults Only) Game Rating

kat · 1 · 7066

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Offline kat

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Seems the 'stupid' is coming in relatively thick and fast lately... elections pandering perhaps (end of May for the UK). The Northamptonshires police and crime commissioner (an elected office), Adam Simmonds, in a recent report on online safety, suggested a new rating for games to cover materials that depict explicit content, i.e. torture and murder etc. The new 'Adults Only', or 'AO' rating would "... help parents identify which content is suitable for children" [source - ITV].

Now as the context for this is "children" ("minors" or individuals under the age of 16 in the UK), and it's to "help... parents", one has to wonder that, for a child and their permissioned access to a given game, what the addition of an "AO" rating would do that "PEGI 18" doesn't already in terms of informing a parent that little Janey and Johnny shouldn't really be playing the game purchased for them... because... it's rated "18", as evidenced by the big red sticker on the packaging, or the age confirmation requirements, or credit card access, at time of digital purchase.

It's almost as if none of these people handing out advice so freely (at tax-payers expense) or making policy decisions actually play games or are informed enough about the industry and what it actually does do, or even care for that matter, to be giving such advice, and at conferences where policy is discussed, in public, amongst other equally uninformed individuals. One could be mistaken for thinking 'they' don't actually want the industries opinions and input on the matter, rather just dictate terms.

About the European PEGI ratings system and what the stickers mean.

Additional Reading/Resources
Adult only rated certificate for video games that depict torture and mass murder.
Online Safety Report options (it should be noted the report was not linked to directly from any of the articles discussing the issue and had to be found digging though social media).
A report by Northamptonshire Police & Crime Commission March 2015 (PDF) (cf. footnote summary below).
Adam Simmonds: How children should be protected from violent video games.
PEGI Guidelines for marketing & merchandising purposes.

[edit to add] Having now read through the report itself it doesn't posit any new ideas, just new, regionalised, figures on the same problems; "X" number of schoolkids have experienced "y" problem. Interesting however are two larger points, both of which are lost in the "keep children safe" caterwauling. They are that;

1) most harassment youngster experienced online originates from their immediate peers, and it's far more likely to happen over Social Media and texting than playing video games.
2) the younger the child, the more likely it is for their parents to have strict 'rules of use' in place whilst actively monitoring what their children do online.

The realities of the report are not that the Internet is a risky or dangerous place so it should be regulated and controlled (although the report and others like it call for that, often subtly), rather that kids don't understand the broader implications and consequences of their own online habits and behaviours - because they are more-often-than-not using the Internet to talk to friends and people they know, it doesn't occur to them that others they don't know could be listening. Highlighting this latter point is key to changing their general behaviour in a way that doesn't require Internet regulation that could potentially shut down future opportunities others may not have thought of/about (a common driver for progress).