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Attention, Parents: Violent Video Games Are Not Marketed to Kids

Jun 3, 2016   //   by   //   Community Blog  //  Comments Off on Attention, Parents: Violent Video Games Are Not Marketed to Kids

It’s been the same argument for over 20 years.  Ever since complaints over the hyper-violent Doom and Night Trap led to the creation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board in 1994, parents and advocacy groups have complained about how the video game industry supposedly markets inappropriate titles to minors.

The National Rifle Association implicated the sector in facilitating the shootings at Sandy Hook, condemning it as “a callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people.” It should be noted that the specific video game they believe provoked the murders, Kindergarten Killer, is a user-created mod, and not an ESRB-approved title–the industry didn’t market it at all.

ESRB Mature 17+ rating

The ESRB Mature 17+ rating is found on all mature-rated video games.

Many of the deaths in this Criminal Justice Degrees Guide article were perpetrated by people who were demonstrably too young to play the discussed games.  Their parents allowed this, despite the ESRB’s ubiquitous rating system clearly denoting, on every box and every download screen, when a game is designated Adults Only (18+), Mature (17+), Teen (13+), Everyone 10+, Everyone, or Early Childhood.  Each rating comes with specific indicators as to the content of each title, such as ‘intense violence’ or ‘nudity.’ contains lengthy descriptions of thousands of commercial games.

There are strict industry regulations about how, where, and to whom games of higher ratings can be marketed.  At some point, parents need to take more responsibility for the kind of content their children experience.

Almost 50% of boys surveyed in a study listed an M-rated title as their favourite game.  Most stores won’t sell the games directly to minors, but they’re getting them somehow.

Case in point: the amount of parents who bought their children the M-for-Mature-rated Grand Theft Auto V.  A person going by ‘Video Game Retail Veteran’ wrote about the situation in a Kotaku article titled ‘I Sold Too Many Copies of GTA V to Parents Who Didn’t Give a Damn.’


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