I have an ongoing battle with my 9 year old about what games he is allowed to play on his XBox 360.
Apparently ALL of his friends are allowed to play on games that I don’t allow him to play on! Whilst I certainly don’t believe that all if his friends are allowed to play on 16 and 18 rated games that I consider completely unsuitable, I know that the majority of his class mates are allowed to.
We can see the games that his friends are playing because he’s friends with them on XBox live and some of the games I see them playing on, I don’t even think I’d be happy for him to play when he’s 16!
Don’t get me wrong though, I am quite laid back about ages for films and games – as long as I’ve seen it first then I don’t really consider the ages as I feel like I know better what my children can and can’t cope with and what is suitable for them to be watching and playing.
We have a couple of games here rated 16 and over and I have no problem with them because I’ve seen them and I don’t think they’re too bad – certainly no worse than what they watch on TV sometimes.
One example is a wrestling game that he has – it’s rated 16 and over, probably because of the violence involved in wrestling but to me, I’m OK with that because he watches (or used to anyway) real life wrestling as many boys do. He wants to play the game where he can play as his favourite wrestlers and do the same moves. He knows not to copy the moves and plays the game with me in the room and not once have I ever seen anything that I consider as unsuitable.
But, considering that wrestling is something that a lot of young boys are very much into, shouldn’t the game have been more suitable for the younger audience. It doesn’t make sense to develop a game that such a large amount of your audience aren’t going to be old enough to buy or play.
And it works both ways, games like Call of Duty and Halo are aimed at older players and parents like me, tell their children that they can’t play the game because it’s unsuitable. Then you pop into your local toy shop with the kids and you’re faced with Call of Duty Mega Bloks which is clearly aimed at children younger than 16.
Why bring out merchandise for a game that children aren’t old enough to play with? It just makes parents jobs of explaining why they can’t play on a game much harder.
As it happens, we have Call of Duty and I don’t actually have a problem with the kids playing it right now – they aren’t allowed to play the story mode which is the graphic and violent part of the game and the reason for the age limit. They’re only allowed to play online with their friends and from what I’ve seen, it seems like a giant game of hide and seek where they shoot each other when they find their friends.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that the age on any given film or game is a very good guide to the suitability of it for my children but the final decision is mine and mine alone.
I don’t want to have to argue the unsuitability of a game and then find the games merchandise on my children’s Christmas list because it’s been splashed all over the Argos catalogue and our local toy store’s shelves as a children’s toy.