Parental guidance: Gaming Restrictions

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I’ve often wondered how I will manage my kids and their gaming one day. The way things are going, games are progressing into better visuals, and aren’t lacking when it comes to violence. The reason I wonder, is due to several scenarios I have encountered in retail. While doing audits in stores in the past, I have often overheard or witnessed parents buying games for their children, and seen the kinds of choices they make.

The one occasion, a mother and her two boys (probably not older than 10), were browsing through the gaming shelf. She was asking her kids what they would be interested in getting, but she did make sure that whatever they looked at was age appropriate. It was clear that the two boys understood the concept of being too young to experience certain games. A similar scenario happened with a father and his daughter, and he too made sure that the game of choice was within his allocated boundaries.

Within the same month in a different store, I overheard a mother talking to one of the stores representatives, looking for something for her son’s birthday. He was turning 13, and she was looking for something to keep him entertained. The store rep asked her some questions and probed around, obviously trying to narrow down the sort of choices he should be offering her. She told him that her son loved playing horror and action games, and she remembered vividly a game he played a couple of years ago called Doom 3. She even went on to describe how it was far too violent for her, but her son loved it nonetheless. Something along the same lines would be perfect. Still listening intently, I wondered how the store rep would respond. 13 is far too young to be playing a game like Doom, so what would he offer?

He offered up Dead Space 1 and 2. He went on to describe just how important it is in the game to dismember enemies strategically, and just how violent yet awesome it is. Without even blinking an eyelid, the mother purchased both games.

Admittedly, I am pleased that parents of today are taking gaming seriously enough that they will buy their kids games. Yet I find it a little off that age restriction really isn’t taken seriously. Surely its wrong for a child to play restricted games, and will turn them into mindless, violent killers?

Then I remember the sorts of games I had access to when I was young. My brother is 7 years older than me, so I had access to any game he bought. One of my first proper pc games I played was Quake II, and that was when I was around 9 years old. Not quite as realistic as Doom 3, but pretty much the same kind of violence (although far more pixilated). When I was 10 or so, I played my first Resident Evil game. Back then it scared the hell out of me, but I endured and played it nonetheless. Although the above games seem laughable now, at the time they were considered the height of a violent game. I think I turned out alright, even though I have this constant urge to run out and shoot people, but that’s normal… right?

As a parent, what kind of games do you let your kids have access to? Or if you plan on having kids one day, how will you manage their gaming experience? I’m also curious as to what sort of games you experienced when you knew they were age restricted.

Last Updated: August 4, 2017

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