back to article Game laws to make underage selling illegal

The Government has abandoned its hybrid approach to age-rating computer games in favour of a single system. One method will now be used to rate all games in the UK and a new law will give regulators statutory power over game rating. Computer games are currently only controlled by legally-enforceable ratings if they contain …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guess What

    The only way for a 12 year old to prove they're 12 is to get a government sponcered prove it (after you've provided your biometrics and dna to the database) card, card will be scanned at purchase and attached to a linked database that shall in no way be used by the police to profile you as a dangerous subversive or potential killer.

  2. David Webb

    This is a title

    It will only be effective if it is also illegal to purchase said games for under-age people. Its currently illegal to purchase booze/fags for under age drinkers/smokers, but its not uncommon for a 40 year old mother to buy GTA for her 12 year old kid.

  3. David Evans
    Thumb Down

    And it will make absolutely no difference...

    ...As parents wander in to buy the latest "GTA 20: Bury Those Hookers Deep" in their nearest games emporium.

  4. Jack Harrer

    Quite reasonable

    It seems quite right. Of course as long as they allow to sell even the most violent ones, provided you're over 18. No exceptions, as long as it doesn't break the law, it should be allowed, but for adults only.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @David Webb

    >40 year old mother to buy GTA for her 12 year old kid.

    Don't you mean grand mother. I reckon the mother would be about 26 maximum.

  6. EnigmaxxUK
    Paris Hilton

    Already done

    They have a method of preventing the sale of games to kids already, it's called the price.

    Paris - because her price is high enough to prevent kids having access too.

  7. mmiied

    from experiance

    it is hard enought to get kids to understand the fact that bbfc's are law when I sold games I had to explane on numrus ocosions to 11-15 year olds that I could not sell them gta3 or what ever what was intresting was when 11-15 year olds where doing game trades and tehy traded in 18+ games and I had to explane I could not sell them 18 games even thought I could buy them of them I usuley fell back on the " well I am over 18" responce

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Parents Responsibility

    Does this mean that we can make parents responsible for their children.... finaly!

    If the game has a big red 18 cert on it, and a parent buys it to supply to an under age child... Can we prosecute them just the same as if they bought them a knife or cigs or booze?

    Tired of the 'think of the children' campaigns. So lets prosecute some parents! yarrr

  9. Brian Mankin

    The Incredible Growing Government

    In the 60s there was a film 'The incredible shrinking man' about a man who was exposed to a strange form of radiation that made him grow constantly smaller and smaller. I think the same sort of thing has happened to our goverment except that it keeps growing larger and larger. Surely it should be for parents to decide what is and isn't appropriate for their children. Not some self-selecting body of experts.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    @ David Evans


    As witnessed when I was sitting on a train watching a child of 10 pawing through the copy of inFAMOUS his dad had bought him.....

    Strong language anyone?

    I would stress however the importance of reminding parents that the PC/PS3/XBOX 360 is NOT an automatic child rearing device, take some responsibilty...... If you let them play those kinds of games make sure they know to distinguish reality from fantasy.

  11. Stef 4
    Thumb Up

    @ David Evans

    "As parents wander in to buy the latest "GTA 20: Bury Those Hookers Deep" in their nearest games emporium."

    Don't be silly David. Any truck driver can tell you, you never bother to bury a dead hooker. Just dump her body at the side of the road or a public lavatory.

    @David Webb: You are of course correct. This will not stop Mrs. Average buying "Wii Crack Cocaine Eyeball Injector 12" for little Timmy because games are for kids of course.

  12. LuMan

    Too little

    This will only work if shoppers buying these games sign a declaration stating that the game is for them and will only be played by them (or anyone else over the consented age).

    This can be done very easily by insisting that all games are purchased with a credit card and a signature on a piece of paper, which the vendor can simply send to the Government at the end of each trading day.

    Oooh, look. There's a little unicorn chasing a butterfly around the room... la la la laaaa...!

  13. Tom 101


    How exactly are they going to manage online sales of games? A lot of people under the age of 18 have a solo or electron card and could purchase games for under 12 or under 15 or what ever classification. Seems crazy to me.

  14. Samson Chan
    Gates Halo


    I agree with the AC at the top: As an avid gamer, I approve of this legally binding enforcement, so kids can't buy games rated 18, and then proceed to blame it when they kill someone because "they say in a game" (here's looking at you, 'Merica).

    The problem then lies on how do 12 year olds prove thry are indeed 12? Great if they have a passport, but they'll have to carry it around, otherwise?

    Ill thought out, thus far...

    Gates, because I love PC Gaming :)

  15. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Hard thing to do properly...

    Hard thing to do properly... as unlike a film, most games have optional elements and with a little effort, there can be thousands of optional elements in a game that a cursory examination wouldn't reveal.

    Take a fictional game where you can drive or walk around a virtual city... All is clean and then you go into a shady area, into a back alley and find through a non-descript door one particular gentleman's club called the "Blue Oyster Bar". Would an external assessor for the classification system find such detail amongst the entire game? Unlikely. This would leave the ratings to be applied by the publisher and this would leave to very inconsistent standards.

    In any case, as long as they're not stupid enough to think that they can also apply the ratings to user generated content or game mods. then a little help to try to the average clueless absent parent from buying a violent game involving shooting, pimping and other nastiness for a 6 year old kid ought to be a good thing.

  16. Squits


    Totally agree with you, as long as they don't start saying this and that about the games we adults are playing that's fine by me. I'm not playing Rape Simulator 43, I'm recreating a bloody scene from WW2, so leave us alone thanks.

  17. adam payne

    It doesn't go far enough

    If the government really want to stop kids getting on hands on unsuitable games they need to change the law so that it's illegal for anyone to buy a game for someone underage.

    Parents need to educate themselves to games, the content of games and what their kids are playing. They need to get involved with their kids game playing and even play games with them, not just buy it and stick them in a room somewhere while leaving them to it.

    Laws are no substitute for good parenting.

  18. Rob Beard

    Parents buying games for kids

    I've lost count of how many times I've been in Game, Gamestation or other games (or even video) stores where the kids pick out a game, be it GTA IV, Resident Evil 5 or whatever, hand them to their mum and then she goes and buys it for them.

    It's blatantly obvious that as soon as the kids leave the store they will be handed the game and then play it probably shut away in their bedrooms while their mum goes on as usual enjoying the piece and quiet.

    I'm not sure what the staff thing about this, quite possibly they feel frustrated or maybe they just couldn't give a monkeys.

    I'm all for this new rating system, it's hard to know sometimes if a game will be suitable (or even of interest) for my kids (luckily, or maybe unfortunately they're at the age where they want any mindless drivel which has either High School Musical or Hannah Montana on the box) but I do think that parents should wake up and think... hang on, is this game suitable for my little Timmy?


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ban all childern from the Net

    and anything with children in them.

    Parents are responsible if any child is found online, off to the Gulags with the parents.

    Other people's children are not someone else's responsibility.

  20. Andy 17
    Thumb Up


    My thoughts exactly!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nanny knows best

    You want to buy daddy Tour of Duty 4? Sorry kid, you cannot, because we have conflated *buying* a game with *playing* a game.

    See to merely *buy* the box will causes anger germs to transfer from the DVD in the box in through your hands and into your blood stream, causing eviloids to be released in your brain making you 10% more angryicious.

    Nanny knows best.

    You as a child may spot the flaw in our plan, namely that mother can buy it and you can still play it. However then phase 2 comes in, this is where we make it a crime to let you *play* it too!

    Nanny knows better than mummy.

    See if it's illegal for YOU to buy then someone must have bought it for you, and by letting you play it, it means they must be a bad mummy, bad mummy. Nanny spank bad mummy.

    So remember kids, Nanny knows best, and will micromanage every aspect of your lives for your own good.

  22. Flybert

    me dear pops ... he's a MP ya know ...

    buys all my booze, dope, extreme porn, hos and vid games anyway

  23. Dex

    How about.....

    ....The BBFC just get bent! Parents WILL buy titles for thier kids regardless of the cert if the kid nags them enough so here's an idea:

    ABANDON THE AGE RATINGS SYSTEM.....We're in this thing called the 21st Century......violence, strong language, sex, alcohol and drugs are EVERYWHERE so rather than fight it just let it be there.

    Punish those that have done wrong (rapists, killers and whatnot) with a PROPER legal system and stop trying to find excuses for you not doing YOUR JOB in the first place, Sure you can argue "video games are bad" but to quote a very good friend of mine:

    "Controversy and the games industry go hand in hand like Ico and Yorda, if you'll forgive the incredibly nerdy analogy, and like Yorda, the controversy tends to stay focused for an average of about 8 nanoseconds before getting bored and drifting off to do something else. But when it does get focused, it can get very exasperating, such as when youthful paragons of self-control are called nasty names, and decide that murder would be the wittiest comeback, and then is found to have stood next to a video game at some point in the past. Then the media generally start drooling the usual uninformed questions as to whether wholesome boyish pretend violence has any correlation with the real world. Short answer: No. Long answer: No, and go fuck yourselves, you ignorant scare-mongering cockbags."

    In summary: Abandon game and movies ratings and get a (set of) balls/spine and spend the money on PROPER policing, not nannying!

  24. Captain Hogwash

    @Brian Mankin

    Perhaps the more relevant film is "The Blob"?

  25. Elmer Phud

    Nursey says it's bad for you

    "All these criteria are important for ensuring that parents have the tools they need to make informed choices and keep their children safe"

    A lot of these parents don't seem to do the 'informed choice' bit and just go for the "It'll stop the little bastard whining all the time' option. And then can't undertand why thier little angel has been refused a PX on the game a month later.

    That and there's always the card details that mom and pop have filed under /My Docs/important info/cards

    It must be summer, the crap has reappeared and the flies are feeding.

  26. gunforhire

    To clarify...

    As someone who's had the misfortune of being a sales monkey in one of the major games retailers for a few years, I'm going to clear up some of the misconceptions on this issue that I'm seeing in these comments:

    - Previously, most games were already rated by the BBFC, making it against the law to sell them to anyone below the age rating. If you were caught selling a game to somebody underage, you could be fined up to £5000 and face 6 months in jail. The only thing new here is that this now applies to the PEGI ratings, which it didn't before, as the BBFC ratings are being dropped. Previously, staff in my retailer were instructed to treat the PEGI rating the same as the BBFC rating, so if someone can't prove their age, no sale.

    - Making it illegal for someone to buy an age rated title for a kid is not going to solve anything and is a perfect example of trying to solve a problem by throwing legislature at it, something the current government seems to love doing. How can anyone expect a store worker to be able to tell if an adult is buying a game for a kid, let alone prove it? A parent will just argue, kick up a fuss and demand to speak to the manager, saying they're buying it for themselves, not little Billy standing beside them. This will never work. Parents need to be better educated (and actually do some damn parenting rather than buying GTA for little Billy), but sadly, most parents in this country are ignorant and frankly couldn't give a crap, as long as they can buy something to shut their kids up and keep them distracted for a while.

    As for kids proving how old they are? Simple - if you can't prove you're 18 (for example), then no sale. That's always how it works in my ex-employer for example. Admittedly it's harder to prove you're 12 than 16 or 18 due to the lack of ID for people that age, but there are cards out there that can be used, such as the Citizencard or whatever it's called. Besides, with all these databases that Brown and Co have dreamed up it shouldn't be too hard to pull enough data off them to create an age verification card for children....

  27. Sooty

    this is just silly

    It only makes sense for 18+ games anyway, as games are modifyable.

    If you think back to oblivion, which had to be re-rated because third party mods made it possible to have nude characters you'll see how silly this could get.

  28. Steve Kay


    Why all this gnashing of teeth and wailing about "but what about parents who buy 18-rated games for kids"?

    Who cares? Only those who are desperately "finkin' of the childrens" will care about that loophole.

    For me, however - I like Grand Theft Auto games, and wish to buy them.

    If a mandatory age-ratings system keeps them available in the shops and into my hands, I'm happy.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This law will work!

    This responsible parent doesn't like his 12 year old getting hold of ecstasy, but GTA IV on the Xbox 360 is just fine.

  30. David Webb


    Yes, there needs to be education for parents on the subject, a bit like the anti-piracy thing in movies (which has stopped piracy 100%!!)

    You wouldn't let your 12 year old watch Hard Core Donkey Lover XIV

    You wouldn't let your 12 year old watch Saw 7 - Revenge of the Avenged

    You wouldn't let your 12 year old watch Anything involving Keanu Reeves

    Why let your 12 year old participate in Hard Core Donkey Saw starting Keanu Reeves?

    I don't think parents understand (well, older parents who are not 21 themselves with 12 year old kids, as, according to the Sun, is the norm rather than the exception) that video games can easily be a lot more violent than movies, hell, even Pokemon is violent and introduces our children to fighting animal against animal!

    I say ban all Children, just Children, ban them, or move them to an island till they are 18 years old!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    age rating

    See I'm all for Parental advisory (someone under 18 can't buy it), it's upto a parent to decide if their kid can watch a film/play a game. How I was raised, how most of the people I know were raised. Doesn't do people any harm as long as you're brought up right, the only reason the hype exists around games/films/music is becouse it's an easy get out clause if you've broken the law.

    Little johnny wasn't responible for shooting an old lady becouse he'd been brought up on a combination of violent movies like the matrix and games like GTA.

    Wah wah wasn't the criminals fault society did it to them wah wah. Take some responsibilty damn it.

  32. Scott Evil
    Paris Hilton

    adult games being sold to adults only

    Wouldnt that be bliss, leaving all the mutliplayer servers of 18+ games free from all the underage fukwits using trainers or hacks of variuos kinds and being general tards.

    Less off "omg u nab/nub/noob" "haha i haxxed u foo" on the game chat

    When is this age restriction enforcement happening?

    Paris suks(in many ways) give us a newer fitter avatar to use!

  33. steogede

    @David Webb also

    >> It will only be effective if it is also illegal to purchase said games for under-age people. Its currently illegal to purchase booze/fags for under age drinkers/smokers, but its not uncommon for a 40 year old mother to buy GTA for her 12 year old kid.

    No it isn't, it is illegal to buy booze and fags *on behalf* of someone under 18, it isn't illegal to buy booze *for* someone under 18 (not sure about fags). If I, as a person over 18, buy some booze and then choose to share or give it to someone under 18, then no offence has been committed except possible if they are under 5 (the legal drinking age in the UK) or under 18* and on licensed premises (16 for beer, wine or cider with a meal).

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: sex in computer games

    if we computer computer games to films, titanic has kate winslets boobs in it, and is rated by the bbfc to be a 12.

    I somehow don't think this will be in line with the games rating system.


    after all, murder is ok, but boobs are damaging to children


  35. Anonymous Coward

    Does it matter?

    People will just buy them from, or ask a parent/friend over the age limit to buy it for them.

    If I ever choose to have children, I will buy them anything they aren't old enough to if I think they are mature enough, since the limits are so ridiculous. 18? No normal person over about 13 will have any issues with that.

    Yet more pointless legislation from the fucking nanny state.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Up until age 15

    I always had my mom or dad buy games for me. They'd go in the shop with me, I'd say "That one!" and done. Or sometimes I'd just tell them what to get and they went out and got it. Reason? I had no money. So how is this "protecting" the children when the parents just buy the game, with or without the child, and how can you prove intent unless you make it illegal for said children to actually play the games, not just buy them? Great going guys, glad I'm not over there.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Parents are responsible

    The parents buy the games so they have to know what they are. Any games my son wants, even if age appropriate, gets checked out by us first to see if it's suitable. However I agree with other posters that you still have to make sure they know it's just fantasy and if they they start to behave aggressively, for example, you stop them playing the game.

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