back to article Sellers flogging vid games to underage kids face jail, unlimited fine

Traders which supply video games without displaying the age rating could face two years in jail and an unlimited fine. Under the new regime, effective from yesterday and introduced by the Video Recordings (Labelling) Regulations 2012, the Video Standards Council (VSC) will take over responsibility for regulation of most video …


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  1. wowfood


    I honestly can't stand it when, if a game doesn't meet their standards it won't be sold. i mean honestly I'm 25 for god sakes, if somebody madea game I should be able to play it. Not that many games have been denied classification in the UK.

    Then again I'm also of the opinion that people can have sex at 16 so they maximum legal age should be 16 on most things (unless of course they go to extremes) change age ratings to pg13, 16 and 21 or something.

    1. Richard 81

      Re: ...

      I can't think of any that have been denied classification. Was Manhunt denied?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ...

        Manhunt wasn't, Manhunt 2 was given an AO in the UK... which is almost as good as being denied classification as basically no one will stock it. The Postal games never got anything over M either.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ...

          Just to clarify, it was given an AO until it was cut. San Andreas had a similar thing after Hot Coffee incident.

          1. Test Man

            Re: ...

            Just to clarify further, "AO" is US classification, which is what it got in the US initially. In the UK, the BBFC simply refused to give it a classification, which means it can't be sold at all (no games can be sold until it's classified). The game had bits cut, the BBFC still refused to classify it, Rockstar won the appeal and it eventually was released.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: ...

              Whoops, right you are. Second time in a few days I've gone mad in the pre-coffee morning. Oops.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ...

      wowfood. Actually UK law has many restrictions on sex relating to 16-18s, its a grey time of life as to what is permissible. Same goes for other aspects of life for that age group.

      1. terlan

        Re: ...

        true, but I think wowfood was highlighting how silly it is that a 16 or 17 year old in the uk can leave school, have full time jobs, get married, have sex and legitimately have children but can't buy :

        Modern Warfare 3, Assassin's Creed III, GTA IV, max payne 3, ghost recon, fallout new vegas, doom 3 or any the other 100s of games that are currently rated 18.

        But then there are laws saying the cant buy drink or ciggies, and those seem to work fine.

  2. DJ Smiley
    Thumb Down

    No it wont...

    1. Parents ignore age ratings

    2. No game has a difficulty rating; so parents end up wasing money on games which are way too hard because they look easy (i.e. they have a cartoon or some childs toy as the picture on the front

    3. Because of 2. Parents end up listening to what their kids played at someone elses house and enjoyed and so buy that.

    4. Obviously not all parents; some are highly clued up or at least ask the staff in the store

    5. Sadly the reality is most of the time the staff in the store don't have any more time than the parents to play games.

    All the above is true. I used to work in game retail and saw everything from a dad buying GTA IV for his 4 year old son, to 16 year olds telling me they were going to knife me if I didn't sell them GTA (hahahah then the two VERY large store security guards turned up); Kids with fake driving licenses; kids with OTHER peoples driving licenses; and then parents who would ask questions and actually listen to the advice we'd attempt to give.

    Sadly though my employer could not see the point in actually having the staff play games at any point, nor did they see the point in having managers who actually cared about anything other than sales.


    Also, the chain that I worked at would enforce the pegi rating as if it was a legal rating (basically it was a simple get out cause to not sell a pegi rated 12 to a 5 year old without just saying "we don't want to") but parents would always say "Well thats not a legal rating is it" pointing to the pegi rating because it looked nothing like the BBFC which they were used to...

    1. Crisp

      Re: No it wont...

      The only way to tackle this is to change parents perceptions of what they are buying their kids.

      You wouldn't buy your 13 year old son a porn movie would you? Likewise you shouldn't buy your 13 year old son an adult video game where he can steal cars and beat up hookers.

      It's common sense really.

      1. Greg J Preece

        Re: No it wont...

        "You wouldn't buy your 13 year old son a porn movie would you? Likewise you shouldn't buy your 13 year old son an adult video game where he can steal cars and beat up hookers."

        Shouldn't you? Depends if your kid is mature enough to handle it. That's the standard my parents always used, rather than some arbitrary magic number. I played every violent video game under the sun as a kid, and I've yet to even attain one star on my criminal record. ;-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No it wont...

          Don't be silly, when you are 17 years and 364 days old, you are an immature stupid child. One day later you are suddenly a responsible adult.

          That's why 18 years olds drive sensibly and don't drink so much they have no idea what's happening around them. 18 is the magic number.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: No it wont...

            Remembering that for leap years don't count.

            So it's not being 18 years old - it's being the 18th calender anniversary of their birth that matures their brain.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No it wont...

          Greg. Mature enough to handle it? A 13 year old who claims or believes they are mature enough to handle porn or other 'adult' oriented games is exhibiting strong levels of immaturity. A more mature 13 year old will understand that some things are unsuitable. As true now by observation of my 13 year old and his contemporaries as was long ago in my teen years.

          Not being a killjoy. Halo is rated 15 for violence but fine for for majority of 13 year olds imo, only a problem for those kids at risk from the violence is cool crap, highlights how 12, 15 ratings are more parental guidance. As you say, not a magic number.

          1. Greg J Preece

            Re: No it wont...

            Greg. Mature enough to handle it? A 13 year old who claims or believes they are mature enough to handle porn or other 'adult' oriented games is exhibiting strong levels of immaturity. A more mature 13 year old will understand that some things are unsuitable. As true now by observation of my 13 year old and his contemporaries as was long ago in my teen years.

            You seem to have missed the part where my parents made the assessment, not me. I wasn't rich enough to be buying stuff at 13. They would simply ask "can Greg handle this?" If the answer was yes, then I was OK. They recognised very early on that Unreal Tournament or Carmageddon with my friends resulted in laughter, not violence. Same went for films - I wanted to watch the stuff with adult storylines rather than the stuff with tits, so they were fine with that. Mollycoddle a child too much and you're just creating a time bomb for when they turn 16/18/21/magic number.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: No it wont...

        >It's common sense really.

        Would you buy your 13ear old son a comic where people are killed because of their race?

        No - Well that's all the war comics we had when I was growing up.

    2. Charles 9

      Re: No it wont...

      That's nothing. You also have the ol' college-age buddy buying it for you while you wait in the car. Clerk never sees the underage kid, sees a legal adult with ID, can't balk at the purchase.

  3. james lewis

    title means something else

    I think you are referring to people selling to underage clients.

    Underage sellers suggests youngsters selling games themselves.

  4. terlan

    googles and apples app stores?

    So does this apply to mobile games as well. As far as I know there is no PEGI ratings on either of the 2 main app stores, there is a internal rating system but its not this. So does every game going into these have to be passed to the BBFC for classification or are mobile games not classed as Video games for the purpose of this bill?

    And with the volume of games appearing on the mobile platform by indie developers and large software houses every day is the BBFC even close to having the capacity to process them at a reasonable rate? Or is an mobile game developer after waiting weeks to get through apples / google vetting and approval system then going to have to wait further weeks / months to get their title classified for sale in the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: googles and apples app stores?

      Its head in the sand for the legislators for mobile. As with broadcast/internet TV. Virgin Media don't highlight ratings for movies and even the BBC don't rate their programs except when go to DVD (where e.g. for Doctor Who there is a confusing mix of PG and 12).

      1. Test Man

        Re: googles and apples app stores?

        I think video games (at least on the PlayStation Store anyway) ARE PEGI-rated.

        With broadcast TV, I don't think they have to rate them by law. Seeing as the broadcasters would have to pay for the use of BBFC certificate, there is no incentive for them to do it. That said, on Freeview at least, some programmes do sometimes get rated on the EPG (using generic rating marks).

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GTA IV

    I play a lot of video games and therefore consider myself better able to assess the suitability for my children. I didn't let my kids play GTA IV until they were 14. You can't even get most of the jokes in GTA IV until you are old enough to get the innuendo. I don't think you can get the emotional impact of something like COD4 either..

    It is ironic that you can join the army before you can buy a copy of COD tho ...

    1. Test Man

      Re: GTA IV

      "I play a lot of video games and therefore consider myself better able to assess the suitability for my children"

      Which is one of the reasons why we have a law that restricts the sale of movies and now games to children who are under the age noted on the box. This simply makes it the responsibility of the adult to decide - with the rating on the box, the adult can make a proper conscious decision and purchase it or not.

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  7. The Axe

    Think of the cheeeeldren

    Does everything have to come down to this phrase?

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Think of the cheeeeldren

      Yes, because few things send parents into a panic more than a threat to their children. It's instinct.

      1. Aldous

        Re: Think of the cheeeeldren

        that and defending the child no matter what even when you show them cctv of them stealing things and walking out its totally not them

    2. magrathea

      Re: Think of the cheeeeldren

      Big voting demographic - parents. Many of them seem to believe the entire world should revolve around, and be tailored for, their darling little offspring.

  8. SJRulez

    I've said this a few times before, age ratings wont make the slightest difference because.....

    The kids causing trouble aren't the ones playing video games they are just the trouble makers who when caught use it as an excuse, oh because I saw it on GTA your honor!

  9. Christoph

    How to stop kids ripping off games

    Make it impossible for them to get the games any other way.

    A lot of kids will take the rating not as a warning but as a challenge.

  10. kyza

    This isn't going to stop parents buying games for their spawn that are age-inappropriate so the Daily Mail & other frothers will still be able to get excorcised over violent & sexual content in games.

    1. John McCallum

      Parents(and others)buying games

      This is imaterielthe law is to stop,or try,underage people from buying these games

  11. Daggersedge

    And buying on-line...?

    This is really going to stop a kid who is using the Amazon account of his parents from buying a game that the age rating system says he's not supposed to have. Not to mention those kids who just might buy something in another country while on holiday there with their parents...

  12. Aldous

    no doubt sting operations against counter goons will follow

    when these rules are introduced the police/trading standards do sting ops sending in underage kiddies to buy things (cigs,booze and now games). you serve them and you personally are fined (the company wont pay) and risk a criminal record (great when your future job may need a clean record).

    what they fail to take into account is two things

    1) there is no support at all from the police when you ring them having been threatened to be stabbed when you leave work because you won't serve someone with no id a restricted product. they will turn up far later ( 6 days is my record), might ask for cctv(which is useless if they are not on first name terms with the perp) and generally try to do all they can to stop you from getting it into the system (getting a crime number).this happens at least 6 times in an 8 hour shift, makes having to do a crap job top pay for uni so much fun.

    same goes for when you are actually assaulted (as happened to me) unless you know there names, address and blood type they won't do anything. so even after all these threats on a daily basis if you screw up once its you who gets the punishment not the purchaser.

    2)proxy sales are the biggest issue. technically its as illegal as the store selling you them but there is never ever anything done about this. yet the store clerk can be done if they "suspect" its for someone else. try enforcing this however and you get little billy's parents threatening to knife you after work when they are buying there 7 th bottle of wkd "for myself" in the last hour. this is what happens with games and once again nothing is done ( don't believe me just listen on multiplayer on an 18 game on xbl either there are hundreds of female gamers with teenage boy attitudes or lots of 13 year olds ). do they do these stings getting the kiddies to ask adults to buy for them? hell no after all its harder to prove lets go after the lowly paid counter goons

  13. auburnman

    How do those penalties

    Stack up against those for selling booze/fags/porn to underagers? An unlimited fine just smacks of laying the foundations for trouble to me. Judges are fallible people too!

  14. Valerion
    Thumb Up

    This is a smart move

    After all, it's not at all ridiculous to stop a 17-year old from shooting Afghans in a game but for it to be perfectly legal to give him a gun and send him off to do it for real.

  15. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    App store

    So does this apply to all games?

    If I write tetris for the iPhone or Android do i have to get it approved by the BBFC?

    What if I live in the USA - will i get extradited if someone in the UK downloads it?

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: App store

      If you write a game and sell it to Gamestation for them to put on their shelves, it is their responsibility to ensure that only people of the correct age buy it. I guess it is the same if you get Google or Apple to sell it for you.

  16. TheresaJayne
    Paris Hilton

    So what is the cost?

    Ok so I sit down I write a computer game, I put it on source forge. How much do I have to pay to have my home brew zombie apocalypse 1st person shooter available in the uk. This will stifle game development and could end free software sites and places like big fish games who do hidden object games usually with some violence for very low cost. It's another way for the government to get more money. I mean what pegi rating would minecraft have?

  17. Ember


    Another move against several civic freedoms, since it places the judgment of what other adults may play or not into the hands of a few stuck up, paper pimping, puritanic idiots but also its a further exercise in futile waste of taxpayer money. Instead of baning games that have no rating, or fine the shops that sell them, they should fine the officials WHO HAVE FAILED TO RATE IT!!! It is not that long ago when unrated meant harmless enough for toddlers to watch. Buzzword "Child Protection" is again misused as excuse for increased intrusion on people's freedom.

    Nobody will ever stop underaged kids from getting the games/booze/porn/whatever that they want. Kids are not stuid, they know how bypass obstacles to their enjoyment. Just think about when WE/YOU were young. Also, lets not forget that, most kids that are too immature for it would not even think about watching porn if it wasn't forbidden. it's the "forbidden" that gives them the interest and urge to watch, not the sex, it's the lure of the forbiddena nd taboo, it's the challenge of bypassing control and pushing of boundries, finding and pushing the limits.

    Also, if I understand this correctly, even if the parents of the kid buy the games that some bored desk-jockey considers inapropiate, because the parents, who know the kid, decide the kid can take it, the parents can get finded or worse. It is yet another thing where parents have their authority denied while being dumped with the responsibility. After all, PEGI is merely a recomendation so that parents are aided in their judgement...this new system is a law.

    And what is this nonsense about 18+ rated games having to be in special Adults-Only shops? without exception, all those shops are either off-licences that sell alcohol or sex shops that sell lingery, porn and sex toys...which of the two would be selling COD or GTA?

    There are plenty of kids of age 13 who are mentally mature enough to handle media above their age and there is a even more adults of age 40 who still are not mature enough to be allowed to wipe their own nose. Magic numbers don't say anything about wether or not something is suitable for somebody.

    The regulators make an effort to rule that kids are isolated form the world, kept away from everything so that when they hit the magic number, they still haven't got a clue what it is or how to deal with it. Maturity does not happen, it is learned and the only ones who are able to know if a kid is ready are the parents.

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