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Generational gap biggest ratings problem, says Byron

Thursday, 27th March 2008 09:44 GMT By Patrick Garratt

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According to this, Tanya Byron is pinning the biggest issues in games ratings on lack of understanding between generations.

“The key finding is that we have this huge digital generational divide at the moment where children are enjoying benefits and opportunities both online and in videogames but parents are really genuinely confused in terms of what videogames are and how their kids are playing them, what the content really means and what should they be allowing their kids to play and not play,” she said.

“For me it’s about how can government really empower parents, society and teachers who grapple with these issues in schools to really support children to think about risks both online and in videogames where most adults are coming from the position of knowing less than the children who are using these technologies.”

The Byron Report, a study into gaming and the internet in the UK, was published today. We’re still waiting on the actual document, but Byron has recommended that all games should be rated in the UK, that the minimum age rating should be dropped to 12 and that a dedicated body related to web and game regulation should be set up.

A launch event for the report is currently in progress in London.

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19 Comments

  1. Tonka

    So basically they are saying
    “Parents don’t spend enough time with their kids”
    and the solution is
    “Let’s cure the symptoms!”

    #1 7 years ago
  2. Hero of Canton

    Spot on, again. It’s repeating stuff a lot of people have been saying for a while, but it’s fantastic to see that this is sensible, balanced reporting and isn’t demonising the medium. Which could so easily have been the case.

    #2 7 years ago
  3. Blerk

    You see, I would’ve thought this was less of a problem now than it was ten years ago. We have lots of old gamers who are now parents for a start, and even the older generations are now familiar with computers and the ‘net and stuff.

    It’s kind of baffling to me, because my son loves games and I take a very active interest in gaming with him and ensuring that everything he’s playing is suitable for him. I don’t need ratings for that, but I appreciate that some people do.

    But it’s kind of patronising to say that “older people don’t get it”, when older people are clearly ‘getting it’ a lot better than they used to. I think the problem is more that a lot of people don’t care rather than don’t understand.

    #3 7 years ago
  4. Hero of Canton

    That’s certainly part of the problem, but I also think that these suggestions will perhaps make less responsible parents think twice about allowing their young ‘uns to play 18-rated titles (not to mention that the rating system will – in theory – be more vigorously enforced).

    Btw, direct quote from the Sky News headline just now: “Some games are bad for children, but will new plans to restrict them actually work?”. Jesus.

    #4 7 years ago
  5. morriss

    But still Blerk, if you remember back in school, we were the nerds. The mainstream still know nothing. Growing up with videogames and then being able to pass your knowledge on is still pretty unique.

    Byron’s right, in 10-15 years, we won’t see too much of this type of thing as now it’s so mainstream that everyone should at least be able to make a decision for their children when they’re older.

    #5 7 years ago
  6. Tonka

    You went to the same school?

    #6 7 years ago
  7. Blerk

    But gaming back then was all about computers. There’s not much complication with consoles – buy game, put game in machine, play game.

    The only decision that needs to be made is “is this game suitable for my child?” Unfortunately for a lot of parents it seems that they never bother even asking themselves that question, despite having the ratings splashed all over the front of the box. I’m sure everyone must’ve seen a parent buying a clearly labelled “16″ or “18″ game for a youngster in GAME at some point, I know I’ve seen it lots of times.

    I suspect the problem isn’t with the ratings themselves (which they’re clearly ignoring) or with the parents not understanding the technology (which clearly they have no interest in understanding). The real problem is that non-gaming parents either have no idea what games are actually like these days (and presume that they’re all about comedy plumbers and speedy hedgehogs and Pac Man), or they do know and just don’t give a shit. Neither of those problems can be solved with revised ratings.

    #7 7 years ago
  8. morriss

    Yeah but the stigma that our age group attach(ed)to games and gaming is still there. Ask an average 35-40 year old about games and they’ve no idea.

    They no what they are and they’ve heard of Playstation and GTA but that’s about it.

    #8 7 years ago
  9. Blerk

    Are you sure about that? I can’t think of many 35-40 year old males that I know who don’t still play at least a few games here n’ there. 40-50, maybe.

    And what about that there DS?

    #9 7 years ago
  10. morriss

    Well apart from old friends I don’t know anyone at work, or even who I’ve met down the pub, at parties, gatherings etc. that are mid-thirties and own a device of some description.

    Believe me, people think I’m just a big kid – which I am – but gaming to them is full of misconception and prejudice.

    /glares at Blerk’s Blizzard comment

    :P

    #10 7 years ago
  11. Killerbee

    I was having a conversation about gaming with the guy who lives next door to me – he knows I’m into gaming and doesn’t criticise that, but he and his wife take a very firm line with their three kids (aged between 6 and 12). they don’t have any gaming consoles or computers (for gaming) in the house, and that’s that.

    In fairness, the kids are very active, playing football and going out and stuff. Which is good. The one thing I can’t fathom though, is that it’s not so much that they think gaming is bad – it’s more that they think there is nothing good to be gained out of playing video games.

    One thing that I’m not really seeing from this report so far is that there’s any kind of recommendation about how to promote the positive aspects of gaming which, surely, would be equally valuable in terms of trying to stop children accessing the adult stuff. Make them see how good Super Mario Galaxy is and they might stop asking to play GTA. (might!)

    #11 7 years ago
  12. morriss

    Good point.

    #12 7 years ago
  13. Blerk

    You can’t “make” kids like games, though. They want to play what their friends are playing and stuff that’s related to films and such that they already like. No kid is going to want to play Super Mario Galaxy if all their friends are talking about GTA. Peer pressure’s a bitch.

    #13 7 years ago
  14. Tonka

    What are the good points of gaming? It’s not like rowing that gives you good musculature or painting that can make you rich and famous.

    The only time Ifelt that gaming improved my non gaming life was when I watched Elizabethtown and Freebird came on.

    #14 7 years ago
  15. morriss

    I feel some games have enriched my life, personally. I’d equate FFVII with reading an excellent novel or watching an epic film.

    #15 7 years ago
  16. Blerk

    I don’t see why gaming *has to* offer any life-changing experience. It’s an entertainment medium, much like any other. Loads of people watch Eastenders without worrying about whether it’s improving their life or not. Actually, loads of people watch Eastenders without wondering whether the constant sex n’ violence is corrupting their kids, too. But that’s another story.

    #16 7 years ago
  17. Tonka

    Of course it hasn’t and I’m sorry if anyone thought that was what I was syaing. It’s an excellent pastime and there are some good stories told in games. FFVII is indeed like reading a trashy fantasy romp (until that stupid boss wouldn’t let me through so I could see the end).

    I was just trying to imagine what one could tell Killerbees neighbours that would convince them that gaming is just as good as tie dying and organic herb growing.

    #17 7 years ago
  18. Killerbee

    The main thing for me about gaming is that it’s actually quite a social activity – obviously there’s online and offline multi-player gaming, both of which are coming to the fore much more than single-player now, but for children gaming is, I think, sufficiently embedded as part of our youth culture that kids do actually benefit from being able to talk about games they’ve played just as they benefit from talking about last Saturday’s football results or what was on TV last night.

    I know I certainly did this when I was at school in the 80s/90s so it must be a bit more prevalent now.

    The key things for me about “good for you” gaming though, aren’t so much the brain training-style “edutainment” (hate that word) titles, but proper gamers’ games like Mario Galaxy or Zack & Wiki. They teach observation, problem solving, co-operation, logic and reasoning. Picking the right games can also teach moral conduct and social awareness. Plus I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets all my history knowledge from playing Civ, am I!? ;)

    So whilst we’re not in any danger of replacing the National Curriculum with video gaming lessons any time soon, I do think they can be beneficial. I will certainly be happy for my children to play games.

    Just as soon as they’ve gotten over the snotty nose / sticky fingers stage, anyway.

    #18 7 years ago
  19. Tonka

    If I have kids they will only be allowed to play games they’ve made themselves.

    Zack & Wiki also teach you patience. In a fire level last night I got killed by ancient robots after puzzling my way through the whole level. Good thing I had my wrist strap on…

    #19 7 years ago

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