Kids Get Violent Games Via Online Auction Sites, UK Watchdog Group Claims

Underage buyers are routinely able to purchase violent games via online auction sites, according to the Welsh Heads of Trading Standards.

As reported by the Daily Mail, a test group of 12-16 year olds were successful in 38 of 44 attempts to buy 18-rated games like Manhunt, Grand Theft Auto, The Godfather and Hitman. Lee Jones of the Bridgend County Borough Council Trading Standards commented on the results:

This survey shows how easily children can gain access to age-restricted violent video games.

A spokesman for the Trading Standards Institute added:

Traders selling goods over the internet have a responsibility to make sure they have methods in place to avoid breaking the law. If traders cannot be sure the person they are selling to is over 18 then they should not be selling.

GP: While the video game industry has made significant strides regarding retail enforcement of ratings, auction sites are beyond their control. It’s an interesting quandary for parents and government officials. Moreover, it’s questionable how much influence the auction sites are able to exercise over thousands of individual sellers. As the Daily Mail notes, the sellers place themselves at risk for a six-month jail sentence for selling 18-rated games to minors in the UK.

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  1. Mutantemeco says:

    Just look at that pretty pic of claude hauling and packing.. Probably on the prowl to prey on someone.

  2. Gift says:

    A few thoughts:

    Illegal as selling these games to minors is, just how frequent is it really? I’ll bet most kids get games they couldn’t buy in stores from their parents not the *evil internet*.

    Why are parents giving their children money and then not monitoring what they do with it?

    @ (Anonymous) Jack, bad news for you we have legal enforcement in the UK and it doesn’t appear to have stopped private citizens from selling or giving children these games… Crow all you like but stories like this actually undermine your case to introduce a similar system in the US don’t they? Whoops! Stop the press! This just in, Legislation is not a good replacement for parenting.


  3. Ace ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As I read this article I’m inclined to just agree with what it states.

    Yes…12 to 16 year olds are underhanded bastards and if they want something they can’t have, they’ll most likely find a way to get it. This is nothing that we are not familiar with. However, I’d place this in a "luxury problem" category. I think the access that age group has to other things they’re not allowed to have such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, weapons and their involvement in illegal activities and gangs. That’s worrying, that’s CLEARLY potentially and just downright harmful.

    If something bad happens to Johnny if he sneaks around as a bald man and strangles people with piano wire is not certain, it’s not even proven to do anything except to be an interactive story medium. Hell, I logged countless hours in the Hitman franchise, doing exorbitant amounts of strangulation and I feel no inclination to do so in real life. Infact, I think it’s even nastier than I thought before I saw it happen time and time again to my virtual victims.

    Seriously, this sort of stuff is not a problem. There are much bigger problems facing kids today than tits and blood in a video game. What about harassment at school? Is it ok for a kid to get beaten to a pulp due to some trivial difference and then BAD for him to play a game where you can, if you want, drive over people and take their stuff? People have some messed up priorities and that, if anything, pisses me off. Ratings are stupid. I understand the need to have a sense of what is in the game but what is offensive or harmful is so personal it really just fails to assign an age to that. Are sexual scenes appropriate for 14 year olds? No? What if that 14 year old is already a mother, what then? What if my religion opposes all suggestions of extra terrestrial life, shouldn’t Half Life have a 18+ rating? Ratings like we have apply only in a vacuum. You can always find things that YOU feel are offensive or harmful in anything, rated R or not. Limiting it to general things such as sex, violence or swearing just doesn’t cut it, since we all have varying tolerances to such displays.

    How about thinking about what’s best for the kids themselves for a change? Not about what appeases your personal agenda, views, religion, political stance or whatnot.

    Now where’s my piano wire…

    On a seperate note, has anyone noticed a reverse of what people say happens to children who play alot of video games? What I mean is that they keep saying they won’t know the game is not real and take it as if killing in real life is ok. I’ve noticed with some of my younger cousins that they don’t know that something is NOT a game. I remember when they saw some footage from Iraq, lots of shooting and stuff and they wanted to know what game those people were playing (since they know about paintball, lasertag and that sort of stuff). It was kind of painful, I mean, is it right to explain to them that those people are not playing? Do the kids really NEED to know at such a young age what is going on hundreds of kilometeres away? Is it better to allow them to just be kids and not worry about that people sometimes do more then just pretend to be dead when they play paintball with bullets?

    I just wanted to toss that out there…(and for clarification I live in Iceland. No military, lots of guns per capita; shotguns and rifles exclusively, zero violent gun crime, low violent crime rate, highest Human Development Index rating in the world *thumbsup*)

  4. Ken ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Don’t blame the sites, blame the parents who should be keeping an eye on their kid and their credit cards.

  5. DarkTetsuya says:

    GP: lengthy court filing deleted.

    Thank god the ‘report spam’ button still works…

  6. Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    What about to don´t give to children your credit cards? Why parents are still giving to their children a blank check to get anything they want and then complain with the entire world but themseves about what the got?

    —————————————————————————- The cynical side of videogames (spanish only):

  7. ZippyDSM says:

    Forest for the trees alert…whos buying the game for the kid,whos not parenting the kid if they do not know about said game….. grow the fck up you nanny bastards!


    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)


  8. Verbinator says:

    If the "kids" are getting their games through eBay, then it’s quite likely the seller is absolved of responsibility. eBay’s registration page (at least eBay in the USA) requires the registrant to state that he/she is 18 years of age (and thus legally able to enter in binding contracts). If someone under age has an eBay account then they have commited fraud and as a seller, I’m a victim of fraud.  If an under age buyer is using a parent’s account, I have no way of knowing that, and even if I did, I have to assume the account is being used with the parent’s approval and that, in fact, I am selling to the parent, not the child.

    It is my responsibility to make sure I’m not shipping something to another country that violates their laws, but not to run an age check on the buyer.

  9. Blame the Game says:

    One other thing…Ebay requires you to verify that you are 18 when creating an account.  If they do that, all liability is negated from both Ebay and the seller, as it violates the terms of use.  If they use their parent’s account, and the parents don’t catch it, Ebay and the seller are still not liable because it was sold to a person using an account that was created for someone else.  Again, with the kids being underage, violates terms of use and service, and negates all liability.


    Only one to blame are the kids…maybe not even the parents unless the parents had a chance to stop it and didn’t.

  10. JustChris says:

    This ALMOST makes me want to have kids because parents supposedly get the best diplomatic immunity outside of our ambassadors. Parents are the most perfect class of people, nothing is their fault.

  11. Jack Wessels says:

    Did you happen to notice this was about auction sites. It’s not Take Two selling GTA to a 12 year old, it’s a 35 year old in Texas selling his used copy that he bought legally to a 12 year old.

    And continue to post things about you getting off the hook. It’s all very funny really. Nothing about your trial is about whether or not you are entitled to your first amendment rights. It’s about you violating rules set down to everyone in your profession. As Tunis said, it’s a pivilege to practice law, not a right. 

    Oh, and Thompson, if you wanted to talk at your last hearing, maybe you shouldn’t have walked out.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Most of this will be deleted, you know that, right? ANd I do find it interestign how desperate you are to cover up your own shortcomings.


  13. the conspiracy says:

    Hey,wasn’t the SCOFLA part of the whole conspiracy against you Jack? Didn’t you say sos everal times? You can’t even keep your lies straight.


  14. Brokenscope says:

    Yes, but you always claim that a credit card isn’t a valid age verification.


    They weren’t using credit cards, once again you wrong jack.

  15. Andy says:

    No-one cares about you Mr. Thompson so please be so kind as to NOT spam the comments section with off-topic ramblings.


    Only post if you have somethihng valid to contribute to the discussion at hand.


    Thank you.



    Moving ever-so-swiftly on, there IS a valid point to be made about UK law regarding the sale of age-rated material over the internet.

    The law is very clear in that it is ILLEGAL to sell age-rated material to somone BELOW the age required to purchase the item.

    Thus ebay members who sell age-rated computer games to underage buyers are breaking the law and could potentially face prosecution for their actions.


    I highly doubt there is a real problem in under-age kids buying age-rated games on ebay UK but I do think that many people who sell their games online are unaware that they are required to ensure the person buying them is of legal age, and of the potential consequences of them failing to do so.


    Whilst the paper that carries the story is teh infamous Daily Mail, a rubbish right-wing tabloid rage that specialises in fearmongering, put the fearmongering aside and they have raised a good point about the law regarding the sale of age-rated games on internet auction sites such as ebay.







  16. Loudspeaker says:

    JT you’re such a GENIUS!  Wow so intelligent to predict what’s to come.  Superb!  You even used "anonymous" as your name to post…  And then just had to put your name along with everything else in the body of your post.

    Get some meds dude.  Seriously.

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  17. Loudspeaker says:

    OK then let me put some perspective on this…

    Yes, the article shows that kids under the age rating can get their hands on the game.  We didn’t know that before?  You think little Jimmy can’t go:

    A) Buy older game from a friend

    B) Find an older kid to buy the game then sell it to him

    C) Badger parent into getting said game

    I agree with the above posts.  The responsibility falls upon the parent.  Write all the laws you want it will not stop kids who are under the age limit of the game to get their hands on it.

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  18. Anonymous says:

    Wow, Jack Thompson is right again about Internet sales of Mature games to kids.  OH, and I was right about beating the rap in Florida, too.  Enjoy:


     GP: lengthy court filing deleted.

  19. SS says:

    I don’t know about the UK but every friend I know here plays M-Rated games and it seems their parents allow it.  They all go to my high school and the area is a pretty safe one.  Our school is in the top 3 percent of schools in the United States yet virtually all the guys I know play violent video games.  I have noticed that mostly all the kids who are at the top of my class play violent video games.  I don’t know a single boy who doesn’t play COD4.  It seem kids in our school don’t look at games and think of the destruction they are supposed to do. 

    It seems kid’s lives are affected more by the setting they live in than by video games.  This is just one area but I am sure if some long term research went into finding out how different conditions and media effects have on groups of children as they grow up.  Though I don’t know if that would be entirely ethical.

    I can understand them trying to protect young children and preteens.  However, they probably don’t realize that teenager’s parents don’t care about violent video games reaching their teens.  This may be because they have some common sense. 

    What they don’t realize is that most parents simply buy these games for their kids.

    Its an investigation in which they suppose that parents don’t give their kids their permission and the kids buy it themselves.  However in most cases(if UK is like the US) they give permission to their kids. 

  20. NovaBlack. ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    12 – 16 year olds…


    HOW ON EARTH does a 12 year old get say a valid ebay account, AND the MONEY to buy things from it… ?

    a 16 year old on the other hand.. meh.. i dont get why in the UK a 16 year old is responsible to start a  family, but not to watch a scary movie. seems daft. N i doubt a 16 year old actually suffers from playin an M rated game.



     a 12 year old ffs. DONT tell me that a 12 year old can outsmart 2 adults. If the parents are dumb enough to be outsmarted by one they shouldnt be parents, and in NO case is this the video game industrys fault.

    How on earth does an average joe on ebay know or care if hes selling manhunt to an under 18. seriously. Once again parents are somehow ignored and absolved of all blame.  



  21. Anonymous says:

    Here in the UK, credit cards are not available to minors. However, debit cards are a different story. An under 18 can, in theory, acquire a debit card, which sites such as Amazon and Ebay will accept, and purchase age restricted content. There is not even an age check at the point of sale or while creating an account. To be honest, even with an age check in place, it is impossible to moniter such a large quantity of sales and an individual can easily fake their age anyway. My view, there is no need for age checks, parental control is the key. If the adult is willing, there is no reason why a minor should not be able to purchase more adult content with their own card.

  22. Brokenscope says:

    Read the article, they are not paying with credit cards, they are using the postal system to pay.

  23. Chadachada says:

    Wouldn’t the kids need access to a credit card? And wouldn’t they have to claim that they are over 18 to buy from a site that needs a credit card?

    So then…what’s the problem? The problem is child access to credit cards, isnt it? THAT falls under parent’s-duties

  24. Anonymous says:

    Umm… how about working for it? The report says 12-16 year olds. 14 is old enough to get part time work, you can get full-time employment at 16. Not counting if they wash cars or something.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Ok, now maybe they can tell us where the kids get the money. Oh, sorry, no conveinent enough, forgot.


  26. Vorlon010 says:

    You used to be able to use a system referred to as a postal money order, but they’ve been phased out in favour of a western-union clone ‘moneygram’ system last I checked.

  27. Chadachada says:

    Do you mean the kid mails the money to the auctioneer, and the auctioneer mails the product to the kid? If so, there’s no way to check the age for that…

    I’m sorry, but I’m still confused as to this whole business

  28. Anonymous says:

    I saw that!!  He was with the marines in iraq!  They almost killed himi for it too!!!!

  29. Blame the Game says:

    I didn’t even think of it at the time, but damn…your first point is dead on.  Yes, let’s say "THIS IS SO BAD OMG PEOPLE ARE SELLING CHILDREN TO GAMES AND THIS IS HOW THE KIDS ARE DOING IT WITHOUT THE PARENTS KNOWING!" and then say exactly how…

    Anyone remember when the whole "liquids" scare happened on a plane and they started being bastards about what can and can’t be taken on?  They went on to say that the only liquid allowed on planes in quantity is liquid in baby bottles.  Or when Tommy Thompson said that he couldn’t believe anyone hadn’t attacked us through our food imports, as it was so vulnerable.  Or when the attack on the White House happened a while back and the news went on to state that the President is ok, as he wasn’t in the White House, but was instead hidden across the street.  Or when Hiraldo Rivera was on live TV broadcast worldwide and started DRAWING OUT THEIR EXACT POSITION IN THE STAND, AND SAYING EXACTLY WHERE THEY WERE GOING AND WHAT THEY PLANNED TO DO…ON LIVE…FUCKING…TV.

    *breathes again*


  30. mogbert says:

    I see some other important points:

    1: It is saying they can, not that they do. Granted, I’m sure some can and do, especially now that they have posted a blueprint on how.

    2: Where are they playing these games? The problem isn’t the kid getting ahold of a DVD, the problem would be that they can play these without the parent knowing.

    3: It’s just another sensationalism scare story. OMG, kids can buy things from other people that they shouldn’t be able to get! They have been doing this for decades, ever since 15 year olds found you can give a hobo money to buy beer and cigs.

    I’m afraid this is non-news. You can’t regulate what one person sells to another very well. They try, but not very well.

  31. Blame the Game says:

    Even so, the parents still should know what their children are playing.  If I bought a game online when I was 15 and paid for it with a money order, even if I found a way to sneak it in, there’s no way I could have played it without my parents knowing.  So again, this isn’t "shame shame" on the people selling it, or the sites offering the service.  It should be "parents, beware".

    "This survey shows how easily children can gain access to age-restricted violent video games."

    I bet if I surveyed the number of preteens and young teens that could grab the car keys and attempt to drive, potentially causing harm to themselves, others, and anything in their way, I could say that it’s very easy and available.  My parents left the keys on a key ring, and normally only would take one car, leaving the other.  Just because I could, doesn’t mean I did.  If I did, who would be to blame?  The car manufacturer, for making it easy for me to take a key and start the car even though I’m too young?

    All this stuff is making me want to post up another video…

    Oh, and one last thing.  A note of advice to all the watchdog groups out there:  If you’re trying to find an answer, and keep looking in the wrong place, you’ll completely miss it every time.

  32. Chadachada says:


    Postal system…?

    Sorry, I guess they do things differently over there…online auctions here are always done with credit card, debit card, paypal, something that requires someone over 18

  33. Mark says:

    I suspect that if this were investigated further, that it’s possible that there is a greater underlying cause such as kids having access to credit cards or other means.

    Considering this study was done with the assitance of adults, it’s possible the kids were able to access things they might not have normally been able to.  I’d actually be curious into what methodology was used to gain these items.  They mention "using the postal system" but I don’t know what that means.

    Still, people have been using mailorder and online order to get stuff they normally wouldn’t be able to get in person for years.  I’m sure kids have done this for years in regards to porn and other "dangerous" pieces of media like music/CDs.

    Maybe there should be more concern about whether or not it’s too easy for kids to get stuff through online vendors.  However, there is only so far you can go.  Until they reveal how these kids did it beyond saying "using the postal system," I’m not sure that there can be a meaningful discussion about possible improvements.

  34. mlucky says:

    if it’s online then the kids either have their parents ebay account information or their credit card so this is completely preventable if parents pay attention to their kids, but we can’t accept them to be responsibility.

  35. Gray-17 says:

    So is a credit card not considered to be proof of age in the UK?

    Because that’s what most online auction sites use, excepting something like Paypal. Even Paypal still requires you to have a bank account.

    The bottom line is that kids buying from an auction site either have permission from their parents, or are committing fraud. How exactly is that the fault of individual sellers?

  36. Brokenscope says:

    From the article

    "In the investigation, six local authorities enlisted volunteers aged between 12 and 16 who attempted to buy 18-rated video games on the internet using postal orders."

     I think that is a rather important point to make, really all a parent can do is not give their kids money, the auction sites can require a valid credit card to verify age, or at least some sort of implied consent by the parent.

    So how many people are not going to actually read the article and miss a very important point.

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