GAME Follows Rules, UK Queen of Shops Gets Crazy

UK TV retail queen Mary Portas (known as Mary Queen of Shops on TV) went after UK-based games retailer GAME in a very public way over the weekend after her 17-year-old son was not allowed to purchase a 15+ rated game at the company’s Oxford Street store. Outraged that the store was following the recommended guidelines on ratings, Portas took her fight to the phones to contact the company’s CEO and to Twitter.

The result was a very public display that some gamers responded harshly to – like this Eurogamer forum thread where users called her everything from a "see you next Tuesday" and a moron, to a b*tch and a drama queen. Good job, Internet.

Her initial argument was that staff at the store recommended games to her son, but then refused to sell them to him because he didn’t have a proper form of ID.

Here are samples of some of the tweets from Portas:


"STILL holding on after 8mins to spk to a human at GAME Ox st where they refused to sell my 17 yr son a 15 + game. Now they’ve cut me off."

Later a public tweet from GAME CEO Ian Shepherd:

"That’s appalling. I’m very proud of our focus on age verification but also of our service. If that’s gone wrong, we’ll fix it."

Later another tweet from Shepherd:

"I’m very proud of our brilliant team in GAME [Oxford] St. and also committed to every customer being delighted. We will sort with [Mary] – I’m sure we will clear up any misunderstanding."

Portas tweeted after:

"He doesn’t have a [driving] licence! He is 17. How many kids go out with their passport. We are not talking drink, but a 15plus video!"

she later added:

"My son did have valid I.D. They would not accept it. End of."

Finally, this morning the matter was straightened out:

"Spoke to CEO of GAME. Impressive and bright. Agreed good customer service is worth fighting for and how tough the regulations they face are."

Commentary: While all this was unfolding many saw this as a "celebrity" abusing her power to bend the rules for her own edification. In a way, it sounded like she was really saying "HOW DARE THEY?!? DON’T THEY KNOW WHO I AM?!!?"

The name calling I witnessed was highly inappropriate, but commenters are probably right to point out Portas’ bad attitude when the retailer was clearly following the rules and enforcing policies to keep possibly inappropriate games out of the hands of a child. Without an ID, every teenager is a child as far as they are concerned. GAME CEO Ian Shepherd deserves a lot of credit for being the only adult in the entire situation.

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  1. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Yeah.. I have rarely seen people get better service after being an ass…

    However, I frequently see people getting good service for being nice to the employee….

  2. 0
    State says:

    Actually I have to agree with both sides here.

    It is good that stores have a policy of not selling games to those underage, but the situation over valid ID is ridiculous.

    I’ve been in similar situations before when I was younger (and not old enough to have a driving licence). There are many alternative ID schemes in operation (for children) that prove your age and are advertised as valid ID. You either have to buy them (ironically with some other ID (but don’t quote me on that)) or like me have them given to you at school at the expense of the local town/county council. Now whilst they are advertised as valid, using them is another matter with many places not accepting them as valid ID, essentially making a mockery of the whole scheme.

    For me, in the end it just got to the point where it was easier to wait and just get a provisional driving licence as nowhere would except other ID (apart from a passport which is easy to lose).

    I can only see the situation getting worse with the introduction of legally-binding PEGI ratings (as they have a tendency to give games ridiculously high ratings to satisfy all of the European countries).

  3. 0
    State says:

    "If I send my son into a store to buy a gun he should be allowed to because I say so. Stores shouldn’t try to be ethical, it’s all Big Brother to me."


    Actually in regards to the law, British laws only states that it is an offence to sell a BBFC rated game to someone who is underage, there are no legal restrictions on PEGI rated games (yet) and so it is up to the store to decide on their own policy.

  4. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    So you have a problem with a British store complying with British law? That’s fine. But they have to or the government will fine them.

    In the US however, it is primarily due to the large number of people who do not feel as you do. Just because you want to send your unescorted kid in to by an M rated game, doesn’t mean that others do. How is the clerk supposed to know that the kid has your permission to buy it? He doesn’t.

    In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have this problem and all parents would parent their own kids and not rely on governments and game stores to do it for them. Unfortunately, We do not live in a perfect world and some parents want government and stores to do the parenting for them and they have to comply.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  5. 0
    Bennett Beeny says:

    In my view the store should not give a toss about game ratings. Store owners/employees are not parents, nor should they try to be. Game ratings are for parents. If I send my daughter in to buy a mature-rated game, she should be able to buy it because I say so.

    I wish stores would get back into the business of simply selling things, without trying to shove their ethical standards down my throat.

    Apparently, GP sides with the ‘Big Brother’ stores on this one. One more reason GP is less and less relevant for me.

  6. 0
    beemoh says:

    >that some gamers responded harshly to 

    This isn’t a ‘gamer’ or an ‘internet’ thing- her programme has been very contentious, given that the overwhelming bulk of her methods to improve retail service in the show is to yell at low-paid front-line staff for not bending over to her every whim in as rude, vitriolic and attention-seeking a way possible.


  7. 0
    Thomas Riordan says:

    The Target here wouldn’t except my 50 year old mother’s state ID when we tried to buy Bioshock. It’s just a picture ID for people in the state that don’t drive thus don’t have a drivers license and they refused it. Yet said ID will allow her to buy a gun. They tried to claim it was the law which no such law exists in New Jersey and she in no way is near young enough looking to appear to be underage. They change their tune pretty damn fast when I said we’d just go across the street to Gamestop where we wouldn’t have to put up with such stupidity. But it was amusing that she could go out and buy a gun to kill real people but not a video game. Makes sense.

    But I do believe this is the first time we’ve seen a parent bitching about the store doing their job.

  8. 0
    Erik says:

    Like a library card or a gym membership?  I don’t think so.  There are lots of different bits of plastic out there with people pictures on it, really they can’t accept anything that is shoved in their faces.  I commend this shop for standing up to this woman and her kid.  And I sympathise, as someone who has worked retail, with what I’m sure the employee who refused the sale had to put up with.

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  9. 0
    Xveers says:

    "An official ID is valid as long it’s has picture, just like a driving licenses and passports does."

    Not always the case. This depends on the country and province/state. For example, in certian provinces it is illegal to use a provincial care card (medical service ID, essensially) as a form of ID. Similarily, a SSN card is also sometimes not allowed. The gold standard for ID is usually a drivers licence or a drivers licence-ish ID card (British Columbia issues a "BC ID" which has a name, address and photo like a drivers licence, except it isn’t).

    As a postal clerk, I have refused delivery even when provided some forms of valid ID because they did not meet the local standards or were in violation of local law to be used as ID.


    Best keep your wits about you: The gears of life are always spinning, and ignorance eventually means you’ll get caught in them.

  10. 0
    Jussi Virtanen says:

    An official ID is valid as long it’s has picture, just like a driving licenses and passports does.

    And "the retailer was clearly following the rules and enforcing policies to keep possibly inappropriate games out of the hands of a child. Without an ID, every teenager is a child as far as they are concerned.", I’m concerned about that myself, I’ve have never been asked for my driving licence to prove my age when I buy the 16+ game, even after I turned 18 I’ve never been asked, how old does this Portas’ son look like if he’s 17. If this an ID has to be required to buy the M- or 18+ rated games, then that’s good, but when it comes situation like this… I don’t know what to say.


    Why cant’ the United Nations have an international law that protects artists works from censorship and banning? Cause world is still filled with chickens.

    – Jussi "ZangRap" Virtanen

  11. 0
    Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    "users called her everything from a "see you next Tuesday" and a moron, to a b*tch and a drama queen. Good job, Internet".

    I feel kind of unconfortable saying this, but, this class of commentaries are very normal, and granted this is not the mature thing to do, some of those comments are very fit.

    She is complaining when a store actually proves that they care about game ratings, against the popular believing that they sell Doom and Rapelay to toodlers with credit cards. She is wrong, and like you said, she is abusing of her status as "celebrity" by bitching and moaning about something that is very easy to fix by showing herself in the store.

    Drama queen is a very good adjective. I don´t know, but it´s like complaining about Flash games touching delicate issues like the truck game that GP talked last week. It´s like: "wow, a game where you smug illegals. Stay classy, internet."

    ———————————————————— My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  12. 0
    Technogeek says:

    I’m not familiar with the Oyster card myself, but if Google Images is accurate here, it doesn’t quite fit the definition of "photo ID"…seeing as there’s no photo.

  13. 0
    Samster says:

    Ehhh, it happens. I was regularly getting asked for ID for 15-rated games when I was 20, haha. I hope it means when I’m 40 I still look 35 or less :’D

    Kicking up such a stink about it must have embarrassed the hell out of her poor son. These rules are in place for a reason. Besides, who buys at game stores anymore! Just buy online for a fraction of the price and no real age check, muhaha.

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