Poll: Should Video Game Ratings Be Legally Enforced at Retail?

In the United States, there is no law forbidding retailers from selling an M rated game to someone under age 17 and thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. EMA, that’s not likely to ever change.

But is that the way it should be?

Across the pond in the UK, retailers are legally forbid from selling PEGI 12, 16, or 18 games to kids younger than the rating indicates.  Are the Europeans doing it right?

That’s where you come in, dear readers.  If you cast your gaze to the right, you’ll see a new poll under the LOGIN box asking if video game ratings should carry the force of law.  What do you think?

Are you happy with the way it is in the US?  Do you think perhaps the UK isn’t going far enough and PEGI 3 and 7 ratings should be enforced as well?

As it happens, in the US, video games are included in the laws that forbid retailers from selling material with explicit depictions of sex to minors.  Maybe you think retailers should be legally restricted from selling games with certain content descriptors like “Intense Violence,” “Language,” or “Use of Drugs.”

Vote in the poll then fill the comments section with your thoughts.  Or, if you prefer, email your opinion to SuperPACPodcast@gmail.com.  As always, the poll results will be revealed and discussed on next week’s podcast along with any cool, groovy, or otherwise notable comments.  Also, if you’re so inclined, let us know which geographical region you hail from.  It will be interesting to see how that correlates with your vote.

Until then friends, be sure to eat your veggies.

"vote label" © Tribalium / Shutterstock. All rights reserved, used with permission.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen

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  1. DorthLous says:

    Why the "but porn"? More sexually educated kids usually catch less disease and don't fall pregnant as early as their less sexually educated counterpart. Where and when was it proven that watching porn/smut was "damaging" for a kid? FFS, we know alcohol is bad (in some quantities, more on some people), but a 5 years old kid can drink it if with adults in a restaurant in the UK. Now obviously, a 12+ game would be oh so much more damaging for him…

  2. sqlrob says:

    If you can conclusively show significant damage to the average child, then yes.

    Chances of that are slim to none, so in actuality, no.


  3. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Yes lets let the vocal moralists and or vote panderers be able to ban any fiction when ever they want……. Sorry but legal restrictions on anything but porn is just asking for more trouble…

  4. Bigman-K says:

    I don't believe the state should have the ability to restrict, regulate or ban Free Speech materials for either minors (especially older minors a.k.a. high school aged teenagers) or adults based solely on the fact that it is offensive, objectionable or considered disgusting.

    Leave that to the individual themselves or the individuals parents in the case of children. The state should not be, nor needs to be a surrogate nanny for our kids.

  5. Conster says:

    As long as you also punish customers for trying to buy a game that's out of their age range, I don't really see why not – otherwise, you'd get young teenagers harassing store clerks for not selling an 18+ game to them. Similarly, you'd need a safe harbor clause stating that if someone the right age buys a game, the retailer's not to blame if they then give/sell the game to someone who's too young. That way you won't have parents buying 18+ games for their kids and then suing the store once they realize there's something they find offensive in it, and parents can only blame themselves for anything that goes wrong.

  6. GrimCW says:

    given that parents already get snarky when a clerk tries to explain the ratings when they notice them buying for a kid…. well.. it would end up in a lot of pissed off parents thats for sure.. almost worth saying yes to.


    but still no.

  7. Scoops says:

    Typing this in the UK.

    It's not a big deal, parents can still buy what they want regardless of any rating, it's just that the retailer can't pretend to be your child's parent and decide to supply what the retailer sees as fit.

  8. Cecil475 says:

    ESRB ratings legally enforced? No. The ESRB has always been a set of guidelines. It should always be up to the parent, not the government to decide what is or is not appropriate for their kids. The government should not decide.


    R.i.P GamePolitics 2005-2016

  9. Jrquinlisk says:

    No. No, they shouldn't. For one simple reason: Neither the government nor the MPAA/RIAA/ESRB knows as well as I do what I find objectionable. Nor does my best friend, and nor do any of my neighbors. I understand business prohibitions on selling M-rated games to minors, but throwing the weight of criminal law behind it will not help matters.

  10. Michael Chandra says:

    I don't see the point. 13yo cousin still played GTA here. Why? His folks bought it for him. Took me playing XIII in the living room showcasing how a sniped arrow went in at the eye and out the back of the head to get my aunt to realize even XIII was actually prolly not fit for a 13yo.

  11. Papa Midnight says:

    Are MPAA ratings enforced by law? No. How about those little "Parental Advisory" labels on music releases? Still no. So why should video games?

    Unlike PEGI whose ratings became legally enforced in the UK last month, ratings in the USA for video games and movies were never handled or carried out by a government entity (BBFC) with the power and weight of law.

    I can also assure you that the fury of hell itself would be unleashed by the video game industry itself and consumers if ESA's ratings were ever given the power of law… oh wait… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_v._EMA

    I've seen movies which practically run the full gambit of The Carlin 7 and get away with a PG-13 rating due to no sexuality (The documentary "This Film is Not Yet Rated" goes further into this than I could). Hell, if we all recall, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the game which sparked all this post Mortal Kombat's "realistic violence" was almost-A-OK in many persons eyes (with the exception of Jack Thompson, of course) until the "hot coffee" mini-game was unlocked courtesy of a GameShark on a PS2 (after some Hex work on the PC version).

    That said, the other problem here-in is how you define violence or so-called objectionable content. What one person might find objectionable, another person will likely find perfectly acceptable, and there in is where things become difficult.

Comments are closed.