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Privacy Censorship Entertainment Games Your Rights Online

Photo ID Required To Buy/Rent Games In Canada 381

Posted by timothy
from the papers-or-plastic dept.
securitas writes "Metro International newspapers Toronto edition reports that Canadian gamers must now provide photo identification to buy computer and video games. The restriction is part of the Retail Council of Canada's Commitment to Parents initiative, in cooperation with the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). The RCC says that it has the support of 90% of game retailers in the voluntary program. Read the RCC video game photo ID press release. There don't seem to be any guidelines for how the program will be implemented - whether it will be a simple flash of a photo ID card (which many teenagers don't have) or a more detailed user database, with its inherent privacy concerns. The Ontario government plans to come up with its own game ratings system after the Ontario Film Review Board gave Manhunt an 'R' rating. More coverage at the CBC and CTV before and after the official announcement."
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Photo ID Required To Buy/Rent Games In Canada

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  • by erick99 (743982) <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:03PM (#10529500)
    I suppose this is good for people who have lost control of their kids (I'm not parent-bashing, there are ways to lose control that have little to do with parenting). Do parents really want this? I don't care much either way because my kids aren't allowed to buy video games without my permission. They still end up with a lot of the popular titles ,though ,like Halo, SIMS 2, etc. This has been more of a problem for me at the video store where there are some R and NC17 movies that I simply will not allow them to rent. I know kids end up seeing this stuff away from home at times, but I am not going to give them the message that I think it's okay. Same with video games, they know how I feel about sex & violence in video games, but they still get some of those. It's a hell of a balancing act.
    • I think this is mostly a bad idea. Seriously, if a kid can earn the money (at a job, not from allowance) for a game or movie, I figure they're mature enough to handle it. Restricting the rights of the mature to cater to the unwashed masses... Gotta love it. Of course, that would mean more work for parents, being... parents...

      I think, as you said, a parent should be vigilant about what their child does, while realizing there's no way in hell you're gonna stop them. It builds values yet doesn't impose a ove
      • by wo1verin3 (473094) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:16PM (#10529640) Homepage
        >> Seriously, if a kid can earn the money (at a
        >> job, not from allowance) for a game or movie,
        >> I figure they're mature enough to handle it.

        But is it up to you to decide that for my children? For someone elses children? If you decide it's appropriate for your kids, then go buy it for them/with them.
        • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:38PM (#10529821) Homepage
          "But is it up to you to decide that for my children?"

          You might as well ask whether it's up to the store to decide that for my children, for your children and for everybody else's children. How do you reconcile the fact that these kids are allowed to roam around the mall unsupervised with the notion that they're not old enough to choose for themselves what games they want to play? Indeed, is it the stores responsibility not to sell a game to a kid whose parents didn't care enough to accompany them?
          • by Skye16 (685048) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @07:15PM (#10530162)
            But the stores aren't deciding whether it's good for your children. They're ensuring that YOU have to.
            • They are deciding not to sell the game to your children on the assumption that the parents don't approve of it. In other words, they are acting on behalf of the parents on the assumption that the parents do not approve of it. That why I ask whether it's up to them to make that decision (or, like 10% of the stores, make the opposite decision). If the parents won't do anything about it, then why should the stores?
              • by Babbster (107076) <aaronbabb&gmail,com> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @07:48PM (#10530408) Homepage
                It's not the assumption that parents DO not approve of it, it's the assumption that parents MAY not approve of it so why take the chance?
          • by syousef (465911) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:06PM (#10531390) Journal
            This is an excellent way for you to tezch your children to do things on the sly, get them involved in software piracy (war3z d00d!) and get them breaking the law as well as disobeying you.

            At the end of the day where are they going to play the games anyway? At home or at a friend's house. If the child is young enough you have control over that and if the child is old enough for goodness sake teach them to think for themselves and stop sending out the message that its okay for 25 year old to have the same level of maturity as 12 year olds a generation or two ago.

            I do need to qualify this. I am not a parent at present, and do not know how good a parent I'll make if I ever become one.
          • A /. analogy to this situation would be user access level. Should users have root access by default?
            People criticize windows because by default users have root access so they can do anything they want at any time, even if it is stupid (ie. click "Yes" for your daily weather).
            The preferred situation is limiting access by default, and somebody responsible like sysadmin increases the users rights. The stores are limiting by default the rights, but it is very little inconvenience for the parents to approve of
        • by The Spoonman (634311) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @07:04PM (#10530063) Homepage
          But is it up to you to decide that for my children? For someone elses children?

          Why not? At what point do we finally realize that just because two people know how to fuck without protection that they have any idea how to raise a child? It's the parents who have been whining for years that violence and sex causes people to go insane and kill and rape...this is a fair solution. Parents, like everyone else, seem to want it both ways...police our children and protect them from all that is dark in the world, but don't tell us how to raise them!

        • Wait, it's wrong for a /.er to tell you how to raise your kids, or your neighbors and their kids, but it's perfectly acceptable for the government and privatized corporations (read: ESRB) to tell you? I'm confused...
      • So, under your plan, is the store supposed to ask for the Income Tax form, to prove that the money they are using is from a job, and not from allowance?
        There is no reason that this will make kids grow up in a black box. It just helps the parents control their kids a little better
        • Of course, do what you will, but keeping kids in a little black box until they're 18 is a great way to not only piss them off, but keep them socially inept for a good long time.

        I'm sure that many of you out there share this experience, when I was a freshman at college the biggest whores were the chicks who were kept on a short leash when they were young.

        Parents who are too domineering will create children who cut loose as soon as they are out of their parents' sight.

      • Having just got to University here in the UK I can agree with this. Essentially, half the kids here have never had a chance to do what they want before -- the amount of drinking is insane, coupled with sex etc etc. having had a relatively balanced time before now, the change hasnt really made a difference and I know what im doing with money, food, washing etc. (i've made all the mistakes before when it didnt matter so much -- particuarly with money). Half the people here are gonna have a real kick when th
      • by Trejkaz (615352)

        Renting a game costs, what, $5? I don't think many 13 year olds would have trouble rustling up this much cash.

        They should be glad over in Canada. Australia outright banned Manhunt (and even the new Leisure Suit Larry remake!), so even adults don't get to see it.

        I don't even see why such an intuitive system is considered "news", let alone "stuff that matters."

      • "Seriously, if a kid can earn the money (at a job, not from allowance) for a game or movie, I figure they're mature enough to handle it."

        change game or movie to alcohol and cigarettes and you have a very different statement. if canada wants to do this, there will always be ways for the kids to get the games anyways (same with alcohol and cigarettes) so it doesnt really matter that much. also, as i heard this on the radio this morning, what they said then was that it was a VOLUNTARY thing. even the article
    • are you kidding? Kids will get aroudn this just as easily as kids in my highschool (or for that matter me and my fellow undergraduates) get beer. This wont help the problem of people not having intelligent conversations with their kids about the difference between reality and a videogame, itll make it worse because apathy will set in and parents will leave it up to a flawed system to do the job for them.
    • there are some R and NC17 movies that I simply will not allow them to rent.

      How old are your kids, and which R and NC17 movies will you allow them to rent?

  • This is worthless. There's no way you can just stop kids from buying games they want to play. Some obvious workarounds are ordering online and having a friend or relative buy the game.
    • This is worthless. There's no way you can just stop kids from buying games they want to play. Some obvious workarounds are ordering online and having a friend or relative buy the game.

      So few young kids actually buy games it's pointless. (read: download it online) This isn't going to stop young kids getting hold of games, it's just going to piss off the few valid game buyers.
  • by BHennessy (639799) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:05PM (#10529529)
    ...because now politicians and parents won't be able to pin the blame on video games the next time some brat does something stupid.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:05PM (#10529533)
    I really don't have an issue with age verification. Movie theaters require that, heck Blockbuster even cards occasionally. Now, if the purchaser's name and information are recorded, well...that is another story.
  • Kind of old (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PKC Jess (797453)
    I didn't RTFA but I have experienced this showing of ID. My brother tried to purchase Thief (a mature game as I recall) and Radio Shack made him get someone with ID (he's 16) and so, his big brother Jess just happened to have his ID (my health card which also allowed me to vote just a few days earlier) and we bought the game.
    • my health card which also allowed me to vote just a few days earlier

      If you signature matches the signature they have on file, you can't be compelled to show ID to vote.
  • Hey... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ID000001 (753578) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:07PM (#10529549)
    They are simply enforcing an existing law.. why not?
    • Re:Hey... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Aash (130966)
      Exactly. I'm always a little perplexed when people get mad about these types of things. Movies have had enforced ratings for years, and I don't think that there are many who would argue that this is a bad thing. In many cases video games are far more violent than most R rated movies, so why shouldn't they have enforced ratings?
      • Re:Hey... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Telastyn (206146)
        I might not argue that it's a bad thing, but I could easily argue that it's pointless. If anything movies have shown that generations of kids will be able to circumvent the ratings system, and seeing the R rated movies anyway hasn't exactly led to the downfall of society...
    • Re:Hey... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by d_jedi (773213)
      I don't think there is any law for this. I believe the ratings are voluntary.

      Personally, I don't really care - as long as they don't collect information. And, unlike with cigarettes, if any kid asks me to buy the game for them because they're not old enough.. I'll gladly do it.
  • Uninforcable (Score:3, Informative)

    by mfh (56) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:08PM (#10529557) Homepage Journal
    Metro International newspapers Toronto edition reports that Canadian gamers must now provide photo identification to buy computer and video games.

    More stupid regulation that can't be controlled or monitored. More excuses to steal from taxpayers. Bah -- it's uninforcable.

    Oh wait...

    FTA: "It's a voluntary program based on the ratings you already see on the game boxes."

  • by nz_mincemeat (192600) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:08PM (#10529561) Homepage
    As the article states, you already need photo ID for proof-of-age before buying cigerettes and booze...

    In terms of privacy I can't see this requirement for video games being any more intrusive than that.

    Generally, people who have a problem with this also disagrees with video game ratings in general. I think that's the real problem we'll encounter in this discussion :)
    • However, they only have the support of 90% of stores. Kids will catch on pretty quick and start buying games there. Hell, before we were 18, my friends found out which gas stations didnt card for cigarettes and thus werent stopped.
    • I have been asked for ID by Walmart when buying software. It doesn't bother me except that I thought the ratings were just suggestions to help old people pick out gifts that they consider appropriate. Codifying a voluntary rating system into law just doesn't sit right with me.
    • as I said before (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anubis350 (772791)
      As the article states, you already need photo ID for proof-of-age before buying cigerettes and booze...
      we all know how effective this is
  • Only SOME games (Score:5, Informative)

    by Night Goat (18437) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:11PM (#10529588) Homepage Journal
    The blurb didn't make this clear, but the article says that only games that are age-restricted will require ID. So kids without ID can still get sports games and games that are deemed OK for kids. I was worried there for a second... way to discriminate against a good chunk of your audience.
  • Maybe parents will finally know what little Jimmy is buying with his 500 dollar allowance.
  • 10% will not ID. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ForestGrump (644805) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:12PM (#10529597) Homepage Journal
    The RCC says that it has the support of 90% of game retailers in the voluntary program

    Does this mean 10% WILL NOT ID? Well, if this is on a voluntary basis, then you (hopefullY) have those 10%. And those that won't ID will be rewarded by your business. That simple.
  • by astro (20275) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:13PM (#10529602) Homepage in Oregon. And I am 35 (though I look young)! Having played the game through (loved it), I have a hard time seeing what the problem is to demand age verification before selling this M rated game to folks - it is truly an adults-only game IMO.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:13PM (#10529607)
    Really, games aren't 'Pong' anymore.

    If you're going to have cinema-realism in games, you're going to have to deal with the same cinema rating system.

    Better that than to have the graphics dulled and content Barney-fied into safety.

    /shouts for kids to get off his damn lawn.
  • by IllogicalStudent (561279) <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:14PM (#10529610)

    There is really no difference between this, and a Blockbuster video account.

    At the local Blockbuster, you have to show your membership card to rent a movie/game. If you're the primary card holder, they HAVE your ID on file, if you're not (e.g. it's your mom's), and you look like a minor, they'll ask you for ID before you can rent an R-Rated movie (happens this way at all the Blockbusters I've been to in Ontario, anyhow).

    This initiative, which, IMO, is a good idea, just extends this principle to purchasing the games as well as renting them. It gives some power to the rating systems -- which most parents don't know exist. Now, parents will at least think that "oh, little Johnny needs an ID to buy this? Wonder why... oh, it's rated M, hmmmmmm." Mind you, just like movies, parents can choose to ignore the rating and buy the game for their kids anyhow.

    Seems fair, power still lies with the parents to make the final call.

  • Fair is fair. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Telastyn (206146) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:14PM (#10529619)
    Why should one form of entertainment be different from another? If a state is going to place age restrictions on movies, they should do the same for games, music, concerts, theatres, sporting events....

    I mean if something is too violent or sexual it is too violent or sexual, no matter the medium.

    Not that I agree with that. Government has no place being a critic.
  • The RCC says that it has the support of 90% of game retailers in the voluntary program.

    So the kids who want to buy these games will go to the othe 10% of game retailers, and probably to buy all their games, not just the NC17 ones.

    All this plan does is hurt the "honest" retailers.

    ProfQuotes []
  • by js3 (319268) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:14PM (#10529623)
    because it would look sort of silly asking a 30 year old to show you an ID to obtain a game. Shouldn't they do it like they way they do cigar purchases? if the selling thinks you're too young he asks for an id.

    hit me with a clue bat if they already mentioned it in the article. I'm just following the long established slashdot tradition of mouthing off without reading first.
    • because it would look sort of silly asking a 30 year old to show you an ID to obtain a game. Shouldn't they do it like they way they do cigar purchases? if the selling thinks you're too young he asks for an id

      It's to prevent any possible liability, in my experience. For example, my local grocery store chain [] now requires ID for 100% of alcohol and tobacco purchases, no matter how old you look.
  • by Invalid Character (788952) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:15PM (#10529632) Journal
    This only shifts the burden of parenting and raising children away from the parents and onto retailers, and in the process inconveniencing everyone else. Whether or not a child sees or plays material that is R rated or NC17 is not nearly as important as the parents letting them know what is wrong and what is right, and making sure that they understand the difference between the fantasy world of games and movies and real life.
    When they are young, children will take up alot of ideals from their parents, who should always be there letting them know whats right. But by the time they are teens and have to deal with peer pressure in ernest, if the parents have done their job then they won't get out of hand and if they haven't done their job then its a bit too late to do anything about it, especially in that rebelious time.
    This is just more of parents being lazy and letting someone else do the work for them.

  • Where do the kids get the money in the first place. Hell many of them ask mommy and daddy to drive them to the mall in the first place. If they have a job, chances are they are mature enough to handle the mature games. But its not like this is going to stop kids from ripping and warez'ing games from their friends.

    whether it will be a simple flash of a photo ID card (which many teenagers don't have)
    Out here in BC, high schoolers and middle schoolers are given photo id's for school and reduced bus fare
  • by BabyJaysus (808429) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:25PM (#10529708)
    "Damn, I'm underage. I can't buy it at the store any longer, so where can I get it from? Of course, on a P2P network, and for free! And just think, I would have wasted all that money giving it to the game developers..."
  • Useless (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Potatomasher (798018)
    Whatever happened to letting the parents decide how to raise their kids ??
    • Isn't this a tool for the parents to use? If they think it's acceptable for their kid to have GTA3, they can pick it up for the kid. If they don't, it's just that much harder for the kid to get it.
  • Photo ID (Score:2, Insightful)

    by disbaldman (804041)
    This is a good thing--as long as it is limited to games which are rated mature. I'm tired of hearing about how kids are influenced by games to injure others. Of course, the parents should not buy/rent games like Manhunt for their children to play, but if a kid really wants to play the game, he/she can easily go to a friend's house who was able to get it and play it there. But, at least we're making it harder for them to do so.

    Anyways, one of the first things a kid should know is the difference between righ
    • ...the christian bible is also full of violence and pornography, and there are many proven cases where children and adults committed heinous crimes modeled specifically after biblical passages or quoting the bible as justification for their crimes.

      i say we should require photo ID for access to the christian bible too.
  • Hah. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jippy_ (564603) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:31PM (#10529760)
    I was at EB last weekend here in Calgary. Some kids were ahead of me pre-ordering a game who's title I can't recall. But as the reciept was being printed up, the cashier said "When you come to pick the game up, make sure you bring the reciept and some ID, or bring an adult with you".

    I didn't really think about it until reading this story now. Can't say I remember ever hearing that before when in a store like EB.
  • I don't really see this as a bad thing. The way I see it, making it hard for younger kids to buy violent games without parent's permission means that it's (hopefully) less likely that external preassures will end up causing fewer quality mature games to be made.
    I remember when I was younger I got any game that I wanted (well, not as many as I wanted, but without regard to content), just as I got to watch any movies that I wanted. Instead of simply now allowing me to view certain content, my mother would
    • I was young when the Atari 2600 was a hot item and most arcade games were 8-bit machines. Granted the arcade machines had better graphics than the Atari but they still left a LOT to the imagination. Clueless fucks were still bitching about violence in video games. Almost every argument you hear dragged out against video games was parroted then too. This whole "videogames encourage youth violence" thing goes back at least 10 years before Mortal Kombat. You see stick figures firing chunky pixels at each
  • whether it will be a simple flash of a photo ID card (which many teenagers don't have)

    Can't say for the rest of the world, but in Canada most teenagers have either a school ID, a yearly bus card with photo (at least for the Montreal area) or a medicare card (sun card for Quebec).

    Also, as mentionned in other comments, this should be considered a good thing since kids won't be able to buy games they shouldn't be playing. Sure it won't be easily enforceable but isn't it the same thing for other age restri
    • I don't see why they would use this as a way to get your customer info

      why _wouldnt_ they?

      companies have used grossly unethical/criminal methods to get customer info in the past, why wouldnt they use this?
  • by KanSer (558891) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:34PM (#10529783)
    If a teenager wants picture ID he can request a provincial ID card. In BC where I live this looks similair to the BC licences, which can be obatined even EASIER once you turn 16. As such, anyone without ID most likely is not 16. Thus must have a parent to buy with them. I was this age not so long ago and I agree with a system such as this.

    To keep things in perspective, kids die of hunger all over the world and don't even know what video games are. Therefore, one should feel compelled to suck it up and carry around a piece of plastic in his wallet.
  • This would be welcomed with open arms in Australia.
    As long as they stopped blaming the games for poor parenting probems.
  • I'm confused (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LinuxInDallas (73952) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:47PM (#10529893)
    It's "required" yet it's a "voluntary program." What am I missing here?
  • A good start (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sugarman (33437) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @06:48PM (#10529904)
    Until recently, I would have been inclined against this, but I've come to the opinion that this is a good start.

    A couple of books by Dave Grossman contributed heavily to my opinion. I'd suggest reading Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill [] and On Killing [] as excellent works on the cost of violence to society.

    Disallowing R-rated content to those that can prove they are of an age where they can likely handle it is fine by me. Don't ban the stuff. But the effect these violence simulators can have on a developing mind can be enormous. So taking steps to keep it out of their hands is a step in the right direction. Change will not happen overnight, but we need to do what we can.

  • No discussion of video games in Canada would be complete without a reference to Acts Of Gord [], a Canadian video game store. Especially topical would be the Oddity story in Chapter 23 of the Book of Annoyances. [].
  • You've been bitching all along that parents should be responsible for their kids, when realistically, it's impossible in many situations.

    Now they're finally given a law to make it possible and you bitch about that too.

    Parents are not superbeings. Cut them some slack, it's hard enough.

  • If you are renting, you have to be pirating..

    This will serve as 'summons pool' for later on when p2p becomes anonymous...
  • Short of a requirement to fax/mail photo id to them, it's not like the delivery person will ask for ID. Most of the time, they just leave the package in my door without a signature!
  • So this is good then for Amazon,Ebay and all the other online retailers out there? I mean, they won't require ID checks will they? If I was under 18 and a store refused to sell me a game and I couldn't just find an older person around to buy it for me, I'd go straight online and either download it or buy it online.

  • This should work! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by John Pfeiffer (454131)
    <sarcasm>This should keep those kids from buying their violent video games!</sarcasm>

    Hell, I'm 23 and -I- don't even have a picture ID. And what is this going to solve, anyway? You think some kid who wants to buy the new GTA is going to go "Aww shucks! I can't buy violent video games anymore! I guess I'll go play stickball with my friends..."? Right. <sarcasm>Because we all know his parents didn't buy him a DVD burner last xmas...and there's no way he has usenet access.....</sarcas
  • by CrazyTalk (662055) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @10:15PM (#10531457)
    After all, ever since 9/11 I have to show a photo ID to rent a movie at Blockbuster. Never really undetstood that myself. Do they think terrorists are out renting movies and not returning them?
  • teens without ID ?? (Score:4, Informative)

    by vitamine73 (818599) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:28PM (#10531948)
    a simple flash of a photo ID card (which many teenagers don't have)


    Up here in the colder reaches of North America we have free health care provided by the state. To benefit from this you need your medicare card ... which is issued to you by the provincial governments at birth, and sports you picture and birthdate! need more official photo ID? Anyway, these kids usually also have a school ID with picture and all, don't they ?

    or a more detailed user database, with its inherent privacy concerns

    Why the database ? Asking for ID to buy/rent a game is no different from asking for ID to get movie tickets or beer. Do movie theatres and convenience shops maintain databases of what movies you see and what brand of beer you buy most often ?

    Practical issues put aside, I don't see why this is a problem. Kids are, well, kids. As a society we have a right, and an obligation, to make some decisions about what is acceptable or not for the majority of them. If you want to make a different one for your kids as an individual, go ahead and do it ! go and buy/rent them the game.

  • A Canadians opinion (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LordZardoz (155141) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:54PM (#10536719)
    I am Canadian. I will be affected by this law. And quite frankly, I dont see it being a problem.

    You have to get your wallet out anyway to pay for the game. If they want to look at my ID when I buy the game, big deal.

    I might give a crap if I were 17 or did not have ID handy. But I am not.

    I see no problem with keeping mature themed games out of the hands of younger children. And the 17 year olds who want these games can cannot get them are resourceful. You not supposed to be able to get ciggarettes or booze at that age, yet they manage. I dont see games being a bigger problem.


"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." -- Artemus Ward aka Charles Farrar Brown