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Games Entertainment

Study Finds Games Stores Still Selling to Minors 81

Posted by Zonk
from the could-be-just-a-bit-biased-though dept.
A study funded by the National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF) has found that almost half of all games retailers are still selling 'M'-rated games to kids. "The two-month undercover survey, which covered 60 US retailers, found that underage teens were able to buy games rated M for Mature (17+) at 46 percent of stores, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune ... the findings of the survey still put the game industry ahead of many other entertainment sectors, including the movie and music industries."
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Study Finds Games Stores Still Selling to Minors

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  • by ameyer17 (935373) <slashdot@ameyer17.com> on Thursday November 22, 2007 @03:17PM (#21447871) Homepage
    Since any attempts to legislate a ban on selling M-rated games to minors have been deemed unconstitutional, I say so what. Perhaps stores shouldn't be selling these games to minors, but that's between the store and the "OMG PROTECT THE CHILDREN" crowd
    • Ditto.
    • by Nazlfrag (1035012)
      I'd go so far as to say they should definitely be selling these games to minors. Firstly, the ratings are knee-jerk reactionary mostly meaningless bullshit. kids aren't as stupid as we make out, and know the difference between cartoon and computer game versus real life violence. Secondly, any parent giving their children enough money for games these days and not supervising their purchases should be happy that all little Timmy is buying is a computer game. The stores should do what the hell they like, not c
    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      "Since any attempts to legislate a ban on selling M-rated games to minors have been deemed unconstitutional, I say so what."
      When has this been tested in court?
      Oh and don't worry the OMG protect the children people will make gaming stores lives so complicated that they may stop selling M rated games all together.
      They will just sue the stores. Get local politions to pass laws that the stores will then have to take to court...
      The stores better police themselves oreelse things will be ugly.
    • by rwven (663186)
      It's totally a store policy. While it's probably not the best idea to go out and buy your 11 year old Manhunt 2, it's also not against the law. These stores are just looking out for their bottom line. You can hardly blame them...
    • by aichpvee (631243)
      I have yet to see anything in a game that is so bad that children shouldn't be allowed to see it. If you don't want your kids buying stuff don't let them have any money. Seems pretty fucking easy to me. But don't make the rest of us go out to pick up Murder Simulator IV: Hooker Sex Edition when our kids are perfectly capable of taking their own damn selves to the store.
  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Macthorpe (960048) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @03:21PM (#21447885) Journal
    Seeing as the ratings are a guideline not a law, and it's up to parents to enforce the guidelines they want to enforce, I am going to have to join in the calls of 'So what?'

    The only way to sort out this out would be for people to stop assuming that games are for kids - but who knows when that's going to be.
    • Umm... Las Vegas? I mean, they know for a fact that a lot of adults enjoy playing games. Some even for money.
      • by Malevolyn (776946)
        Dammit, man, you weren't supposed to tell anyone! That's supposed to stay in Vegas! I suggest you stay away from windows for a few days.
  • IDs? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @03:22PM (#21447893)

    The two-month undercover survey [...] found that underage teens were able to buy games rated M for Mature (17+) at 46 percent of stores

    How are they supposed to enforce that anyways? By asking kids their ID? How are you supposed to tell a 17-year old who looks like he's 14 from a 14 year old who looks like he's 17?

    • Re:IDs? (Score:4, Informative)

      by MoonFog (586818) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @03:31PM (#21447931)
      Well, in Norway, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 18. Anyone who is in a store learns that if they are unsure, they always ask. Many stores have signs that say if you are under 25, you should show ID before they even ask. Its not rocket science, its really not that different from selling other things with legal ages, or working at a pub or nightclub. How are you supposed to tell them apart? You dont, you ask both for ID.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kermit1221 (75994)
        I think you missed the part about "guidelines, not law". It's not currently illegal for the store to sell these games to minors. Apparently there are some working towards making the video game rating systems law, at least in California at this point.

        The fun part is that (so I've read) the law would impose fines of thousands of dollars as well as charging the offender with a felony of some sort, for selling Mature video games to minors. It seems the penalty for (first offense) selling alcohol to minors is a
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by ameyer17 (935373)
          Several states have tried this, it's been declared unconstitutional. Illinois had to pay the video game industry's lawyers a bunch of money, if I recall correctly.
        • by DeadChobi (740395)
          A girl I worked with at a convenience store got busted because she accidentally sold alcohol to a minor. It's a felony in my state, and gets you considerably more than just a $300 fine.
        • by ColdSam (884768)
          What difference does it make whether it is a guideline or a law? It's not impossible for stores to ensure (with reasonable accuracy) that they are only selling to the over 17 crowd. Of course, because it is not a law they may not think it's worth the effort, but they certainly could if they chose to.
      • Yeah... I remember the last time I got drunk on a shit load of game, had a hangover the next day.

        Wait... no I didn't. Alcohol is not like games.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 4D6963 (933028)

        My point was, how are you gonna require an ID from a 17 year old?

        • by Sigma 7 (266129)

          My point was, how are you gonna require an ID from a 17 year old?
          Birth Certificate, and if necessary, combo it with school id. This was exactly the combination I used to cross the Canada/US border (before passports were required), and should likewise be sufficient enough to purchase a video game. If it isn't, the store employee isn't doing the job properly.

          • by CFTM (513264)
            You are incorrect sir; the store employee is not legally compelled to do anything. These are merely guidelines, and has been stated by multiple other posters, any attempt to make this mandatory has been shot down as unconstitutional.
            • by Sigma 7 (266129)

              You are incorrect sir; the store employee is not legally compelled to do anything. These are merely guidelines, and has been stated by multiple other posters, any attempt to make this mandatory has been shot down as unconstitutional.
              I'd be impressed if a non-American law gets shot down as unconstitutional for violating the first amendment.

              Here, showing ID is mandatory for movies even if the movie theater agents don't follow the law.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Gibble (514795)
          I honestly don't know a 17 year old who doesn't have some form of ID.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by KDR_11k (778916)
          Same way you would from an 18 year old?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by ColdSam (884768)
          Is this a trick question? You ask "Can I see some ID?" If they don't provide an ID which indicates they are over 17 then you don't sell them the game.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Shadowplay00 (1042912)
      Hate to knock down a strawman, but many 17 year olds have a driver's license.

      This is not intended to contradict the "so what?" crowd...ultimately ratings are only useful as a way for non-gaming parents to filter what their kids can play.
      • Key word being *many*. My brother is 18 and still hasn't bothered to get an id. I suppose he could ask one of his friends who has an id to pick up the game for him much like a 16 year old could.

        I'm part of the "who cares" crowd. The only way this affects me is my tax dollars that go into these useless studies. It isn't illegal, why are we spending our money on this shxt? When it becomes illegal then knock yourselves out on your little sting operations.
      • ultimately ratings are only useful as a way for non-gaming parents to filter what their kids can play.

        More like parents who don't give a damn about actual parenting. What your child can and can't handle comes down to the actual child, I myself could play violent sexual video games without it fazing me in the slightest, and I don't feel the urge to go kill or rape someone.
    • This is similar to what I say when I go to www.wawa.com and I see the sticker on the counter saying that they card anyone under 27 for tobacco products. "How are they supposed to know if you are over 27 or not without checking your ID?" But to get back on topic, this doesn't surprise me. Since the time I found out that stores usually only sell M rated games to those over 17 (when I was about 13) it hasn't been an issue for me to get M rated games. As I see it, there are five options for anyone under 17 to
    • by rtwarner (1132907)
      Yes that's exactly how they're supposed to enforce such a policy. Drivers licenses typically list a date of birth and have a picture attached. I am 25 and was carded when I purchased Serious Sam 2 at walmart; back in my large unkempt beard days, no less.
      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        But you can't require 17-year olds to have an ID or a driving license!

        • by Jartan (219704)
          Just to remind people from outside the US: People are allowed to drive at 16 years of age here. Also do not forget how different our cities laid out and our lack of public transit.

          The mere concept of a 16 year old not getting a license a day after turning 16 is probably unconsciously dismissed by almost all Americans. Even if you are unlikely to be allowed to drive you are very likely to be treated like a loser for not having a license.

          If you actually tried to make the argument "but what if they don't ha
          • by nuggetman (242645)
            Not everywhere. No licenses until 17 here in Jersey.
          • by 4D6963 (933028)

            Ha! You're wrong! [wikipedia.org] lol.

            "In the United States, the driving age is determined by the state or territory, with the most common age being sixteen. The minimum age for a license varies from 14 years 3 months to 18 years."

            That means that not all 17 year olds can be expected to have licenses.

            • by ColdSam (884768)
              Ha! You're a troll.

              In which state can you not at least get a restricted driver's license at age 17? I didn't see one, and I'm guessing your extensive research didn't unearth one either.

              But that's beside the point. The post you responded to was not seriously arguing that every single 17 year old in America has a driver's license and for you to take it to such an extreme is a little childish. Many, if not most 17 year olds do have an license and anyone who is mature enough to handle a "Mature" game can be
            • by Jartan (219704)

              Ha! You're wrong! lol.

              Doesn't change much. It's only a couple of examples that happen to be in the few area's which I already noted as exceptions (like New York City).
        • Our government actually does. Have an ID or be open for an arrest until your ID can be verified somehow. It's in the books. Not only for minors. Any policeman can stop you on the street and ask for your ID. Not able to produce one? Come with me and call someone who can identify himself and you.

          Now, mind you, it sounds more fascist than it is. It's one of those "just in case" laws. Never happened to me. Happened to a friend who was waiting for his girlfriend in front of a jeweler's. The idea behind it is tha
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bodrius (191265)
        I think the problem is that makes a huge assumption: if you are 17 ==> you have a driver license.

        Other countries have national ID cards that also apply to minors, so it is reasonable to expect you have some state ID with you.
        But if there is no legal requirement an ID, and you have no need for a driver license (i.e.: you do not own/drive a car), assuming you magically have a driver license does not follow. For minors, that situation is far more likely.

        Not sure it is a big deal - but it reminds me of the '
        • I've had this problem in Canada. Most places ask for a driver's license, but I don't have one. They will also accept a passport (but who carries their passport around with them all the time ? I don't have a passport since I don't travel but I have heard that if you lose it you can't get another one). Many places will not accept a health card and I once tried to open a bank account and I forgot to bring my birth certificate and the account manager told me that it's illegal to accept an Ontario health card fo
        • I believe all or most states will issue state ids, which pretty much look like driver's licenses anyway. Not required to have one though as a minor or even as an adult, just it's a less of a hassle to carry one if you don't have a driver's license.
        • by ColdSam (884768)
          Such a requirement doesn't make the assumption that you all 17 year-olds have a license. If you're 17 and don't have any ID then tough luck. Maybe getting some ID should be a higher priority than playing a mature game.

          The same applies to drinking. You aren't forced to have an ID when you are 21, but you can't expect to go into a liquor store and have them take your word for it. And it also applies to your example of credit-card verification. You aren't forced as a citizen to have a credit-card, but your r
          • by Bodrius (191265)
            You may not be 'forced' to get an ID, but your life is made pretty darn difficult.
            And the rest of society has significant trouble dealing with the exceptions - have you tried opening a bank account without a 'driver's license' at hand? Depending on the IQ of the clerk, convincing them of accepting other government-issued IDs (e.g.: passport) can be difficult / impossible.

            Now, if that's a policy set by a private business, then you're right and there is no issue: just do business elsewhere, if you really need
            • by ColdSam (884768)

              You may not be 'forced' to get an ID, but your life is made pretty darn difficult.

              Honestly, I don't have a problem with that since by not having an ID you're making everyone else's lives more difficult. The rest of us shouldn't have to suffer for the minority who for whatever obscure (and probably misguided) reason don't want to have ID.

              And the rest of society has significant trouble dealing with the exceptions - have you tried opening a bank account without a 'driver's license' at hand? Depending on the IQ of the clerk, convincing them of accepting other government-issued IDs (e.g.: passport) can be difficult / impossible.

              Case in point. Why expect banks, bars, etc. to handle more forms of ID if it isn't necessary? That brings up the cost for the rest of us who aren't being intransigent, and I don't want to have to pay for that (or wait in line behind such a person).

              But when the policy is a regulation by government or commerce authorities, you do not have that option - implicitly you are requiring the driver license for completely unrelated transactions.At that point, you might just institute a national ID system and be done with it - or it just gets absurd and inefficient over time.

              A na

      • In my own experience, I was carded more when I had my own variety of unkempt beard. To 'the man' it makes you look:
        a) more shifty
        b) like you're trying to grow a beard to look older

        I almost never got carded when I was clean shaven.
    • by moranar (632206)

      How are they supposed to enforce that anyways? By asking kids their ID?

      Yes. Exactly like that. You mention it as if it was something unthinkable. If a minor wants to get an M-rated or 17+ rated game, tough luck. Let him bring his parents to buy it.

      If he's an adult, well, he can go back home and get some ID, can't he?
      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        If a minor wants to get an M-rated or 17+ rated game, tough luck.

        Yeah but if you're 17, you're a minor, and you're allowed to buy the game tho. That's the difference between 17+ and 18+ that prompted my comment.

        If he's an adult, well, he can go back home and get some ID, can't he?

        And if he's not an adult?

        • by Moridin42 (219670)
          Are you kidding me? I know you said in another post that you can't require people to have ID on them. Thats true. Even of 30 year olds. In spite of that, the 30 year olds are likely to have ID on them.

          17 year olds are likely to have ID on them for the same reason that anyone else has one on them. Licenses are common, are available, and they're nice to have if you feel like driving around in a legal fashion.
          • by moranar (632206)
            Furthermore, nobody's asking that every single minor carry ID, only that the people who want to be acknowledged as adults prove they are.
        • by moranar (632206)

          If he's an adult, well, he can go back home and get some ID, can't he?

          And if he's not an adult?

          ... He shouldn't be sold the game? Are you doing this on purpose?

          • by 4D6963 (933028)

            He shouldn't be sold the game? Are you doing this on purpose?

            You retard, 17+ means you can buy the game if you're 17, that means a minor, that means not an adult (in some states you're not an adult before 21 anyways), that means he should be sold the game.

    • by Frogbert (589961)
      How is everyone missing the point of the parent post?

      If you are 17 you won't have an ID because you aren't old enough to have one.
      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        Thanks, although I'm not sure my claim is correct, as I'm only French, but after all it seems that most Americans around here ignore the fact that in some states you can only have a driver license at the age of 18, let alone be an adult only at 21.

      • by rtechie (244489)
        In most states you can get a State ID card from age 13+. As far as I'm aware, 17-year-olds in every state can get a State ID card. You can also get a Passport from at least age 5 on. A Passport is valid Picture ID. Every American who isn't batshit crazy should have a Passport.

    • Also consider this:

      There are within maybe a few miles of my parent's home, approximately a dozen game retailers. ALL of them employ staffs comprised of mostly teenage high school kids or those out of high school less than 2 years.

      Am I surprised that they sell to their younger friends/relatives. Not in the least.
  • Priorities (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ACS Solver (1068112) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @03:33PM (#21447939)
    Yeah... always good to see people getting their priorities right. How about trying to fight the problem of shops selling booze to kids?

    And yes I know this is a study by a group studying media.
    • by p0tat03 (985078)

      Problems are different to everyone. What is important to you isn't important to me, and vice versa. What's the deal with selling booze to kids anyway? Shouldn't it be up to the parents to control and decide whether or not their children are mature enough for alcohol, and if so, how much?

      Smoking and porn too, I suppose. Hell, why do we have a restriction on any of that?

      • by LingNoi (1066278)

        Shouldn't it be up to the parents to control and decide whether or not their children are mature enough for alcohol, and if so, how much?

        To a certain extent but you're ignoring the fact that alcohol is a poison which damages a child's liver and require them to have a transplant if they're lucky or die if they're not. We all know how stupid some people can get and it's a good idea to have laws against stuff that can kill children because of a parents ignorance.

        I don't think drinking and playing violent games

        • by p0tat03 (985078)

          But, of course, we have the odd exception cases (i.e. most of Europe), where the drinking age does not exist, yet alcohol abuse amongst use is not pandemic. I know many an European family where tradition had kids enjoying a bit of wine at dinner with their folks, or champagne at New Year's, or any number of such situations.

          America's alcohol problem is not an *alcohol* problem per se, but rather a cultural one, where abuse is cool and getting your stomach pumped is treated like a rite of passage. Take away

          • by DeadChobi (740395)
            I'm pretty sure if we decided to make a legal bread-eating age children would be stuffing themselves with that. In Europe it's commonplace to have a little beer or wine with a meal, and parents typically model a healthy sense of moderation. So the children see this, realise that beer/wine are perfectly normal. Here in America, it's typically very taboo to even speak of alcoholic beverages let alone imbibe one with dinner in some circles.

            Consequently we have children trying to defy the taboo, just like they
  • that studies that tell us what we already know, are lame.

    Mod me lame?
    • by moranar (632206)
      How do you actually know what you say you already know? I like some lies^Wdamn lies^W^W^Wstatistics to confirm or deny what seems evident. Plus, the study could have found that stores _didn't_ sell to minors.

      I know that with enough statistics, you can prove any point you want. Still, it's nice not to rely on common sense for once.
  • Despicable. This offense should be punishable by death by impact hammer [wikipedia.org]. That'll show 'em to sell violent games to youngsters!
  • If kids are willing, but unable to purchase digital media, then they will steal it.

    I was denied entry a few months before my birthday to a movie, so I went home pirated it and enjoyed it.
  • If the guidelines aren't law, what is done about pornographic games? Is it actually legal to sell games featuring explicit sex to minors in the US (some states anyway)?
    • by sqlrob (173498)
      That would fall under the obscenity statutes. The type of media is irrelevant.

      And that's also one of the reasons why these game laws are unconstitutional. They must apply to all media or none.
  • How long will it be before Jack Thompson finds this and uses it to try to get video games banned?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiT2cbyRtAI [youtube.com] (Great video on Jack Thompson)
    • Considering it proves that movies, television, music, etc are enforced worse off than games currently.

      It just proves that the gaming industries ratings work better than any other out there and that self regulation within the gaming industry is tip top and working a-ok.

  • This just in: stores are still selling tobacco and alcohol products, pornography and r-rated DVDs to minors! Shockingly, near- (or at-) minimum wage-earning retail clerks in deadend jobs sometimes don't give a damn about the selling legally-prohibited products to kids just barely younger than they themselves are.
  • Because they're sure as snot not around my home city. I'm tired of getting carded to buy a game when I'm nearly two decades past the "sell-to" age. :P

  • NIMF is an anti-gaming pressure group AND they don't bother to detail the methodology of their "study". They're almost certainly flat-out lying about the results. I can think of countless ways they could fudge these results, assuming they're not just making them up out of whole cloth (which is typical for such "studies"). Among other things I suspect few of the retailers were actually specialty game retailers. You CAN purchase video games at Rite-Aid, where I suspect the cashiers are poorly educated about c
  • I always buy videos... which if i dont have my ID card i'm screwed.. cause they card me at best buy super target an other places... this is a outrage anyways because.. games.. are just as mind inflicting as cartoons/ horror flicks.. people can watch tv all the time.. with gore, killings, sex, and other gang activities just by watching cable/satellite tv this is bogus.. if you try an gag games you might as well gag television cause they curiosity, sight, emotion is still there for movies, tv, sitcoms, animes

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