The Northamptonshire police and crime commissioner Adam Simmonds is calling for a new Adults Only (AO) game rating to be implemented in the UK. This would help parents to identify games which go beyond the usual level of violence expected in a PEGI 18 game, reports MCVUK online. Furthermore a parental lock is suggested as a standard feature of video games so parents can monitor and protect their children better.
Potential Adults Only (AO) titles could be Grand Theft Auto V and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. These high profile titles go beyond 18+ in some of the content depicted, says a report quoted by the crime commissioner. For example in GTA V there is a torture scene in which the player must pull out teeth and electrocute an unarmed man. In Modern Warfare 2 there is a mission in which the player takes part in a civilian massacre at an airport.
The above cited games and others are said to have commonly been a cause of distress in primary school age children. Five-year-olds are said to be particularly vulnerable to this kind of upset – 42 per cent say they have been affected by some kind of graphics content. Over a quarter of children have accessed games that were rated for older children or adults. Meanwhile online gaming was found to be the most popular activity for primary school children (84 per cent).
PEGI doesn't go far enough
In his presentation Simmonds said that "Children as young as five are being subject to graphic scenes while playing video games that have left them feeling extremely upset. Many parents might not be fully aware that these games contain such disturbing scenes. It is time for the industry to play a more proactive role in protecting young minds". He feels that the combination of an AO rating and parental lock system could help safeguard children. In the future, if gaming companies don't work with the police and government, outright game bans may be considered.
Due to the available extreme violent or sexual games, online predators and explicit images and videos Simmons concluded that online safety should be as high a priority for the government as road safety. The research data quoted by Simmons was from surveys and workshops involving 13,000 parents and children aged 5-18 across Northamptonshire.