Reply To: re: Software Ratings

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(re: Software Ratings) Interesting. I certainly agree that that there are contents that kids under certain age shouldn’t be exposed to, and that games like “Leisure Suit Larry” or “Police Quest” were in this category. But as with any rating discussion, this one brings up the question of where the line is drawn.
I have a 1996 box of a “King’s Quest” collection (games 1-6 on two CDS). It’s marked as suitable for all ages (though this box came from England – maybe there were different ratings for these games in different countries). But is it really? Sure, the “King’s Quest” games had a fairy-tale background that could appeal to children. On the other hand, they also had scary and violent moments – these games were filled with monsters chasing the gamer and countless spots where the main character could die. And what about “Space Quest”? The contents of the SQ games weren’t nearly as extreme as the LSL series, but some of its humor did lean a bit in the “adult” direction. My point is, sometimes the line between “for kids” and “for adults” isn’t clear when it comes to contents.
The problem with rating today’s games, I believe, is different. The majority of today’s popular games come from the first-person-action genre, and these games have a very wide appeal. Unlike adventures, where you could say “this is a kid’s story” and “this is an adult story”, FPS games revolve around pretty much the same concept: you shoot people (or monsters). Though some people may argue that this is inappropriate for children, I can’t really see the game companies giving up the young audience for these games, which I imagine is pretty big.
Another angle here is that most of today’s game developers somehow refuse to acknowledge any kind of connection between their games and the real world. I remember reading the manual that came with Microprose’s “F-19: Stealth Fighter” simulation. That manual actually went through length to explain the political background of each campaign and actually made a serious attempt to discuss the moral implications of what you do in the game and what real-life combat pilots do. When have you seen something like that in a recent game? <sigh>