Underage buyers are routinely able to purchase violent games via online auction sites, according to the Welsh Heads of Trading Standards.
As reported by the Daily Mail, a test group of 12-16 year olds were successful in 38 of 44 attempts to buy 18-rated games like Manhunt, Grand Theft Auto, The Godfather and Hitman. Lee Jones of the Bridgend County Borough Council Trading Standards commented on the results:
This survey shows how easily children can gain access to age-restricted violent video games.
A spokesman for the Trading Standards Institute added:
Traders selling goods over the internet have a responsibility to make sure they have methods in place to avoid breaking the law. If traders cannot be sure the person they are selling to is over 18 then they should not be selling.
GP: While the video game industry has made significant strides regarding retail enforcement of ratings, auction sites are beyond their control. It's an interesting quandary for parents and government officials. Moreover, it's questionable how much influence the auction sites are able to exercise over thousands of individual sellers. As the Daily Mail notes, the sellers place themselves at risk for a six-month jail sentence for selling 18-rated games to minors in the UK.