UK Group Stings Game Retailers

June 26, 2008 -

Earlier this week GamePolitics reported on complaints by UK watchdog groups that online auction sellers were selling 18+ games to underage buyers.

Now the Harrow Observer reports that some game retailers in that part of London have been caught selling mature-themed games in a sting conducted by Harrow Council Trading Standards and Which? Computing. The stores fingered in the report are Woolworths, Game and Maplin.

From the newspaper account:

All three shops have now launched internal investigations into the sales and will face legal action from the council if caught out again.

 

Woolworths sold Grand Theft Auto (GTA) - Vice City Stories.... to the [15-year-old] girl without question. In the Maplin store, the assistant asked the investigator's age, but did not refuse the sale of Hitman, even when she said she was 15.
 
The six other Harrow stores that were tested in the operation in May - Tesco, Argos, Debenhams, HMV, Currys Digital and Entertainment Exchange - all refused to sell the game to the teenager.

GP: While this smcall-scale study almost certainly wasn't conducted with the design rigor of the Federal Trade Commission's secret shopper survey in the US, its results (67% success rate in blocking the underage sale) aren't that far off from the 80% success rate that the FTC found here in the States.


Comments

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

Dennis you made a typo

"While this smcall-scale study"

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

 Y'know, the real kicker here is the fact that in the UK it actually IS illegal to sell such a game to a minor. This actually works as proof that gov't based video game regulation will NOT lead to 100% enforcement. It makes the game legislation that they are trying to push in the US not only unconstitutional, but meaningless as well as the results would only be about as good as the voluntary enforcement. (as if there was any doubt in my mind)

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

Im not shocked at the numbers, I AM suprised at GAME. A videogame retailer should know better, and have its staff trained up to deal with these kinds of situations.

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

I concur.  Game of all people should be carding people.

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

Yeah, but if you sent in a 16 year old boy, they wouldn't have sold it. Imagine a teen working at these places confronted with another teen girl who is interested in video games.

I just feel this was less a sting and more entrapment.

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

That's a piss-poor excuse and you know it. The person's gender should have no bearing on a sale, whether the 17 year-old clerk was trying to pick them up or not.

-- teh moominz --

-- teh moominz --

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

Ohhhh, so THAT's where Woolworth's dissappeared to. I always wondered about that.

 

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Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

Yeah, I'm surprised it's still around. When I was a little kid, Woolworths was the place to be for video games. Nothing like playing the Arkanoid machine or spending 30 minutes on Super Mario World at the SNES demo station...before I got the system anyways.

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

Additionally, I note that in the FTC secret shopper survey, the only major games-only retailers had only 6% success rate of someone underage getting a copy of a Mature title.  All the others are places that sell multiple types of media, e.g. KMart, Target etc.  This somewhat flys in the face of Jack's theories of the industry not policing itself, no?  Maybe instead of introducing regulations those in favour of preventing children getting hold of Mature titles should encourage the likes of Hollywood Video and Circuit City to train their staff better?

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

I'm with Chuma here, without comparative statistics, it's just numbers.

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

Are ratings in the UK legally enforceable or is it like the ESRB in the U.S.?

In any case, I don't really have a problem with this necessarily.  Obviously for the ratings to be effective there needs to be SOME kind of enforcement and game retailers need to not sell mature games to unescorted, underage buyers.

The key being that the buyers, I presume, were unescorted.  If the gaming community fails to hold retailers accountable when they violate the ratings without cause then we have no credibility to complain when irrational people yell about violent games in the hands of kids.

I would hope, probably in futility, that the real focus of this "string" would be that out of 9 stores 6 actually did enforce the ratings while 3 did not.  But somehow I think the message that comes out of this will be "Stores Sell Murder Simulators to Innocent Doe-Eyed Babies!!!!!!!!!!"

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

They are enforceable.  I think that if those who bought these were to report the shop in question they can be fined up to £1000 per offence (will have to check on that incase it has changed recently).  A Custodial sentence is rarely used but in theory you can get up to 6 months for it.

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

Well at least there is some validity to this then.  Although IMO, there's probably much much worse things these groups could focus on.

Like I said, I don't find this particular aggregious, after all someone needs to check up.  I don't think it would the worst idea if the ESRB did similar things on this side of the Atlantic.  If the gaming industry really wants some respect it should do some serious enforcement.

If the ESRB had any real power I would argue for some kind of sanction.  Like if a store gets a more than 15% failure rate they lose the ability to sell M rated games for a month or something. I think if there was some actual enforcement ability on the part of the ESRB we might see the controversy diminish.  Ya know, if every so often the ESRB actually came out and said "We're actually punishing retailors who violate the ratings without good cause [like a parent giving permission]"

But ultimately, the ESRB simply doesn't have the power to do that.

Re: UK Group Stings Game Retailers

Ofcourse, unlike in the US, this is actually illegal so the principle of the sting is more valid.

I'd be interested to see if the same shops sold 18 films to 15 year olds as well.

 
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MaskedPixelantehttp://m.tickld.com/x/something-you-never-realized-about-guardians-of-the-galaxy Right in the feels.08/29/2014 - 6:56pm
AvalongodAgain I think we're conflating the issue of whether Sarkeesian's claims are beyond critique (no they're not) and whether its ever appropriate to use sexist language, let alone physical threats on a woman to intimidate her (no it isn't)08/29/2014 - 5:04pm
prh99Trolling her or trying to assail her integrity just draws more attention (Streisand effect?). Which is really not what the trolls want, so the only way to win (if there is a win to be had) is not to play/troll.08/29/2014 - 5:02pm
prh99Who cares, just don't watch the damn videos if you don't like her. Personally, I don't care as far as she is concerned as long there are interesting games to be played.08/29/2014 - 4:34pm
Andrew EisenZip - And yet, you can't cite a single, solitary example. (And no one said you hated anyone. Along those lines, no one claimed Sarkeesian was perfect either.)08/29/2014 - 3:51pm
Andrew EisenSaint's Row: Gat Out of Hell was just announced for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One making it the 150th game For Everything But Wii U! Congratulations Deep Silver!08/29/2014 - 3:49pm
ZippyDSMleeI do not hate them jsut think its mostly hyperlobe.08/29/2014 - 3:40pm
Andrew EisenSleaker - I'd say that's likely. From my experience, most who have a problem with Sarkeesian's videos either want to hate them in the first place (for whatever reason) or honestly misunderstand what they're about and what they're saying.08/29/2014 - 3:16pm
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TechnogeekIt gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, the gaming community is not statistically indistinguishable from consisting entirely of people that your average Xbox Live caricature would look at and go "maybe you should tone it down a little bit".08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
TechnogeekI just want to say that while I've disagreed with the staff of this site on several occasions, it's still good to see that they're not automatically dismissing Anita's videos as a "misandrist scam" or whatever the preferred dismissive term is these days.08/29/2014 - 2:49pm
E. Zachary KnightZippy, So you can't find even one?08/29/2014 - 1:04pm
ZippyDSMleeAndrew Eisen:Right because shes prefect and never exaggerates... *rolls eyes*08/29/2014 - 12:53pm
SleakerAnd honestly, nearly all of the games she references, or images she depicts I've always cringed at and wondered why they were included in games to begin with, from pinups through explicit sexual depictions or direct abuse. I think it's cheap storytelling.08/29/2014 - 12:35pm
Sleaker@AE - aren't most people fundamentally misunderstanding her at this point? haha.. On a related note I think a lot of the backlash is coming from males that think she is telling them their 'Generic Male Fantasy' is bad and wrong.08/29/2014 - 12:33pm
Andrew EisenAnd no, I don't think the female community would be upset over the performance of a case study in and of itself. Possibly the mostivations behind such a study, the methodology or conclusions but not the mere idea of a case study.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
Andrew EisenAmusingly, these videos aren't saying you can't/shouldn't use tropes or that sexual representations are inherently problematic so those are very silly things to have a problem with and indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of the series.08/29/2014 - 12:29pm
SleakerDo you think the female community would get extremely angry over a male doing a case study on the negative impact of sex-novels and their unrealistic depiction of males and how widespread they are in american culture?08/29/2014 - 12:25pm
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SleakerTo even discuss or bring up these issues at a cultural level to begin with. Going straight for games to many probably feels like a huge overstepping given that it's interactive story in many cases, and when you're telling a story why can't you use tropes.08/29/2014 - 12:21pm
 

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