This Blog Entry is Rated T for Teen

And so are most successful narrative online games. When playing Lotro, many time have I encountered another player who will start up a conversation full of smiley faces and exclamation points. To me, this indicates that I am most likely conversing with a young kid. The teen and pre-teen age groups make up a huge constituency of video game consumers, and the companies who produce the games know this. Therefore, they design the games to conform to ESRB video game ratings, which reward account nudity, sexual themes, and sexual violence with a Mature or Adults Only rating, and less revenues.

Controversy over the “Hot Coffee Mod” in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas exploded in 2005 after hackers discovered how to unlock minigame that portrayed the main character having sex with one of his girlfriends. The game’s Mature rating was pushed back to Adults Only. A grandmother filed a class-action law suit against Rockstar, the company that developed GTA, claiming she bought the game for her grandson when it was rated M, and the new AO rating was inappropriate for him to be playing. Cases like this show why is it usually a safer and smarter economic decision for video game developers to avoid sex in video games.

Sex does not sell in narrative video games. Companies that produce the games need to make money, and two major determinants of their revenue are the quality and availability of their product. IN order to make a game more available, company have to cater to a broader age group. Sex usually sells games to teenagers and some adults. However, a mother walking into a video game store would probably not choose to buy Playboy: The Mansion instead of Mario Tennis. Even though these aren’t narrative games, the same principle applies. The companies who produce video games simply make more money by catering to a more diverse crowd when they leave sex out of the games.



One thought on “This Blog Entry is Rated T for Teen”

  1. Nick Yee’s Daedulus project surveyed over 30,000 (maybe 40,000) MMORPG users. “The majority of respondents were male (85.4%, n = 5547). The average age of the respondents was 26.57 (n = 5509, SD = 9.19); the median was 25, with a range from 11 to 68. The lower and upper quartile boundaries were 19 and 32 respectively (see Figure 1 for the ages of both genders). Thus, only about 25% of
    MMORPG users are teenagers and MMORPGs have cross-generational appeal.” (Yee, N. (2006). The Demographics, Motivations and Derived Experiences of Users of Massively-Multiuser Online Graphical Environments. PRESENCE: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 15, 309-329.)

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