“For players aged 18 and older” proclaim the labels on some of the most popular and violent computer and video games on the market — and children are snapping them up as never before.
Frustrated at being ignored, Japan’s sole computer game watchdog is ready to slap new warnings on games beginning in June.
The Computer Entertainment Rating Organization, a nonprofit entity, said Monday it will place an array of tiny icons on certain game packages, warning potential users of sexual or violent content. This way, both adults and children know what they are really buying.
“We hope the pictures will bring home to consumers why some games are for adults,” said CERO administrator Hiroyoshi Asanuma.
The new labels will feature tiny hearts, male and female symbols, knives, ghosts, money bags, guns, cocktail glasses, cigarettes and syringes.
The marks warn against romantic, sexual, violent or high-anxiety content, as well as gambling, criminal activity, drinking and smoking, drug use, or strong language.
The icons will appear only on games released in Japan.
CERO began rating games for explicit content in October 2002, judging some 900 title games thus far — covering roughly 70 percent of all game makers.
It has declared roughly 30 percent as inappropriate for children under 12, while 5 percent receive the “18 or older” label.
Typical games rated as being for users aged 18 or older include Kid Game Co.’s “Cross Channel,” where a player can manipulate characters at a girls’ school.
Meanwhile Konami Co.’s popular “Metal Gear Solid 2,” where a player goes undercover to slaughter enemies one by one, received a “15 or older” rating, as did Bandai Co.’s “Evangelion 2.”
As there are no legal penalties for store managers who sell adult content to children, however, it is doubtful the new labels will be any more effective than the current ones, said a sales clerk at Bic Camera in Tokyo’s Yurakucho district.
Masaru Tanabe, 34, strolling through the store, said he takes care to play some games after his kids have gone to sleep.
One of his favorite games is Capcom Co.’s “Biohazard” series, where players must fight their way through a town populated by zombies. Unfortunately, the game, rated for those aged 18 or above, is also his 6-year-old son’s favorite.
“My son gets up to watch the gore,” Tanabe said. “It makes me wonder if as a parent, I should stop buying the games.”