With all the hoopla about violence and adult content in video games, and with new Jack Thompsons popping up every week to decry the fall of society at the hands of the Rockstar Games of the world, one would think stores are handing out “murder trainers” willy nilly nowadays. Quite the contrary, actually. Last week I picked up my copy of Age of Conan, the new M-rated massively multiplayer game from FunCom, set in the Hyborian world of Conan the Barbarian. The game has gotten a lot of pre-release press for being a lot bloodier than its competing MMO’s, and in keeping with the Conan mythos and themes there’s quite a bit of aleing and wenching in the game.
I’m turning 30 next week, and I don’t think there’s any way I could even attempt to pass for younger than 25. But lo and behold, when I went to buy Age of Conan, the cashier at Best Buy carded me! This is the first time in quite a while that I’ve been carded for anything, and it was a rather gratifying experience. She seemed knowledgeable about the Conan game, and it was obvious that the employees had been instructed about how the game should be sold and who it shouldn’t be sold to. I count this as a big positive in the gaming market.
Contrast this to my picking up Grand Theft Auto IV at Circuit City on its release day and not being carded at all. Maybe the Circuit City folks just knew from sight that there was no way I was underage, but it was still a good feeling to know Best Buy is keeping an eye on who gets their hands on M-rated games. The stores and parents-not the lobbyists and conservative talking heads-should be the legislators for keeping kids from playing games they shouldn’t be playing.