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GameStop Cracks Down on Underage Game Sales

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the easy-way-to-get-fired dept.

Businesses 105

Via GamePolitics, which has commentary of its own on the situation, a report on the Destructoid site pointing out a new, harsher penalty for GameStop employees that sell M-Rated games to minors. To be blunt: they're fired. Not only that but their managers are fired too, for failing to keep an eye on them. This new policy was set down last week in a conference call, which also warned that 'secret shopper' sub-17-year-olds would be trying to keep game store employees on their toes. The article quotes statistics from the ESRB saying that the M-rated policy has, in the past, only been enforced 65% of the time. I would imagine this will work to fix that.

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Manager Fired too (4, Insightful)

maddskillz (207500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17984990)

Is the manager expected to work so closely to the employee, that they see every transaction that takes place? If so, couldn't they just use the manager to do the work, and get rid of the employee?

Re:Manager Fired too (3, Insightful)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985232)

#1 rule for success as a manager ... hire employees who don't need to be managed

You may not always have the option (the current labour shortage in Calgary means even terrible employees can't be fired) but, in general, if you have to look over an employee's shoulder in order to ensure they're doing what you told them they weren't a good hire.

Re:Manager Fired too (1)

timon (46050) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986264)

#1 rule for success as a manager ... hire employees who don't need to be managed
Oh, so that's what happened to some of my bosses over the past several years. A shame, they seemed like such nice people...

Re:Manager Fired too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17985242)

gamestops only need one person working at a time for a total of 3-5 employees per store. there is a manager a asst manager and like one shift leader. that leaves room for like one or two real employees, if a manager can't keep one or two employees in line he needs to be fired.

Re:Manager Fired too (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985320)

Is the manager expected to work so closely to the employee, that they see every transaction that takes place?

No, they're expecting the manager to "take care" of the problem before his boss or corp ever hears about it. By adding this threat, they're hoping to get the managers to take their job seriously. Which means communicating how critical this rule is, as well as enforcing it if they do become aware of a violation. If a manager fails to take it seriously, the matter will eventually get back to the powers-that-be through either "mystery shoppers" or parental complaints.

Re:Manager Fired too (2, Insightful)

radish (98371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985602)

It's called taking responsibility. As a manager (not at GameStop I should add), if someone working for me screws up to such a level as to require someone to be fired, that someone should be me - I'm ultimately responsible for the actions of my team. A manager's role is to a large degree one of control and oversight, it's my job to make sure that the right people are given responsibilities, that they understand them, that they have whatever resources they need, and that they are trustworthy.

Re:Manager Fired too (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985978)

Agreed.

Also, at some stores (I don't know if this is the case at GameStop), managers get a cut of the revenue for their shift or bonuses based on certain performance goals. A bad manager could let his employees break the rule, then fire them when (if) they are caught.

Re:Manager Fired too (1)

maddskillz (207500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986274)

I totally agree with what you are saying...except that I am guessing GameStop doesn't get the cream of the crop from the hiring pool. I know around here, jobs that pay close to minimum wage pretty much will hire anyone. I am not saying the managers should be devoid of responsibility if their employees screw up, I just think the parent company is being a little harsh.
Of course, it is mostly meant to be hyperbole, to make them look good in the publics eye, so I guess it doesn't really matter

Re:Manager Fired too (1)

ShadowsHawk (916454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986378)

EB/Gamestop isn't the only one to implement harsh penalties. Several restaurant chains fire the employee, bartender, manager and regional manager for selling liquor to minors. Extreme? Maybe. But you don't see many minors getting served in a restaurant.

Thank god. (4, Insightful)

Sneftel (15416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985010)

No, seriously. As someone entering the video game development industry, and who doesn't want to see the industry shackled by a decade of Hayes-code-esque "decency laws", I think it's about time for retailers to start picking up the slack WRT enforcement. Sooner or later the Jack Thompsons of the world are not going to be batshit insane self-destructors, and when that happens we need to be able to show that heavy-handed legislation is not the solution to keeping video games age-appropriate.

Oddly enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17985392)

You are right.

But oddly enough, some of the best films hollywood ever made were under the hayes code. It's interesting to see how much can be infered though innuendo, etc. Now there was some damn creativity.

Shyamalan (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986494)

But oddly enough, some of the best films hollywood ever made were under the hayes code. It's interesting to see how much can be infered though innuendo, etc. Now there was some damn creativity.
Compare to M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense and Signs, which say great things in a PG-13 framework.

Re:Shyamalan (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17988136)

Compare to M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense and Signs, which say great things in a PG-13 framework.

And I'm sure we'll see plenty of great games within a PG-13 framework as well. But developers shouldn't be constrained only to that framework, and that is the goal here. Keep developers free to create what they want.

Re:Shyamalan (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17988746)

But developers shouldn't be constrained only to [a PG-13, T, or equivalent] framework, and that is the goal here. Keep developers free to create what they want.
Developers are still free to create what they want and market it to grown-ups carrying identification.

Re:Shyamalan (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17989810)

Developers are still free to create what they want and market it to grown-ups carrying identification.

They are now, and may continue to be if the ratings are enforced by the game sellers. If the ratings aren't enforced, then we'll see more efforts to ban certain types of games outright. That should not happen.

Manhunt 2 (2, Insightful)

amrust (686727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985022)

Manhunt 2 is released this summer. In-store sales for that game will likely be adversely affected by this policy. I wonder how the Gamestop execs will feel after they miss out on the majority of sales of one of the hottest games for the PS2, during the summer school vacation break?

Not saying it's a game for kids. I'm just saying it's probably the parents job of being mindful of what their kids are playing, rather than leaving it up to some retailer.

Re:Manhunt 2 (2, Interesting)

14CharUsername (972311) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985146)

After the refuse to sell them Manhunt, the kids will then be sitting in a store with $60 in their pocket surounded by video games, 90% of which they can buy. What do you think will happen next?

This might hurt the sales of Manhunt, but it won't have much effect on Gamestop.

Re:Manhunt 2 (3, Insightful)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985528)

Certainly some of them will do that, but a good portion of them will just go find an older brother or an irresponsible parent to buy it for them. Less than 10% of games are purchased by someone under 18. I understand that it's important for companies like Gamestop to be responsible about selling to minors, but these rules are almost worthless when it comes to keeping violent games out of the hands of children. The onus is on the parents to ensure that their children aren't playing these games. They're the only ones with any real control over the situation.

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985604)

"Less than 10% of games are purchased by someone under 18."
Want to cite your source for that?

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987030)

Want to cite your source for that?
Not really, but here you go anyways. http://www.theesa.com/facts/games_youth_violence.p hp [theesa.com]

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

amrust (686727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987270)

That particular statistic is 7 years old.

Back in 2000, some people even thought Al Gore won the Presidential Race. I mean, really. What did they know about...

Wait. Nevermind. I see your point now. :)

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

Itchyeyes (908311) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987472)

Just because the statistic is old doesn't mean that it's inaccurate. While it's possible that things have changed a bit, it's highly unlikely that it would be more than a few percentage points. 7 years old isn't that out of date. If there are newer statistics that show the situation has changed, then by all means cite them. If not, it's perfectly acceptable to use that one.

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

amrust (686727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987892)

Basically I agree. But in the interest of full disclosure:

In 2006, 93 percent of computer game buyers and 83 percent of console game buyers were over the age of 18.


http://www.theesa.com/facts/top_10_facts.php [theesa.com]

Re:Manhunt 2 (3, Informative)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985708)

Ding. You figured it out. If a kid wants Manhunt 2 and the Gamestop employee won't sell it to them and they still want it then they have to go get someone else to buy it for them. That someone else might be an older brother or a friend or maybe even a parent. If it's the latter then Gamestop has helped the parent know what their kids are buying. If it's not, then Gamestop has absolved itself of any wrong doing and the parents can't sue neither Gamestop or the company that made it. The person who gave the kid the bad video game is not involved in the industry.

This isn't, and never has been, about keeping kids from playing certain games. It's about passing the blame. If Gamestop succeeds with this, then parents can only blame themselves for buying it, or they can blame their older children for buying it, or they can blame their kids' friends, or whatever, but they can't blame the games industry. I see nothing but good coming of this and hope them all the best. This new rule is the smartest thing Gamestop could have done. I applaud them.

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17988220)

It's about passing the blame. If Gamestop succeeds with this, then parents can only blame themselves for buying it, or they can blame their older children for buying it, or they can blame their kids' friends, or whatever, but they can't blame the games industry.

Welcome to America! I hope you enjoy your time here, but I think you should know something about the people here. They don't blame themselves for anything. If the parents can't blame Gamestop for selling the game to their kid, then they'll try to blame them for selling the game, period. If that doesn't work, they'll blame the publisher for publishing the game (after all, publishers often have deep pockets). Failing that, they'll blame the developer for creating the game. Actually, who am I kidding, they'll probably try to do all three simultaneously to begin with. Parents will never accept blame for what their kids are doing unless we make them accept it. But given that there are a whole lot of parents in the country that don't want to be blamed for anything, I see it as a rather tough battle.

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986138)

Certainly some of them will do that, but a good portion of them will just go find an older brother or an irresponsible parent to buy it for them.

While I wouldn't purchase this particular title for my child, what would make a parent irresponsible if they did for theirs? After all, isn't the point that a parent should weigh the content of the game against the maturity of their child? That it should be the parents' call?

Re:Manhunt 2 (2)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987088)

After all, isn't the point that a parent should weigh the content of the game against the maturity of their child?


Um.... If they actually parent, it is.

When my son was six (couple of years ago), he hung around a friend his age at a nearby home. A friend we found out eventually was as unctuous as Eddie Haskel. My son eventually told us the 'friend' has repeatedly chased him around with a lit lighter threatening to burn him. This was after the kid's grandmother caught him doing it. I would consider someone classified as a lousy parent to at least keep a lighter from a six year old. But the kid's father didn't care (must be worse than 'lousy'). From what might seem like a stereotypical rant from my point of view, I doubt that I'm far off the mark with this opinion:

The father was divorced, the kid was shuttled between Mom and Dad on a regular basis. The Mom didn't really want the kid much due to an 'alternative' lifestyle, but wanted the financial benefits of being legal guardian. The Father was never 'home' and the kid stayed with his paternal grandmother (where the father lived also). He buys the kid anything he wants for birthday and Christmas, including the Grand Theft Auto series for the PC. Here's an impressionable six year old playing GTA at his own leisure. The parents let this happen.

We forbid the kid to ever come over and for my kids to not play with him. We eventually moved and didn't have to deal with that troublemaker.

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986564)

You can't do much about that anyway when they bring an adult with them but at least GS won't sell the game if the kid doesn't have an adult with him. That way some adult will have to approve the sale and there's hope that this adult one of the parents.

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987722)

"What do you think will happen next?"

They will take that money to a local weed dealer and buy a quarter. Then they will go home and download a torrent of the game.

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985166)

um, there's nothing stopping the parent buying the game for their kid if they want to. Or being with the kid when they buy it.

Re:Manhunt 2 (2, Interesting)

amuro98 (461673) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985552)

Exactly.

Most of the ancedotal stories I've heard from game store employees over the years is that when one of them TRIED to refuse a sale of a "M" game to a kid, said kid would get his enraged parent to come into the store and yell at the clerk and his manager for violating constitutional rights. Most stories ended with the parent storming out of the store, vowing never to return. Definitely not a red-letter day for customer service...

Besides, it's not as though Gamestop is the only way to obtain this game. Kids will learn pretty quick NOT to shop at Gamestop for M games - and they'll figure out pretty quickly a way around this restriction. After all, we have actual LAWS with PUNISHMENTS for selling cigarettes, alcohol or porn to minors and I don't know about you, but I had ready access to all of that - and this was before the internet.

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

openaddy (852404) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985192)

Not saying it's a game for kids. I'm just saying it's probably the parents job of being mindful of what their kids are playing, rather than leaving it up to some retailer.
I agree w/ this up to a point -- parents don't seem to accept enough responsibility for their children; however, parents can't keep an eye on their children 24/7. The game rating is a system that's created to help parents control what games their children are playing, and that only really works if game retailers help make the system work. Otherwise the rating system is just for show and a way to dump all the responsibility back on the parents again. We may as well throw away the rating system, then, and just go back to "buyer's parents beware."

These are just concessions the business world has to make when it wants to earn a buck off of kids. Somebody has think of the children! ;)

Re:Manhunt 2 (2, Informative)

ElleyKitten (715519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985284)

Most of those kids will just get their parents to buy it. I used to work at Gamestop, and I used to card kids, and invariably they'd just drag Mom or Dad in to pay for it and bitch at me for doing my job. They'd stay stupid things like "Yes, I know it has swearing" and I'd tell them it has hookers and you can beat people with dildos or whatever, and they'd just glare at me like I had just dared to question their parenting ability. Yeah. I really don't think sales are going to drop much at all.

Re:Manhunt 2 (2, Interesting)

simp7264 (465544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985530)

That is totally fine though, the ratings arn't to prohibit minors from playing these games 100% of the times. It's for the kids to actually have to ask their parent and the parents to be involved in the loop. If the parents don't care, or find it completly acceptable which I'm sure some M games might even be for a 16/17 year old then the rating system has still succeeded. The parents might have still failed though.

I've failed my 3 year old.. (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17989098)

he loves Doom II on god mode..

he's often asking,

"can I bad guys now?"

3 years old.... he launches it, and by god, types in the iddqd and idkfa as needed.
his favorites are the chainsaw and the plasma gun.

no BS.. I'm a horrible person for this.

    it's tapered off of late, but, damn.. it's embarrasing...

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985330)

It is a parents responsibility to control their children's access to certain content and (In my opinion) Gamestop is just acknowledging that fact ...

It's imperfect (much like beer) a child can ask an adult to buy their "mature" games for them, but for the most part if a child wants a "mature" game their parent will have to buy it for them; thus a parent will have control on the content their children have access to.

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986554)

It is a parents responsibility to control their children's access to certain content and (In my opinion) Gamestop is just acknowledging that fact ...

It's imperfect (much like beer) a child can ask an adult to buy their "mature" games for them, but for the most part if a child wants a "mature" game their parent will have to buy it for them; thus a parent will have control on the content their children have access to.


I like the Beer analogy, but there are several laws that make giving beer to minors illegal actions (despite what anyone might do in their own homes).

A better analogy might be to the MPAA ratings that the game ratings were designed to mirror.
You're not supposed to let unaccompanied minors into R rated movies. On the other hand, I watched a 5 year old sitting through the latest James Bond movie (Rated PG-13), next to her parents. It was their choice, and they made it. They can't come back and complain to the Movie Theater, or the Studio that the movie they took their daughter to was inappropriate and they didn't know.

Its good to know that stores are going on record as enforcing this sort of policy, it only makes the whole industry look better, and helps remind people that Video Games have grown up, and not all of them are designed with kids in mind anymore (something a lot of people keep forgetting).

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

amuro98 (461673) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985402)

The problem with depending on the parents is that you could very well end up with some ignorant parent realizing after the fact that their kid got a hold of a game they weren't supposed to have, and then trying to sue the store for knowingly selling inappropriate material to a minor.

The main sticking point is that unlike porn, booze or cigarettes, there isn't a corresponding LAW forbidding the sale of "M" video games or "R" rated movie tickets - enforcement is entirely voluntary. So I'm not really sure what the outcome of the case would be if it were to go into the courts. My guess would be that the store would settle out of court, paying a chunk of money to the outraged parents.

The game's rated "M" anyways. According to the rating, no one under 17 is supposed to play, much less buy, the game. All Gamestop is doing is enforcing that rating. It's no different than the rare movie theater that prevents unaccompanied minors from buying tickets to R-rated movies. (I've personally never seen a theater do this, but I'm told they exist.)

Re:Manhunt 2 (-1, Redundant)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985734)

there isn't a corresponding LAW forbidding the sale of "M" video games or "R" rated movie tickets - enforcement is entirely voluntary.

Uhm, there isn't a corresponding law forbidding anyone from seeing R-rated movies. Enforcement there is totally voluntary, which is probably partly why you haven't seen a theater enforce it.

Re:Manhunt 2 (2)

amuro98 (461673) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986140)

Um...that's what I said.

Re:Manhunt 2 (1)

tiedyejeremy (559815) | more than 7 years ago | (#17988840)

"I'm just saying it's probably the parents job of being mindful of what their kids are playing, rather than leaving it up to some retailer."

Agreed. Same thing should be said about liquor, cigarettes, and certain OTC meds. Hell if the parents don't CARE enough to suporvise the kids, why should the guy at your local C-Store or Gamestop?

I wonder... (2, Funny)

ack154 (591432) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985030)

Would they let Jack Thompson play the Donald Trump role here?

"You're fired!"

It would probably wet his panties to get to fire people like that. Certainly a new move on Gamestop's part. This is what we need instead of more stupid legislation.

I blame the parents (2, Interesting)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985082)

The only way I can see a sale to an "underage" child being reported is by a parent who notices the game being played (or on the floor/shelf/etc.) but not having had purchased it for the child. That is, a parent would come in and say "hey wtf why did you sell this to my kid despite this suggestion by the ESRB that it ought to be played by someone older?" I believe that it's the parent's responsibility to have prevented this to begin with (if he/she cares enough) by impressing on his/her child the importance of being sheltered from fictional violence and swearing.

GameStop is probably introducing such harsh rules in order to cover their own rear ends when it comes to parents trying to punish the game stores for failing to, essentially, enforce a rule the parents fail to set.

Being so blindly mindful of the ESRB rating is in my opinion completely irresponsible from any parent's perspective, and I wish GameStop wouldn't respect it as much as they do.

Re:I blame the parents (1)

Sneftel (15416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985160)

The only way I can see a sale to an "underage" child being reported is by a parent who notices the game being played (or on the floor/shelf/etc.) but not having had purchased it for the child. ...or by secret shoppers who are already used to monitor movie ticket sales, alcohol sales, tobacco sales, pornography sales... pretty much anything age-restricted. Seriously, I know nobody reads the articles, but this was in the summary text.

Re:I blame the parents (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986092)

Well there's no point even mentioning those folks because, well, if they're the only ones reporting it, then it's a 100% victimless affair to begin with!

Re:I blame the parents (1)

Sneftel (15416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987170)

What? Are you being facetious, or was that actually serious?

Re:I blame the parents (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987384)

Look, if no-one is complaining about M-rated games being sold to minors other than "secret shoppers" then who would have ever cared about this issue to begin with? If you think my statement is facetious, well, actually it's just unrealistic because "secret shoppers" aren't the only ones giving stores like GameStop a hard time about not enforcing the ESRB ratings.

Re:I blame the parents (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987266)

Movie tickets aren't age restricted, noone would need secret shoppers for those.

Re:I blame the parents (1)

sneezinglion (771733) | more than 7 years ago | (#17989382)

Movie tickets are not age restricted? Say what? Ever heard of a rated R movie? or a Rated PG-13? But to give you the benefit of the doubt, I assume you mean it is not the ticket that is restricted, rather the viewing of the movie, but the way they know who can view the movie is based on the ticket you hold. So yes, they do restrict that.

Re:I blame the parents (1)

maddskillz (207500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985238)

Parents do not want to take responsibility for their kids. They would rather blame the store, for selling the kids something they shouldn't be playing.
You would think a parent would look at what their kids are playing, you know, maybe show an interest in them or something, and realize that these games are not for kids.

Re:I blame the parents (2, Interesting)

Rydia (556444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985410)

Or we could, you know, all work together.

What a CRAZY idea!

Re:I blame the parents (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985372)

"better parenting" only works to a certain extent. Unless you have some sort of totalitarian level of snooping, which implies that the parent has no trust in the youth, then it's going to be easy to hide anything that's not up to the parent's standard.

I do agree that it's not the store's job to enforce parental standards.

Lemme get this straight.. (1)

GregPK (991973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985094)

So they want them to sell like mad beating previous years sales by 6 to 8 percent consistently or they are fired... If they sell to 70 percent of thier market Halo 2 or equivalent which for all intensive purposes is really a teen rated game they are fired as well... Oh yea they get paid the equivalent of walmart employees.... My next question is... Who in thier right mind would want to work for them now???

Re:Lemme get this straight.. (2, Funny)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985130)

anyone who wants to have their manager's balls in a vice.

Re:Lemme get this straight.. (1)

GregPK (991973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985308)

Hah... If anything I think the District Manager should get written up for each of these as well.

Re:Lemme get this straight.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986816)

I love it when morons like to spice up their writing and end up looking ignorant.

It's not "intensive purposes". It's "intents and purposes". Read a book.

Re:Lemme get this straight.. (1)

GregPK (991973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17989598)

Actually I've read over 1400 books and I clear through 3-5 a month regularly... But my ADHD doesn't do well with grammar... Though it probably doesn't help that most of my reading has been scifi, fantasy, autobiographies, sales and marketing books.

Hrm. (1)

cspariah (958194) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985112)

If this news gets distributed to retail employees as well as the information about the products that they sell does... there's going to be a lot of people fired due to ignorance.

In other words gamestop revenues drop 40% (1)

guysmilee (720583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985186)

In other words gamestop revenues drop 40%

In other news... (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985234)

A surge of non-video-game-playing 18 to 24 year olds have been seen purchasing games from GameStop that they have no interest in playing. When questioned, they said "I don't even have that console." Experts are unsure of why these post-teenage shoppers would be purchasing games and then quickly losing them, but experts will be watching closely to understand the phenomenon.

Manager fired (4, Insightful)

GoRK (10018) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985264)

So all I really need to do if I hate my manager and don't care about my job is sell an M game to a 16 year old? This sounds like a really fun way to quit your crap Gamestop job while taking someone else (you probably hate) out with you. I have had a couple of jobs I would have exited a lot more readily if it meant that my boss would also be fired also.

The only way this will reasonably work is if the point-of-sale system requires manager approval to sell an M rated game. Hopefully the (ahem) genius that devised the ridiculous policy will at least figure out this simple way to make it somewhat fair.

Re:Manager fired (2, Insightful)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985400)

Good point. If I was in management at a GameStop, i'd start looking for another Job.

Going to take one punk kid with a bad attitude, to get you fired, because they dont feel like following the rules? If the manager has to stand there and be sure every transaction is done correctly, or THEY are fired, why bother with the kid at the front counter? The dang manager will end up doing all the sales.

Typical corporate mandates that are not considered, before enforced.

Re:Manager fired (1)

Rydia (556444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985454)

Uh, I imagine there is a good faith exception to the manager-firing policy. We don't know, so it is a bit premature to rail against the evil stupid corporation.

Re:Manager fired (1)

haplo21112 (184264) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985588)

Anyone who is a manager there should already be looking for another job, at least when I was a manager there it was a crap job, for crap pay. I left when my current employeer practically tripled (after overtime), and in short order quadrupled my pay.

My district manager response when I told him I was leaving and what I was going to get payed, "I don't blame you"...I'm pretty sure I was about to be out earning him.

Re:Manager fired (1)

radish (98371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985656)

If I were such a manager, and had an employee who I though might pull a stunt like that, I'd fire them before they had the chance. If I didn't, well I guess I deserve what happens.

Re:Manager fired (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987792)

They would be rehired the next week. The policy doesn't say that they are banned for life from working there, just that they would be "fired".

oh noes this is horrible (5, Funny)

Dr Kool, PhD (173800) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985270)

Now I have to pay some homeless guy every time I want to buy a video game, not just when I want cigarettes or booze. Can GameStop start selling Olde English 800 to cut down on my transaction costs? Do these execs think high school kids are made of money??

this will end well (2, Funny)

skivian (1063278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985298)

I can see it now, disaffected 17 year old gamestop employee calls up his little brother (or someone unrelated, who knows?) and gets them to come in, buy an M rated game, gets fired, and takes his manager with me. yyyup.

Re:this will end well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17989634)

Gamestop employees must be 18.....shoots that theory down.

About time (2, Insightful)

Jaqenn (996058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985314)

It is my understanding that the movie industry adopted a rating system in order to prevent the eventual regulation of the movie industry. The game industry needs the same thing. The game industry has the same thing, but if it's not enforced by the retailers then it means nothing. Kudos to Gamestop for enforcing the existing system, so that an aspiring senator doesn't invent a new one.

Interesting change in policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17985468)

Back when I worked for that company (when it was called Babbage's) no such policy existed and the rule was pretty much don't do anything that would prevent income. If they have the $59.99 for that game sell them the game. I always wondered about that, not sure I ever really agreed with the policy, but it was the policy.

More "Gold" editions of games (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985506)

This will just result in more "Gold" and "Unrated" versions of games. There will be the the Walmart/Gamestop version with puppy dogs and lollipops and the Unrated versions sold by everyone else with hookers and 40s.

Re:More "Gold" editions of games (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985742)

Try selling your unrated game in GameStop sometime, and let me know how it goes.

In fact, try selling it anywhere. No major retailer will sell unrated games. And if your game isn't in a major retailer, it's probably not going to sell all that well.

Does "rated other than by ESRB" mean rated? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986652)

No major retailer will sell unrated games.
But will they sell games rated through systems other than the ESRB [tigrs.org] ? If not, then how much is the ESRB paying the retail chains to be their exclusive ratings organization?

Re:More "Gold" editions of games (1)

Katmando911 (1039906) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987548)

There are some interesting comparisons between the ESRB and the MPAA. If the asshats at the MPAA rate a movie NC-17, then most movie theatres won't show it and the marketing campaign gets shot to hell. (That's why a lot of directors re-cut their movies to get the R rating). Right now the highest ESRB rating is AO (Adults Only) which almost no game gets. That is for the same reason, a game with an AO rating can't be sold at most stores. If the stores start enforcing the ESRB then it will impact the sales of higher rated games. This will lead to the developers re-cutting their games to reach a wider market. When this happens, the same thing will occur with the game industry that has happened with the DVD industry. There is most certainly a market out there for unrated DVDs and if there will be the same market for unrated games. I am over 18, and if I had a choice between a game that was unrated (or even rated M) vs the same game with edited content and a rating of Teen, then I'm likely to ignore the Teen version altogether (just like I would a rated R DVD vs the unrated DVD). And the developers know the 18-24 demographic has a hell of a lot more money to blow than the 13-17 crowd.

I for one applaud the decision... (2, Funny)

Floritard (1058660) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985510)

but only because Gamestop employees are dick-holes and deserve every bit of inconvenience and job-insecurity fate deals them. I wish i could be a Gamestop NARC.

Re:I for one applaud the decision... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986698)

"Gamestop employees are dick-holes and deserve every bit of inconvenience and job-insecurity fate deals them"

I know what you mean. They wouldn't sell me an M rated game either. Pricks!

Let's ask the obvious question... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985514)

Shouldn't this had happen like years ago? While they're at it, a little bit customer of service wouldn't hurt. I can't tell you how many times a barely legal teenager wearing a manager's name tag was too busy talking on his cell phone to ring up a purchase. I get better customer service at Fry's Electronics.

re: (1)

Kynmore (861364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985562)

Meh. Nothing surprising here, it's just lame they have to make it corp. policy.

The EB Games I worked at on and off since '98 (gotta love seasonal jobs for the discount), we had a 3-strike policy. We policed ourselves, since we never wanted to deal with an angry parent. But if someone screwed up, it wasn't pretty. Bathroom duty for a month sucked.

Plus it was fun seeing a 12yr odl try and dupe their parent into buying something like GTAx, and asking the parent "are you aware this is a mature rated game?" 90% of the time, they had no idea and would get pissed at their kid.

Ahh, the little joys in life.

I was going to say to boycott them.. (2, Insightful)

necro2607 (771790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986130)

You know, I don't support restricting availability of software to "younger" gamers.

If you've played the game Postal (the first one, not the recent FPS "Postal 2"), you'll know it's excessively violent and pretty extreme what with people crawling along in agony, leaving a trail of blood on the ground behind them...

Anyway, I picked up a copy at the age of 13, despite various warnings right on the box (made by the game developer themselves not some parental-advisory group).

Playing Postal at the age of 13 didn't do a damned single negative thing. In fact it gave me a great way to release my pent up anger and frustration about the world around me during those times. If anything it was more *therapeutic* to me, than influential in a harmful way. This is of course merely my own experience and I'm a pretty "dark" kind of person to begin with, so violent stuff doesn't phase me, for instance loving movies like Natural Born Killers, Se7en, American History X etc. all throughout my teenage years...

Anyway, I was going to say I'll boycott GameStop, but I don't buy software anymore unless I *really* like it... ;)

Re:I was going to say to boycott them.. (1)

A_Primetime_Fool (961760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986720)

Individual anecdotes don't hold up in court or even "independent" studies about game violence. The point with this whole video game violence debate isn't that every kid will be messed up from a violent game; instead it's that a few kids may get messed up. Of course the vast majority of people are well-adjusted enough to not be affected - but those kids aren't the point. The point is the GTA-playing kid who makes headlines on Fox News and for gunning down his classmates.

We can stand up on our self-righteous thrones and criticize the idiotic parents while watching the industry fall deeper under control by the government... or we can swallow our pride a little bit and settle with a compromise that really isn't that bad at all.

That's the problem with so many Slashdotters out there. Everything has to be some right vs. wrong crusade against the ignorant masses. Outside of our online soapboxes however, its really only the shades of gray have any chance of making any progress.

Re:I was going to say to boycott them.. (1)

necro2607 (771790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987982)

I don't see the justification for restricting video games from minors whilst allowing them to view thoroughly disturbing scenes of violence, rape etc. on television day in and day out. Seriously, I can't believe the stuff I have seen whilst unintentionally observing TV shows that are on in the same room as I am. Like weird-ass flashbacks of some crime where some woman is strangled and raped or something, and then shot. All these CSI-type shows. It's fucking unbelievable! This is at 8pm at night when probably 99.9% of kids younger than 17-18 are awake and *probably watching TV*. Somehow I have a hard time believing video games would be more disturbing than these highly realistic live-action depictions of violent crimes complete with brutal sounds and audio to go along with them...

Also, honestly, "the kid that guns down his classmates" has a fuckload more reasons for doing so that simply playing video games. In fact, playing violent video games is more of a result of rather than a cause of "issues" or so on. You can take it from me, I moderate a community forum of people who discuss issues regarding high school shootings, one member of which was the recent high-school shooter in Germany, "resistantx"... We've talked about it. It's been discussed ad nauseam. The consensus is exactly what I just mentioned a moment ago - killers aren't made by playing video games, and the contribution to murderous tendencies by violent video games could be numerated as maybe 0.1% influence.

A compromise that really isn't that bad at all? Postal is still one of my all-time favorite games ever. If I *hadn't* been able to buy a copy that day, I probably wouldn't have played it until years later when I definitely wouldn't have appreciated it in the same way. Basically the suggestion that it's a good idea to restrict younger people from potentially great games is pretty rough, in my opinion. It's like... "Hi kids, there's a whole huge chunk of video game culture you are excluded from because of your age, regardless of how mentally mature/capable you might be. Here watch some quality violent TV shows instead." Seriously, there is not enough rationale behind this to make it even remotely valid.

This is true. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986506)

While I was in my local gamestop two days ago getting another wireless controller for my 360, there was this just-starting-to-grey man who looked to be in his late 40's early 50's...you know, showing signs of wrinkles, etc. He was picking up a copy of rainbow six vegas, and the guy behind the counter STILL carded him.

Props to the staff for doing their job.

Re:This is true. (1)

TommydCat (791543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987252)

While I was in my local gamestop two days ago getting another wireless controller for my 360, there was this just-starting-to-grey man who looked to be in his late 40's early 50's...you know, showing signs of wrinkles, etc. He was picking up a copy of rainbow six vegas, and the guy behind the counter STILL carded him.
Hey! I'm only in my mid-30's you insensitive clod!

Re:This is true. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987290)

Don't worry man, I'm only 22 and already showing bald spots. That's ok though, I just tell people it means I have more experience than them;-)

Nice name, btw. Les Claypool is the shit

As a parent, I appreciate this (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986806)

I personally appreciate this move. No, it's certainly not going to keep my kids from being able to get some game they just have to have, but it might make it just hard enough to not be worthwhile.

However, it's still nothing more than an extra tool for responsible parents. I'd much rather my kids feel comfortable asking me to buy something that they wanted than to have to sneak it in without my knowledge. I'd be happy to hear their argument for it and have the chance to accept it or explain my reasons against it. My six year old son can already mop the floor with me in Quake 2, so it's not like I'm particularly restrictive.

Re:As a parent, I appreciate this (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 7 years ago | (#17988204)

Meh....

While I applaud your desire to keep your children safe, I have to wonder if the "threat" here isn't more in your own imagination than real. In my experience, it is not uncommon to parents to make all manner of completly irrational decisions based entirely on ideas of risk that are, to say the least, complete fantasy.

Frankly, I delpore this, and all of this kowtowing as I really don't see any real harm that comes from exposure to so called "mature themes" in video games. Generally speaking, the truely mature things, kids arn't all that interested in, and the infantile gore and other things server to desensitise them to violent and sexual imagry.

Contrary to the "party line" I will argue that this is, in fact, a very good thing.

Honestly, I really think the attempts to "shield" kids from being exposed to things is well... something that does far more harm than good. This "ratings" buisness serves only to reinforce harmful overprotection and the idea that we live in a somehow very angerous world, which children need protection from.

Actually I would argue that our world, violent games and all, safer for everyone than it has ever been in the past. The possible exception being the oversensitivisation to violence by the lack of exposure to it, which degrades a persons ability to deal in true life threatening situations. The ability to not feel compassion and fear, and the ability to dissociate from such dangerous activities is an important skill when those situations come up in real life, however rare they might be.

-Steve

It's ironic... (3, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986932)

It used to be that alcohol was a part of man's daily life. Making water into beer and wine kept it potable for long periods of time. While "underage" - if you could call it that - drinking wasn't illegal, it was generally frowned upon for a man to let his son or daughter get roaring drunk. There was family oversight of drinking activities, which tended to restrain people from getting totally sloshed. That, and the fact that hard liquor hadn't been invented...

As the industrial era came upon us, families generally stopped producing alcohol. They could buy it more cheaply from the brewery than they could make it. Consequently, there came about laws which prevented minors from purchasing alcohol. Now the state had to step in to prevent unscrupulous shopkeepers from profiteering from inappropriate drinking. The rationale was pretty good - underage drinking does have deletrious effects on developing minds and bodies.

Still later, when the dangers of tobacco became apparent, selling it to minors was prohibited. Again, it was done with the intention of protecting children, and given that nicotine is more addictive than heroin, it didn't seem like such a bad law.

Now, in the Land of the Future(TM), selling strings of bits to minors is prohibited. Somehow, we are supposed to believe that children are not capable of dealing with violent video games, even though they'll see 16,000 murders on tv by the time they are 18. This restriction, mind you, from the same society that considers Jack Bauer torturing a suspect on national tv to be entertainment. Show it all you want on tv, but don't dare let a minor buy a violent video game.

What an improvement to society!

It's ironic... (1)

Jack Zombie (637548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987838)

OK, so don't sell violent games to minors AND don't let them see violent tv. Sex is okay. Problem solved.

Re:It's ironic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17988888)

it's not ironic, it's coincidental

Re:It's ironic... (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 7 years ago | (#17988556)

they'll see 16,000 murders on tv by the time they are 18.

Uhhhh.... was that supposed to be in months or years?

-

Re:TV Parental Controls (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17990590)

even though they'll see 16,000 murders on tv by the time they are 18. This restriction, mind you, from the same society that considers Jack Bauer torturing a suspect on national tv to be entertainment. Show it all you want on tv, but don't dare let a minor buy a violent video game.

Most newer TV sets have parental controls. Just for grins, I turned on just the top 2 ratings for M and TV 14. We have a 13 year old as well as some younger children. Last Saturady evening I flipped through the over the air analog chanels. PBS was on, as well as a basketball game on CBS. All the other main networks were program locked! My evening was pretty much shot for TV. The religious broadcasts, infomercials, PBS, weather, and the ball game was the only things not locked out of about 25 analog and digital TV ststions. Even cartoons were blocked such as The Simpsons and Over the Hill.

If games are rated, could they send a rating signal to the TV so the parental controls work? Blocking M content should fix the problem once and for all for the concerned parents. Our new Tv has parental controls for TV as well as movie ratings.

Does anyone know if any of the main console games support TV parental controls?

Re:TV Parental Controls (1)

zerblinitzky (51415) | more than 7 years ago | (#17991550)

The Wii does. I don't know if it sends a signal to the TV, but you can set the console to not play games above a certain rating.

Yay! Corporate infighting has a new weapon (2, Interesting)

idiosynchronic (582249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986950)

Just speaking from experience as a retail tool for Musicland Inc., the rules were not there to punish employees who were behaving badly. The rules were there so your bosses could contrive of reasons to fire you before you threatened them, and for underlings willing to subvert the system and get their bosses fired. I'm not saying that everyone who got canned for 'store theft' was innocent, but it was interesting to hear how "a-list" employees and managers would suddenly see a change in fortunes over a few months and then suddenly be fired for theft or other rules infractions.

Major Disincentive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17987206)

Is being fired from a GameStop retail job really that much of a disincentive? I'm sure there are worse things that one can do for a living, but there are certainly things that pay a good deal more.

They've cracked down on Overage Game Sales too (1)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987952)

Ever since Gamestop started this stupid policy of only selling new releases to pre-orders, they've not only cracked down on underage buyers but those of legitimate age as well. I refuse to give them any interest-free loans when they can't even guarantee availability.

Thanks to online rental companies I'm not reliant on their stores to get my video game fix. I just can't wait until digital distribution ends this madness for PC titles once and for all.

Nobody's going to RTFA... (1)

SilentJ_PDX (559136) | more than 7 years ago | (#17988180)

...becuase everything is in the summary. So why didn't they include the punchline??

"65% of the time, M-rated sales policies were enforced. The other 35% of the time resulted in high school shootings and teen pregnancy."

Classic.

Manager firing precedent for alcohol/tobacco? (1)

jchenx (267053) | more than 7 years ago | (#17988218)

Anyone know if there's similar precendent for the manager firing for alcohol/tobacco sales? For example, if I manage a 7-Eleven store, and one of my cashiers sells beer to a minor without checking ID (and gets caught doing so), then I'm also libel to get fired?

I am guessing the answer is no, which makes it odd for GameStop to enforce such a policy in their own stores. For one thing, it's actually illegal to sell alcohol/tobacco to a minor, whereas it's not that way with M-rated games. So it seems odd to make such a strict policy for something that's not even technically illegal, and much safer than alcohol/tobacco.

That said, I do agree that the clerk him/herself should be severely reprimanded/fired. Why have a rating system at all, if it's not going to be enforced? It would take a lot of the "oomph" out of the sails of these anti-video-game lawyers/politicians, if we could show that the rating system is actually enforced properly. (Plus, reducing the amount of whiny 12-year old kids in my online FPS shooters, is surely a good thing)

Will other ratings be enforced? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17988722)

Now we just need to keep those kids that are 12 and younger from buying Teen-rated games. They might be exposed to mild violence!

As a parent... (1)

HiVizDiver (640486) | more than 7 years ago | (#17990274)

I think it's a good step. I know I'm going to get flamed to hell and back, and before you decide you know what kind of parent I am, hear me out.

My kid is just over a year old, so it's going to be a little while before I even have to REALLY concern myself with this. Of course I, as a gamer, am already thinking about this. I don't play games in front of him at all, let alone any games with "questionable" content. You bet your a$$ I'm going to try my best to instill a sense of right and wrong, appropriate vs. inappropriate, etc. However, I also know about all the crap that *I* got away with as an adolescent/teenager, and I'd say that my parents were actually involved in my life WAY more than the average kid. So I appreciate Gamestop stepping up and being one more hurdle between my kid and some questionable content - content that I'm happy to discuss with him when I feel the age is appropriate. Might be before the "age limits" set forth in the ESRB, might be after, upon which time I can't do much about it other than hope that I've taught him well. Short of eliminating a source of funds to buy such games, going WITH him to friends' houses where they might have such games, or otherwise putting him in some kind of concentration camp scenario, I'm not sure how to prevent exposure to such things. For cryin' out loud, I watch episodes of ST:TNG in the morning that I've recorded off G4 TV while I sit with him and feed him his breakfast. EVERY break - I'm not kidding - EVERY commercial break has a commercial about p3n15 pills. Sometimes it's two, back to back (Extenze and Enzyte - you know the ones I'm talking about). It's funny how you don't even think about that stuff until you have a kid. Is it raunchy? No. Is it inappropriate? Probably not, the kid's barely a year old and hasn't shown much interest in TV yet (thankfully). But is it something I think about? Sure I do.

So I guess what I'm getting at is, I like that there is another layer of control (even though I oppose mandatory government restriction in most cases) between myself, my kid, and the "Great Unknown", we'll call it.

Also, I'd say that the "walk a mile in a man's shoes" applies here as well. All of you without kids - I used to think like you. Thought it was so easy and I'd be the best parent ever, how the hell hard can it be? I can tell you, harder than you think. You are constantly adapting to every situation, even at this young of an age. Consistency IS key, but it's always harder than you think it will be to be so. Just keep that in mind as you get ready to fire off your "Parents are the problem these days" responses. That's true in a LOT of circumstances, but there are those of us out there trying like hell to do the best possible job that there is NO training manual for.
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