The Rambleast Rant: Joan Everymum’s Comedy Cock Crisis!

You may have noticed that aside from a single instance of tactical spleen venting (e’er I’d’ve exploded), I’ve not written much here at B-Pro about the face of contemporary gaming. Quite honestly, in a lot of regards I’m a decade late. I’ve not much to say about the current state of things but my passion for gaming’s glory years is unrivalled, and with this considered, you’ll find I’m more likely to devote a couple hours of my life writing about Mega Drive classic Taz In Escape From Mars than playing Call Of Violence 40 or some such. Having said that, I’ve one relevant bugbear that over this past Christmas period popped gopheresque above ground at least once a day, and that is the volume of ignorance amongst the country’s parenthood when it comes to buying their spoilt, swearing and invariably blonde sprogs’ videogames.

Working in a game shop is a life of highs and lows. During quieter periods such as that in which I’m writing, we as staff are afforded ample opportunity to converse with customers, ensuring whenever possible as befits our personal experience that the spender knows what they’re paying for as regards the spendee. Eschewing pettier loyalties when it comes to the sale of consoles (despite what the users of CVG’d have you believe) is amongst our talents for we, the badged and lanyard’d, are a hardy sort whose knowledge is capped only by our ambition to learn and share. We are, to put it simply, trusted. If Johan Blohgg (Joe Bloggs’ psychologically scarred cousin from the Eastern Bloc) is lacking in his justification for buying a PS3, it is within our remit to convince him, armed only with facts, that his purchase is warranted. If Granny Gertrude is angsting over what exactly to buy for her birthday-celebrating niece, you can be sure we’ll try our level best to send her home with something suitable and nothing less. If Joan Everymum wants to buy a copy of Saints Row The Third for her 8-year old littl’un, we can…

Well…what can we do? Try though I did (and my effort was truly mighty), I was unable to convince any more than one prospective shopper that Saints Row The Third, whose promotional campaign focused largely on its developers’ casting of porn starlet Sasha Grey, mightn’t be the wisest choice for a stocking filler for a child under ten. For each and every time I asked “now, this game is rated 18, are you aware of its content?” and was met with a reply in the affirmative as a glassy-eyed future murderer looked up at me in rapt anticipation, it took my every fibre not to reply “you are NOT aware of this game’s content, as if you were it would posit a pair of situations, the first being that you would steadfastedly refuse to buy it for your son regardless of whether or not ‘all his friends have it’, and the second being that you are a particular sort of louse worthy of pedestalisation by the rest of the louse kingdom for your truly reproachable lousiness which I can tell from your haircut is unlikely. Ma’am”

More often than not, the parents’ refute of my all-but-telling-them-not-to-buy-the-damned-game query was accompanied by the body language of total dismissal: the game is rated 18, I watched 18-rated films when I was young, I trust my lad he’s a good lad so he is so he is. What these people need to understand (and what we need to be allowed to make sure they understand) is that times have changed. Children are exposed to the worst of entertainment daily. An 18-rated film 20 years ago was something like Dawn Of The Dead, whose comicbook violence is at its worst almost humourous. Anything worse than that wasn’t rated, officially unrecognised by the BBFC and occasionally banned outright. Today’s 18s are the equivalent of Joan Everymum’s unrated films from two decades ago. It hardly stops there. From chart music, wherein convicted felon Chris Brown tussles for airspace with poster girl for teenage pregnancy Katy Perry to television, where the glorification of the worst sorts of holier-than-thou glamourpusses is challenged for dominance only by the exploitation of the less fortunate by the taste-void that is Channel 4, right down to the intimate, interactive setting of the bedroom wherein an 8-year old boy can play a game in which he beats pedestrians to death with a giant purple dildo for fun.

An 8 year old boy can play a game in which he beats pedestrians to death with a giant purple dildo – a facsimile penis for the masturbatory purposes of fully grown adults – for fun.

That’s funny, right? A cock, only for comedy, instead of disposal of waste and reproduction.

Should I not be entitled to at least INFORM the parent of the often-present child that this game is not, in mine and in the opinion of the majority of present-minded people concerned about the future, suitable for their offspring? Sales be damned, I wouldn’t want my (nonexistant) brother playing a game like that, nor would I encourage his playing any number of adult-oriented games in which the reward of headshots, optional showering of a naked woman or gender and racial profiling is commonplace.

Game companies face penalties for selling games to the underaged because it circumvents the law. Some politician (I’ll not patronise you by pretending to remember who) last winter gave off about the level of age-related sales errors without ever mentioning the sort of steps that need to be taken on our side of the counter to stamp this sort of thing out, other than having great big red flashing warning signs on the front of the cases that balk obscenities at you if you even think about THINKING about buying it for your son.

Peer pressure can’t be excused because it shouldn’t exist in this circumstance in the first place. Joan Everymum’s baby boy ought not to have seen Saints Row The Third (or the Christmas backup in case of stock shortage, GTA IV, whose first few hours’ gameplay features more utterance of the word ‘titties’ than I care to remember) ’round his mate’s house because his parents should know better, too. And they have this excuse, of course, that they can’t watch the kid play the game the whole time because it’s not like a film they can check out once and never worry about again. Bullshit. You should know better. My folks knew better and I’ve developed a seriously self-righteous chip on my shoulder, and rightfully so. Give us the power to help stop this happening.

Sometime last year I was sitting with my mum’s friend’s grandson who, whilst I flicked over to a particularly poor episode of The Scooby Doo Show on CBBC to temporarily placate him, eyed my shelf of PS3 games and, while asking me about their respective merits, enquired of God Of War III, “does it have blood in it?” Blood. Not violence or ‘fighting’ which may have seem a little less soul-hauntingly creepy, but blood. This boy’s gaming habits are uniformly ignored by his mother and he stands as proof-positive for me that this sort of thing needs to be kept in check. “Does it have blood in it?” is not by any definition I can wrangle a healthy question for an eight-year old boy to ask.

I think that’s all I have to say on the matter. I’d rather we didn’t live in a society where a parent’s word on their children’s entertainment consumption is, by default, not to be challenged. I look forward to the administration of responsibility in we, the hardy staff of gaming stores worldwide, because if there’s at least one of us in every shop who feels half as strongly as I do, then we can maybe preserve a morsel of innocence. Failing that approach, I’m all for a totalitarian state with me as dictator.

Either or.

For more misappropriated anger at hardly deserving subjects, check out Rambleast at your own risk.

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