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How old?

August 22, 2012

You may remember that not long ago I commented on the apparent insanity of  certain minimum ages as printed on game boxes.  Specifically in this case the fact that there is no way I would reckon Citadels needs to be played by 14+ year olds.

Well, Miss B and I had a very pleasant detour to the excellent Gameskeeper shop on Cowley Road, Oxford (I haven’t been there for something like a decade and am somewhat embarrassed about that because it is such a good shop) and as part of a chat with the lovely Carol, she imparted some information on this matter. There are loads of rules about safety and suitability of toy and game components, and it would appear that some of these are such that making it clear that the product is not suitable for under-14s will make some of the testing and certification either less onerous or not necessary. (Apologies to Carol if I am misrepresenting her — any inaccuracies are almost certainly my fault.)

This sounds sadly plausible. I guess that if this means that manufacturers can get better value games to us, that is great, but the recommended ages for games are often shaky anyway, so devaluing their usefulness even more is a pretty poor show. After all, not all shoppers check The Geek (or even know about its existence) for more information before purchasing or have an expert sitting in the shop to give you advice. Perhaps we should campaign for some way to give better information to prospective buyers.

That said, I don’t have many ideas myself…

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  1. dbfnq
    August 24, 2012 at 1:19 am

    Yep, toys for kids have much more stringent (and expensive) testing procedures they have to go through before they can be legally sold. For a lot of companies, especially small-press, it’s easier to bump up the age rating.

    Forbidden Island and Gloria Picktoria are marked for 10+, and they’re definitely family games that a five-year-old can play. Almost no games are less than 8+.

    http://sf.looneylabs.com/OurGames/RetailerSupport/PyramidTesting.html

  2. August 24, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Thanks for that link. Interesting stuff.

    It’s easy to start shouting, “It’s health and safety gone mad!” but I strongly suspect this sort of stuff is based on idiots suing manufacturers and complaining to trading standards people. “My kid tripped over a spoon and hurt himself. The spoon company should make spoons that kids don’t trip over. I’m going to put those capitalist pigs out of business and sue for everything they have!”

    And so, combine that with some legislative knee-jerking we come to this sad state of affairs.

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