Seriously, why can't games get an 18 rating. Movies can and it's an okay thing. Take sick films like "Human Centipede". NO WAY would a game even close to that sick would be allowed today.
are primarily seen as toys. Regardless of the age rating slapped on them, the powers-that-be know that ultimately all games end up, sooner or later, in the eager hands of under-age users (just go into, say, GAME any day of the week and stand close to the cash registers to see how this works: in almost every case of under-age gamers getting hold of age-inappropriate titles we need look no further than their irresponsible, often clueless or just plain ignorant parents/siblings/older friends as the culprits. I certainly don't blame the game stores (who are actually surprisingly responsible in this respect), based on the countless examples I've seen for myself).
I agree it's ridiculous that in this day and age video games treat the issue of children within them with, ahem, kid gloves. There are a multitude of reasons for this, many of them having to do with the unhealthy, pernicious atmosphere of fear and reprisal whenever and wherever children are featured in cultural art forms in any
remotely controversial way. It's just another reason why video games, as a viable art form, will probably never be allowed to grow up and tackle serious issues involving children - and it's certainly the reason why today to even feature 'kids' in your video game, especially ones in which they might potentially be mown down by random machine gun fire or by someone deliberately a driving a car into them is to probably ask for serious trouble - 'kill' any number of 'adults' within your virtual worlds, after all, in any number of vile ways, but simulate the killing of just one child and you can expect the putrid wrath of the tabloids to descend with full self-righteous force. Nobody wants to risk the wrath of these gutter-dwelling low-lifes. A shame that we should have to live in fear of such pond-dwelling scum, that such a wonderful new art form as diverse and creatively unbounded as video games should be neutered in this way before it has even really begun.
Too see how fraught the whole issue of using children - or at least using 'child-like avatars' in video games - can be, we need cast our minds no further than to Peter Molyneaux's fantastic 'Milo and Kate' Kinect presentation a few years back. Whilst many of us were bowled over by the possibilities suggested - the genuine thrill of what was being hinted at for the future - there were many more purile and vapid observers who saw nothing more than the chance to make snide 'jokes' about a 'paedophile simulator', etc., and so, sniggering, wasted little time going into print to warn us all where this would lead.
Video games and kids: sadly still a lot of growing up to do.