Rio: “Oh my GooOOood! Ha ha!” [“Born Depressed” by Drill Queen] If research and experts around the world were looking at something you were habitually doing, and these studies said that what you were doing was wrong and harmful. Would you at least stock of your behavior and wonder if maybe, just maybe, you are in the wrong? OR, do you find some other mark to blame? Welcome to the Game Industry, Church of the Eternal Scape Goat. If it’s not pirates it’s used games, if it’s not used games it’s the IGNORANCE of the parents. Those ignorant swines. For you see, that is what’s being implied with the (high-pitched, mocking tone) Get Smart About P.L.A.Y. campaign! The latest campaign by the game industry to pass the buck onto entities that are not themselves. In fact, don’t take my word for it, take the word of this here video starring Rio Ferdinand! Rio: “The Get Smart About P.L.A.Y. campaign” “provides parents and guardians with practical tips” “on how to achieve balance,” “and set parameters on the amount of time and money you spend on play.” Child 1: “Shoot shoot shoot shoot!”
Rio: “Oh noooo! Haha!”
Child 2: “Oh come on!” “It’s all about understanding what games your child is playing.” “Stop moaning about, give me the ball.” “Learning how to install parental controls” “can limit time, spend, or interactions with other players.” “Discussing about the amount of game time, and agreeing limits together.” Child 1: “What’re you doing?!”
Rio: “Hahaha!” Remembering that the controls for you,” “as a parent or guardian, in the driving seat.” (excited shouts, cheering, and laughing) “You wouldn’t give your child a bike without providing a helmet and stabilizers.” Jim: What? WHAT? Stabilizers on a kid’s bike? Is that where you’re going with this? Is that what this has come to? You’re comparing protecting kids from microtransactions in games to putting stabil- THE TWO THINGS AREN’T EVEN VAGUELY COMPARABLE! You know a kid can get seriously hurt if a kid falls off a bike. Are you SURE you want to compare videogames to that? I mean, for one thing, the bike industry didn’t put the pavement down, and isn’t hiding in a bush with a stick to jam in the kid’s spokes! Because if you wanna compare videogames to falling off a bike, that’s your role in this, Game Industry. You fu– uh, stabil– (stutters incredulously) WHAT?! Rio: “The same can be said for videogame consoles comparing to–”
Jim (yells offscreen): “IT. CAAAAN’T!” Rio: “Yessssss!! Pat whose back, pat whose back?”
Jim (yells offscreen): “It explicitly can’t be said!” Rio: “Parental controls are straight-forward.” “Head to www.askaboutgames.com to find a step-by-step guide.” Rio: (sighs) “Lucky boys.” Rio: “You alright? You alright?”
Child 1: “Yeah.”
Child 2: “You get lucky every time!” Rio: “What do you mean I got lucky? You got beat.” Today’s video is dedicated to all the game industry executives out there, especially those plucky little guys sitting right at the top of the corporate structure. I’m talking about such adorable characters as Bobby Kotick, Yves Guillemot, and ha ha ha haaa of course, Android Wilson. To those hardworking cats with such thankless jobs I say SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS! Like just shove EVERYTHING up your ass. Your companies? Shove them up your ass. Your disgusting business models? Shove them. Up your ass! This Disney Parks commemorative Mr. Potato Head mug? Right up the ass. Right into the hole of it. This right here, this latest attempt by the industry to shift responsibility for its bullshit onto other people, is shockingly transparent, even by the standards of the game industry. The (high-tone mock) “Get Smart About P.L.A.Y.” campaign is yet another bid to divert attention away from what modern videogames are doing with their vampiric economies, and place the blame for it all squarely on the shoulders of parents. (mocks) “P.L.A.Y.” has been setup by the UK Interactive Entertainment Association or (mocks) “ukie!” for short, essentially UK’s answer to the ESA, and it’s even roped in football-playing man Rio Ferdinand to help out with its pathetic and cowardly propaganda campaign. So, what is (mocks) “P.L.A.Y.”? Well it’s a fun acronym that’s fun because it’s an acronym intended to instruct parents on how to stop videogames from tricking thousands of dollars out of children. It stands for (high, mocking tone) “P – Play with your kids.” “Understand what they play and why.” “L – Learn about family controls!” (increasingly high pitch) “Visit askaboutgames.com for simple, step-by-step guides.” “A – Ask what your kids think!” “Discuss ground rules before setting restrictions.” “Y – You’re in charge.” “Set restrictions that work for your family.” [Very slowed down vocalization ending with “ha ha ha”] Life is so much more fun with acronyms, and now parents know exactly how to stop videogames preying on their kids! Congratulations, game industry! You’ve done it! You’ve saved the children! Wheeeeeeee! Buuuuuut, you know the best way to stop videogames preying on kids, don’tcha publishers? Stop making videogames that DO IT, YOU FUCKING DOLTS. Fuck having to instruct parents on protecting their kids from videogames made for kids! I mean, informing parents after the fact has become a necessity, but Jesus fucking Christ, have you ever stopped to think have ANY of you fucked up little monsters stopped to think about how fucking ludicrous it is that you’re having to warn parents about videogames literally aimed at children? I mean, didja?! For just a second, maybe, did any of you at (mocks) “ukie!” Did any of you companies benefiting from Ukie’s coverup? Did any of you wonder what it looks like when games rated for ages 3 and up need parental fucking restrictions?! That’s what the age rating system is meant to be FOR. You absolute fucking worms! But nontheless, that’s what y’all are doing. You’re informing parents that games rated for literal 3-year-olds still need parental controls to stop them from targeting and exploiting children! And it’s absolutely fucking stunning that no authorities have stopped you yet to ask why you think this is okay, or a good look, or something any right-minded individual wouldn’t question? But that’s what this entire campaign, designed to pass the buck onto parents, is hinged on! (mocking impression) “Only one in five parents of children who spend money in videogames” “use the family controls available on gaming devices.” “This is backed up by a 2019 NSPCC study” “that revealed just 19% of parents of children aged 5 to 15” “use family controls on internet-connected devices.” There’s a point we’ve made before that bares repeating; if a videogame needs adult security measures, it shouldn’t be rated as suitable for children. Simple. As. You don’t need parental locks when letting a child watch Dora the fucking Explorer. Dora’s not gonna turn round, and ask the children for a few bucks before she’ll let her chimp teach her how to count ten! Or whatever it is Dora does, I’m not familiar with her entire curriculum. But the point is, basically all entertainment rated suitable for children doesn’t need its content age-gated, because they’re rated as suitable for the fucking age of the fucking CHILDREN! The fact that content suitable for children IS suitable for children applies to pretty much every entertainment medium. Except videogames. Which, apparently, get to be the exception and are considered safe for minors despite those minors needing to be protected from the thing that’s considered safe for minors! Well it’s not parents’ fault that you’re a bunch of reckless, amoral scams artists who have been gleefully racking in cash from vulnerable people for years now and are only engaging in weak performative concern AFTER governments around the world looked into your shady microtransactions. And those governments don’t like what they see, do they? They see your randomized rewards hidden in premium lootboxes, and found them mechanically and psychologically indistinguishable from gambling. Because lootboxes, as we all know by now, ARE gambling. Just like I’ve said for half a fucking decade. And you, game publishers, have only yourselves to blame if you get in trouble for it. You pushed the envelope of acceptable monetization to see what you could get away with. You pushed and you pushed and you took it too far. Now as regulators continue to examine your down-right predatory business tactics, you put on a show of proactivity, while kicking the attention onto the parents of your PREY. Something else well worth mentioning here, is while the game industry is telling parents to get smart, the game industry is also finding ways to circumvent its own rules. Or is it circumnavigate? I always get the two mixed up, but ANYWAY. We’ve already seen with games like the recent Crash Team Racing re-release. Where they will put microtransactions in weeks after the title’s launch! AFTER rating bodies like PEGI or the ESRB have already rated it and not mentioned the in-game purchases. Now while those games do eventually get re-rated, that doesn’t stop the companies from selling them to people without those warnings for weeks! Even when they knew full-well the microtransactions were coming. Post-launch microtransactions are one way in which game publishers are able to make a mockery of the systems that are in place for their benefit! I mean, that’s why the ESRB put that in-game purchases warning on its rating system to begin with. Not because it was genuinely concerned about kids, but because it was paying lip service to the whole thing. It was saying look, we’re being proactive, we’re doing something. We warn people! It was there to cover the publishers’ backs. And the publishers STILL had to take the piss out of it. “Get Smart About P.L.A.Y.” says the industry from one corner of its mouth, and from the other, it’s doing its best to dazzle and confuse and delude its own audience! So… which is it to be? Ya fuck rags. Ooohh companies love bringing up parental controls, it’s their ultimate saving throw! Or so they think. Whenever a kid blows their family’s life savings on FIFA, and outlets like the BBC ask for comment, Electronic Arts refuses to comment. And instead refers reporters to guides on how parental restrictions work. Yet again unwittingly reinforcing the idea that we need to re-examine what games are suitable for under-aged audiences. In their minds, of course, these companies believe they’re reinforcing a different argument. The argument being that it’s on the parents to make sure FIFA isn’t swindling cash out of under-aged players using gambling mechanics. It often feels like game publishers are deliberately trying to evoke the controversies of the late 90s and 2000s. The scare mongering about violent content in videogames and whether or not children played them. Back then, the exact same defense was used. Parents should watch what their children play and make sure they don’t get their hands on such titles as Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, or Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. Most of us game pundits at the time took the side of the game industry and agreed that any parents concerned about violent content, shouldn’t let their kids play inappropriate games. But of course, the major difference back then, was that games unsuitable for minors WERE rated as unsuitable for minors. And parents can more easily understand blood and gore versus an innocently-framed football game running a con on their children. The very IDEA that a game like FIFA could bankrupt someone because they let a child play it, is a bizarre concept to any ordinary human being. In that regard, a campaign like Get Smart About P.L.A.Y. is vital. But the videogame industry is the last fucking entity that should be running it. Parents should be informed how the medium uses both positive and negative feedback loops to encourage more spending. How the medium fixes its own odds, and can patch those odds on the fly. How the medium engineers games to be less rewarding, and more grinding experiences, UNLESS microtransactions are purchased. All parents should be shown that fucking talk by Torulf Jernström. They should be shown all those stories about the thousands of dollars so-called “whales” have spent compulsively on games. They should be told everything about the business tactics of videogames and the kind of people those tactics target. Will you tell them that, Ukie? Will that be part of your (mocks) “Get Smart About P.L.A.Y.” campaign? Will Rio fucking Ferdinand tell parents about ANY of that shit which sits in the shade of your shitty little underbelly? No. Of fucking course not. Because none of the executive shitstains in charge really care about protecting people. If they did, they’d tell ’em everything. You gaggle of parasitic bastards wanna keep putting gambling in games marketed towards children. You wanna keep your unsustainable victim-based economies afloat for as long as possible. You don’t want to compromise one tiny little fucking bit, do you? You wanna face NO accountability, no responsibility, you want to just keep making that money until the bubble inevitably bursts and you won’t even take responsibility for that, will you? That’ll be on the employees underneath you. The ones who get laid off when you fuck up. Rio: “Oh my GooOOood! Ha ha!” Do any of these corporate campaigns ever actually DO anything beyond a web page? Now that I think of it, that seems to be something many industries do. They setup these alleged safety campaigns, grab a random celebrity who’s not doing anything to provide a couple quotes, and that seems to be the last we ever fucking hear of ’em. A year from now will “Get Smart About P.L.A.Y.” be touring schools, reaching out to the community, continuing its bold effort to inform parents? Or will it simply stay as this one web page that executives can direct journalists to in a craven bid to avoid answering any tough questions? I would stake my money on the latter, but gambling in this context wouldn’t be entirely tasteful. Regardless, there’s a reason why this campaign, which means less than fucking nothing, is so concerned with kids. You focus on the children because you CAN blame the parents, there’s someone responsible for them that you can pass the buck on to. That’s why “Get Smart About P.L.A.Y.” even exists. It exists to frame the discussion about lootboxes and microtransactions as a purely child-centric issue. And of course children are just one aspect. The fucking snakes of this industry, you fucking snakes. You never address the problem gamblers and compulsive shoppers you so frequently and callously target. There are no parental figures you can sweepingly implicate on that thorny issue. You don’t dare acknowledge the adults in exploitable positions whom you shamelessly exploit. The best you can do there, is try to desperately re-brand lootboxes as “surprise mechanics” and pretend none of those problems exist, instead framing the existence of predatory microtransactions as “player choice!” Without mentioning that you, and only you, you the industry, CHOSE to fill your product up to the brim with fucking poison, go get fucked. This whole campaign is a thinly-veiled case of you telling parents how to rescue their kids from YOU. Basically, you’re a wolf telling sheep how not to get eaten. And your whole campaign stinks like bad beef behind a radiator your fucking clods. I think it’s only fitting that following the unveiling of this campaign, which will go nowhere by the way, we had NHS mental health director Claire… …Murdoch, said that the game industry was setting kids up for addiction by introducing them to gambling mechanics. She said “Frankly no company should be setting kids up for addiction” “by teaching them to gamble on the content of these loot boxes.” “No firm should sell to children loot box games with this element of chance,” “so yes, those sales should end.” And more things did she say! But it’s too hot in this studio so I won’t sit here reading that because I’ve got to get out because I decided that I’ll setup a studio in Mississippi and have four lights pointed right at me, they’re like three feet away. And then I’d have on the tie, and a jacket, and a hat! And my voice got… high. -er. Higher. I don’t know, thank God for me, I’m out of ideas today. I’m done. I’ve gone.. back on my phone. This is how I live. This is literally how I live, I just stand here… …looking at my phone, dressed like this, constantly. [cell phone thunks] [Jim inhales, sighs.] [silence continues] (murmurs) Windy out… (Jim offscreen) Captions by Erin “CaHILL. Cahill. CAhill.” [[Second was right, Jim ^_~]] I keep forgetting to ask Justin to put her name in the.. ..in the credits, but… [[It’s okay! :D]] she does the subtitles that… yeah.