Training the Staff
GAME's Robert Quinn explains the retail angle of ratings - how strict is staff training, and how seriously is it taken?
In the build-up to the release of the Byron Review many people have talked about the role that retailers have to play in ensuring that videogames are not sold inappropriately to customers.
The report itself recommends a number of steps that should be taken to enhance support for retail staff in stores:
"Consultation with retailers and with the public to agree 'minimum standards' in the provision of in-store information and advice for parents about videogames"
"Consideration of the best way to use in-store information to inform consumers (eg through use of television or audio information, or extended classification information)"
"Consideration of using specific and prominent shelf level notices where 18-plus-rated games appear, in order to support the message that 'not all games are for children'"
"Consideration of punitive measures for non-compliance with these codes"
"Agreement on formal, independent monitoring of what information shops provide, the results of which are made available to consumers"
But what are retailers already doing to ensure that children are kept as safe as possible, and that games aren't mis-sold to underage customers?
Here Robert Quinn, GAME's UK and Ireland operations director, explains what his company does to train staff in the awareness of the issues. This interview took place prior to the release of the Byron Review.
Q: What does retail actually do to verify the age of customers?
Robert Quinn: At GAME we are dedicated to making sure we sell the right games to the right customers.
Our staff are experienced specialists who are able to give customers detailed advice and recommendations about which games will suit them best.
We give them a lot of training for this, including how to give non-gamers (ie parents or grandparents) simple advice, and on the legal responsibilities of serving age-rated games.
GAME is a strong supporter of initiatives that help customers by giving them more information about games and their content.
With such a huge range of customers choosing from a very wide selection of games in our stores, it's vital that we have a clear guidance system such as age ratings that helps them understand what suits them best.
We're committed to supporting age ratings, and our company-wide programme includes:
Q: What are Game's standard procedures, and what does the training actually involve?
Robert Quinn: In addition to our standard procedures and policies (as listed above), our training includes:
Q: What about parents that buy inappropriate games for their children?
Robert Quinn: If the customer is the parent or guardian, we will advise them clearly about the content of the game but are not in a position to refuse the sale. The responsibility lies with the parent - but we will make sure they have as much information as possible.
Q: How do we continue to try and get the message home about taking age ratings seriously?
Robert Quinn: In GAME stores we already support and enforce all age ratings in the same way - whether PEGI or BBFC - and will continue to do so.
As more and more customers start buying games for the first time, it's important that we can give them clear advice about the content of each game, so they can choose titles that will give them the most suitable entertainment.
Age ratings help us advise our customers, so we'll continue to support them and any initiatives that raise their profile and understanding.
In principle we would welcome a move to update the age rating system to make it easier for customers to understand, and we look forward to seeing Dr Byron's suggestions.
As retailers, we can help to educate our customers about age ratings by providing clear advice and help on a one-to-one basis in our stores, and by displaying clear age ratings on the products we sell and material that explains what age ratings represent and why they are important.
Robert Quinn is GAME's UK and Ireland operations director.