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Feckless Dad buys 18-rated game for 12 year-old son, and finds Ecstasy inside

By on April 9, 2009

The BBC reports today that Richard Thornhill bought a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV for his 12 year old son on the Xbox 360, and was horrified to find four Ecstasy pills tucked away in the instruction manual.

Clearly, it is a terrible thing for GameStation to have passed on drugs, however unwittingly, and the store has apologised.

Thornhill said “What made me feel the most distraught was the fact we let our 12-year-old play the game.”

Well that should make you feel distraught, Mr Thornhill. Grand Theft Auto IV is an 18-rated game. The British Board of Film Classification warns that it “contains strong violence, very strong language, sex and drug references.” It says that an 18-rated game is “only suitable for adults.”

GameStation made a mistake in procedure, and will no doubt be more careful again in the future. But you, Mr Thornhill, you willingly bought your son a game for which he is way too young. You willingly boasted about it in the national media. And it’s because of you and the thousands of parents like you who wilfully ignore age classifications and buy games for your children that our entire industry risks censorship and the ire of ill-informed journalists and politicians.

Thanks a bunch.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: