Elly and Dave have both already written good posts about the recent Manhunt infleunced teen killing. They are right — neither of the boys involved should even have had access to the game (they were 14 and 17 respectively). The parents citing Rockstar as the source of all their son’s troubles is classic blame-shifting.

But what I find almost amusing about this is the reactions of stores stocking the game. You’d think by now that people would think for a moment and try to solve the right problem in a case like this, but it would appear not. Partly I imagine this is because it would be PR hell if they did so — to see why let’s look at the actual problem.

The Problem
Extremely violent, 18-rated games are being played by minors. They have access both to the games and the facilities on which to play them.

The Knee Jerk Solution
Take it off the shelves!

The Real Solution
1. Make sure that certificates on games are enforced where the games are purchased (probably by making sure there are stiff penalties if not)
2. Instil some sort of sense of responsibility in parents to make them aware of what games their kids are playing/having them buy for them.

See why this is a PR nightmare? The stores can’t claim that they’re going to put in restrictions on who can buy games, because that would be admitting they weren’t policing this well enough to start with. Equally, they don’t have the spinal inflexibility to point out that parents a) shouldn’t buy the games for their kids if they’re underage and b) should have at least some vague clue of what their kids are up to!

Every now and again I look at the management consultancy industry in wonderment that businesses feel they need an entire industry to help them solve their own problems. Then I see a story like this and am suddenly converted to the same belief.