18 rating acts as a 'magnet' that attracts gamers, says ELSPA chief.
Anti violent video game MP Keith Vaz has done more to sell Rockstar's games than the publisher itself, ELSPA head honcho Michael Rawlinson has said.
Speaking to VideoGamer.com in an interview to be published later today, European Leisure and Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) general manager Rawlinson said that Rockstar's controversial title Manhunt only sold well after Vaz campaigned against it following the murder of 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah.
In July 2004 the parents of Pakeerah, who was murdered with a claw hammer by a friend, blamed Rockstar's Manhunt, which they said the teenage killer was "obsessed" with.
Following the murder Labour MP for Leicester East Keith Vaz called for Manhunt and its follow up to be banned, claiming a direct link between the game and Pakeerah's murder.
Rawlinson told VideoGamer.com: "Keith Vaz has done more to sell Rockstar's games than Rockstar has. The original Manhunt was released, did diddly squat and fell right off the radar until the Stefan Pakeerah incident came and Vaz started shouting from the rooftops and then everyone went and bought the stuff."
Rawlinson said ELSPA conducted research following the incident, which revealed what the organisation calls 'the magic 18' magnet effect, where gamers are attracted to titles because they see an 18 rating on the box.
He said: "The research company came back and had this wonderful phrase called 'the magic 18'. The 'magic 18' means this is a real game with real interest. It's just like a magnet. The kids want that proper game. A 16 rated game with a bit of shooting is not a proper one. If you go into a book store, how do you choose what's a good book or what's a bad book? How do you choose where the gory book is and where the titillating book is? If you're a young teenage kid and you want to go out and read about violence or get stimulated by a sex book, how do you find them? Not easy is it? Because there's no big labels on the front saying violence, sex, 18. It's not there. The only way you get it is by reading the cultural magazines on a Sunday or reading the book reviews or by going on the specialist websites that tell you. Wouldn't that be a better way to market a product, in a more level headed way? But we don't do that and we're forced not to do that. We're forced to go and stick a label on it that says it's 18 which acts as a magnet to the under age gamer."
Rawlinson called on parents to make tough decisions when it comes to buying games for their children, saying "they've got to do their job".
"What we're saying is it's got a rating, let's make that rating right, let's raise the awareness that it's got a rating and what it means and empower them to parent their children and say yes or no. And to be firm. Parenting is tough. Telling your child no is not easy but no one asked them to have their kids. They've got to do their job."