EghtesadOnline: A panel discussion on ‘Kids and Video Games’ was held at the ICT Ministry, where local game industry stakeholders and experts discussed the increasing popularity of video games and issues that have become a major concern for most parents.
Almost a quarter of the 28 million Iranians who play video games are children under 12 years of age. With most players inclined towards disregarding the age rating of games, parents are worried about kids getting exposed to violent content in popular video games.
On Friday, ICT.gov.ir reported details of the panel discussions held on Wednesday, during which age rating of games and issues impeding the growth of locally developed games were reviewed.
Participants included Hassan Karimi Qodusi, head of Iran Computer and Video Games Foundation, Amir Mohammad Rezaii, director of local game studio Median Games, gaming expert Mahdi Haghverdi Taghanaki, and Amir Golkhani, tech journalist and game critic, Financial Tribune reported.
7m Child Gamers
Haghverdi referred to data published by Iran’s Digital Games Research Center (DIREC) that show that more than 7 million children under the age of 12 regularly play video games.
As expected, the survey found that kids living in major urban areas start playing video games earlier compared to their peers in rural areas because they have more access to smartphones, tablets, and computers. Urban children also spend more time on digital games.
In urban areas, boys on average play video games for 120 minutes a day while girls spend 90 minutes. The nationwide results are significantly lower, with boys playing 87 minutes and girls 67 minutes.
Close to 30% of the kids play video games at least twice every day. The average time spent by kids on video games in Iran is 81 minutes.
Recommendations for Parents
Karimi, head of Iran Computer and Video Games Foundation says, “With kids spending a significant portion of their time playing video games, the foundation has two main recommendations for parents to help curb the possible negative impacts: limit the time kids play video games to 90 minutes a day; accompany them while playing and see what games they usually prefer.”
He added that “Apart from being a means of entertainment, video games can be used for conveying educational material,” implying that if games are chosen wisely they can contribute to boosting children’s education.
In recent years, the foundation has pushed for promoting the age rating of games calling on parents and gamers to pay attention to the issue. According to Karimi, so far 9,700 games have been reviewed and rated.
However, the results of a national survey conducted by DIREC shows that close to 42% of players simply disregard the age rating while 25% do so.
Haghverdi said, “Some experts and authorities highlight the possible negative impact of video games on kids to some extent. This agitates parents and pushes them towards barring children from playing video games.”
“On the other hand, there are parents who have no oversight on video games their kids play. There is a middle ground wherein with sufficient parental oversight kids can enjoy the video games,” he added.
He is of the opinion that authorities and local media should provide parents with proper and adequate information to find the middle ground.
During the panel discussion, hurdles that impede the Iran gaming industry’s growth were also discussed.
Tech journalist Golkhani pointed to the lack of modern copyright laws in Iran saying that pirating of video games has taken a toll on local developers.
Local copyright laws date back half a century and are simply unfit for modern-day business.
Director of local game studio Median Games Rezaii pointed to the lack of investment in the sector. “With the limited investment in Iran’s game industry, local developers cannot produce games that can compete with their foreign peers in the market.”
He says if adequate funds are available, local game developers can make products that would attract more users.
Rezaii says homegrown games could also be more in line with the Iranian culture and help parents rest assured that their kids would not be exposed to undesired and harmful content.