Friday, 12 April 2013

Am I a nannying lefty after all?

I read today that the OFT is looking into the way in which in-game payments can be made on various game apps.

Now given I have 3 young children who are nearly as obsessed as I am about playing silly games on tablets, this is something I do worry about. Can the kids accidentally run up a bill of a few hundred pounds without us adults noticing?

Normally of course the rule would be Caveat Emptor (albeit the games are almost always offered free now). However, with minors involved it is different, my little boys have only a vague concept of money (learned from their mother, they simply ask for unlimited amounts of money and then spend it as fast as they can...).

So where is the line as minors cannot be treated as a normal case due to their lack of ability to make commercial decisions. So on this one I am going to come down on the side of making strict rules and access to purchases (such as the need for a password every time), mandatory.

So in the end, have I ended up as a hand-wringing socialist? Vote on the left

20 comments:

Nick Drew said...

a hand-wringing socialist? - I always suspected as much, and am about to review your past posts for further evidence

you'll be saying that teenagers can't be trusted to be Police Commissioners next

Bill Quango MP said...

These games are a pain in the arse.
'Free' gaming does need some restrictions.

I would prefer a free market, rather than socialist solution.

Someone devises an app that once downloaded automatically makes the password option applicable to all freemium rip offs.

Blue Eyes said...

I really hope that by the next time I stand for elected office a rule has been passed that comments on blogs and social media under pseudonyms are inadmissible.

CU I agree with you. However some of the headline stories about parents being fleeced have been when they have explicitly handed over the password. Lazy parents will always get bored of their pesky kids pestering them for permission.

I remember back in the early days of Amazon the situation was reversed. My dad decided he had heard enough about this internet thing and sneaked onto my younger brother's PC to check it out. Finding a book he would rather like he managed to click on One Click Ordering and charged it to my bro's credit card without even realising!

DtP said...

There could be an argument expressed that it's a fake market and therefore not applicable to the same rules as would otherwise apply. No shop keeper would try to entice a child away into the corner of the store and offer it shiny shiny things all for the very reasonable price of a frikking fortune and a) not get their head stoved in b) expect the child to have funds.

I seem to have it in mind that the fruit machines in boozers are specifically designed to entice drunken folks to part with their cash and there are loads of self help groups and pressure groups associated with that (report out last week or so into gaming machines in depressed areas) so for designers to specifically aim of kids - presumably hidden in Peppa Pig does Putney games etc where parents are not the target demographic is, perhaps, dastardly, cunning and rather depraved.

Nah, not hand wringing socialist - more patriarchal if anything. It's a perfectly reasonable function for 'society' to protect children.

ivan said...

have I ended up as a hand-wringing socialist?
I don't think so. You sound more like a sensible parent that is teaching his offspring the correct way to act in the world - we just need all parents to follow your example.2601

Jer said...

As Viz one suggested:

"Teach your children the value of money - puncture their football"

Anonymous said...

One of the problems was that prior to iOS 4 or 5 when you input the password on an iDevice it was valid for 15 minutes (a standard from Unix systems). This meant that you could input the password for your child to download a free app and they'd have free reign to buy tons of shit for 15 mins.

This was changed to require a password for every action like Windows UAC and was again changed in iOS 6 to something much more confusing. From what I can tell iOS 6 will not ask for a password to install a free app or to update apps but will always ask for a password for anything that involves money. This is probably overall a reduction in security but is better if you just want to give an iDevice to children. iOS 6 only came out 6 months ago and there's still a lot for everyone to discover how these devices will be used. I'm not sure how Android works.

I'm not a huge fan of microtransactions in games. They've been in PC games for quite a long time now and I imagine they will be a big thing with the PS4 and Xbox 720 (new consoles always integrate developments from PC gaming). However, free to play (F2P) games funded by microtransactions have become pretty good on PC over the years and are no longer "pay to win", but on mobile they get worse and worse. I'm proud to have completed Flow Free perfectly without ever buying any tips but some of these games are ridiculous and obviously aimed at kids with their cute graphics. The App store and iTunes actually show you the best selling in app purchases (IAPs) for games before you install them so you can usually tell what to avoid.

Timbo614 said...

Nannying leftist? - Nah, just an evil capitalist who wants to control costs!

In a similar vein, I have had my 14 year old granddaughter staying a lot recently. To stop all the farcebook related whining and "just another 2 minutes" I just set the equipment to cut off that computer at 10:30. Problem solved. She can't plead with the router! :)

Roger said...

How about a kiddy debit card for games - you put £1/week on it, how they blow it is their problem. The games-makers are gaming the system - time to put a stop to it.

Blue Eyes said...

Roger great idea. With everything getting RFID readers, why not a pre-load pocket-money oyster card? Can be spent in sweet shops or on iTunes?

*Phones Oyster*

CityUnslicker said...

BE - such a pre-loaded thing exists in my family already. It's called a Daddy.

Anonymous said...

They do gift cards for the App Store.

So could a child have their own account fuelled by gift cards? Just remember to setup the parental controls.

Clive said...

I'm usually the nannying lefty on here in my not very frequent comments. When I saw this on the BBC this morning I thought to myself "stupid parents, all-too knowing and devious children (an increasingly disturbing modern trend in my opinion, even from a young age), a culture of putting the child first to the extent that it's to the actual detriment of children and treating them like mini-adults and the wold lot got exactly what they deserved. If I was Apple, I'd have made them pay the whole damn lot in full. Bunch of entitlement-seeking irresponsible middle class handwringers who would think that this wasn't fully justified.

Perhaps I've been reading C@W for too long ??! It might be starting to rub off...

andy said...

Simple ! Do what I did - prepay debit card that can be topped up at will for free. Add say a fiver a week for pocket money and job done. Orange (spit!) have a MasterCard one that does top ups for mobile phones too. Freemium apps are the devils work and tablets must be manufactured with glue on the back since I can't prise mine from my daughter for love nor money.

Electro-Kevin said...

I searched the history to see what my boys had been looking at (twins aged 10 at the time)

'Naked ladies' came up.

Online gaming has not been an issue with them. They didn't get into it until they were old enough to know about rip offs.

James Higham said...

You've touched on the concept of classical liberalism - where is the line drawn? Not nannying in the least.

Anonymous said...

@city - you can already do this on Android tablets. I'll drop you a link if you want one.

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