The UK Video Games Market is vast. UK Women looks at what’s out there and considers the impact on young people

Did you know that the UK Video Games industry is Europe’s second largest market and the fifth largest in the world. At the end of 2013, it was worth in excess of £3.4bn . It is as big as the film
industry and with many of the major franchises, such as Grand Theft Auto being developed in the UK, it is easy to see why there are many conflicting views as to what parents should allow their children to have access to.It was reported in the tabloids back in August last year, that playing video games for a short period each day could have a small but positive impact on child development. The study, carried out by Oxford University, suggested that young people who spent less than an hour a day engaged in video games were better adjusted than those who did not play at all.

However, the same report also suggested that children who used consoles for more than three hours per day have a lower overall satisfaction with their lives. For any parent, particularly if they do not play games themselves, being able to accurately judge what games are suitable for your children is not always easy. Peer pressure coerces children into wanting to play the same games as their friends.

Xbox Live and other online gaming systems allow our children to interact with other gamers and as parents, we all have different boundaries that are right for our own families. Since July 2012, all video games should carry a unified age rating. PEGI (Pan-European Game Information) is the single rating for all video games in the UK. The system is in place to help consumers (especially parents), to make informed decisions about which games to buy for their children. The rating gives each game a clearly suggested minimum age that you must be to play a game based on the suitability of its content.

If you are considering buying a console for your child, we thought we’d give you an unbiased overview of each of the main games consoles – their suitability for different age groups and a brief overview of the types of games that are best played on each format:

– Microsoft’s vision with Xbox has always been to provide a complete home entertainment system. With an XBOX ONE, you should just need one little box sitting under your TV. The console has a very good built in Blu Ray player; it allows you to watch movies, listen to music and watch sports all in one place. You can even connect on Skype and talk with friends and family whilst watching TV. Games wise, XBOX ONE is home to exclusive franchises such as Halo, Forza and Gears Of War making it appeal to a slightly older audience.

Wii U
This is the latest offering from Nintendo. Historically, Nintendo has a loyal following of fans as it is home to classic franchises such as Zelda and Mario. As a brand, Nintendo has always positioned itself to be family friendly. The Wii U is about movement, touch screen and it is also Nintendo’s first move into HD. Connect with friends online and watch internet based TV channels such as NetFlix. Wii U is also backwards compatible with Wii games.

– The PS4 is the most powerful games console currently available making it more appealing to
hard core gamers. Having said that, the PS4 also has multi-media functions including a very high quality Blu Ray player so if there is a divide in the household over a games console or a Blu Ray player, depending on the level of gaming experience that you are after and the budget, the PS4 can deliver both. Key titles developed just for the PlayStation include Unchartered, Gran Turismo, Infamous and The Last of Us.

There have been many reports over the years about how video games can influence children – some positive and some less so. It goes without saying that if a child is sitting in front of a screen endlessly shooting things there will be some fall out, whether that be lack of physical exercise or a negative impact on the child’s attitude. As adults it’s our responsibility to make informed decisions about what is right and wrong for our children. Gaming is sadly an area that is often overlooked and peer pressure to play 18 rated games with mates is rife – however, managed properly, there can be a strong educational benefit to be had from allowing our children to use games consoles as an entertainment platform.

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