This is a topic I have been discussing with my gamer friends for a few years, and it becomes more relevant, or even necessary, in our minds as the years pass. We would like to see some sort of age filters in our online game lobbies. Okay, folks, I am in my 40s, and most of my game buddies are thirty-somethings. Many have families. We all have careers. We have degrees or at least some amount of college. So you can imagine what a turn off and frustration it is to be trying to get into an online match and have to tolerate immature behavior from prepubescent kids and adolescents. Speaking on behalf of more mature gamers, we should not have to put up with the juvenile behavior that spews from them, their lack of sportsmanship, their disregard for game rules, etc. I am not saying that these younger gamers all behave this way, there are those who have shown definite maturity and were a pleasure to game with; but they were the rare exception. (Kudos to the parents that have given them proper social skills.)
So what can we do about this? I think the answer is simpler then most realize. We add age filters to the game lobbies. The data to do this is already in place. As we all have experienced, most online accounts are tied in with credit or debit card data which has birth dates associated with it. Those that do not require the credit or debit cards still ask for birth dates. All that needs to be done is to link that additional data to the gamer identity. With that in place we can institute age filters. Wouldn’t it be nice for adults to be able to have the option to allow only those who are over, let’s say, 21 to enter our game? Even college students could select an age range within their demographic. I, personally, would love to create a match that specifies people within the age range of my friends. This would make online gaming a much more pleasurable experience. No longer would I have to hear some 10 year old, up past his bedtime, running around a Halo map yelling slurs that he doesn’t understand. Nor would you have to put up with the kids who completely disregard the rules of the match you are in. (Yes, there are adults who do this too, and I block them.)
Of course, as has been pointed out to me, there are those who will lie about their age, or play on another account. True, but I point that those would be found out eventually, and if they are violating the rules of online play, or are otherwise being offensive, they can still be booted. I do believe that age filters have become something that needs to be instituted to improve online play. As well, if this were in place I do believe you would see more mature gamers who have been turned off by negative experiences in Halo, Call of Duty, etc., return to play online more.
There is another benefit that parents would appreciate: age filters can be applied to parental controls, and online pedophiles and stalkers would be easier to single out and identify.