Age Rating Decreasing Amongst Horror Games

by Kaitlyn Cortez

As Indie Horror games rise in popularity, games that have been once created for older audiences have now been targeted towards younger viewers.

Over the past decade, Indie Horror games have risen in popularity for their in-depth story lines and hidden Easter eggs. Created from independent and smaller development teams, games such as Five Nights At Freddy’s (FNAF) and Bendy and the Ink Machine have amounted to large fan bases across the globe. Though originally created for mature audiences at their release, these games are now gaining popularity among young children as well. 

However, this causes concern and brings up the conversations on how video games are more endangering to a younger audience who are prone to influence.

Such cases include what is known as the “Slender Man Stabbing” that occurred in 2014. Where a young girl would be stabbed repeatedly after her peers were influenced by creepypasta- a form of folklore, known as Slenderman, who had numerous games (the official one Slender: The Eight Pages rated is PG-13) during this time and whose lore would later be adapted into a movie in 2018.

With such an increase in popularity, an upsurge in merchandise has followed in its wake, as companies prioritize mass production over quality. Heavily focusing on marketing towards a younger audience through brightly neon-colored plushes and cartoon designs due to high sale performances. 

This is seen in the recent FNAF game, Five Nights at Freddy Security Breach (rated for Teens) with its child-friendly design, which would not seem to be associated with its more sinister lore, revolving around a child serial killer.

Current games are now being created with the intent of profiting, straying away from the true horror aspect, as they capitalize on FNAF whose revolutionized the horror game industry, David Gomez a senior at Frank Sinatra addresses on the subject.

As these games continue to gain notoriety through social media sites and influential gamers such as Markiplier and Pewdiepie, parents are now raising concerns over content not being categorized under the appropriate age rating, petitioning for more reforms to take place against content that is unsuited for younger audiences and holding the providers accountable for such sites.

“Such games can corrupt young minds, as they can get mentally scarred and can misinterpret this content. Companies should take initiative on rating these games more appropriately as they are only lowering it so that more people can interact with it so that it will uplift their brand and so that they can have a greater profit,” Ishwari Bishundat a Frank Sinatra School of the Arts student said.

As we continue to see an increase in videogame consumption with the introduction of new consoles such as the PS5, only time will tell the future of the classification with Indie Horror games.