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The 1000-Year-Old Gamer: A Look At Video Game Age Gates

Age gates are the Internet's half-hearted attempt at preventing minors from seeing potentially objectionable material. Like most of you, my birthday is on January 1st, but I have found a good deal of variety in just how far back various game companies' website go in available birth year.

Asking people to honestly report their age on the Internet is highly effective and accurate, right up there with having people fill out honest OKCupid profiles or polling teenage boys on how much sex they are having.

For some reason, I've always like to take the pull-down year menu as far back as it will go out of curiosity. I decided to make a more comprehensive overview of the major game publisher's site - including those who employ the increasingly popular measure of having the reader type out the date themselves instead of selecting from a pull-down menu. While many seem to have fairly logical cut-off dates for years, I also found some odd decisions - and at least one flat-out error.

The 100 Club

When I started looking at the age gates of the major game companies, I found a couple common practice that seemed fairly logical. The first of these was using an age gate that went 100 or 99 years back. I'm not sure how many people over 100 play games, but I'm all for them being included. According to census and U.N. data, there are over 50,000 centenarians in the U.S. and over 350,000 in the world - at least a couple must be gamers. Though I'm poking a bit of fun at age gates in this piece, Game Informer has one as well, and ours fits into this camp. Here are some notable sites that belong to the 100 (or 99) club:

PlayStation Blog: 1914

Blizzard: 1914

Tomb Raider: 1915

Game Informer: 1915

Turn of the Century

The turn of a century is a common line of demarcation, and an easy go-to for websites and programmers looking for a cutoff date. Who could forget the crisis caused by the Y2K bugs that plagued many programs and business with software that had been programmed without regard to a century change? Not surprisingly, the year 1900 is the most common earliest year on game site age gates. Again, it's a logical move and one that definitely doesn't risk leaving many gamers out - I can't imagine the 115-year-old demographic is very large.

2K Games: 1900

Activision: 1900

Bethblog (Bethesda): 1899

Konami: 1900

Capcom: 1900

Deep Silver: 1900

Warner Bros. Interactive: 1900

NetherRealm: 1900

The Oddballs

Not every company takes the obvious route with age gates. Poking around on various sites, I did find some odd choices for earliest year available on ages gates. Some of these reached back into the past to the point where it would be extremely unlikely that there's any person alive born in that year (much less watching game trailers online). I was actually more surprised to see a couple with relatively recent cut-off years.

Rockstar Games: 1892

This one was amusing to me. This site requires you to type in a year, and I started going back year by year from 1900 until I was stopped at 1891. 1892 is interesting as it doesn't fall on a 100-year mark or century change, and doesn't end with 5 or 0 (which is more common). Fun fact: a person born in 1892 would have been 19 in 1911 - the year that Red Dead Redemption is set it. That's more than old enough to be a character in the game. A person born in 1892 would be 122 years old today, the same age as Jeanne Calment of France, the oldest documented human being, who died in 1997.

Ubisoft: 1894

Another odd choice, it's extremely far back (a person born in 1894 would be 120 years old), and also doesn't fall on a mid-decade or start of a decade year. The only connection to the company's historical Assassin's Creed series was that Russian czar (and Templar) Alexander III of Russia died in 1894.

Official Xbox: 1895

Nintendo: 1920

This is one of the latest cut-off years I found. A person born in 1920 would be 94 years old. Before you say, "There's no way that someone 94 is into video games," bare this in mind: Ralph Baer, the creator of the first video game system, the Magnamox Odyssey, and known as the "Father of Video Games" is 92.

Electronic Arts: 1934

EA has by far the most recent cut-off year and, in my opinion, it's too recent. A 1934 birthday would make someone 80 years old - still young enough to enjoy a good game now and again. Heck, if the guy who invented video games is 92, I'm sure there are some fans who are 80.

The 1,000 Year Old Frozen Caveman Gamer

I saved the most ridiculous for last. Namco Bandai has long, proud tradition - longer than even I realized. When I went to their website, I was surprised to learn that you could enter years as far back as 1000 and still gain entry to see an M-Rated trailer. Of course, I guess someone over 1,000 years old would have seen things a lot more titillating than a game trailer. Plus, I heard Dragon Ball Z was really big a millenium ago.

Namco Bandai: 1000

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