Well, I’d argue a a Five Nights at Freddy’s plush and vinyl figure isn’t, however cute and fluffy it is. And that’s exactly what I found, sat alongside Ben 10 and other children’s toys, at my local Tesco’s.

For those not aware of Five Nights at Freddy’s, it’s a horror-based video game that contains violence and sexual content. And, as much as I love the show, I’m equally unsure about Rick & Morty Pop vinyls being there as well.

When I tweeted about this, Tesco quickly responded.

Good Morning David, thanks for bringing this to our attention. You are right this is not acceptable. If you can let me know which store this was then I will call them to make them aware.

@Tesco, Twitter

So I did. But rather than leave it there I asked them a further question. You see, my previous employment was in the retail sector and I know how store “merchandising” works. The store is not left to decide itself where products go but is decided at Head Office by merchandisers and each store is sent specific plans on where to put everything. So, I asked if this was the fault of the store putting it in the wrong place or whether it was the same across all the stores.

At this point, I was told that it was the latter and the my feedback would be passed on.

Two further questions…

  1. Are they still going to ask my local Tesco store to change it?
  2. Can they let me know the results of my feedback?

In both cases, the answer was “no”, which was a shock for the first one as their first reply to me (as above) suggested otherwise.

But another thing piqued my curiosity…

We won’t be moving these as they are classed as toys for a PG13 game.

@Tesco, Twitter

Which is odd, because when I looked I couldn’t find any certification in the UK or US for this game. And “PG13” is a US movie rating, nothing to do with video games. So, I Googled it and found that there was a reference to this game and PG13, but only in that a movie of the game is being worked on and “may” have a PG-13 certificate. Surely, their entire basis for placing this product on the toy aisle wasn’t a bad Google search? So I asked for their source.

Hi David, this was found through looking online.

@Tesco, Twitter

Now, I can’t be certain they were looking at the same thing but one thing I do know is that I’ve searched the websites for video game certifiers in both EU and the US and there is nothing listed for this game. But I can find a few quotes about the game if that would help…

“the game communicates its gut-wrenching horror without a single drop of blood, yet still belongs in the upper echelon of horror games” – Gamespot

“I waited for my grisly end with quiet dignity and a brain screaming against my skull to ohnohelpmehelpmehelpme . The wait wasn’t the excruciating part; knowing I was helpless against a murderous electronic bear standing a scant few feet away from me kicked in some serious fight-or-flight queasiness in the stomach.” – PC Gamer

“Your most terrifying childhood nightmare in game form.” – Game Revolution

And these were just the first 3 reviews I found. Look, it may be okay for teenagers so maybe even the PG-13 certificate MAY – and I say that advisedly – be kinda correct. But the reality here is that they are stacking these next to primary school age children’s toys.

I’m afraid we don’t have an adult toy section so this is why this is in the kids toys section.

@Tesco, Twitter

Where does it belong? Amongst the video games, where there is already a selection of items aimed at different ages. Only the most closed minded parent would peruse the video games thinking they’re all suitable for “Little Johnny, aged 5”.

But isn’t that a really, bad excuse? We don’t have anywhere for it, so we’ve put it there.

Of course, the next argument will be “but there’s nothing horrific about the toys themselves”. True. They’re soft, plush toys. But promoting an adult (and, yes, I will use that word), horror game? That can’t be right. “Stormy Daniels” posable doll, anyone?

And, of course, they’re next to Harry Potter plushes, and those films have a 12 certificate? Again, true but there is a big difference between the US PG-13 and a UK 12 certificate – I suspect the violence in Harry Potter is a slightly different level to that in this game. Plus, Harry Potter for many children can just as easily be the books, which are much more suitable for younger children.

Finally, let’s blow this entire argument out of the water by mentioning the Rick and Morty vinyl figures that were also in that photo. This is rated in the UK with a 15 certificate, with violence, bad language, drug taking and sexual reference. Still happy with your choices, Tesco?

My biggest issue here, though, is possibly the attitude of Tesco, who have lacked understanding and any kind of empathy. I expected more from them.

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