To hear parents tell it, the perfect video game is educational, provides small life lessons, strengthens hand eye coordination, and keeps the kids entertained for roughly 30 minutes at a time. Listening to kids, however, it appears that educational qualities rank far below the needs for speed, action, rad moves, and great weapons. It is hard to believe that there are games which fulfill the requirements hoped for by both parents and kids.
Parents should always make the time to play the games alongside their kids; the only problem with using this approach to picking video games is the fact that the game is already in the house and the money spent. Opened games are rarely returnable and once they are in the house and their hot little hands, kids will not let go of games without a lot of arguing, complaining, and upset. Thus, making an informed decision prior to bringing the games home is a must!
So how does a parent go about picking out a video game for the children to play? Reading the back of the cover is unlikely to present a lot of information whereas the buzz on the Internet can be so forbiddingly filled with insider lingo that it is hard to discern if the game is appropriate, too violent, or perhaps even contains content that is objectionable.
At the same time, simply because a game is very popular and the evening news shows long lines of consumers waiting outside the stores for them to go on sale, does not mean that it offers the kind of game play the parent wants to invite into the home. Fortunately, there are five simple steps to picking video games both parents and their kids will love. These steps are not complicated, require a minimum of effort, and are rather reliable.
1. Check the ESRB Rating
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) developed a rating system that ranks game content according to age appropriateness. The ratings are “EC,” “E,” “E 10+,” “T,” “M,” “AO,” and “RP.”
Games designated with an “EC” are educational and fun for preschoolers and young grade-schoolers. An “E” notes that the games are appropriate for all players, and while preschoolers might have more of a learning curve to get the game-play right, there is no objectionable content. Look out for games rated with an “E 10+” since these games are reserved for kids older than 10. Some mild language is usually incorporated into the game.
A game rated “T” is reserved for teens, and parents should know that violence, sexual innuendo, partial nudity, and also curse words are par for the course. “M” for mature indicates games for those over the age of 17 and the blood, guts, gore, and sex are legendary in these games. Upping the ante are games marked “AO” or adults only, as they are “M” squared. An “RP” rating simply means that a rating is pending, and parents should hold off on buying the game until the rating has been apportioned.
2. Read the ESRB Content Descriptors
Since preschoolers and grade-schoolers cannot simply be pigeonholed into age brackets, but should be much further differentiated by their maturity levels, parents will be wise to read the ESRB content descriptions on the backs of the video game packets. They list potentially objectionable content.
For example, “animated blood” refers to purple, green, or other kinds of unrealistic blood that may be shown during game play, while a listing of “blood” is an indicator that realistically depicted blood is part of the game play. Children highly sensitive to blood may not enjoy playing these games, even if they are rated for their age brackets.