A parents guide to video game ratings

The holiday shopping season has begun and many shoppers are already flocking to the stores. Some cheerful Christmas music is playing in the background.

Is it Jingle Bell Rock today? Or are they going to loop Silver Bells for a few more hours?

Customers are scurrying from aisle to aisle, franticly trying to get everything on their lists before the end of November (because you have got to beat the rush). Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of it all, a mother has stumbled into the electronics department. She sees a copy of Modern Warfare 2, she knows if junior doesn’t see it under the tree, he would be ever so disappointed. She picks it up, pays for it and walks away happy. But after she sees the violent content her young son will be exposed to, she will not be a satisfied customer.

This could be you. But it doesn’t have to be this way. These kinds of situations can be avoided rather easily through simple observations.

Like movies and television shows, video games have ratings. The good folks over at the Entertainment Software and Rating Board have provided and easy-to-understand rating system.

The ratings are as follows: EC- Early Childhood. These are games, which are appropriate for very young children who are in the three to five age group.

Next comes E-Everyone. These are games are the safest and most common family friendly titles on the market. They are usually aimed at people who are six and up.

This may sound confusing at first but there is also an E10 rating. This rating means the game is aimed at those who are 10 and up but there isn’t usually a whole lot of difference between this and the regular E rating. There might be a higher level of difficulty and maybe some stuff that younger children don’t understand but other than that there isn’t really much difference between the two. Think of E as G and E10 as PG.

T for teen is where you’re beginning to wander into adult territory. These games would have the same level of sex, swearing, violence, and blood as a PG-13 movie. These games are intended for players who are 13 or older.

Then there is M for mature. This is the most important rating for parents to look out for. Games with the mature rating are the ones that are only recommended for older players (ages 17 and over). These titles have all of the graphic violence, heavy swearing and sexual content that most parents don’t want their children to see. If you do not want to exposure your child to this level of content, then don’t purchase an M rated title. Plain and simple.

All of these ratings appear twice on the cover of every game that is released. Once on the front and again on the back. I recommend reading the rating on the back of the box, since it will have a short list of reason as to why the game has that rating.

I hope this has been helpful for anyone who doesn’t know anything about games but is thinking of buying games as Christmas presents. If you follow the ratings, you should be able to find a safer title your youngster can enjoy. If you feel your child can handle the mature content of certain titles, then more power to you. But if are you absolutely opposed to exposing the little ones to certain content and you still purchase an M rated game with all of the information you can access, then you have no one to blame but yourself.

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