When you choose video games, there are some ways to determine if the video game is right for you, and whether or not the content will be offensive. Video games have ratings, but studies have shown those ratings to be less than reliable. So, here are some things to help you choose video games wisely:
1. Check the rating of the game. Despite the fact that these ratings are less than reliable, it is still wise to check them. It is a place to start, and that is always good. Here is the rating system used for video games:
•’EC’ for Early Childhood (ages 3+): These games are okay for children of any age, but they will not appeal to kids over 5 or 6. They require an adult to help a child read the words and use the controls. These games are the equivalent of a G movie.
•’E’ for Everyone (ages 6+): E games are designed to allow younger players to play safely while still entertaining older audiences. These games are the equivalent of PG movies.
•’T’ for Teen (Ages 13+): These games may or may not be appropriate for younger ages. The determining factor is the reason a game is rated T. Many times a game is rated T just for having animal poop on the grass. These games are the equivalent of a PG-13 movie.
•’M’ for Mature (ages 17+): These games are not appropriate for children to play. If you do allow it, make sure they are mature enough to handle violence. Never let them play if there is any sexual content and/or unwholesome language. If they are not capable of playing a violent game, steer clear of these games completely. This is the equivalent of an R-rated movie.
•’RP’ for Rating Pending: This type of game has not been sent to the Entertainment Software Rating Board* for a rating or is in the process of getting one. You should be cautious about these, as it is similar to an unrated video.
•’AO’ for Adults Only (ages 18+): Never allow your children to play these. They usually include an excessive amount of violence, sexual content and intense, explicit language. Many times these games could be rated X.
2. Read reviews. While ratings give you some place to start, a review can tell you all sorts of things, especially if it is a review from another gamer. A review can tell you what is in the game that a rating or description won’t. A review can tell you other people’s opinions and whether or not they would have allowed their children to play a game. Of course these games reviews are biased and opinion, not fact, but they can still be very useful for the person trying to wisely choose a video game.
3. Rent video games, if possible. One of the best ways to choose wisely is to try things out. Obviously, if you want to know if the game is right for you, or your kids, or your friends, or whomever you are buying it for, then test it out. You can rent games at places like Hollywood and Blockbuster, consider getting a monthly subscription so you can test several video games for the same price. Then you can buy the ones you like and the ones that are appropriate.
4. Last but not least, don’t be afraid to take it back. If you buy a game and find out later that the content is not appropriate for you or your family, take it back. If you can’t, throw it out, sell it on Ebay, give it away, etc.