Children And Video Games

Video games ratings set by the ESRB, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, and the difference between first person, role-playing, strategy, gaming, simulations, and edutainement are all discussed in this informative article.

Everyone has an opinion on video games for kids. They are great, they are terrible, they teach hand-eye coordination, or they do nothing more than waste time! What a lot of these same people do not have, is information. What are the different types of games that are on the market, what do the ratings mean, and what exactly do the terms "˜first person' or "˜role playing' mean? To be an informed person when it comes to purchasing and allowing your children to play video games can be a very simple process. Learn and understand the terms, and at the least, you will be a knowledgeable consumer.

The ESRB, Entertainment Software Rating Board, has made our job somewhat easier than it was a few years back when computer and video games first started to become as popular as they are today. They developed a standardized rating system that places a code on the outside of a game package for easy viewing. This code is meant as a guideline, not as a recommendation, so keep this in mind when deciding on a purchase.

EC - Early childhood, content is suitable for kids three and older

E - Everyone, age six and over

From these two first ratings, EC and E, the age recommendations are only that, recommendations, and even the next rating of T, or Teen, can have violence or unsuitable language, even sexual themes, so be sure to read the content descriptions carefully on each package. If the game contains reference to drugs, gambling, violence, gore, adult language, and sexual situations, these will all need to be taken into consideration when considering purchase. Most games will have a more detailed description of the games content on the back of the package near the ESRB rating.

T - Teen, ages 13 and over, can contain violence, mild graphic language, etc.

M - Mature, Geared for the over 17 crowd, sexual themes and language, along with violence

AO - Adults only, as it reads, NOT for children of any age. Content may be of a very graphic nature.

RP - Rating is pending, is not yet established by the ESRP

What is the difference between animated and real? Animated is cartoon like characters, real are photographic visuals that resemble real life. While both are make believe, for kids, the difference can be great. Be sure you know which type of art the game you are considering for purchase has, especially if it is of a violent nature. Those that contain real should be reserved for the AO, adult only, crowd.

First Person - When buying games, you will come across this term often. What exactly does it mean? The view of the player is as if the player himself or herself were in the character's position. If it is a first person shooter, that means that when the child is holding the game pad or joystick, it is as if they are pulling the trigger. They are the one being shot at. In a driving simulation, they are the one behind the wheel, with their view on the game screen being as if they were behind the wheel of the racecar.

Role-Playing - In role playing, the players cast themselves as characters already established by the makers of the game. If the game happens to be about warriors or wizards, they will play as a warrior or wizard, but the player may still have several choices of which character they are going to be, but only from a select list. Many games will allow for customization of characters, though. This gives individual players the latitude to shape how their character will perform.

Simulations - Just like it sounds, the game allows the player to pretend, or simulate, an experience, such as flying a jet, or driving a tank. There are even games available that allow the player to "˜simulate' whole theme parks, cities, or even worlds!

Gaming - Card games, checkers, chess, all the way to slot machines and "˜simulations' of a Vegas casino. Games can, and often are, more than one style of game.

Strategy - These games often take a lot of "˜brain' power. The games can be as simple as a puzzle, as complex as a whole war. Thought must proceed action for the player to have a successful game. While many games need their player to do nothing more than run and shoot, a strategy game can take planning, action, and afterthought for the next game.

Edutainement - This is a newer term often heard associated with games marketed towards kids. It refers to "˜entertainment' combined with education. Some of these so-called edutainement titles are good; others are nothing more than a basic game with a catchy title. Read the description thoroughly before buying, or better yet, find someone who has the title and ask him or her their opinion on the value of the game.

Do not overlook that video games do have valid bonuses. Games can offer kids reading practice, hand-eye coordination (Yes! That is true), relief from stress through their imagination, and good old-fashioned FUN!

© High Speed Ventures 2011