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During our recent stint in helping out a Video Game themed workshop in last year’s Counterflow Conference . Our group was thrown a lot of questions of about video games (well duh) and how are they helpful/harmful for their kids. One of the things that really cropped up and I took notice off is the question of, “how would you know if the game you’re buying for your kid is safe or not”.
So to address that I’m hoping to provide a bit more insight on ways parents can know how to properly buy games for their kids by doing a series of posts, starting with this one, to give/shed a bit more light into how to do just that.
For today’s 101, I’ll be focusing on tips on how to buy console games for your kids.
Writer’s Disclaimer: I am not and by any means NOT a parent myself. What I do have though are a set of skills that I learned as I grew up being exposed to games since I was a wee little kid. I’ve been a game reviewer (as a source of income and of added income) for more than half a decade now. So this is where I am coming from.
Also, if you’re reading this now and wondering why should I even write something about this when you already know how to buy games your kids. CLEARLY this post isn’t for you and before you start tooting your own horn, I’d rather appreciate it if you can just add more to the discussion by HELPING give more tips that I may have missed instead of letting the other parents who MAY really need this feel dumb.
The first and most important thing you need to figure out as you try and see if you should buy the game your kid is crying over is to first know the title of the game. This would be integral because you will be using google a lot in the succeeding steps.
Image courtesy of Overloading Gaming.net
Dedicate the time to know the game and with the internet as it is now, you just need to google the game and see everything that you need to know. Don’t waste your time and gasoline to head out to the video game retail store in hopes of knowing what the game your child is after and find out it’s not appropriate for him/her there. With just a few clicks (or swipes on your phone) you’d be informed even at home.
Yes, believe or not, video games have a ratings system just like movies. Currently we have two prevalent rating systems and that determine what kind of content your child will be playing. You have the Entertainment Software Rating Board or ESRB and the Pan European Game Information or PEGI.
These two rating system will determine what age bracket the games belong to and what type of content your child will be exposed to.
The ESRB Rating system with content descriptor
PEGI rating system age bracketing
PEGI rating system, content descriptors
The ratings system would cover most of the recent and even old titles your kids may want to get. This also covers the area where if a game is appropriate for their age group or not.
These two also have their own apps now that you can download. For the ESRB you can get it on your android, iOS , Windows phone and even in Amazon Apps. For the PEGI system you can get it on your iOS and windows phone as well.
Sometimes maybe these people who are doing the review can’t be trusted or maybe you just want to see the legitimacy of the game you are trying to search for. You can head to the developer’s site and find out more about the title itself. Usually devs will provide a summary, some background, and even more insider content on the process and or the philosophies of the game creation process.
Tip: Type in the google search bar “title of game” developer
Video games, like movies, also release trailers to show what you can expect from them once they come out. Big international sites like IGN, Kotaku, Gematsu (if your kid is to more into Japanese games), Siliconera (for the non-mainstream stuff) and Shoryuken (mostly fighting games) provide trailers and sometimes exclusive videos for the game you are searching for.
Local blogs too like us, DAGeeks, Reimaru Files, The Fanboy SEO, Azrael’s Merryland, OMGLuie and Back2gaming also provide these video contents as well but with a more localized and personal insight to the game being featured by the video.
Normally, trailers would be enough to provide the gist of what your kid is being exposed to. But if you really want to hear what other people say about the game you can head out to the above mentioned sites for their game reviews.
Some sites will get advance copies of the game you are searching for so you can expect these sites, (mostly IGN and Kotaku) in providing advance reviews. However if you are looking for “is this game is a game I should let my kids play unsupervised or not” review these sites would fail in that regard as their reviews would often focus on content and not really concentrate on the kid-friendliness of the title.
You can however head to Common Sense Media’s game review site, which focuses on providing reviews parents would want to know about the title they are paying for.
So there you have it! That’s my list of what you can do to know more about the titles you will be buying for your kids. If you have further questions you can just sound off at the comments!