Sometimes walking down an aisle of video games can be dizzying. How do we choose from an ever-growing selection of titles, hoping our children will like it, but also worrying whether or not it is appropriate for their age? It isn’t the fact that our kids play video games; but a bigger concern is with what games they play. With a busy Mom’s schedule, we don’t have time to watch or read about every game out there to make sure it is a safe and fun pick for our children.
That is why, just like videos, ESRB (the Entertainment Software Rating Board) has developed a trusted system to rate each game. Since video games are no longer being made “just for kids” (what happen to Pac Man?!), we as parents have to be more aware of the content that is in a given game. In addition, ESRB is beginning to give parents instructions on how to stop their child from reaching certain adult-themed levels of a game through their child’s gaming systems.
ESRB has surveyed parents and learned that when we are aware of the different ratings, and what they mean, we are more likely to check them before making a purchase. We know we want our children to steer away from violent games, but sometimes just the cover (that cute bunny doesn’t just hop around!) doesn’t give enough information.
ESRB ratings have been assigned to computer and video games since 1994 and appear on the packaging for virtually every game sold in the U.S. and Canada. There are six rating categories ranging from eC (early childhood) to AO (adults only) and appear on the back of the package with accompanying details regarding any elements that may trigger concern.
Beyond the ratings, websites have more information to help us make better decisions before we even get to the video game aisle, including trailers, screen shots, and interactive demonstrations.
Sometimes, even when we think a game is safe for our child, there may be levels in the game that introduce them to more violence than we want them to see. For this reason, ESRB is now giving parents access to web sites that offer instructions on how to adjust different types of gaming systems in order to introduce parental controls.
For example, the Xbox website lists information on such safeguards as from how to make sure your child is not participating in video communication with other gamers he doesn’t know personally to controlling the level content they are allowed to play in certain games. ESRB makes it easier for parents to find and link to these pages and become a step ahead of their child’s video game playing.
Although, no amount of remote control beats sitting down with your child and playing the games with him ESRB makes it easier to ensure appropriate games are played when you cannot be there.