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Internet Safety

Understanding Video Game Ratings

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Video Game Ratings

EC Rating-for ages 3 and older

E Rating -for Everyone 6 and up and may contain any of or all of the follwoing; cartoon, mild violence and some use of mild language.

E10+ Rating- Everyone 10 and up and may contain any or all of the following; mild violence, mild language, or minimal suggestive themes.

T Rating for 13 and up may contain any or all of the following; violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and or infrequent use of strong language

M Rating- usually 17 and up may contain any or all of the following; intense violence, blood and gore, s------ content and strong language

AO-should only be played by persons 18 years and up prolonged scenes of intense violence and graphic sexual content and nudity

RP-means that the game has been submitted to the ESRB ratings board and has not recieved a final rating yet.


Video Game Ratings 101 for Parents

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Why are Video Game ratings important and do they apply to my child?

Well with games like GTA4, Mafia2, This is Vegas, and Saints Row 2 coming out very soon, there is no doubt that your children even as young as 8 will be hounding you to pick up a copy on your way home from work. Now we have nothing against these games if fact we are considered a gaming website. What we have problems with is when seven year olds to 11 year olds talk about how their parents pre-ordered these games for them. To better understand why this is a problem, consideration of the most basic attributes of a child need to be addressed along with the advancements in the technology and virtual reality aspect of video gaming in today’s world.

When a young child gets involved with and is concentrating on an activity, they generally are so focused that little can distract them. Just observe a 9 year old watching cartoons on Saturday morning. A bomb could go off and they would be oblivious. Their little sponge of a brain is too busy absorbing every detail of what it is involved with. Now add a some participation in that cartoon through a controller that allows the child to be actively involved. Now add a controller with force feed back that responds through vibration (controllers) to events in the cartoon. Ad some verbal queues and communication, as well as intense music and now your child is fully emersed using 3 out of the 5 senses, sight, sound, touch.

Children learn through repetition. Objectives in games are achieved through a constant repetition of actions and decisions. Now read the reviews and ultimate goals and objectives of GTA 4 (Kill and rob rivals ultimate goal have the most money at any cost) Saints Row 2 (own a crib, pimped out hos etc…) and the game This is Vegas. Basically the child role plays the criminal in these games and considering their M rating you know there is gratuitous violence and other extremes. We have played the games listed and they are intense and are absolutely not for children.

"But how is that different then what they see on TV." Take tv and add active participation both physically and mentally in the outcome of what they are watching. There is a huge difference. This doesn't mean let a child watch anything but don't put TV in the same catagory as Video gaming.

The child knows that the game they are playing is make believe but when the body is subjected to all that stimulus and response it responds by releasing chemicals because it internally reacts as if it is really happening. The intensity the child feels while playing is not only from their competitiveness. It is also due to the body reacting chemically to the "Stress". Some kids actually demonstrate an almost post traumatic stress response (anxiety) to video game play especially violent games (rated teen and up). It effects their ability to rest, sleep and it effects their interactions in social settings on a sub-conscience level, for days after play.

"How is this different from when we played cops and robbers with the neighborhood kids?" It differs in that you were outside in spaces that also offered distractions from the game and not full emersion in the game. Also the fact that many cops and robber games didn't involve sitting in one position, eyes fixed on one location, and very loud support music and verbal dialog filled with inapproproate language like M rated video games involve makes playing cops and robbers outside different.. During Cops and Robbers, when you shot the bad guy he didn't gush blood all over the sidewalk. You didn't include suggestive themes or scenes during those cops and robbers games either.

"Does this mean pack up the PlayStation and heave it?" No it means parents need to understand and respect what the game ratings mean and stop rationalizing about their 7 year old playing GTA4 or any other TEEN/ M rated game by making comments like "he's mature for his age". Really, and is his body fully developed as well? How much will the body's biological, chemical responses to these games effect a young child's future physical health and socialization?

The reality is that many parents do not supervise video gaming or even know what they are buying for their kids. Don't be that parent regardless of how much little Timmy's mom condescendingly implies that you are living in the stone age and that her little Timmy is mature enough for those games. For your child's sake be strong by arming yourself with information and educating your children about video game safety when they are young. Parents talk about peer pressure with their children but how often do parents make poor descisions regarding their children based on pressure from other parents?

From a gamers perspective, there is nothing more frustrating for a teen or college gamer then for them to take an hour off from studies to go online and play a round only to be forced to listen to unsupervised 10 year olds cuss and scream while they play against the players the games are actually intended for, T for teens or M for 17 and older. It's sad when 17 and up gamers are forced to use the parental controls to block the high pitched squeals, rantings, and cussing of nine year olds getting pumeled because the nine year olds lack the skills and the ability to realize it's just a game and nothing personal.

Just check this link. Some gamer captured video of their online gaming to upload to youtube. Now the only thing you'll see is the game screen and the game characters in the game. The characters in the online games actually move their lips in response to what ever the person that controls that character is saying through the mic . The audio part is of a very young player somewhere in the world who was in the same game as the person recording it. The Young player shouted and shouted. From a parents perspective, it's a sad commentary on kids getting socialized by online gaming. The end of the video is the most extreme example so try to stay with it and watch it all the way through. Click on the link It's titled Chocolate Milk

The bottom line is, Video game ratings should absolutely be respected and they in no way should be compared to television or movie viewing. The games aren't going anywhere they will still be available when your child reaches the right ages. At a young age, begin to talk to your child about these topics and as they get older it will be easier to prevent their begging for you to purchase GTA4 on their 11 birthday.