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Microsoft XBox (Games)

New Parental Controls Limit Xbox Time 327

Posted by samzenpus
from the saying-no-is-hard dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As part of a new marketing blitz to promote the Xbox 360 as a "family friendly" video game console, Microsoft on Wednesday rolled out a new feature called Family Timer, which will show up in the Family Settings Screen. The Timer will let parents limit the number of hours their kids can play the Xbox on a daily or weekly basis. When the time limit is reached, the console will automatically shut off, ostensibly after saving the game."
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New Parental Controls Limit Xbox Time

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  • Time's up (Score:5, Funny)

    by gringer (252588) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @02:32AM (#21278257)
    Sorry, I was going to do a verbose post about all the reasons why I should stay on the computer, but my timer is about to kick...
  • by ScaryMonkey (886119) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @02:35AM (#21278275)
    In my experience, the parents who would be responsible enough to use such a feature don't need it anyways. The problem is the parents who want their kids lifeless in front of the Xbox (or the TV) so they'll be "out of their hair".
    • by 4D6963 (933028) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @02:52AM (#21278351)

      In my experience, the parents who would be responsible enough to use such a feature don't need it anyways.

      I don't completely agree, this feature can help enforce a rule, or give more legitimacy to a decision, for example, instead of trying to estimate how long your offspring has spent on the console and going "Mmmh I think you've played enough of it for today. -But Dad?!?", you can agree with them on a weekly amount and when the time runs out, there's no "but I didn't even play it while you were at work" arguments or anything of the sort, the time you agreed on has unambiguously ran out, and there's nothing to argue about.

      By the way that would also be cool if that thing prevented the Xbox from running from say 10:30pm to 6am.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        My worry is that this robs children of the opportunity to practice some self-discipline. Without the timer, the child thinks, "If I don't discipline myself, Dad will." With the timer, the child doesn't have to think at all. The timer may also create a situation for some children where they make sure to use all their time each day so it isn't 'wasted'. So you have children playing because the box said 'okay' even though the circumstances for that minute/hour/day make it definitely not okay.

        And, you know, som
        • by speaker of the truth (1112181) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @04:15AM (#21278741)
          In that case decide on a set time, say 20 hours, and set the timer on 25 (numbers are pulled out of my ass)7. Tell little timmy that there'll be no punishment if he uses all 25 hours, however his father will be severely disappointed in little Timmy. Hopefully over time little Timmy will learn self-discipline, but if he doesn't then the timer is simply limiting how much trouble he's getting into.

          So you have children playing because the box said 'okay' even though the circumstances for that minute/hour/day make it definitely not okay.
          This is why its better for a week rather then a day. If you know of something that will effect the entire week ahead of time, you can set the timer lower. This is also where self discipline comes into play.
      • by jeffkjo1 (663413)
        I don't completely agree, this feature can help enforce a rule, or give more legitimacy to a decision, for example, instead of trying to estimate how long your offspring has spent on the console and going "Mmmh I think you've played enough of it for today. -But Dad?!?", you can agree with them on a weekly amount and when the time runs out, there's no "but I didn't even play it while you were at work" arguments or anything of the sort, the time you agreed on has unambiguously ran out, and there's nothing to
      • by weicco (645927) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @05:42AM (#21279119)

        I've noticed that when you make kind of a deal with your kid(s) like "you can play X amount of time, OK" they tend to agree better. They know the rule, how long they can play and sometimes they are even capable of planning ahead of like what to do next. If on the other hand you go in the middle of the game and say "okay, time's up, shutdown the console" kids can get very offended because you lay abritrary rules on them.

        This kind of functionality is great I'd say! I might even use it myself on myself :) You make the deal and agree on the play time, you set it to the Family Timer and when the time is up, console asks to save the game and shuts down. And then it's time to do something else.

        But here I see a possible problem. Console enables parents to "offload" their responsibilities. I think it's okay to use the Family Timer but after that you should check your kids to see how they are doing and possibly ask what they are going to do next. To be with them at least for that little time. I can see some lazy-ass parents using this as a way to be rid of their kids, to let machine do their parental job and concentrate on their own selfish needs. Sorry for writing harshly but I can't stand those kind of "parents".

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Solandri (704621)
          That sounds contradictory to me. If the parents are responsible enough to talk with and come to an agreement with their kids about playtime, it doesn't sound like they'd be the type of parents who'd ignore their kids once the timer kicked in. Seems to me that the parents likely to abuse the timer as you describe are the type who without the timer would just let the kids play as long as they like without supervision, or arbitrarily and unilaterally decide when the kids can and can't play. The timer wouldn
      • by symes (835608) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @08:34AM (#21279845) Journal
        I agree - even as a (supposedly) mature adult I've found time just slips by at a scary rate when playing (maybe I need one). For my eldest, however, she gets well and truly sucked into the game experience, losing all track of time. For a while we found her still playing beyond midnight on school days (this is on a PSP) and she seemed as surprised as we were. So I don't think it is just about enforcing rules... it is also about keeping those digital sirens in abeyance.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ephemeriis (315124)

        In my experience, the parents who would be responsible enough to use such a feature don't need it anyways.

        I don't completely agree, this feature can help enforce a rule, or give more legitimacy to a decision, for example, instead of trying to estimate how long your offspring has spent on the console and going "Mmmh I think you've played enough of it for today. -But Dad?!?", you can agree with them on a weekly amount and when the time runs out, there's no "but I didn't even play it while you were at work" a

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192)
        By the way that would also be cool if that thing prevented the Xbox from running from say 10:30pm to 6am.

        But that's prime gaming time! Personally I hope this encourages kids to dig up their parents NES or Genesis and play all night long.
    • by feepness (543479) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @02:57AM (#21278363) Homepage

      In my experience, the parents who would be responsible enough to use such a feature don't need it anyways. The problem is the parents who want their kids lifeless in front of the Xbox (or the TV) so they'll be "out of their hair".
      As a new parent, may I ask, dies this work for five-week olds?
      • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:24AM (#21278509) Homepage
        Only one thing works for 5-week olds: A metric, hell, make that IMPERIAL, shitload of patience. If it's any comfort, I can assure you that 5-week-old *twins* are twice the fun. On the flipside, I can also report that things tend to improve quickly. The twins are 8 months now, and it's a different world. One in which they go sleep at 7pm and sleep calmly until 6am. Heaven !

        Stay in there !
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by deroby (568773)
          Hehe, been there, not all that long ago even (she's 2 now), and yes, if you're lucky things improve dramatically. Maybe we got lucky, but 20:00 in bed and not a whisper until 10:00 the next morning is "normal" here...

          (for the critics around here : yes, that's in weekends only... Now I come to think about it, I should have somehow put in my contract that the firstborn would replace the alarm or something; don't think the boss will agree on it now anymore =)
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Eivind (15695)
            What is the world coming to. Slashdot is turning into parents-exchange :-) I know, we've got a 3.5 year old one too, in addition to the 8month old twins. You -could- choose to say that things where hmm, lively, with us for a while.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Stuart Gibson (544632)
              All the teens and early 20-somethings that joined /. in it's first few years are now ten years older and have developed sproglets. They've asked for advice on everything else here, so why not on the kids
    • by vishbar (862440) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:17AM (#21278473)
      It's not only good for parents. It's also good for those of us who have busy schedules and short attention spans...set the timer to 1 hour, play away, and no risk of losing track of the clock. I learned this with WoW.
    • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:38AM (#21278575) Homepage
      That's the problem with -all- measures to help out parents or to improve the life of kids.

      Offer free health-checks, and the ones who -aren't- coming are the ones who'd be most in need of it.

      Offer courses on child-nutrition, and the ones who show up are the ones that'd feed their kids sensibly even without the course.

      Arrange a course in firts-aid, focused on the kinds of accidents children have the most often. And the ones who show up are the ones who already have half a clue.

      Put recommended age on video-games, and the parents who actually take the time to know what their kids are playing and evaluate if it's apropriate for them or not, perhaps with help from the recommended age (but hopefully not by trusting it blindly) are precisely the same that'd probably make a reasonable decision even in the absence of recommended minimum age.
      • that's a pretty absolute assertion. are you sure that there wouldn't be some people who'd show up and learn something?

        but i do agree to some extent. this is the kind of stuff that needs to go into a teenager's mandatory education, so that by the time they're adults they'll know better ways to manage their kids. Or at the very least they'll be aware that there is a better way, and perhaps that'll motivate them to show up for a refresher course.

        • by Eivind (15695)
          Oh, the ones who do show do learn something. That's not the issue, and wasn't my (intended) point. Perhaps I phrased myself badly.

          What I meant is that, in general, the more likely it is that some perons is in need of guidance on a certain area, the less likely is it that they'll voluntarily show up for such guidance.

          It's quite logical really. Those people who are -interested- in say child-nutrition tends to aquire a clue too. Those who have no interest are both more likely to feed their children unhealthily
      • by borkus (179118)
        Having taught school for a little bit, I'll tell you that sometimes the parents that don't come to parent-teacher conference night arent' that responsible. However, sometimes they're the parents who are working 60+ hours at two jobs to try to make ends meet.

        I'm not a parent. However, between my single friends and my friends with kids, I've only heard single ones make similar arguments to yours. Even observed from a distance, parenting is a tough job - anything that simplifies one aspect of parenting mere
    • In my experience, the parents who would be responsible enough to use such a feature don't need it anyways.
      ...if by "it", you mean "Microsoft". No one who cares about their kids becoming slaves to corporate corruption should let Microsoft products anywhere near them.
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob&hotmail,com> on Thursday November 08, 2007 @02:39AM (#21278281) Journal
    In a very clever move by Microsoft, the indicator showing the console is on standby will be a lit red ring on the front of the unit...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Something as simple as the A/V cable being unplugged induces all 4 red lights to illuminate as well. The red lights were clearly meant to signify any problem, minor to major, and now people just associate it with a dead xbox.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ozmanjusri (601766)
        The red lights were clearly meant to signify any problem, minor to major, and now people just associate it with a dead xbox.

        Only 'cause that's more common than an unplugged A/V lead...

  • by aero2600-5 (797736) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @02:49AM (#21278325)
    My mother would love to have something like this on my father's computer. She calls Diablo II 'the divorce game'.

    Aero
  • Oh, Thank Heavens! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by haakondahl (893488)
    For a minute there, I thought I was going to have *raise my own children*.

    Parents should monitor and correct, monitor and correct their children's behavior. Nobody said it was easy. Parents should be aware of what their children are doing online and with games or what-have-you, just the same as when children are expected to let their parents know who they're with, what they're doing, where they are, when they'll be back, why they're going, and how they'll get there.

    The process ofa parent busting a ki

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bluemonq (812827) *
      It must be really nice to live in a household where one parent earns enough so that the other can stay at home at all times.
      • It must also be nice to live in a two-parent household where both parents are actually good parents.
      • by haakondahl (893488) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @05:54AM (#21279173)
        Not at all. Parents ought to be forever scheming and conniving to instill Discipline in the child. Parents should make sure that their children know first, what is expected, and second, the consequences. This is the fundamental theorem of child-rearing (Why, yes, I *did* just make that up, thank you!) If the child clearly knows these two things, the rest of parenting becomes possible. If not, then the streets are raising the child, or worse, TV and video games are, and the parents are just there to pay rent and cook until they can be replaced.

        Parents should find ways to monitor their children's behavior, obviously without being there 24/7. My father once grounded me from TV for a week when I was eight years old. So I knew what he expected. But I was in agony. I watched some anyway, and when I saw the lights in the driveway, I quickly turned it off. See how smart I am? He came in, took off his coat and hat, asked me if I had watched any TV ("No, Dad."), and then he felt the back of the TV, which was nice and hot. After that, I clearly knew what the consequences were, and suffice it to say that the TV stayed off for three weeks. One week of original punishment, two additional weeks for breaking the terms of my original punishment, and a little something special for lying about it all. Sitting down was also somewhat in short supply for a few hours, but I had just developed another smidgen of responsibility. Thanks, Dad.

        Do you know the difference between Discipline and Punishment? Discipline is completely internal, and keeps you from knowingly doing wrong. When Discipline fails, Punishment can be applied by somebody else (if you are fortunate), and this repairs Discipline. Nobody can be there 24/7, and even if you could, imagine what would happen to that basket-case child upon leaving home. Suddenly the Permanent Monitor isn't there anymore. Kid's head would explode. So I don't think that you actually believe I'm talking about 24/7 monitoring.

    • by shawn(at)fsu (447153) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:30AM (#21278533) Homepage
      These arguments about "parents having to raise their kids" are getting old. There are gamers that are so obsessed they will get up in the middle of the night to play when they should be sleeping and going to school the next day. Tell me how a parent is supposed to monitor their child 24x7? Parents have to sleep too you know. This tool allows them the ability to make sure junior is not playing games when the parents feel he/she shouldn't be.

      I could give more examples but I need to go to sleep so I can go to work. Hey /. where is a timer so I can't comment after my bed time?
    • by sapphire wyvern (1153271) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:30AM (#21278539)
      I don't understand why there is so much distaste for giving parents tools for *enforcing* the policies they have put in place. Which of the following would you disagree with: 1) Locking gun cabinets. After all, parents can just tell their kids not to play with guns! 2) Keeping household chemicals out of reach of children. After all, parents can just tell their kids not to touch them! 3) Running corporate computers without any kind of limited user environment. Every one can be admin! After all, if you tell your users not to download the special pointers and smiley sets off the Internet, they never would, right? They're trustworthy adults! And the process of an IT admin busting an employee and then doing something about it is good for the employee, the IT admin, and good for the company! Seriously, *what* is wrong with making a parent's decisions enforceable by the software and hardware?
      • Well put.
      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @04:45AM (#21278879) Journal

        Simple, these things rarely work, and people rely on them as if they they are foolproof.

        I see some people argue that you could use this to enforce a limited amount of play time with a kid, so that they cannot "cheat". But ask yourselve what this says about your relation with your child. You do not trust your child and broadcast this very clearly.

        Ask yourselve if this does not already show that your parenting skills are lacking and you really need to take far more drastic actions then rely on some tool.

        A well raised child will at times attempt to bend the rules (essential part of growing up) but at the same try not to actually break them because they simply do no want to hurt their parents. Offcourse because they are too young to know better, they will get this wrong. THAT IS GROWING UP. A kid watching a movie that is way too scary for it, learns the hard way. You can install all the counter measures you like, but isn't watching something too scary also a part of childhood? Same as with breaking something and cuts and bruises. Anybody here who did not risk their neck as a child doing silly stuff like making ever higher jumps with their bike?

        Part of growing up is seeing what the laws of society are and this starts with the laws at home. We must at once learn to respect them if we are to function of society, but also learn when and how to break them unless we want to become mindless machines.

        This is offcourse a nightmare as a parent, but any child will attempt to push curfew, it doesn't matter what the curfew is, if you tell your teenage daughter she doesn't have to come home from her friday night date before monday morning 9:00, she will be coming in monday 9:30. Bedtime is important, but so is allowing a child to just push it a little, now and then. It is a give and take and the secret is that there are no books you can follow for this. No simple one liners.

        You ain't got a clue how to parent and your only hope of success is to stop the kid from finding out. It usually works.

        The problems emerge when parents are unable to see themselves as the parents and want to be friends with their kids instead, or simply refuse to take responsibility. YOU raise your kid. Not the state, not the media and not some device. If you cannot do it without help, then hand over custody to those who can.

        Lets face it, if you need the help of a machine to deal with a child, you are a miserable failure. What next, you can only toilet train a puppy with a cattle prod? I deal with "troubled" kids now and then as part of volunteer work. Problems enforcing the rules? Are you kidding me, these kids are drunk for rules. They WANT someone to tell them what they can and cannot do and be clear about it. Simple rule, no smoking in the computer room, full stop end of argument, this is obeyed, but the rule is enforced for everyone, at all times. This is clear, and gets respected. Do not be wishy washy and allow it after class, or allow adults to smoke. The kids even enforce it themselves on new arrivals.

        Frankly the simple truth is that if you need a machine to check up on your kid it is already too late. You are fighting a symtome, not the disease. So even if you succeed and get the kid of the 360, the kid will just disobey in some other way. A friends 360? Gaming on the PC?

        • by 4D6963 (933028) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @05:02AM (#21278945)

          Lets face it, if you need the help of a machine to deal with a child, you are a miserable failure.

          Oh come on. These type of posts on Slashdot crack me up. The "be a super-parent FFS!" type of post. The problem with "parenting" is not that people rely on machines to enforce rules, the problem is the lack of firm rules. You just need to watch an episode of Super Nanny to know what time it is, that is, a lot of children don't have any fixed set of rules, they can do whatever they want and it makes them very unhappy. In the real world, most people are far from being perfect parents, and they have trouble getting their authority respected. Such solutions help with that, by firmly enforcing rules that parents don't manage to enforce this firmly on their own.

          By the way, that's "of course", not "offcourse".

          • Oh come on. These type of posts on Slashdot crack me up. The "be a super-parent FFS!" type of post. The problem with "parenting" is not that people rely on machines to enforce rules, the problem is the lack of firm rules. You just need to watch an episode of Super Nanny to know what time it is, that is, a lot of children don't have any fixed set of rules, they can do whatever they want and it makes them very unhappy. In the real world, most people are far from being perfect parents, and they have trouble g

            • Thank you for the insight about parenting. I'm trying to make a list so I have a question. Are you also a failure as a parent if you install porn blocking software, etc on the family computer or inspect the logs to see what sites your child has been visiting? I'd always thought either/both of those would be a good idea, but now that I'm learning using any tools besides peering over my child shoulder makes me a failure I'm not so sure. What is your expert opinion on this?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by aarggh (806617)
          All I can is WOW!

          So making use of technology to limit the amount of gameplay makes YOU as a parent a failure???

          I suspect you live in a fairly rosy-colored world or have some helpful medications, because the majority of your comments I think are so ridiculous it doesn't bear consideration.

          Yes in a perfect world our children would only push the envelope a little bit.
          Yes in a perfect world our children would always be thankful for vigilant guidance.
          Yes in a perfect world our children would always respect our a
          • No your kids don't turn to animals when they hit their teens. YOU screwed up long before.

            Blame everyone else all you want, but that child was handed to you in a pristine state and you raised it. Problem kids ain't just teenagers, you get totally out of control kids of toddler age because the parents can't do it.

            These exact same "parents" would also suck at raising a pet. What next, you are blaiming badly trained dogs on society as well rather then their owner? Puppies hang out at the fire-hydrant and pick

      • I don't understand why there is so much distaste for giving parents tools for *enforcing* the policies they have put in place. Which of the following would you disagree with: 1) Locking gun cabinets. After all, parents can just tell their kids not to play with guns!

        First example, and already you're oversimplifying. I didn't say "just tell them not to do it". I said "monitor and correct, monitor and correct". It is an iterative process, and the "correction" part comes in after a failure of some sort. T

      • by Aladrin (926209)
        I completely agree. As a kid, I'd have hated this system because it would mean there was no chance to talk my parents into 'just a few more minutes.' From their side, however, it would have relieved a lot of the tension to have the console be the bad guy instead of my parents. Not to mention that I had a sister and she got equal time on everything as well... No more fights about that.

        But the console isn't really the 'bad guy'... It's still the parents. The console by itself does nothing. The parents
    • by aarggh (806617) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:37AM (#21278567)
      I totally agree that parents should monitor and correct their children's behavior, but having four children of my own, two of them teenagers, it is not that simple. I've found that no matter how much you create and build the relationship, by the time they are in early teens, peer pressure is so strong, and with diminished responsibility, that the teenagers as a result are so aimless, unmotivated, and generally obnoxious and full of their own perception of their "rights" that it is very difficult to counter. I find this with virtually all the parents I talk to, most simply put it down to them being teenagers, and can't wait for them to move out. So I welcome any move from a vendor that allows me to within reason limit the hours spent on a singular device such as the XBOX. I would love something similar for computers. Without trying to start a flamewar, the results I see from most kids becoming increasingly socially backward spending several hours (every day!) chatting on MSN and by chatting I mean nothing more substantial than often repeated "LOL", "wassup?", and "rofl", and umpteen hours playing games does not help at all intellectually, don't get me wrong, I love nothing more than playing a bit of Unreal T or WOW on occasion, but it's a fact, if you don't use the grey cells when younger, they DON'T increase much later. Even though I generally consider Microsoft to be from the Dark Side, they are offering a very useful "checks and balances" option to counter the growing problems in society of raising kids.
    • But try to deny that the only people for whom this poses an attractive solution are the exact people who need more direct family involvement, not less.

      My parents both work. My little brother, for awhile, had a WoW addiction, and isn't always trustworthy.

      So...

      The process ofa parent busting a kid in a lie and then doing something about it is good for the kid, good for the parent, and good for the relationship.

      Given that my parents are unable to supervise my brother all day, every day, this seems pretty eff

  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:04AM (#21278397) Homepage Journal
    Apparently the ps3 is not the primary driver right now.
    • by dabraun (626287)

      Apparently the ps3 is not the primary driver right now.


      Apparently? Come on, that's was apparent by January when everyone had an idea of the sales numbers for Wii and PS3.
  • by Joebert (946227) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:18AM (#21278475) Homepage
    Must have been 5 years ago now my buddys' stepdad had a TV that did this.
    It would just show a message on the screen that said you watch too much TV & no matter what you did you couldn't get it to go away untill the off timer was over.

    I just so happened to discover this on the day his stepdad wanted to watch a big football game, & somehow I managed to set it for the time the game was on while playing with it.

    Needless to say I didn't go over my buddys house for a few days after that.
    • by rossz (67331)
      I have to ask. It was worth it, wasn't it? LOL
    • Your father punished you for an honest mistake? Damn glad I didn't have him as a father.
  • by SoopahMan (706062)
    It takes creativity to incentivize good things - like Nintendo does with so many creative games, encouraging families to play together.

    It takes little thought and plenty of self-congratulation and bluster to punish things you dislike - like Microsoft's approach here. What a crappy "feature."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:24AM (#21278507)
    Umm... I don't see why people are complaining about this feature. Is Microsoft preventing anyone from doing something in this case? No - if you want to use the feature do. If not, don't. I don't understand why others have to start complaining about the parenting habits of others when a company attempts to add a parenting feature to a product - don't you think they got feature requests first from parents before they got the idea to implement it?

    Not to mention, if you're talking about responsible parenting - why even buy the XBOX in the first place?
    There are people who would argue that responsible parenting would mean that you don't get them an XBOX (or TV for that matter). Or for that matter, have the child work part-time on their own so they can buy their own XBOX. The thing is, every parent has their own ideas on parenting, and as far as I know there have been no real studies evaluating the efficacy of various parenting techniques (not to mention that there probably are none - it depends on the child). So stop talking as if your ideas on parenting are the only correct ones.

    I personally don't have kids, but if I did, I'd probably be happy that this feature existed. Additionally, I'd probably want the same option for the PC & TV.
  • Shutdown mechanism? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grantek (979387) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:26AM (#21278513)
    Actual software quality aside, I'd hope Microsoft is using its experience with OSes to implement this sudden shutdown has a suspend-to-disk type operation (or suspend to RAM if all else fails) - many games aren't designed around constant save points, and if these things are going to throw away hours of hard-earned work, I can see tons more kids going postal in the future :/

    • by TiggsPanther (611974) <tiggs.m-void@co@uk> on Thursday November 08, 2007 @05:18AM (#21279009) Journal

      Oddly, that's exactly why I think this is something best implemented in the console. Many times (past and present), I've found that the pause function has been essential when a mealtime or sudden bout of winter tiredness hits nowhere near a save-point. Just going to prove that current games (and consoles) are not geared around stopping at an arbitrary time. Not unless you want to lose any progress you've made.

      I've seen devices on sale here in the UK that basically sit between the console and the power socket, and shut off after a set time. Forget whether the person is near a save-point, it would have no concept of if a save was in-progress at the time. Say hello to potential memory-card corruption.

      Actually, I think the best thing would be if all consoles could support a (reliable) hibernate/sleep/standby/whatever mode like that.
      I've seen many an point in this discussion about monitoring or trusting your own kids, rather than having to use the console itself to enforce it. Well if more ocnsoles would support some sort of state-saving to allow a nowhere-near-a-savepoint quicksave mode, it would peobably help a fair bit. Especially in those games that tend to put unskippable story-modes after a really difficult Boss fight but before the next save-point. And usually right around mealtime/bedtime/visit from relative. Allow gamers (of any age) to save and switch off at any time regardless of where they are and you're more likely to get cooperation when asking someone stop gaming for the day.

  • Ostensibly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phroggy (441) <{moc.yggorhp} {ta} {3todhsals}> on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:55AM (#21278641) Homepage
    Would this word have been added if we were talking about anybody other than Microsoft? Is there any evidence to suggest that this feature won't work as advertised, or are we just making that assumption because Windows sucks?
    • I guess it came in the email as Word of the Day. ostensible (-stn's-bl) adj. Represented or appearing as such; ostensive: His ostensible purpose was charity, but his real goal was popularity.
      • I'm pretty sure the writer meant to say, "presumably." For one thing, I can't find anything (admittedly a cursory search) from Microsoft saying that the game is saved. Second, even if they did say it, the usage in this context is awkward, as the common meaning is that one thing is claimed but another is intended. It doesn't make sense for Microsoft to claim that a game is saved while intending to not save the game.

        As an aside, a feature that turns off the console but does not save the game would be prfou
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @04:04AM (#21278685)

    The parents told deputies their son was playing Halo 3, and it was getting late and he needed to shut it off. When the son refused to turn off the game, the parents reportedly took the air card out of his machine so he couldn't play anymore.

    Reports show the son became enraged, went through the house looking for the air card, and then punched his mother, prompting the parents to call the Sheriff's Office.

    After the boy retreated to his bedroom and locked it, the mother knocked on the door and told him he needed to come out and talk to the deputies, the report stated. But the juvenile allegedly responded with profanity.

    Harnage and another deputy entered the room using a key from the parents to arrest the son, according to the report. The son fought the deputies - at one time punching Harnage on the lip - until they handcuffed him.
    www.sun-sentinel.com [sun-sentinel.com]

    The ironic thing is that any parent that's self-excusing enough to want to use parental controls rather than take responsibility for what Junior can and can't do will be just as likely to consider it Microsoft's fault that they got punched in the face by their own child for activating one of Microsoft's features. Rather than take the blame for raising a brat, why not just sue? It's the American way.

    Now you want truly un-American thinking? Release a treadmill or other exercise equipment that can be set to automatically give the little tubs o' lard more game time in exchange for actually exercising.

    In my day, we had to run ten miles up hill before we were allowed to call the other kids "teh gey" on Halo. And we were grateful!
    • That's just a kid who needed a good dose of the strap. Although, if he was tough enough and ballsy enough to punch out a cop, it might be too late. Chris Rock said it best, whip your kid's ass before the government whips it for him.
    • Although I have little problem with halo players calling each other "the gey", takes one to know one, I do have a slight suspicion that this family was not exactly a model household before the day of the air-card incident.

      Dealing with kids is difficult, you finally somehow managed to become and adult, and now only have to deal with adults, who are in general mature in their relations with you. And bam, you are landed with a tiny critter whose entire goal is to drive you nuts.

      It is alright for the first co

    • by BlueTrin (683373)

      Now you want truly un-American thinking? Release a treadmill or other exercise equipment that can be set to automatically give the little tubs o' lard more game time in exchange for actually exercising.
      It works well with hamsters ...
  • by Photo_Nut (676334) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @04:31AM (#21278825)
    Speaking as a father and as someone who spends too much time staring at glowing screens, I can say that this feature is a great idea. Obvioulsy, it doesn't substitute for good parenting and spending time with your child/encouraging them to pursue better activities than video game playing. It is simply a tool.

    Some will see this as a way to punish kids (and some will call it ineffective for various reasons - not all parents can operate a game console). Others will see this as a way for lazy parents to avoid parenting (this won't change that). It is partly each of these things. What it is most of all is a tool. It can be used positively, such as like an allowance - it can be increased for good behavior or decreased as a punishment.

    Parenting isn't easy, and in the modern world you can't always be with your child 100% of the time. This tool helps set some boundaries. Like every tool, there is abuse potential. Like every piece of software, it will have its fair share of bugs to work out.

    Technology is moving very quickly. When I was growing up (I'm nearly 30), computers had Kilobytes of RAM and phones had rotary dials. There were no mobile phones (these too appear to be going away slowly), and no cell phones. My childhood photos are in some shoeboxes on the other side of the country. My son's photos are on our website, from the day he was born. Hundreds of 4MP+ images - several each month as we go to parties or walk in the park, etc. Each picture has embedded date and time and other metadata.

    We are more connected than ever before with cellphones/cameras/the net. This month people can spend $400 on 2 laptops - one for a poor child in another country and one for themselves. As time goes on, the OLPC/"$100 Laptop" will go down in price (to some extent) and the technology curve will advance. Eventually, the future generation of people will all have a minimum amount of digital technology. This will enable expression from any point in the globe to every other point regardless of income. It won't happen overnight.

    The point is that the technology is coming to the masses. People on /. are generally at the cutting edge and we often worry about the worst possible cases and get stuck in hyperbole. We are the priviledged few. Parental controls on a new game console enable most people in my generation to help balance the amount of time our children are spending on one form of entertainment.

    I have spent most of my nearly 30 years of life staring at glowing screens... There's some good, some bad, and some plain old that's just the way it is in that statement.
  • When the time limit is reached, the console will automatically shut off, ostensibly after saving the game.
    Does this mean that X360 games routinely support save-anywhere?
  • I wouldn't make it if my old NES told me "Your Time is UP! go to bed, Scumbag!!"...Now I'm married and can play ANYTIME and ALL THE TIME I want...except when I go to work, and when I'm with my wife, and on sundays and saturdays.
  • Parent limits little s#!tbag's use of XBox.

    Little s#!tbag gets angry, phones ChildLine and says parent touched him inappropriately.

    Parent is treated as guilty even despite being proved innocent in a court of law, placed on sexual offenders' register for life, has extreme difficulty getting a job and eventually becomes a target for hate-filled, News of the World-reading mob.

    And that's assuming the kid phones ChildLine, as opposed to taking matters into his own hands. There's a long, long queue of low-

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