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Games Entertainment

A Real Mom Reviews the Games Industry Report Card 126

Posted by Zonk
from the oooo-you-are-so-in-trouble dept.
Last month's National Institute on Media and the Family 'report card' was pretty much more of the same from the reactionary group. Recently a real parent (Colleen Hannon from GamerDad) sat down with the report to offer up some comments. "They still can't seem to read the names of the games off the front of the box. What they have listed as 'Call to Duty 4' is actually Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. That may seem like a minor mistake, but if you type what's on their list into a search engine to get more information off the ESRB's website or Google, it won't return the real results on the game. And without that last bit at the end, you're going to get a list with all the games in the series which can be confusing and not all of them are M rated. For someone who thinks parents should pay more attention and research they aren't helping them out much." Via GamePolitics.
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A Real Mom Reviews the Games Industry Report Card

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 04, 2008 @11:51AM (#21909750)
    Frag?
  • by kailoran (887304) on Friday January 04, 2008 @11:53AM (#21909792)
    From TFA:

    If I had to come up with some suggestions for a tween/teenage car nut that don't involve getting chased by cops at any point in the game, I'd replace Need for Speed with either "Project Gotham Racing 4" or "Forza Motorsport 2".
    Someone should tell him that the new NFS actually has no cops and is about legal racing this time
    • by paitre (32242) on Friday January 04, 2008 @11:54AM (#21909808) Journal
      The fact that he knew that was a featuer of games earlier in the series would indicate that he's more of one than most parents' seem to be.

      Even those of the 'gamer generation'.
      • by paitre (32242)
        Yeah... 'she', not he.
        And 'feature'.

        Christ I need to preview before I hit post more often...
    • Someone should tell kailoran that a "mom" is never a he or a him.
    • by iainl (136759)
      True. But PGR4 and Forza 2 are both immensely superior games, so the advice still stands.
    • by spamking (967666)

      From TFA:

      Someone should tell him that the new NFS actually has no cops and is about legal racing this time

      Well there goes all the fun . . .

    • I don't think she's saying that ProStreet has cops, the absence of cops is why it's in the list in the first place.

      What she's actually saying is that NFS isn't very good, and Forza and PGR both 'clean' and actually good.
      • Uh.. you really need to learn how to read. Go read what she said again, then come back. It's not in 'the list'. She talks about 'replacing' a game with cops, with a game that doesn't have cops. Most NFS games do, in fact, have cops.
    • by jsorbie (88275)

      Someone should tell him that the new NFS actually has no cops and is about legal racing this time

      Good point, but not that it matters whether what's on screen is legal or illegal in real life. The San Andreas hot coffee mod depicted an activity that's perfectly legal (in the United States anyway).

  • by faloi (738831) on Friday January 04, 2008 @11:59AM (#21909870)
    This whole mess is more about politicians being able to seemingly protect children, and get money/support from lobbying groups that want to protect the children than anything else. Parents that truly care take the time to look at the back of the box, read the descriptions and check the ESRB sticker. They don't bow to pressure from their kids to get a game that they're not comfortable with their kids playing. And then they probably watch their kid play some and make sure it's not outrageous.

    Parents that don't care, or are just prone to give into their kids anyway aren't going to do any research and aren't going to be watching their kids play.
    • by Monchanger (637670) on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:50PM (#21910586) Journal
      Exactly.

      Today's parents just suck at parenting. They lack the minimal backbone required to tell their kids "no," because they try to be friends rather than parents.

      I can't stand how bad parents let their fat kids keep grabbing the Frosted Flakes instead of insisting on Cheerios or Raisin Bran. My grandmother had a strict "no sugared cereal" policy. My siblings and I knew it and didn't even bother trying to get her to budge on it. When I got to choose a computer game for my birthday present one year (the original Civilization), my grandfather not only looked at it (out of parenting and curiosity), he made sure that I was firm in my decision, and didn't just grab I'd toss the next day. Today the most sugared cereal I eat is store brand honey nut cheerios and I don't make impulse purchases. I owe it to the previous generation's parenting skills- my parents were pretty lousy at it.

      Kids used to watch too much TV instead of playing outside. Now they play idiotic action games* on their game consoles (the new "idiot box") and have asthma as an excuse. As Mike Gravel said: "Americans are getting fatter and dumber". Hard to imagine, given the current the amount of flab you see everywhere and the numskull currently occupying the White House.

      * see http://www.gamershell.com/articles/884.html [gamershell.com] on what's wrong with today's games.
      • Raisin Bran has among the most sugar of any cereal, thanks to the raisins. And then many people lay on a spoonful or two of sugar on top of that, to boot. You'd be better off with Frosted Flakes, AKA Sugar Frosted Flakes.

        As for "fatter and dumber", fatter certainly, and lazier, but dumber?
      • by kc2keo (694222)
        True... I am lucky to have great parents. I was a horrible kid to parent growing up. Always had problems and made their lives a living hell. My mother stuck by me through everything after they were divorced. She dealt with most of everything I dished out. I appreciate it a lot. My father gives me good advise on reality issues and is pretty strict. Not many parents would deal with that.

        Today I see many parents lax in monitoring their kids. They really try to be their friends instead of parents. That rub
      • by ucblockhead (63650) on Friday January 04, 2008 @02:01PM (#21911494) Homepage Journal
        No SOME parents just suck at parenting. Those of us who feed their kids cheerios, restrict their TV and limit them to appropriate video games for appropriate time periods also tend not to whine to congress/the media, hence, we're harder to spot.
      • > Now they play idiotic action games* on their game consoles
        > * see http://www.gamershell.com/articles/884.html [gamershell.com] on what's wrong with today's games

        As a game developer (PC,PS2,Wii) Anthony Brock is missing one thing -- the difficulty of porting a fixed-function console to a generic variety PC. i.e. He didn't discuss the poor port of Halo from X-Box to PC. The game was written all in C, emulating a object-orientated system, using hacks such as loading directly to memory to get maximal use of the 64 Meg
        • by ninjagin (631183)
          Great points. As a PC gamer who plays with a regular group, I've always wished that club licensing was an option -- one physical copy, loadable on 5 machines, for a little less than the price of four individual copies. Having to login online, plus having the physical media in the drive, every time I want to play either a standalone or LAN game is a real pain in the patoot.
          • by JrnyFan (1179129)
            the individual licensing is a great idea, I know that with my current group of friends (50+) a dozen of us have purchased COD4 at various times over the past 2 months and a general license would have helped with adoption and made infinity ward and the rest a lot more money from our group for example. Maybe an online purchasing option is something they should develop for games, every business license that I use can be obtained that way. As far as the frustration of having to put the physical media in the dr
      • In our house, it was generally plain corn flakes or plain rice krispies. We were allowed sugar cereals only once in a blue moon, as a treat. My mom disdained other moms who let their kids eat them. Once when I was four, I asked my great-aunt what that white stuff was and could I taste it - she let me taste the sugar, and I said "Wow, that's really good, I hope my mom lets me have some of that sometime!"

        End result? In college I was OBSESSED with sugary cereals because they'd been so taboo as a kid. I'd liv

      • by vimh42 (981236)

        "Today's parents just suck at parenting.

        Please tell me you're a parent. There is nothing I hate more than some idiot spouting 'back in my day get off my lawn' bull shit. You may as well just say 'People today suck at being people'.

        Maybe I misread the mod? Maybe it was supposed to read Score:5, Sarcasm?

        "Kids used to watch too much TV instead of playing outside."

        Ok, now I know your post was sarcasm. We all know that people who post on Slashdot don't go outside.

      • by zhrike (448699)
        Today's parents just suck at parenting. They lack the minimal backbone required to tell their kids "no," because they try to be friends rather than parents.

        Today's slashdot posters suck at reasoning.

        How the ^%$%! did this idiotic rant get modded up? Oh, no, wait, you just solved the parenting dilemma and the obesity epidemic in one fell swoop.
        It's cereal! Holy crap, why didn't I think of that. Quick patent that idea!

        There is very little that I hate more than hypocritical morons waxing didactic. Fatter and d
      • The lack of supervision in parenting has a lot to do with the inability to maintain a household on an average single-income. There's a chicken and egg question: did more women enter the workplace because cost of living is escalating, or is the cost of living escalating because more women are entering the workplace?

        I think it is interesting that there are fewer behavioral problems in countries that offer more generous maternity leave and support policies, or (as in Japan) simply do not have a lot of dual-inc
    • by oahazmatt (868057)

      Parents that truly care take the time to look at the back of the box, read the descriptions and check the ESRB sticker.

      I agree with this, and unfortunately I've witnessed the other side.

      Case in point, there was an independent game shop in our Mall, and this grandmother comes in. She's looking around, and walks over to the clerk behind the desk.
      "I'm looking for a present for my grandson. He wants a new video game."
      "Okay, what type does he like to play."
      "He said anything that was 'rated-m' would be okay

    • by MBraynard (653724)
      get money/support from lobbying groups that want to protect the children than anything else

      Doesn't exist. Maybe in your imagination manifested by the typical political ignorance common to these parts.

      They do it because it gets votes. The ESRB only exists because of this political pressure. No, dumbass, I know it's not a government agency but like a lot of self-regulating industries, it only came into being to prevent an actual government agency being created - like the ATF for video games.

      Which does make

  • by n6kuy (172098) on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:02PM (#21909902)
    ... with someone who's completely biased the other way?

    OK, so she's a "mom", but that doesn't make her the spokesperson for all moms.
    • She is, however, far more interested in reading about the game ratings than 99% of moms out there.

      Most moms think "he wants this game, so I'll get it for him".

      My old man retired from the computer industry to work at walmart (cause it's the law).
      He constantly turns away moms trying to buy M rated games for their kids. He explains that the game is rated M and it's not meant for minors.

      Most moms say "oh, it's for me", because most moms are bad parents.

      I commend her for taking the time to read about games and their ratings.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Hittman (81760)
        Most moms say "oh, it's for me", because most moms are bad parents.

        At least most moms who shop at Wal-Mart.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        Well, there's two problems with your post. First of all, your "old man" has no business telling adults what games to buy regardless of who they are buying them for. He can certainly stop kids from buying them, but not adults. Second, I'm not really sure who made you the supreme judge on parenting skills. We're talking about video games here. No matter what the rating is, it's still a video game. I'm more worried about parents who have done such a bad job raising their kids that we need to be afraid that a v
        • He doesn't STOP them, what he is doing is helping to make an informed decision. If more people did that at wallmart, they'd have a much better rep! It's the same reason you turn people off of a MAC or PC or Linux based on what the users intentions are.

          In a thread not too long ago, I posted how I try to turn clients away from cheap laptops. They never work as expected, and it will be too slow, save your $ and get the one you really want.

          If you went to a car dealership, and told the salesman you do a lot o
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Well, there's two problems with your post. First of all, it's transparently obvious he wasn't attempting to be a linebacker tackling some mom, but rather was merely pointing out that, as is reasonable, she was probably buying it for some kid, and that the M meant it probably was not a good choice, as far as quality parenting skills go. The mom could buy it for herself, for her kid, or go get a Winnie the Pooh game instead. Second, "it's still [just] a video game" is like saying, "It's still just a movie"
        • by nickj6282 (896871) *
          I want to relate some semi-personal experiences that tie-in with your post.

          In the fall and winter of 2001, my (now ex) girlfriend and I were living in Minneapolis and she worked at one of the busier Best Buy stores (Minnetonka for those who know the area and care). She worked in the "Media Department" which is BB's term for movies, music, games, etc.

          All through the holiday shopping season, constantly, parents would come ask for this game or that game for their children. My girlfriend, when asked for the tit
          • I don't have a problem with a salesperson making a suggestion. The original post implied (to me at least) that the salesperson was refusing to sell the game to them. It appears that is not the case. My anecdote is that I went to see the South Park movie in the theater and the ticket girl tried to explain to a mother that the movie was very adult oriented (she had two kids with her both looked to be around 10). The mother was very offended and bought the tickets anyway. 10 minutes into the movie she quickly
      • Most moms say "oh, it's for me", because most moms are bad parents.

        Well, aren't we a judgmental little prick. The rating system is meant as a guideline for parents, not a moral yardstick. If a parent decides their child can play M-rated games, fine. If a parent doesn't care what games their kids play, that's fine too. Nothing wrong either with parents who restrict their kids from playing T or M rated games. It's a matter of choice.

        But you judge people as "bad parents" for making a certain choice. Explain your logic please. You must be one of those "let's whitewash

      • by porcupine8 (816071) on Friday January 04, 2008 @04:25PM (#21913826) Journal
        My mom and I had this discussion/argument over winter break. She was trying to say how my little brother lied to her about the contents of Vice City when he was 13 (he's now 17) and if she'd had any idea what was in it she never would have let him get it at that age, etc etc. She was getting all indignant about how he deceived her, was such a sneaky kid, etc.

        I asked if she saw the rating on the game, and she said yes, but he said that he'd played it at friends' houses and told her it was just about blah blah blah... I cut her off and asked, if he'd pointed out an R-rated movie, claiming he'd seen it at a friends' house and it wasn't that bad, would she just believe that and let him watch it with no supervision? Well of course not, she said! Luckily, at that point she had the sense to get a bit sheepish and let me rant to her about how the video game industry wouldn't be under such fire from lawmakers if parents would pay even a small amount of attention to the freaking ratings like they do to movie ratings.

        I actually remember the incident in question, because I was home for a vacation soon after he got the game. I remember my sister and I watching him do something involving prostitutes in the game, and running to our mom saying "Uhhhhh.... why are you letting him play this?" and her original indignation when she realized what was going on, and the original version of the same argument wherein I pointed out to her THEN that it was an M-rated game and it was her own fault...

        • by rtechie (244489)

          She was trying to say how my little brother lied to her about the contents of Vice City when he was 13 (he's now 17) and if she'd had any idea what was in it she never would have let him get it at that age, etc

          Let me ask you a better question: Do you have any reason to believe your little brother was scarred for life because he played Vice City at age 13? Has he started running over (real) prostitutes for fun? I'm being serious.

          Coleen Hannon reveals her real bias in this very interesting quote:

          "The teens who want to play something with action in it are the ones that are in the danger zone and this list does nothing for them."

          And I was reading Mark Saltzman's (GamerDad) review of God of War 2 that had this bit:

          "T

    • by techpawn (969834)
      It's more of someone who sits on the line of Gaming and being a parent. Yes it's biased but you also get parental input/insight. Such as the example in the summary, that's a parents concern not a gamers need for correctness on the title of a game.
    • by Mr_eX9 (800448) on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:35PM (#21910378) Homepage
      Exactly. It's reverse ad hominem to think that being a mom justifies anything about her argument.
    • Isn't that what constitutes "balance" in this partisan, post-Fairness Doctrine world?
    • by Troy (3118)
      I believe she addressed this when she discussed how different families have different values, and no one can dictate what content parents should allow in their homes.

      Now clearly, she (like anyone) has some bias. She's nice enough to make it fairly obvious in her writing. It is the reader's job to filter it out.
    • by shalla (642644)
      How is she "completely biased the other way"?

      She says that the guide may be well-intentioned but is not well put together. She agrees with them that there are some games that children should not be allowed to play without supervision. She points out that restricting the sale of M-rated games to minors does not impact whether or not they are played at a friends house or at home if a parent purchases the item. So rather than restricting the sale, we should work on educating parents how to research titles--
  • The link is an annoying mix of nitpicking and posturing passed off as substantive correction, but the silly, obnoxious "real mom" spin on it seems to be purely Zonk's invention. It doesn't do her any favors.

    (I'd complain about the irritating use of "mom" but nowadays I'm just grateful for any adult who doesn't say "mommy".)

  • by haplo21112 (184264) <haplo@@@epithna...com> on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:11PM (#21910018) Homepage
    First Off:

    "Retailers must return to the level of compliance in previous years" - Ok, lets see when I was a Babbages(Now Gamestop) Manager we didn't enforce anything. You have $59.99 to buy this game here is your copy. You know what - thats the way it should be. Your the parent pay attention to what your kid is buying and playing.

    Then:

    The list of games to avoid, thats a joke too, at least without context. My Daughter is 10 weeks old, but lets scale this up and say she was 10 Years Old instead. I'll go an record as saying several of those games I would let her play when she is a 10yo I don't see a problem. The Half-Life franchise, Gears of War, Call Of Duty and several others I'll let her play those from the moment she can point the mouse in the right direction. She will know the difference between shooting someone on a computer and really shooting someone. Thats my job as a parent to teach her that. Its not some out side random organization's job to dictate that to my child. Now its also important to note that she will not have a computer/game system (or TV for that matter) in her own room until she is 14 at least. Therefore the only systems she will have access too will be in shared and/or public spaces in our house. We will know what she is doing.

    "Mediawise Recommend Games for Children and Teens"

    Not a shooter among them interesting...guess what shooters are fun, and they always have been Atari 2600 when I was kid had a shooter came with the system it was called "Combat" funny that...all those games of combat and I'm not twisted warped or on death row.

    • Parent seems to think it might be funny to misquote the article for some kind of troll purposes. Read the original article because the author didn't say anything like that.
      • Ummm, those funny little lines around words are called quotation marks, the mark a "quote". If you look at the "quotes" and do a search based on those in the article you will find those "quotes". Perhaps you are too important to read the article but important enough for everyone to listen... You should me modded down for wasting our time.
        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by illumin8 (148082)
          Learn to use tags, idiot. Blockquote tag is there for a reason. Your use of language, where you say "first they say", "then:" makes it look like the second paragraph is in the article. No, it's not in the article at all. She doesn't say she has a 10 year old daughter and she would play shooters with her.

          And, if you really would play rated M shooters with your 10 year old daughter you're a terrible parent as well.
          • If you look directly above this comment, you will notice a nickname preceded by the word, "By." Now, scroll up a bit and look for the same thing in the original comment that you posted a reply to. Shockingly, you may notice that the nicknames are different.

            Continuing on, I see two quotes that are from the article that is referenced:

            Retailers must return to the level of compliance in previous years

            Mediawise Recommend Games for Children and Teens

            The rest is babbling on behalf of the OP.

          • by Ykant (318168)
            Excuse me, did you just say something to the effect of, "It's that guy's fault I can't read properly"?
    • by cheros (223479)
      she will not have a computer/game system (or TV for that matter) in her own room until she is 14 at least

      I hate to break it to you, but you strike me as a new parent. You're forgetting that (a) she will visit others who may not be so strict, and that is ignoring that (b) she will have pestered you to death WAY before then to have her own laptop because all her friends have it. I agree with it being in sight, but I suggest you plan a little bit ahead and expect that control not to work so well.

      Having said

      • I pestered my Parents for lots of things, that I never got, I think I learned that lesson from my parents and can successfully resist. I also learned to educate as well as restrict, I know I can do that. I know she will be exposed to influences I can't control. I was exposed to them myself, but I had parents that informed me of why they was bad and I knew enough to resist them, not absorb them, Ignore them, and walk away from them.

        I know that I cannot keep her entirely from them, but when she is my view
    • by iainl (136759)
      I really, REALLY didn't get the point of those two lists in the original report, anyway.

      Here is a list of the top 10 M-Rated games that aren't suitable for little kids

      Here is a list of the top 9 E-Rated (and, curiously, 1 T-Rated) games that _are_, oddly enough, more suitable.

      Well knock me sideways with a tickling stick, I didn't expect that to be the case.

      I'm the same as you (except that I have a 3-year-old son, instead of a 10-week-old daughter) and will exercise personal judgement as to whether or not he
    • My Daughter is 10 weeks old, but lets scale this up and say she was 10 Years Old instead.

      Lets not.

      When you have had a 10 year old you get to comment. When you have had a teen we might take you serious. But no, with a 10 week old you dont know shit about raising a kid, sorry.

      she will not have a computer/game system (or TV for that matter) in her own room until she is 14 at least.

      And that seals the deal. Good luck with that - in 14 years.

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:25PM (#21910242) Homepage
    My girlfriend and I were discussing this a couple days ago, actually. We are both avid gamers (and also both 23). She is more of a classic gamer (Atari, NES, etc.) and prefers platformers, puzzle games, and horror-style FPS (her current favourite to watch is Bioshock...she doesn't like playing scary games, but LOVES watching them be played). I am more of an "in the now" gamer (although I've been going through my back-catalogue of N64 games lately) and prefer RTS, RPG, and RPG/Shooter hybrids.

    Both of us have no problem (and quite enjoy) violent video games. What happens when we have a kid?

    The same thing that happend to us when we were little. Both her parents and my parents would ensure that we could discern the difference between the fantasy in a game and the reality in life...as long as we did that, there were no restrictions insofar as what we watched or what we played.

    I imagine I'm going to do the same with my kid. Naturally, since both of us are regular gamers, we would prolly know what is in their games because we will have played them. Don't get me wrong, they aren't going to be in a Dukematch when they are five, but if at age 12 they want to play GTA7 and can prove to me that they know it is fantasy (and that they know what would happen if they did such things in real life), then they can play it to their heart's content. I would rather my kids be exposed to sex and violence early on in life enough to be able to look at it objectively and not be suprised when they are older and suddenly see something violent and react in the same way that most of the sheep do. I don't want them to be sheltered, I want show them that the world is a violent place, but I don't want to have to show them using national media or ogrish.com or some place like that. Video games make for the perfect medium to introduce children to modern day real issues while not succumbing them to all the bullshit that usually goes along with it.

    After all, would you rather your kids learn about sex and violence WITHOUT you by their side?
    • I want show them that the world is a violent place, but I don't want to have to show them using national media or ogrish.com or some place like that.

      Show them the reality of our violent world via video games (as opposed to supposedly factual media) and then expect them to be able to differentiate between fantasy and reality.

      Sounds like a great plan.

      P.S - FWIW I agree with the spirit and message of your post. I just couldn't help but point out the irony.
      • by Pojut (1027544)
        Believe me, I know the irony is there:-)

        I suppose the best way I could explain it is like this...because I was exposed to virtual violence at such a young age (watched my first R rated movie when I was 7, played doom when I was 9) I learned to recognize that it was fake very early on. When I was 13, a friend of mine broke his leg when we were playing (American) football one summer. Bone sticking out and everything. EVERYONE was going crazy, cause...well, cause it was nasty and most of them hadn't been exp
    • by argStyopa (232550)
      "Both of us have no problem (and quite enjoy) violent video games. What happens when we have a kid?"

      Probably the same thing most people do who enjoy adult entertainments but then have kids (drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, etc.): if you're responsible, you're going to be awed by how impressionable and vulnerable this little mind is. You're going to realize with shock, and not a little trepidation, that you could essentially make this kid do anything, eventually, and moreover they'd accept it as NORMAL (at
      • by Pojut (1027544)

        Pretty much anything else is horribly, horrifically selfish.

        I don't know about that...I got into the same things my parents did...video games, drugs, etc. As far as video games were concerned, they knew I could just go over to a friend's house and play whatever I wanted (which I did), so instead they would buy those games and then play them with me. If something violent or something sexual in nature came up in said game, they would pause it and talk to me about it.

        Ditto with drugs. When I turned 14, my d

    • by jesterzog (189797)

      I would rather my kids be exposed to sex and violence early on in life enough to be able to look at it objectively and not be suprised when they are older and suddenly see something violent and react in the same way that most of the sheep do.

      I'll focus on violence in this post. Maybe they exist, but I've never known a child to be suddenly shocked through being exposed to a violent video game. I'm sure violent video games would influence children to think differently about certain things, and I have thou

  • Missing... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JMZero (449047) on Friday January 04, 2008 @12:43PM (#21910472) Homepage
    I've spent some time in game stores, and overheard a good few conversations. The best parents ask the salespeople what happens in the game. And the better salespeople can give the kind of information the parent wants:

    "Some people fight each other. Like punching and kicking. There's not really so much blood, but the girls wear very revealing outfits."
    "You skateboard around doing tricks. The crashes are pretty brutal, and there's some crude jokes."
    "You collect and control little monsters that fight and stuff. You don't actually see them fight, you just kind of read what they did."

    And I think that's what's missing from the ESRB web site - they don't give the kind of context many parents need to evaluate a game. Now I think it's reasonably clear a young kid shouldn't be playing either Dead or Alive Extreme 2 or Mass Effect (and both are M rated, which seems right) but look at the content descriptors:

    Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Simulated Gambling
    Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Blood, Language, Violence

    From just that, you might think these are comparable games. Compare that to the information you get from a synopsis:

    "You ogle bikini girls and buy them bikinis. That's the whole point of the game."
    "You buy guns and shoot aliens. In the story, there's a love scene where you can see a girl's bum for a second."

    Whatever you may think of the relative offensiveness of that content, I think that's information a parent needs to have in order to make a decision. These games' content are very different.
    • by swordgeek (112599)
      First of all, you're exactly right. I've never understood why we think that the 'maturity level' of an entire game (or for that matter, movie) could be summed up in half a dozen stock words.

      Ironically, the 'report card' is a perfect example of the same thing. Do eight letters sum up the entire state of the gaming industry's rating and controls system? I kind of doubt it.

      But hey--a big M on a box is much easier to make a decision on than actually having to read a sentence or two!
      • by Sketch (2817)
        The funny part about this discussion is that this is much more descriptive than simply G/PG/PG-13/R/NC-17, which doesn't seem to be causing any major backlash...
    • by Darth (29071)

      Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Simulated Gambling
      Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Blood, Language, Violence


      looks pretty similar to the descriptions on movie ratings.


      From just that, you might think these are comparable games.


      One has gambling, the other has violence and profanity. I'm not sure why you would think they are comparable.

      To get context on a movie's content, people typically watch a trailer or read reviews. The same can be done for games. Most game companies are providing trailers for their games now
      • Re:Missing... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by JMZero (449047) on Friday January 04, 2008 @02:59PM (#21912450) Homepage
        I'm not sure why you would think they are comparable.

        My intended point was that the sexual content - described as "Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes" for both - is of a very different nature in the two games. I didn't search the list to find two very different games with an exactly identical list of descriptors, but I'm sure such a pair could be found, and I imagine you get my point.

        I just dont think the one word description needs to be on the ESRB rating.

        To be clear, mostly I was thinking about the ESRB site and how it could be more useful. Currently it shows only rating and a list of descriptors. I think it should also contain or link to a synopsis (or trailer, or site, or something) so that parents have something more substantive to evaluate, and can learn about video game content from a central, trustable source.

        And, yes, I do think this would be a valuable service - a lot of parents, especially non-gamers, are going to have more difficulty judging the content of a game than the content of a movie or book, and could use the help. Sure, there's plenty of info on games on the web already - but it is serving a lot of different purposes (advertisement, discussion of gameplay or quality, etc..) and may be hard to find for the people who need it most. The game box, while likely very helpful for some games, isn't always on hand - and again isn't really geared towards giving this kind of info.
        • by Darth (29071)
          To be clear, mostly I was thinking about the ESRB site and how it could be more useful. Currently it shows only rating and a list of descriptors. I think it should also contain or link to a synopsis (or trailer, or site, or something) so that parents have something more substantive to evaluate, and can learn about video game content from a central, trustable source.

          I think the ESRB site for a game including a synopsis of the game and a link to a game trailer, if one is available, would be useful and conveni
    • by lord sibn (649162)

      "You collect and control little monsters that fight and stuff. You don't actually see them fight, you just kind of read what they did."

      That sounds suspiciously like Pokemon, which we all know is a gateway game to harder games which will ruin our children's minds forever. It may start with Pokemon, but where does it go from there? Nintendogs? Animal Crossing? From there, it is indeed a short hop, skip and jump to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City or Doom, and we all know what comes after that...

  • by grocer (718489) on Friday January 04, 2008 @02:09PM (#21911652)
    1) I can't remember the last time I saw a rating on a book...any book...the last I checked, if your 12 or 13 year old has a library card, they can go check out Stephen King, Clive Barker, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, V.C. Andrews...all kinds of books depicting violence and sex without anybody saying much of anything.
    2) Age is a number, it may provide a yardstick for maturity but it doesn't have a 1:1 correlation to it...just because someone made it to 20, doesn't necessarily mean that should any more or less freedom than a 14 year old.
    3) As an individual, it's my responsibility to evaluate whether or not something is an acceptable risk. I know I evaluate all the games my children are allowed to play and determine yes or no based on their maturity and the content of the game. Ratings provide a false sense of security and don't usually tell me anything until I play the game. There are some pretty obvious ones but football is based on the principle of pummeling the other guy to stop the ball yet all of the games I've seen have been rated E...with no-one bothering to acknowledge the violence.
    4) Thank you puritans for managing to mess with American society 300 years later! That's so swell!
    • by Tony (765)
      Thank you puritans for managing to mess with American society 300 years later! That's so swell!

      It's a common American legacy. It's actually getting better. Fuck, just 40 years ago I'd get in trouble for saying, "Fuck." Now it's common in literature and movies and whatnot. Shit, even South Park got away with saying, "Shit." Quite a few times.

      Violence? I just went to see Sweeney Todd last night. Victorian Englanders had *extraordinarily* high blood pressure. Who ever thought throat-slashing and secret canniba
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Friday January 04, 2008 @02:16PM (#21911762)
    The problem I've observed with too many parents is that they try to hard to be their children's buddy or they don't want to come off as uncool. So they wont even venture to ask about a game at the risk of coming off as a prude. Too many parents also apparently can't be bothered to look into what their kids are playing.

    Earlier in the year when the media has spun itself into a frenzy, yet again, over violence in games they ran a story about a mother who was shocked to discover that the game she had purchased for her son, Grand Theft Auto, was violent. As if the name wasn't enough of a tip off to questionable subject matter she didn't even have the wherewithal to flip over the damn box and look at the rating or at least see what she could glean from the screenshots. Then again I've seen parents getting games for children which considerably more graphic imagery on the packaging. And I've seen parents taking small children to see fairly intense movies.

    Too many parents can't be bothered to see what their kids are up to. The excuse I often hear is that they can't observe their kids 24 hours a day, so why even bother? They absolve themselves of responsibility and then expect the government to take over for them. And this is where the problem arises. They want to government to oversee everything so that they don't have to worry about anything.

    Parents aren't supposed to by cool; they aren't supposed to be buddies. They need to be responsible for what their kids do and what they're exposed to.
  • You really want to know how few women there are on Slashdot? Here's how.

    Step 1: Go anywhere* that there are two or more moms.
    Step 2: State that some mom is "A Real Mom".
    Step 3: (duck)

    Anywhere but here, that headline would have sparked a 500+ post flamewar.

    *Note: Do not attempt this in meatspace.
  • by swordgeek (112599) on Friday January 04, 2008 @02:48PM (#21912306) Journal
    The more I read this stuff, the more I realise that it's all terribly ironic that all of the opposing factions are fighting for the same thing.

    The ESRB, flawed as it is, is trying to provide information for consumers to make decisions. Two interesting quotes from their website:

    "ESRB ratings are an excellent source for guidance and information about game content, but we also encourage parents to go beyond the ratings and do their own research about the games they or their children are considering for purchase or rental."

    "While the ESRB does not have the authority to enforce its ratings at the retail level, it does work closely with retailers and game centers to display information that explains to customers how the rating system works."

    The goofballs at NIMF may be going about things the wrong way, but they honestly do seem to believe that they're protecting children. By making decisions for parents, they are implicitly informing them. (Compare this to the movie industry: If a parent sees that a movie is rated NC-17, they don't have to make any decisions about whether it's appropriate for their 10-year-old, because the kid won't be able to get into it anyways.)

    The good folks at Gamerdad are trying to avoid the protectionist attitudes of NIMF and the studied neutrality of the ESRB, and examine the content of games in context with regards to kids. They also are more than happy to enjoy adult games as adults, while keeping them away from their own kids (and letting you make your own decisions with your own kids). This is really how a maturity rating should work.

    Finally, I'm sick of reading that most parents suck for not being the sole voice of responsiblity their kids' lives. YES, parents need to make these decisions. YES some parents neglect that field, and some of them (certainly not all!) do so because they don't care. However, most parents want what's right for their kids as well. ESRB ratings should be used as an indicator for the parents on what to look for. If some parents rely too havily on the ratings (or the comments from NIMF or gamerdad, or their kids' word, or...) part of it may be because they're not aware of the potential for video games. Consider someone in their early 40s, with a ten-year-old kid. It's entirely possible that the last video games they played were before the Commodore 64 hit the shelves. In order to make informed decisions about video games, they need to know that video games have evolved to the point where informed decisions need to be made, and they're worried about their kids making friends, not taking candy from strangers, avoiding street drugs, school, etc., etc., etc..

    Bottom line in defense of flawed parents: raising a kid is different now than it was when we were raised, to the point that you can't always see where the new risks are coming from. More tools and more information is an asset, not a 'crutch for shitty parents who don't care.'

    (Random aside: This also applies to 'netnanny' style blocking software. My son is being raised to use the internet responsibly, and until he's older, not without one of us being present. That doesn't change the fact that I ALSO am going to install blocking software, maintain and review firewall logs, and bring up any issues that occur. It's called defense-in-depth, and it works.)
  • call of duty 4 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by TheSpengo (1148351)
    I don't know about you guys, but when I search for "call of duty 4" the first hit is http://www.callofduty.com/ [callofduty.com] which has call of duty 4 modern warfare as the main page. It even has an age restriction drop down menu to make sure you are old enough to view a site advertising a rated M game.
    • by dj_tla (1048764)
      Read the summary and article carefully: They wrote "Call to duty 4." That's the confusion. to != of

      Of course, if you google "call to duty 4" (with quotes) the Wikipedia article for Call of Duty 4 is the first hit. Without quotes, you get http://www.callofduty.com/ [callofduty.com]
  • by shaitand (626655) on Friday January 04, 2008 @03:23PM (#21912824) Journal
    For god sake stop retarding the development of your child. The human mind learns from input, be it media content, life, or activities. There is no such thing as bad input, ALL input is useful and the brain derives useful information from it, learns to cope with it, learns what to avoid from it, and so forth. You can't dictate how a child will interpret and store that input, nor are you bright enough to define it by regulating the input, they will get that input anyway eventually and you will only serve to have slowed their mental development.

    Perhaps you think ignorant children playing with imaginary friends are cute. I prefer rational and logical children I can have a discussion with. Ignorance may be bliss but I don't know many adults who would choose to be ignorant or mentally retarded. Maybe you are in the other crowd who wants them to be childlike, read ignorant, for as long as possible so that they are easier to control. Unlike those other pesky teenagers who use critical thinking skills and ask authority figures, such as parents, hard questions, like "Why?"

    How about you try something new. Stop censoring your children altogether, to hell with the other parents, and start advising your children on how THEY CHOOSE to interpret the input. There is nothing wrong with a child learning about the birds and the bees while a toddler. Exposure to foul language can an excellent introduction to the sensitivities of others and consequences. A video game with cars being chased by police (as mentioned in the article) is a great opener to a continuation of the discussion on consequences, being less of an establishment type I would have fun with that discussion. A three year old won't fully understand, but it all goes into that mind somewhere and who said these talks only occur once?

    Worried about desensitization? Don't be. Sensitization is a bad thing, it's what happens when you are underexposed to something and you are unable to cope with the something. It may be a sad world we live in and there may be some things we don't want to have to cope with, but that is a seperate issue. Whether pleasant or unpleasant, it is never advantageous to not be able to cope with something. That leaves you less able to take rational action in the face of that something. Interestingly, the more you let yourself encounter things you are underexposed to, the better your brain becomes able to cope with not being able to cope and the more capable you are acting rationally.

    I'm not saying go find the nastiest goat porn you can and start driving into your child's mind 24/7. I am merely saying don't censor what comes your way anyway.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dagarath (33684)
      A child's brain is different at different ages. They are not little versions of adults with just less experience. A young child will have problems interpreting your idea of 'ALL' input. As children age, their brain matures and develops more critical thinking and abstract skills. So, while I can agree with some of your ideas the application of them is problematic depending on the age of the child.

      • by shaitand (626655)
        'As children age, their brain matures and develops more critical thinking and abstract skills.'

        The fact that a young child doesn't even grasp the material their parents think is mental poison is part of my point. Sex, drugs, and violence are no easier or more difficult for a child to grasp than cooking, cleaning, and basic procedures. Those critical thinking and abstract skills you mention do not magically develop, the brain is a learning machine and it starts as a fairly empty slate, it self programs to le
    • by bcharr2 (1046322)
      Pretty much every expert on planet earth who has made it their life work to study the development of children would disagree with nearly everything you said. So why should anyone lend credence to your assertions? Because you really really REALLY believe you're right? Because if you repeat it often enough it eventually becomes true? Because you know that on the internet there is always someone willing to believe anything ?
  • People complaining about how bad certain things are usually know nothing about them. Like anti-marijuana speakers talkign about having a bad pot "trip."

    Back in the 80s I worked at a paper and The last Temptation of Christ came out to great controversy. A local church ran an ad telling people how horrible the movie was and not to go to it. Only thing is, they called it "The Temptation of Jesus."

    Stupid fuckers hadn't even seen the movie. We ran the ad uncorrected.

  • Its good to see that not everyone wants to destroy gaming as being evil and corrupting the poor little kids. This was the first time that I have seen gamerdad.com and i plan on using it more in the future. Its a nice reference site from the little that I have seen so far. Also reading the original report, i noticed that they based their findings for the adults on "2,392 adults (aged 18 and over) of whom 690 have a child in their household." Even considering that all of those 2392 adults were partners an
  • You know one way those buddy parents could get in on the game monitoring is to read reviews, or better yet go to metacritic. Sure, a lot of games "journalism" is garbage, but you can use it to compare relative merits of games. I teach high school and I have more credibility talking about whether a game is good or not versus how much "mature" content it has. I am a gamer myself (since like 1980) so I don't get my info from reviews. Certainly any parent who didn't want their kid playing Kane and Lynch cou

  • When i was 10 my father used to park me on the company's mainframe to play NetHack.

    I lied in a succubus arms and time stood still.

    Curse you society!
  • Or rather, what is a fake-mom? ;-)

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