Suffering Electronic Game Overload? There’s an App for That

Would you take your 8 year old to an R rated movie? Probably not. Would you let them play arcade games that feature graphic violence. Of course you wouldn’t. But if you’re not aware of the ESRB ratings, chances are you’re letting your kids play DS, Wii or Xbox games that are not at all appropriate to their age.

Everyone knows what the movie ratings mean: G means it’s for everyone. Nothing scary, nothing violent, no bad language or nudity. PG means it’s OK for older kids, but there might be some not-too-gory violence, and some scary bits. Any bad language would be TV bad…not street bad. And so on. But do you really know what the ESRB ratings mean? Do you even know what ESRB stands for? If you’re planning on rushing out on Black Friday to buy your kids the latest and greatest video games, there’s a lot about the ESRB you should know.

ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) is a non-profit group designed to be a resource for parents, helping them to navigate the world of gaming and ensure they make age-appropriate, informed choices for their kids. ESRB ratings are on just about every game package. But what do they really mean?

Say you’re in a store, you see a game that’s rate,Teen. According to the ESRB, it could have gotten that rating for any one of these reasons:
“…content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor,

ESRB "Teen" rating symbol, displayed...

Image via Wikipedia

minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.”

The thing is, what bothers me (violence) may not be the same thing that bothers you. (nudity? language?). So how do you know why the game got the rating it did so that you can decide whether or not to get it for your child? With the ESRB’s nifty new app, that’s how.

Here’s how it works, in the store, you use your phone to take a picture of a video game box, and within seconds the ESRB sends you (no charge) all the “nuts and bolts” facts about the game. Not reviews, mind you, but facts about why the game received the rating it did.

“This new rating search app puts all this information at parents‟ fingertips when they need it most, right at the store.” says
ESRB president Patricia Vance “It’s a powerful tool that will help assure parents that the games they give as gifts are not only fun but also appropriate for their children.”

The app is available for free at the itunes store. And I, for one, know that I’ll get it and use it. Why? Because in the incredibly fast-moving world of gaming, there’s no way I can keep track of everything. Now, I won’t have to.

Article first published as Shopping for Kids Games? There’s an App for That! on Technorati.

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