Tip #8 Get to Know the Video Game Consoles Before Buying

Jun 15

Buying a video game console for the kids shouldn’t necessarily be based solely on your kids’ pleas.  Considering that the average child aged 8 to 18 years old spends over an hour per day playing video games, this newfangled entertainment device is going to be a huge part of the family for several years.  If you are a parent (like me) who wants to hold off on those shoot-em-up games of good gory fun, then the Wii is your best bet.  How do I know? The salesgirl at EB Games told me so! (Is there a better resource for clueless parents than that?)

Last week, I popped into the video game store to quickly pick up a gift card for a birthday party my oldest son was attending.  ”I’m terrible at that game,” the sales girl commented as she rang up my sale, referring to a war game playing on a screen in the store.  I stared blankly at her, “I don’t play any of that stuff. And my kids are young. We’re just a Wii family,” I said, biting my tongue from saying anything snarkier.

I’d expected her to sniff at my clueless detachment from the whole video game scene and toss the gift card at me before adjusting her nose ring. Instead, her face lit up as she replied, “That’s smart! Hold off on getting the Xbox for as long as you can.  Most of their games are rated Mature.  That would be my advice.”  So, my suspicions had been correct all this time, I thought proudly.  The Xbox is geared toward an older crowd with an affinity for virtual bloodlust.  Nonetheless, I decided to do some research into her theory.  It turns out that she’s wrong.  And, yet she’s also right.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rated a mere 5% of all 2010 games as Mature while a whopping 55% of games were rated E for Everyone.  When comparing console to console:

82% of Wii games are rated E or E10+, and only 3% are Mature.  However, only 54% of Xbox 360 games are rated E or E10+ and 17% are rated Mature.

Parents who purchase a Wii console, therefore, are relieved from arguing with their kids about violent games because there is very limited selection.  But, based on the statistics, there should be plenty of “safe” options for kids who play on the Xbox, too.

The top selling games for 2011, according to vgcharts.com are all rated E.

  1. Pokemon Black/White (DS Nintendo)
  2. Kinect Adventures (Xbox)
  3. Just Dance 2 (Wii)
  4. Wii Sports (Wii)
  5. Wii Sports Resort (Wii)

In fact, of the top 25 games, 11 were rated as Everyone.  Of those games, eight are for Wii.  This is all good news for concerned parents who are fearful that every video gamer will eventually turn into a soulless war-mongering bonehead (so not true, by the way).  Clearly, family video game entertainment is still a very wholesome experience for many.

Out of that same top 25 list, however, 14 games were rated Mature.  Of those, ten games are for Xbox 360 and four are PS3 games.  Where the top five list looks like clean family fun, the next five… not so much. They include Call of Duty: Black Ops, Killzone 3, and L.A. Noire.

Do the math, and it’s easy to see that the EB Games sales girl was pretty much on the mark with her assessment.  Although Xbox 360 (and PS3) offers a huge selection of child-appropriate games, their violent games are clearly far more popular.  It’s up to us as parents to determine what types of video games we are comfortable allowing our kids to play.  The general rule in my house is no Mature games and,when we’re all standing before a store’s display of Wii games, I’m thankful that it’s an easy one to follow.  There will not be an Xbox 360 under our Christmas tree any time soon.

Sources:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2604/esrb_rating_distributions_and_.php?print=1

http://www.joystiq.com/2011/03/15/esrb-breakdowns-say-5-percent-of-games-were-rated-m-in-2010/

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