|How tall do you need to be to ride the dragons of Skyrim?|
Now that my daughters, my nephew, and all of their friends are hitting the big age 10 mark, I’m getting a lot of questions about video games. “My son really wants Halo for Christmas, but it’s rated M is it too gory for him?”
These are genuinely concerned parents who are not gamers and sadly don’t know their Skyrim from their Gears of War. They’re not necessarily opposed to their kid playing a game with a weapon, they just don’t know why I’d let my kids play Halo at age 10 but perhaps not Gears of War or Mass Effect despite the fact that all three games are rated “M for mature”.
Armed with the knowledge that all parents are different, all kids are different, and that parents know what their kids can and can’t handle, I struggled with a way to explain it to them. Then it hit me... MOVIES!
Movie ratings have the same problem: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Alien vs Predator and Skyfall are all PG-13 films, but not all are equally fit for young kids. Star Wars has no where near as many dark moments as, say, Lord of the Rings with the arrow filled Boromir or the creepy spider Shelob. And even with the pirate theme I’d argue that the later Potter films are much darker than anything faced by Jack Sparrow. Excuse me, that's CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow.
|Is Halo more like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or 300?|
|Movie||Notes||Roughly Equal Games|
|Brave, Aladdin||Extremely mild and/or designed specifically for younger viewers.||Minecraft, Skylanders, Epic Mickey, Lego Game Series|
|Star Wars, Avengers||No foul language, no sex, no ‘over the top’ violence, few dark moments.||Halo, Portal, Tribes, Planetside 2, Team Fortress|
|Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter||No foul language, no sex, medium violence, some dark “cover your eyes” moments.||Skyrim, Assasin’s Creed*, Diablo III, X-Com: Enemy Unknown|
|300, Saving Private Ryan, Kill Bill||Over the top violence, foul language, very scary moments, sex scenes and/or nudity.||Gears of War, Call of Duty, Bioshock, Mass Effect, Borderlands, Lollipop Chainsaw|
Try it out. The next time you’re asked: “My daughter really wants to try Skyrim, is it very scary?” Reply with “Would you be comfortable with her watching the Lord of the Rings or Deathly Hollows?” Now you're talking a language the other parent can understand, and he or she can make an informed decision.
So what do you think? Am I close to the mark? Let me know what games your or your friends are struggling with and I’ll add them to the list.
Games are being explored by the next generation with even more excitement than our own did. Hopefully we as gamer parents can help other parents quickly identify the most fitting entertainment in this fantastic medium that best suits their family.
* I struggled with Assasin’s Creed for a bit. After all, you are an assassin and the story gets dark. However in the end I felt it was closer to Lord of the Rings than 300, so I put it there.