#JoinTheConversation by sharing your experience using video game ratings.
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There are many ways to share a family conversation about using the ESRB ratings. Get creative and submit your story today. It’s easy.
Think of a family conversation you’ve had about the video game ratings. Perhaps it was in the car, at the store, or while searching for a game online. You can also share a tip on what works best to manage the games your children play.
Be creative! Send us a video, photo, tip, or anecdote about your conversation. Be sure to include the rating tool(s) you used in your depiction.
Complete the entry form and upload your submission. Let others know by sharing your entry on your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page, and include #JoinTheConversation and @ESRBRatings.
Parents should know that games show what kind of content they can expect from it on both covers of the case and even look closely at the pictures in the cover itself. Working in retail, I had a mother ask me what “Grand Theft Auto V” was about and if it was appropriate for her 10-year-old child. I told her that right on the cover it says it's rated “M” for mature audiences, briefly told her why it was rated as such, and that she should be looking for games rated “E,” or if she would allow it, “T” with mild violence (such as the “Super Hero games). She immediately looked at her son in disbelief that his friends wanted him to play a game with mature content one can find in GTA V. Many parents do not pay attention to the games they buy their children, but the ESRB ratings help them know what kind of content they can expect from the games their kids are looking into.
The additional content ratings provided with games give me a chance to evaluate if I, or the person I am getting the game for, will be comfortable with the content in a game. When recommending games for younger players, I also like knowing if a game has voice chat or similar systems which might expose them to unfiltered content. (This is a sponsored/paid entry created by a Twitch broadcaster. It is intended to be a helpful example for people entering the contest. It will not be included in contest judging.)
I recently had to do an argumentative essay in English class, and I chose to argue about how video games don't cause violence. One of the arguments I used is that video games have a rating system so that guardians of children or sensitive individuals can accurately make a decision about what games are right for them.
2nd generation Nintendo kids. My boys, 9 and 7, are well aware of the ESRB ratings. When they see me play a “grown-up” game, they immediately ask, “Is this rated ‘T’ or ‘M’?” They know when we’re at the store that “E10+” is their limit, which Nintendo fills most of their gaming roles right now.
Tip: Checking ESRB ratings is very useful, but parents should also watch a quick video or a “Let's Play” on YouTube before buying a game for their child, because that gives a bit more explanation to the descriptions created by the ESRB. The severity of "sexual themes" or something similar can vary from game to game, so parents should prepare themselves before purchasing more mature-themed games if that is something they allow. (This is a sponsored/paid entry created by a Twitch broadcaster. It is intended to be a helpful example for people entering the contest. It will not be included in contest judging.)
One story that comes to mind is when I was a teenager, and I was looking to purchase an “M” rated game. I had played games like “Halo,” “Call of Duty,” etc., which are considered more along the lines of “soft M” as they don't have many in-game images or storylines that can easily disturb underage players. I went to my local GameStop with my mother, who at the time was still adjusting to a gaming household and went to pick up the game—I believe it was “Dead Rising 2,” a zombie game that features lots of blood, gore, swearing you name it. The GameStop clerk was very professional and informed my mother that this was an “M” rated game and its contents. She reluctantly said that it was okay, knowing how much I wanted it, but on the car ride home, she took the time to have a conversation about the game with me. She asked about it, who I would be playing it with (I had Xbox Live at the time), and most importantly she asked if I understood that this is a fictional game. She wanted to make sure that I realized that all the things I see and experience in the game wasn't real life—it wasn't meant to be a representation of anything I should mimic outside of the game world. She started doing this with all the games I played. She took part in something that she barely understood because she knew that it would be good for my development. At the time I found this annoying, with the responses, "Yeah, yeah, I know Mom." But now that I'm a young adult, I see exactly where she was coming from. I see so many kids/teenagers who are even more connected online than I was at their age. They don't understand how much content they are absorbing and the bad habits they are developing. It is a shame that more parents don't sit down and have that conversation with their kids so that their kids are well informed, and gaming as a culture can progress without the toxicity you may see in some individuals. I appreciate what the ESRB does as I feel gaming is still a young and sometimes elusive medium. In a weird way, game ratings are what made my parents start to pay attention to my then-niche hobby and they wanted to experience it with me rather than leave me to the TV to babysit. I truly believe my childhood was better for it.
My autistic son has been avid in his knowledge of the rating system for years. It's neat to see him looking around at GameStop and if the rating isn't correct for his age group (15 years old), then he will ask a question about the game or put it back knowing he doesn't get it if the rating is not for him.
A great tip for other parents, if you see a rating on the front of a box and are curious about how a game gets that rating, you can usually flip the box over and find a box with what content and themes the game has in order to merit that particular rating.
I am a gamer, a content creator and previously worked for 20 years as a clinical care provider at a social skills/academic program for children and young adults with autism. Many of our clients loved video games but lacked effective coping skills or the ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality, which made it difficult for their parents to determine what video games were or weren't appropriate for them. The ESRB rating system provided us with a simple, concise set of guidelines which made it easy for us to explain to non-gaming parents how to choose the right games for their children.
I use game ratings to choose what games I play with kids I babysit.
Children process content differently depending on context. Thankfully, the ESRB publishes a longform rating on their website, so parents and guardians can contextualize any material that might be cause for concern.
As a kid, older brothers always showed off the latest and greatest T-M rated games to me. Fortunate for my mother, I never took the ridiculous violence or drinking of Conker's Bad Fur Day to heart. It's easy for ratings to fly under the radar, so we have to monitor what we want our kids exposed to.
I always say, “the ratings are there for a reason. Just like you are ineligible to watch an 'R' rated movie, it's the same with a game. Besides try word games like your mother, it's much better for the brain!”
Who knew that not only are there video game ratings but you control what your child can play with parental controls AND you can set time limits by the DAY of the week! No more arguing about the time limits or what games they can play! THANK YOU!
We have a 12-year-old daughter and for years we have utilized game ratings and other resources to determine what would be appropriate for her to play or even watch others play. In addition to the rating, I frequently check CommonSenseMedia.org for an idea of what we are getting into.
Get involved with your children and discuss your favorite games together! Maybe even game together, to see if you approve of the games they play.
ESRB age and content ratings are assigned to video games purchased in a store, downloaded directly to game consoles, downloaded for PC from stores such as the Microsoft Store and Steam, for games and apps in Google Play, and for virtual reality experiences such as those found in the Oculus store. These ratings, as well as other valuable tools and resources, help parents make informed decisions about which games are acceptable for their children and family.
The ESRB and Penny Arcade have produced these public service announcements to inspire families to talk about the rating system. Share your conversations and insights on social media and let other parents know how you and your kids decide which games are ok to play.