ESRB: Not Nearly Enough

I’m the videogame dad.

That’s how everyone at my kid’s school thinks of me, at least. This time of year, my inbox is full of notes from parents who I know tangentially by their handles — their children. “I’m Aiden’s dad” or “I’m Hannah’s mom.” They call because it’s the holiday game buying season, and they have children, and no idea what’s appropriate.

It makes me, sadly, the local game sommelier. And the ESRB makes my life miserable.

Don’t get me wrong: I would far rather the ESRB be in the game-rating business than the government, and the ESRB does at least provide a guidepost for the truly clueless.

My typical game sommelier session usually goes like this:

Me: “So, I’m happy to recommend a few games or a new console for Christmas, but I have to ask:Do you know what he already has, or has played?” (Sadly, yes, it’s almost always for a boy.)

Them: “Not really. I think we have an Xbox, and there’s this game with a lot of guns in it … .”

Me: “You know, games these days aren’t just like the arcade — they can actually be really amazing. You should think about playing with him.”

Them: “Well, I’m just not a gamer.”

Me: “OK, walk over to the TV and tell me what games you have lying around.”

From there, one of two things happens. They rattle off a bunch of Wii Shovelware, and I feel deeply sorry for the poor kid, or they rattle of a list of M-rated Xbox 360 titles and I feel even sorrier for the kid.

And that’s when I can mention the little label on each and every game that’s supposed to tell them whether the game is appropriate for their kids. Most of the time, I feel fairly confident in telling parents that they can trust the ESRB. I feel confident, for instance, that most E-rated games aren’t going to offend anyone, and there are a ton of fantastic games on every console that fit that bill. Most Zeldas. Pokemon. Racing games. Sports games, music games, the Lego series. There are whole genres that nobody has really any issues with.

But if you’re an 8– or 9-year-old boy, chances are you’re looking up the food chain at the big-boy games, and you’re asking your parents for something outside the “E” or “E-10” box. Much like movies, it’s the middle ground of the ratings system where things fall apart. The “T” rating from the ESRB is supposed to mean “13+,” thus being a rough equivalent of an MPAA “PG-13” rating. But the problem is that an absolutely enormous swath of content gets caught up under that “T” rating. Does Let’s Dance really belong in the same bucket with Heavy Fire: Afghanistan? Is Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess more or less mature than, The Bachelor: The Video Game?

But if I’m being honest, with my own 8 year old — a full 5 years junior to the rating’s intention — there are scores of T-rated games that have been great. Toy Soldiers, Rocksmith, Rock Band, Magic: the Gathering, Super Smash Brothers — these are T-Rated games that have been awesome fun with my son, and which I don’t have any issue letting him play with his friends, with their parent’s approval.

But you know what else is T rated? Arkham City. Arkham City is a great game. My son loves Batman, so I have let him play bits and pieces. But is it in any way really appropriate for an 8 year old? Not mine. Not really. The violence is up close and personal, with Batman just laying waste with his hands on everyone. It’s fun, for sure, but it’s also very real and in your face. It’s precisely the kind of violence he would walk out onto the playground and try to mimic, going “bam, boof, pow” as he mocked taking down bad guys.

And then there’s the hypersexuality of Catwoman and Harley Quinn. I’m not a prude by nature, but I am hyper-sensitive that I’m trying to simultaneously raise a strong, self-confident young woman and a young boy who’s not a dick. I want them both to have rational, real-world respect for everyone as people, not objects. And frankly, both the visuals and dialog in Arkham City were enough to make me skip scenes or even whole chunks of the game with my kids in the room.

To be fair, a lot of this is buried in the ESRB rating for Arkham City. It calls out in a full 250-word description exactly, with quotes from the game and detailed descriptions, how the game pushes the boundaries. So a diligent researcher can discern that Arkham City earns its T rating for tight-fitting outfits and dialog like “Sure could go for some porn right now,” while Twilight Princess gets it just for “Animated Blood” and “Fantasy Violence.”

But there’s really no way a non-gaming parent is going to suss all this out. The amount of time it would take to research all of the available wishlist items is time they could actually just sit down and play the games with their kids.

And then there’s Halo 4.

I guess I understand why it’s rated M. According to the ESRB, it’s rated M because of the Blood and Violence. And sure, those things are in there. But how do you weigh the violence of shooting aliens at range in Halo vs. the brutal hand-to-hand, personal combat of Arkham City? And as for Blood, well, there’s a bit of gore in a few cutscenes, but my kids have watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and all the Marvel movies, and there’s far bloodier, scarier stuff in those.

Both of these ratings lack something incredibly important: context. Both Batman and Master Chief are noble warriors, fighting the good fight. They’re superheroes. But Batman’s plotline is about how horrible people do horrible things to each other, and how sometimes Batman has to do horrible things to stop them. (If you’ve played through the Solomon Grundy fight, there’s little I can imagine more horrifying and gory than how Batman ultimately dispatches that particular big lug.)

Master Chief, on the other hand, is an action figure. While Halo 4 introduces some nuance and pathos for the first time, Halo 4 is, above all else, mechanical. It’s fun. It’s extremely well designed. But it’s about as bloodless and mechanical a “shooter” as I can imagine, and certainly more detached than T-Rated shooters like Ghost Recon.

The ESRB tries. They really do. They put as much as they can into their long-form descriptions, available on their website. But ultimately, all the consumer really sees is the big giant letter in the corner of the box, and maybe — maybe — a few words underneath.

So here’s the thing, parents-of-budding-gamers: You only have two choices. Either sit there on the couch with them, play the games, see how it affects them, and talk about the uncomfortable parts, or throw them to the sharks. If you don’t play Halo or Arkham City with your kids, they’ll just find them all the more titillating when they play them at their friend’s house, whose Mom doesn’t even know what console they own.

90% of parenting of is showing up. And you can’t outsource that to the ESRB.

Comments

*please let that not be in my future.

Apathy seems to be more the thought for parents not really caring about what their kid watches/plays/does. I know that there is an internet for parents to research what the kid wants. Its too bad that IGN shut down "What they play", but hopefully there are other websites to fill that gap that is more neutral and showcases good games.

I am more disturbed by the lack of questions I get from family and friends than the ones I do get. However, I am still to see that copy of Black Ops 2 in a 7 year old's hands but I know as my own son hits 9 things like Halo have a greater appeal.Thankfully its all Skylanders and Minecraft among his friends at school. I mostly need to more lean on the ratings and my own judgement with regard to what I might play during the day on a rainy Saturday when the kids are about (A hint Rage is not so great for 3 year old girls - Dad of the Year).

My son is curious about Halo 4 and I am thinking despite its rating a bit of couch co-op through Spartan Ops might be just the perfect introduction.

Great article Rabbit. A rating system only works so long as you can trust it. I'm sure publishers are aiming their game to a certain rating (want to bet DC wouldn't have approved an M rated Batman?). When those edge cases fail, then we as concerned parents are the losers.

This is why I always say the ESRB was a worse rating system than the now defunct British system: we used the movie ratings and thus a lot of content could be properly placed in 12, 15 and 18 yr segments (obviously lower too but that's not the issue here). The BBFC also played the games themselves and so rated them within context as they do the movies - hence why some games would be 15 and M whilst others would be 18 and M in the UK and US respectively.

Trying to take those three ages and shift them into two lower ones just causes problems like those this article mentions.

PEGI isn't much better either as they have 12, 16 and 18 and that four and two year gap (respectively) is a bit uneven when in reality you want finer granulation the younger your potential audience is! Not to mention that PEGI is an honour system whereby the publishers rate the games themselves via an online questionnaire and PEGI occasionally checks the odd one for consistency. I ask myself, knowing how companies think, what publisher is going to want their violent game (say, Arkham City) being a 16 rather than an 18? And wouldn't they just love to make it a 12? Yes, if the publisher is caught they get a €500,000 fine... but that money on top of a €60 million game is nothing! It's not much of a deterrent when you're talking about a "multiple digit"-fold increase in buying audience at the shop counter. Ultimately though, whether the publishers are honest or not, this system also lacks the context provided by someone objectively* actually playing and rating the game.

Yes, a rater cannot play through the whole game but I don't think you need that to be able to determine the intent and style of content on offer. We don't...

*Or at least more objective than the publisher/developer

Honestly it surprises me to know that the Batman games, either one, are T rated games. In my mind the visuals are all M rated in nature. I mean, by the end of Arkham Asylum you're seeing cops strung up all over the place, dead. And those recordings? Tell me some of the interview tapes aren't creepy and disturbing.

Halo feels like Star Wars to me with a bit more cussing (not a lot, but a little bit) and alien blood. I mean, the game has blood, but it isn't used in an over-the-top manner (unless you're like me and my friends and mash an Elite's corpse in the first game until the sheer amount of blood coloring the ground makes just that section drop in frame rate). To me, it feels like it would be a PG-13 if it were a movie.

I think what really pushes it is that you can kill human marines in Halo.

I am glad that you echoed your comments from today's podcast on this post. As a father my kids are too young to play pretty much anything that I play, but I definitely don't feel like the ESRB is going to be the final decider when the time finally comes to start introducing games to the little ones.

JohnKillo wrote:

*please let that not be in my future.

Apathy seems to be more the thought for parents not really caring about what their kid watches/plays/does. I know that there is an internet for parents to research what the kid wants. Its too bad that IGN shut down "What they play", but hopefully there are other websites to fill that gap that is more neutral and showcases good games.

The information is out there, but it's good for the industry to make it as easy to gather that information as possible. Asking someone to learn about video games in enough depth to understand what is and is not appropriate for the intended recipient is kind of like insisting that someone learn the details of various paint manufacturers before buying a gift for an artist, or to become a master horticulturalist before buying someone a pot of flowers. There's a need for experts, whether those be people or rating systems, that you can turn to and say "What would be an appropriate item for this person?"

I can totally relate to this. I'm 39 years old, father of 3 girls and 1 boy (age 11 years to 8 months). In Germany games are even more suspicious and as you might know it's the violence that freaks most people out. Most questions I get from other parents are about what to buy for "the Nintendo" which might refer to a Wii, a DS or sometimes an Xbox or Playstation. I often took my time, wrote down a list of games and commented on them why I think these games are good for their kids. Did I ever get a reaction? Nope. And when I see them again and dare to ask what they got for Christmas it's usually the shovelware title.

I think next time I'll just point them to this article: http://www.brainygamer.com/the_brain...

While I agree that Batman should be "M", I don't agree on Halo. It is a game about war and the destruction of humanity. It is a game in which Master Chief kills everything he sees. It has very mature and potentially disturbing themes. Also, it's a game built, designed, and written for adults. Just as kids would love to watch "R" rated movies (when they made "R" rated movies), they can't because they are not old enough. Tough luck, grow older.

While I do let him play with combat themed (but age appropriate) toys and games, I would almost want my kid to watch the Victoria Secret Fashion Show than to watch a violent game like Halo or Batman. It is always funny to me that Americans think violence is okay to expose kids to but sex is not. And then Europeans are the exact opposite.

It's just a ratings system, a very rough guide. Although I can honestly see why Batman is a teen game (although I found it a bit surprising at first), the "sexy bits" weren't any worse than what one can hear on the radio. It's frighteningly common to hear preteen girls singing along about wanting to see a guy's c*ck, suck his dick, or just plain screw. Weighted against that, Arkham City has little to nothing in the sex department.

Besides, the ESRB is better than its big brother. With the MPAA one can have all the makings of what should be an R rating (sex scenes, murder, language, substance abuse, et cetera) and come out of it with a PG-13 through a liberal use of cash and a crooked ratings system.

Each kid should be treated as his/her own person, not forced into a rating category. Some kids might have problems with blood and whatnot, while others may feel perfectly fine watching Robocop or The Shining from an early age. My parents', and therefore, my parenting plan is: "did the kid have nightmares and/or strong negative reactions to a game/film/song/book? If not, then he's ready for it."

And please go watch This Film is Not Yet Rated.

Nevin73 wrote:

It is always funny to me that Americans think violence is okay to expose kids to but sex is not. And then Europeans are the exact opposite.

I got a lot of private feedback to this effect and feel like I should explain. First, I don't object to my kids seeing sexual situations or nudity. I object to the way women are portrayed in many games, including the Batman series. The only women of note in the game are hyper sexualizd objects.

As for violence ... True story, I was raised a Quaker. Guns and violence were the ultimate taboos, and thus, of course, I became obsessed with Sgt. Rock and Bruce Lee. I understand and respect some parents decisions to media fast their children, and when a kid comes over to play with my son, I always ask the parents for rules on that front. But in our house, we try to provide broad exposure and context. My daughter reads the NY Times. The front page is far far more shocking than anything that happens in halo. Both kids had martial arts classes as soon as they could reliably follow instructions, and at 13, they're off to the gun range.

To me the danger is kids treat this too casually, and then end up either callous or unsafe. This goes for how an 8 year old boy learns to treat women, or how a 12 year old girl reacts when she discovers a loaded gun in some friends garage.

So in short, I don't think I'm prudish or permissive about either guns or violence or language or anything else. I think I'm balancing it all for each kid individually, based on who they are, their maturity level, etc.

And please go watch This Film is Not Yet Rated.

This. I'm going to go slightly off topic, because I think there's a misconception that many people hold that is specifically mentioned in this article, and it's something that movie specifically addresses. It's about the following phrase:

I would far rather the ESRB be in the game-rating business than the government.

You really, really shouldn't. I think you've been brainwashed by the MPAA and the film industry, and in turn by the videogame industry as they adopted the same stance. Here's why: the MPAA and the ESRB are private organizations. They are accountable to no one.

When people criticize their processes (and the MPAA is far worse than the ESRB since their raters operate anonymously), they consistently raise the spectre of government censorship. "It's better we police ourselves than allow the government to do it", they cry. What they don't tell you is that there's virtually no chance of the government actually being able to censor films or videogames.

Furthermore, even if all the government does is assign ratings, it must be done in a way that is transparent and open to public scrutiny. If it's not, you can sue the government. You have no such recourse with these private entities. Why? Because the ratings are "optional". You don't have to accept them, or even submit your work for a rating. Oh, but good luck actually selling it to people if you don't. That's what they don't tell you. Seriously, watch that movie above.

You should very much prefer that the government is the ones assigning ratings to your media. The alternative is what happened to the American film industry, which you'll see in graphic detail if you watch This Film Is Not Yet Rated. The ESRB isn't as bad, but given enough time, I bet they'll go down a similar path. We should really be stopping this now, while there's still time.

DorkmasterFlek, I believe you in spirit, but the possibility of government regulating content leads to actual censorship like in Germany and Australia. Maybe that won't happen in North America, but we've already had too many close calls at the state level in the US, ref. http://www.gamepolitics.com/ for specifics. We even had a censorship case reach our Supreme Court.

Keithustus wrote:

DorkmasterFlek, I believe you in spirit, but the possibility of government regulating content leads to actual censorship like in Germany and Australia. Maybe that won't happen in North America, but we've already had too many close calls at the state level in the US, ref. http://www.gamepolitics.com/ for specifics. We even had a censorship case reach our Supreme Court.

And that case was struck down in a 7-2 decision. Any attempts at the state level (covered on that same site, which I am well aware of and frequent myself) have been thoroughly eviscerated when actually tested in court. Not a single one of them has actually survived a legal challenge. Now that we have an actual Supreme Court decision on the books, the chances of state legislators even trying anymore are lower than they have ever been.

I don't think Germany and Australia actually have anything like the US first amendment codified in their constitutions. That's the big issue. In the US, there is almost zero chance of this actually coming to pass, and yet this country actually contains the only ratings (really censorship) agency that operates anonymously (the MPAA). You have been told to fear the spectre of Big Bad Government by the very industry you defend. If you think you're better off with a private, unaccountable organization, you really need to watch that film.

rabbit wrote:

To me the danger is kids treat this too casually, and then end up either callous or unsafe. This goes for how an 8 year old boy learns to treat women, or how a 12 year old girl reacts when she discovers a loaded gun in some friends garage.

I agree with this 1000% and think we're on the same page.

DorkmasterFlek wrote:

In the US, there is almost zero chance of this actually coming to pass, and yet this country actually contains the only ratings (really censorship) agency that operates anonymously (the MPAA). You have been told to fear the spectre of Big Bad Government by the very industry you defend. If you think you're better off with a private, unaccountable organization, you really need to watch that film.

That's a false choice. Either I have to want government regulating games, or the industry regulating games? (I'm the same person who linked This Film is Not Yet Rated into this discussion.) Neither organization, neither government, nor industry, is capable of effectively and reasonably handling ratings/censorship because of the inevitable problems of classification. What I mean is that sexual and violent content aren't like other areas which can be easily distinguished into legal/illegal bins, because there are far too many edge cases, unlike how crimes of action like speeding, bribery, and tax evasion are, for the most part, clear on their face.

With sexual and violent content, anyone labeling or classifying it is mandating taste, taste which is quite divergent from person to person. Like how pornography can't be defined but you'll know it when you see it, violent imagery is likewise undefinable. A "This Film is Not Yet Rated"-style comparison between various examples of violence and sexuality across media would show how inconsistent those judgments are. Beyond being a challenge to the tenets of justice for singling them out, any type of "acceptable" / "not acceptable" criteria on game makers would put developers and publishers into a predicament because of that fuzziness. Some of the SCOTUS oral argument focused on those issues.

Regarding the SCOTUS decision, normally the states like to waste more time after losing cases and only slightly manipulate their tactics. I'm glad to see that, this time at least, if the Gamepolitics legislation map is correct, US lawmakers have finally stopped trying to be parents-by-proxy, at least regarding video games.

Oh Keithustus, I totally agree with you that ideally nobody would have the power to force anyone to submit to their being rated. I was simply arguing that given the choice between a private organization and the government, the better choice is actually with the government, though it may seem counter-intuitive.

Actually, I guess that really brings up the main problem with these systems in the first place. The console-makers and publishers in the video game industry, and the major studios and theatre chains in the film industry, have placed far too much power in these ratings. They are technically "optional", but really mandatory for anybody who wants a chance at reaching any kind of significant audience. Just like getting an NC-17 rating means nobody will see your film, getting an AO rating from the ESRB means that no retailer will carry your game and none of the three console manufacturers will even allow it on their system.

The real problem is the amount of power that a rating actually has on a game or film, when the ratings should do nothing more than provide information. If there was no ESRB or MPAA, then another group would no doubt spring up to maintain a database of games/films/books and give their own ratings. However, those ratings would not (and should not) dictate actual legal availability. Then again, I guess if such another system did develop, it would eventually be codified in a similar manner as the ones we have now. There's simply too much pressure from the rest of society to neatly categorize everything into easily digestible ratings so they don't have to do their damn job as parents...

Great analysis. In my perfect world, a rating scheme is not needed, but the content tags and whattheyplay-like descriptions are certainly welcome. Since too many whiny parents ('society,I'm too inept to raise my child; please tell me which movies my kids shouldn't watch') and politicians (Hillary Clinton) would feel in that type of environment that we were living on the edge of apocalypse or subject to retribution from god (Pat Robertson), then it would it be good at least to remove arbitrariness and conflicts of interests from classification schemes. As such it would be good for some actually independent organizations to do the ratings, and not one beholden to the industries they rate. Maybe government would do a great job of this? Maybe a nonprofit would do it best?

The reality you spell out, though, that AO and NC-17 ratings make theater and console execs wet their pants, really needs to change. I have to tell many websites that I was born in 1901 just to watch videos for T or M games....but I'm over 30 years old. Why shouldn't I be able to get a real Leisure Suite Larry game, not the watered down version from a few years ago, on X360 if I want? Librarians keep a national list of books that locales have attempted to ban, and they keep those titles on the shelves anyway. Different media, whether books, music, games, comics, etc. should all fall under that rubric. Just as librarians keep many gratuitously violent and erotic books and magazines but not others, chosen on literary, artistic, scientific, and scientific grounds, so they and we should also judge other media. I challenge someone to turn, for the sake of argument, the bible, without varnish, into a game, complete with slavery, sodomy, genocide, etc., and see where that line between M and AO really lies. Or E, because they teach that stuff in Sunday school.

Yeah the T rating is about like the PG-13 rating. The studios are shooting for it to sell more copies and since stores generally follow a rule about selling an M game to someone under 17. Just like the movie studios have figured out a game makes x amount of money more if it's PG13 instead of R. Push the envelope and squeeze it in the best they can.

Batman should be M. But it's not because it sells more copies that way.

A large amount of comedies and horror movies the last decade or so should be rated R, even with the content that is in them. But somehow if you only say sh*t or f*ck once, you get a PG13 rating, but say it twice and you get an R.

I am SO glad I don't have kids and my wife and I aren't going to have any. I can't imagine parenting in today's world. My hat's off to those of you brave enough to do it.

Ultimately, it's up to the parents of course, but a good ratings system can help. This summer my boys played Skyrim (rated M) and I've let them watch most of The Blues Brothers (rated R). They were quality entertainment that my kids could enjoy at their level, and I ignored the ratings because I knew the content. Meanwhile, I've locked down their iOS devises to 9+ because I'm not as familiar with the 10 million apps out there.

Stele, I agree. Swear words = R is stupid. Jon Stewart dropped an f-bomb on election night during their live coverage, and I certainly wasn't offended, especially because he does it all the time, but they usually censor it. The King's Speech is rated R for language and True Grit was PG-13 for western violence, including cutting off a finger. Guess which one I'd show to my kids?

Polygon had a recent article about a call for a universal rating system.

Great article. I heard on the podcast that Julian plays Halo 4 with his 8 yr-old boy, and immediately sent him a Tweet asking if he thought it was appropriate (because I want to share it with my boys, too). Here he'd already written an article exploring the topic! So I created a new account to post, even though I've been lurking here for four years. (My old account is OmenLord, but I haven't posted much with it.)

I have two boys, 8 and 10. They're big gamers like me. Mostly Wii and DS, Lego and Pokemon games. The oldest plays LOTRO (a T-rated game) and Minecraft. We've played Crimson Alliance together on XBox Live. I'd love more games we can all play couch co-op, but the trend seems to be two-player for the more advanced titles. They've also watched me play some M-rated games (X-Com, Diablo) but in small doses.

I like Valve games and Mass Effect, and Halo is a title I'm interested but have never played. Yes, never. I've pretty much concluded that the game is safe to play with my boys given the content they normally digest without noticeable damage. The biggest challenge will be selling my wife on an M title. She and I both agree we're not going to give them Call of Duty-style games, even though some of our boys' classmates play them with their older siblings.

But I think Halo is different, more abstracted in its violence. If the boys aren't grossed out from watching a sectoid blow apart in X-Com I think they'll be OK with Halo. And when their mother watches it a bit and sees it's not really different from other games they've watched me play, she'll come around. I think the key is to play it with them.

DorkmasterFlek wrote:

Oh Keithustus, I totally agree with you that ideally nobody would have the power to force anyone to submit to their being rated. I was simply arguing that given the choice between a private organization and the government, the better choice is actually with the government, though it may seem counter-intuitive.

I don't think that the actual history of film censorship bears out this position. Sure, our present government may be a much better option, but that's partially because they're not actually censoring anyone right now. If you look at the history of film censorship, even in the U.S., it's filled with arbitrary decisions and opaque processes. The current rating system may be technically mandatory, for the reasons you suggest, but I think that the previous, actually mandatory systems (which still exist in other parts of the world) are much, much worse.

Aristophan wrote:

The King's Speech is rated R for language and True Grit was PG-13 for western violence, including cutting off a finger. Guess which one I'd show to my kids?

True Grit, what kind of young kid is going to sit through The King's Speech?

CannibalCrowley wrote:
Aristophan wrote:

The King's Speech is rated R for language and True Grit was PG-13 for western violence, including cutting off a finger. Guess which one I'd show to my kids?

True Grit, what kind of young kid is going to sit through The King's Speech?

He has a point.

Suggestion:
"Gamers With Kids" subsite. (I notice someone has a Gamers with Children podcast, but I'm not really into podcasts). We rank kids games:
a- How much fun our kid had
b- How much fun WE had
c- 2-P playability
c- Sexiness (how much sex generally)
d- Bad gender roles / bad sexual themes (objectification, stereotypes, etc)
e- Gore
f- Violence

My own worries are mostly (a), (d), and (f). I'm fine with my almost-4-year-old watching nature films, so gore doesn't bother me toooo much, but I have worked hard to keep him from seeing any show where one person hits another person with a stick. Similarly, I'm OK with kissing (heterosexual or otherwise), but I'm totally not OK girls being weak princesses or sex objects.

Maybe there's already a thread for good kid's games somewhere? We'd also need some sort of way to rank based on player age...

Anyway, the point is, it would be really good if we could make Christmas wish lists for each other's kids.

I think you've been brainwashed

The ratings are not perfect, but I think they're fine for what they provide. What's astonishing to me is the nearly complete detachment of parents from the media their children consume, especially when it comes to video games. Fortunately for my 1-year-old girl I have first-hand experience, and when I deem her old enough to start playing games I won't have a problem. But for "non-gamer" parents to simply base their decision on what to buy wholly on the rating on the box is insane to me. It takes about 2 minutes to look up gameplay footage on YouTube to get an immediate sense of what your child will be playing. Yet we're scapegoating the ESRB for parents lacking the tools to make an informed decision?

I've heard about attachment parenting, but this must be detachment parenting. The near complete aloofness to what your child consumes is crazy to me.

CannibalCrowley wrote:
Aristophan wrote:

The King's Speech is rated R for language and True Grit was PG-13 for western violence, including cutting off a finger. Guess which one I'd show to my kids?

True Grit, what kind of young kid is going to sit through The King's Speech?

It's my 13 year old daughters absolutely favorite movie, and my son quite enjoyed it too.

To be fair, they also think Life of Brian is the funniest movie ever made, so my kids are weird.