Gaming For Parents Episode 1: The Ratings System

Grand Theft Auto V launched last week, and since then everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) has put their two cents in about it. I’ve seen some fantastic things since then, like this piece on the game’s size by some guy I know and the veritable P Scott Patterson‘s YouTube video showing Gaming Parenting 101 (It does exist! People can do it!) . However, as we gamers have come to expect, not all of the Grand Theft Auto coverage has been peaches and creme.

Elizabeth “I Annoyed The Women Of The View So Much They Made Me Leave” Hasselbeck used GTA as an impetus to say that everyone who buys a violent video game should have to be put on a registry.

Meanwhile on FoxNews.com (yeah I know, consider the source), John S. Dickerson writes this gem: “Like other best-selling games today, Grand Theft Auto V trains millions of young Americans to walk into public places and shoot innocent people.

Look, I’m all about not liking video games if you don’t want to, it’s your life so live it how you will, but let’s be reasonable here. I’ve been playing GTA V for a week now like everyone else, but I have no desire to go to my local mall with a gun and start shooting. Nor does anyone I’ve talked with about GTA, or anyone who’s written about it, etc. If anything, GTA is the most accurate social commentary I’ve seen in media in forever, but that’s another discussion.

I’ve decided that rather than get defensive about it, I’m going to do what I can to educate parents on the subject of gaming (even if it doesn’t always work). It’s not going anywhere, it hasn’t for damn near 40 years, so maybe it’s time to learn what it’s all about.

Above is Part One of my three-part miniseries called Gaming For Parents. In these three episodes, I hope to educate parents everywhere on what they’ll encounter when they walk into a video game store. I want to remove that deer in the headlights look I encountered for five years working gaming retail, replacing it with a foundation of knowledge that will help them make informed decisions about the games their children want to play.

Part One deals entirely with the Entertainment Software Ratings Board and their video game ratings system. It’s a lot easier to learn than it seems, but not if parents don’t know what to look for.

Part Two will center around the different consoles currently available for their children, with some mention of upcoming selections from Microsoft (Xbox One), Sony (PlayStation 4), and Nintendo (Nintendo 2DS).

Part Three will detail the game selection for this upcoming holiday season, covering all of the big releases of 2013. With this I hope to help parents hit the ground running with knowledge of what to expect on Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus lists this year.

With these three videos, I hope I can spread a little bit of knowledge about video games to parents around the country who have no idea what they’re getting into. If the parents know what to expect, then they can make the necessary judgment calls about what their kids can and cannot play. Do I think this will completely stop little kids from playing these games? No I don’t. However, if I helped one parent make an informed decision, considering all options instead of just saying “yeah whatever,” then this is a success.

If you’re a gamer, share this with everyone you know: parents of gamers, gamers themselves, and non-gamers. Knowledge is power, after all, and I really want to see more power at the register this holiday season.

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