Choosing the right games for your Mini Geeks
There’s no mistaking the impact video games have had over the last few decades, with console and PC technology improving at an exponential rate, and the huge success of mobile gaming, it can become a bit of a minefield when choosing the right games for your Mini Geeks.
Video games are great way to entertain and educate your child. But it is also important to make sure that the game your Mini Geek is playing is appropriate. Remember, you are the parent, you can set the boundaries and have the discussions with your child at any time about the games your child plays. It is always useful to be fully informed, and this article is going to hopefully help you!
Not everyone knows the age rating of video games and how it is enforced, so I’m hoping to tell you a bit more about it!
A long time ago I worked in a popular video game retail store and when I became a teacher of ICT and Media, I had to teach the subject on age rating video games and films. I think it’s important to know and understand what the ratings mean and how you can have those discussions with your own Mini geeks.
What is the age rating system used for Video games?
The system used in Europe for rating video games is called The PEGI system. The Pan European Game Information board have a set of rules and guidelines that have also been agreed with the major gaming manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo as well as the video game publishers.
The gaming industry submit their games via an online questionnaire about the content of the game. Based on the response, PEGI will determine a rating suitable for the game. The game is then reviewed by the PEGI administrators and based on their findings, present the publishers with the age rating appropriate for the title.
The NICAM (based in Norway), covers games rated 3 and 7 years whilst VSC rating board reviews games rated at 12, 16, and 18.
For online mobile games a system called IARC was introduced due to the high level of digital games released to the market, the IARC it relies on the honest answers from the game’s publisher to establish a correct age rating.
What does this mean for you?
There are some games that you just don’t know the ratings to, for example, popular Console games such as Call of Duty: War Zone are classed as 18 because of the “high level of human based violence". But games such as Super Mario are classed as 7 because it contains “Non-realistic violence”, Super Mario Maker is classed as a 3 because “it features occasional, very mild violence in a comical or abstract context”.
One of the most popular mobile and online games of recent years is “Fortnite”, it’s incredibly popular with children and adults alike but did you know it has a rating of 12? And the current favourite “Among Us” is rated a 7, because it has mild violence.
These ratings can only tell you so much, they don’t tell you a synopsis or whether the game is any good. It is up to you as the purchaser of the game to decide what’s right for your child.Purchasing a game.
When I used to work in video game retail, the amount of times I would have to refuse 18 rated games being purchased by literal children was ridiculous. Its not as if I would get into trouble, if I were caught selling an inappropriate game to a minor, its not the retail store that would suffer, it would have been me personally. I would have had a HUGE fine and a criminal record. No thanks. It was also really interesting and sometimes shocking to see how little research parents had done before they purchased a game for their child.
“Hi, I’d like to purchase Grand Theft Auto 3 for my child?”“Um, do you know what the game contains and is about?”“No, my child just said it was a good game and they needed it”“Right well, let me point out the reason it’s an 18…”
The parent usually left with a copy of Crash Bandicoot…
There’re tonnes of games available what do I do to inform myself?
The internet is a wonderous thing! Start with the PEGI website, that usually gives an indication of what the ratings mean, then go visit The Video standards board and it’ll give you an idea of why the game was given that rating.
There are plenty of review websites for games to help educate you about content, try and find ones that are independent, rather than affiliated with a particular publisher. There is a plethora of reviewers on YouTube perhaps even your child can suggest one?
Have the conversations with the kids, what games have they heard their friends play? Why are games rated as they are? They want to have a game that’s rated 16.
At the end of the day it’s up to you to make that informed choice but be mindful of WHY it’s that rating, and have the conversations with your Mini Geek.