Video Game Ratings: The Breakdown

video-games-healthy

Have you ever been concerned for your child’s safety or mental health because you had no idea what a video game rating meant? Fear not, for those days are over! I can definitively say as a gamer of over 12 years that I have had experience with them, and with a very conservative family, I understand the need for content descriptors on games. If you’ve ever gone shopping for games, you’ve probably flipped the box over and found one of these symbols:

Needless to say, none of the last three are appropriate for younger kids. I play very few T-rated games for the very reason some people play M-rated titles: The content. Keep in mind, T-rated games are for 13-year-olds and up. If I went to a store and I looked 13, I could buy a T-rated game if I looked the part. But they’d probably ask me for ID if I was purchasing an M-rated game. You don’t see people asking for ID when purchasing R-rated movies, now, do you? There’s a reason; Games are dangerous. For some, games are considered much less harmful than movies, but it’s evident lawmakers don’t think so. Here’s a list of all the content descriptors to be found on game boxes and exactly what they mean:

http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp#descriptors

I’ve found this list very helpful in the past, so I hope it will aid you as much as it has me. But that’s not the end. You have to be extra careful still. Some content descriptors aren’t as particular as I’d like, and really need clarifying. ESRB.org has excellent and detailed descriptions of exactly what is in the games. http://www.esrb.org/mobile/ is the page for the ESRB’s mobile app for checking ratings while you’re at the store, so you won’t have to go back home to check. You can find a quick explanatory commercial for it here:

This app, coupled with the content descriptors, are a great tool for deciding what you want for your kids. I can’t bash you over the head with the trials of video games, or the morality of CG violence and sex, so I’ll just say that what you choose may have more of an impact than you think it will. So choose wisely. Later!

Advertisements

Movies: Thor

THOR! The god of thunder and lightning! Wielder of Mjolnir! Ahh, I love the comic books. But the movie is quite different from the comic books. But the concept? AWESOME! I love mythology, and Norse has always been one of my favorites. Thor is the hero of Asgard, viking heaven, champion of gods and men, and warrior extraordinaire. But he has some definite attitude problems to be mended. So his father, Odin Allfather (the big guy upstairs) throws him downstairs and strips him of any godly power to mingle with humans. But when an evil plot arises, only Thor has the power to stop it.
CAUTION: THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS! THEY SPOIL THE STORY.

Spirituality:
Polytheistic cultures with gods galore! I can’t deny that Norse mythology is fake (hence the mythology part of the title), but some younger children might not know real from fake. (I’m not worried about your children converting to sun-worshipers) So maybe a little discretion is required. Really, none of the human characters actually end up worshiping the gods, rather just treating them like superheroes. Whatever. My parents didn’t care.

Language:
A few D-words and H-words. my family watches it with Clearplay, so we end up skipping any language. So just beware.

Drugs/Drinking:
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! This recalls a funny scene in the movie where Thor drinks an extremely strong drink called a “Potboiler”. Otherwise, no references to alcohol. Drug content is an absolute zero.

Violence:
THWWNWAAPANAAANK! Characters are stabbed, smacked, hammered, punched, and blasted. A gigantic beastie does get ripped through the back of the head by Thor flying through it with his hammer, and a guy gets impaled by a sword. Freezing Frost Giants have the ability to frost people (literally), and people are thrown into space. Thor, even without his godliness, can really dish out some martial arts pain. He storms a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility and takes out most of the security guards in the process.

Misc. other harmful elements:
Thor is a pompous, arrogant, headstrong jerk. And really awesome/handsome. He reminds me of me. *poses* But however, something comes into play that many people are worried about. MAGIC is referred to in the movie as the source of power that the gods use. But there is a crucial line that, overlooked, can keep many families from watching Thor. Thor, in a brilliant moment, tells the humans that “What we asgardians call magic and what you call science may be one and the same.” This is further evidenced by machinery-looking things all over Asgard, and “magic” looking suspiciously like lightning.

Good elements:
Thor is sent to earth to become less of a self-absorbed warrior and attain a more king-like quality. Along his journey, he makes new friends, learns the meaning of sacrifice and love, and becomes a true warrior of Asgard. (you can tell I resonate with these themes.)

Rating:
4.5/5
Thor was amazing! A great movie, with tons of eye-catching special effects, excellent landscapes and sets, and….mediocre acting. Natalie Portman has never been my favorite anyway. That, along with some language, bump this title down from being a top-notch title.

Buy Thor on Amazon.com!

Games: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Skyward Sword! The millennial mark of Legend of Zelda!
Many parents love the series for its wholesome storyline, entertaining puzzles, and creative bosses. But does Skyward Sword measure up to what golden-lined legacy the previous games have left behind?

Spirituality:
Big deal here. A lot of points of the game revolve around the Goddess of Skyworld, and save points are called altars. (nothing strange happens, you just save.) But I get tired of continually hearing “The Goddess will save us, The Goddess is good, The Goddess protect them, the goddess the goddess the goddess.” [Spoiler Alert: Zelda is eventually revealed to be the goddess, reincarnated.] Ghirahim is a messenger for the “Demon Lord”, The Imprisoned.  And there’s a friendly monster that lives below Skyworld that calls himself a demon. Now, just to make things simple, I’ll show you this link and let you decide for yourself whether the use of demon is  appropriate for whoever you want to play the game.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oni_%28folklore%29
My standpoint is that demon, translated from Japanese, means monster. And when a lot of games say demon, they mean monster, as usually the “demon” is depicted as an ogre-like thing or a dragon.

Sex:
Ghirahim seems to feed off of battle. (I know he doesn’t actually do that, don’t argue with me) But when Link will fight him (numerous times) as a boss, he’ll lick his lips just before brandishing his sword. (eeugh) But that’s actually the only thing I could find even slightly objectionable. An item-check girl does develop a crush on Link, but nothing comes of it.

Language:
Absolutely nothing! LoZ is clean as a dishwasher’s top rack!

Drugs/Drinking:
An occasional tankard in a resturaunt, but nobody actually mentions whether the drinks are alcoholic.

Violence:
Sword slashing, bow shooting, and cannon blasting are all parts of Skyward Sword. The game is rated Everyone 10 and up for Animated Blood, Comic Mischief, and Fantasy Violence. Animated Blood used to worry my mother, until I showed her what it actually means according the ESRB: Animated Blood – Discolored and/or unrealistic depictions of blood. That basically means a stand-in for bloodiness. The animated blood in Skyward Sword is actually a type of shadowy smoke that puffs out when you slay an enemy. There’s a few spots where plant-like enemies and bosses get dismembered, and a Medusa-type boss has all her tentacles lopped off (very cartoonily) in succession.

Misc. other harmful elements:
Nothing I can think of. I think. My main concerns were just with the monotony of “the goddess” being constantly played out through the game.

Decent elements:
Oh tons! Link is awesome, and brave, and always helps others. Zelda does all sorts of things to save people in her journey, too! And even some bad guys see good isn’t really so bad.

Buy The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on Amazon!

In all, the game was super awesome. I grumbled a LOT to my family members while playing it, because personally I thought there was waaaay too much backtracking through the same areas, but I decided to forgive it the faults it had because of its lovability. Rating: 4/5