Video game ratings

My son asked me to allow him to buy a few x-box360 video games with an “M” rating. This was at the check out counter when the cashier needed my permission to sell the games to him. My first reaction was if a society that allows mass murder of babies, gay unions, rampant profanity, etc. says it isn’t suitable for children, they must be pretty bad. On the other hand I am a fan of Dungeons and Dragons and other Tolkien based RPGs. Hack up orcs, find loot, upgrade armor, solving puzzels, etc. I don’t have a problem with blood and guts or the violence per say (at least not in a fictional setting). I do have a problem with profanity, sexual content, and game plots that encourage people to choose evil. I also have problem with violence in a real world setting (such as shooting American soldiers).

The gams my son is interested in (Halo, Modern Warfare, and Time Shift) are rated M and he insists that it is only for violence blood and gore. He is old enough to see alien blood and guts and dealing with battle against an evil enemy army but is still impresionable about the moral issues. I was looking for an independent and trustworthy reference for these games and ratings.

Any good references for how these games rate from a moral point of view?

Are there any full lists of ratings out there?

I think that there is a guide2games.org or something like that. Try doing a search on Christian movie and game ratings (?).

In my own experience, I can't remember any language issues in Halo. Certainly no nudity or anything like that either. As for the latest Modern Warfare, there's a very controversial portion of the single-player campaign where the player massacres civilians - the reason why is too complicated to explain and doesn't matter really, the single player story is terribly conceived and told - causing its censorship in certain countries, like Russia.

If I were you, I would check out the usual suspects in terms of video game reviews, such as ign.com or gamespot.com, in addition to checking youtube for gameplay scenes and trailors. The marketing for big games like Halo or Modern Warfare ensures that there are/will be plenty of trailers and gameplay footage on the part of fans and publishers.

So long story short:
Halo: okay. Lots of evil alien religious zealots and the Flood.
MW: from what you said, probably definite no.
Time Shift: never played (critics are not kind to it, anyways)

Why is shooting American soldiers any worse than shooting anyone else? What makes that a real world setting when shooting Afghans doesn't? In reality, the majority of the time its the American soldiers doing the murdering.

[quote="illmatic, post:3, topic:213080"]
Why is shooting American soldiers any worse than shooting anyone else? What makes that a real world setting when shooting Afghans doesn't? In reality, the majority of the time its the American soldiers doing the murdering.

[/quote]

Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I think it is worse to kill those trying to protect us than those who are trying to kill us.

Generic alien, orc, terrorist, nazi, or other non descript bad guys in a battle environment is not the same as killing civilians, friends, or other good guys.

[quote="royal_archer, post:4, topic:213080"]
Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I think it is worse to kill those trying to protect us than those who are trying to kill us.

Generic alien, orc, terrorist, nazi, or other non descript bad guys in a battle environment is not the same as killing civilians, friends, or other good guys.

[/quote]

One person's good guy is another person's bad guy.

[quote="illmatic, post:5, topic:213080"]
One person's good guy is another person's bad guy.

Here's something I never understand: why are Catholics, who are so willing to condemn the sins of secular society (including those promoted by the government), also so liable to completely back the army that they are told are 'protecting their civil rights', even when that army is working for the same flawed government AND not necessarily doing anything of the sort.

[/quote]

Please take it to another thread.

I am trying to discuss video games here.

You are discussing the morality of the rating system, and what you think is and is not okay in games.

Hi Royal Archer,

www.imdb.com/ usually has very descriptive ratings for both movies and games especially if they are popular.

You just find the title by searching, click it, and there is a link on the page right before comments section called "view content advisory". Click it and you get the info you need.

I included the results for the titles you asked in your post.

Halo 3: imdb.com/title/tt0494232/parentalguide

Halo Reach imdb.com/title/tt1723639/parentalguide

Modern Warfare: imdb.com/title/tt1125798/parentalguide

Modern Warfare 2: imdb.com/title/tt1450746/parentalguide

Time Shift: imdb.com/title/tt0478298/parentalguide

Hope that helps.

God Bless :)

[quote="ddarko, post:8, topic:213080"]
Hi Royal Archer,

www.imdb.com/ usually has very descriptive ratings for both movies and games especially if they are popular.

You just find the title by searching, click it, and there is a link on the page right before comments section called "view content advisory". Click it and you get the info you need.

I included the results for the titles you asked in your post.

Halo 3: imdb.com/title/tt0494232/parentalguide

Halo Reach imdb.com/title/tt1723639/parentalguide

Modern Warfare: imdb.com/title/tt1125798/parentalguide

Modern Warfare 2: imdb.com/title/tt1450746/parentalguide

Time Shift: imdb.com/title/tt0478298/parentalguide

Hope that helps.

God Bless :)

[/quote]

Thanks that is helpfull.

We never had this problem with pac-man and space invaders.:D

*Pac-Man is the epitemy of gluttony! Namco sets a horrible example for our children, teaching them that all they have to do is run around eating magic pills while challenging supernatural forces without any guidance from the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, you have a power pellet, yellow circle? Think a power pellet is going to bring you closer to God?

Pac-Man. Most evil game since Rounders!*

  • - Satire, obviously :) Although Ms. Pacman is a much better game. As far as discerning what kind of games are appropriate, trust your eyes and ears in addition to a rating system. I suggest going to Youtube or a video game site such as IGN and watching the gameplay for yourself to judge if your child is old enough to play a game. For example, if I want to know if God of War is suitable for a child, I'll check the rating at esrb.org, which tells exactly what's in the game and sometimes gives a brief description. Then I'll head to Youtube and type God of War Gameplay (gameplay is an important term to use, as you can see what it looks like when people are actually playing it instead of just a trailer).

Those two things can really help. Happy gaming and God bless!

[quote="royal_archer, post:9, topic:213080"]

We never had this problem with pac-man and space invaders.:D

[/quote]

Haha yea, the good ol' days :D
Those were the days when Dev's weren't really out to try and sell something on the basis of shock value of violence and sex. Unfortunately now its a different story. Every movie/game tries to push the limits of what can be done under a rating.

Makes it a nightmare for parents for sure.

God Bless :)

unfortunately they load up other wise good games with profanity and smut that have nothing to do with the primary content of the game.

[quote="celticsfan1983, post:10, topic:213080"]
*Pac-Man is the epitemy of gluttony! Namco sets a horrible example for our children, teaching them that all they have to do is run around eating magic pills while challenging supernatural forces without any guidance from the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, you have a power pellet, yellow circle? Think a power pellet is going to bring you closer to God?

Pac-Man. Most evil game since Rounders!*

  • - Satire, obviously :) Although Ms. Pacman is a much better game. As far as discerning what kind of games are appropriate, trust your eyes and ears in addition to a rating system. I suggest going to Youtube or a video game site such as IGN and watching the gameplay for yourself to judge if your child is old enough to play a game. For example, if I want to know if God of War is suitable for a child, I'll check the rating at esrb.org, which tells exactly what's in the game and sometimes gives a brief description. Then I'll head to Youtube and type God of War Gameplay (gameplay is an important term to use, as you can see what it looks like when people are actually playing it instead of just a trailer).

Those two things can really help. Happy gaming and God bless!

[/quote]

Yeah, I always thought the ghosts were a bit from the dark side.

The ratings on games come from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). Here are the ratings:

[LIST]
]eC* (Early Childhood)
]E* (Everyone)
]E 10+* (Everyone 10 and over)
]T* (Teen)
]M* (Mature)
]AO* (Adults only)
[/LIST]

You see just the rating on the front of the game, but on the back you will see why they received the rating (violence, cartoon violence, mild lyrics, drug/alcohol reference(s), rude humor, etc., etc.) That will give you a better idea of what you're in store for.

You can search the ESRB website for the particular game and it will also tell you what content led to that rating. Looking up those three games, it does seem that blood and gore is the reason for the M rating. Nothing is mentioned about sexuality for any of those games (except for "Halo 2 for Windows Vista", which lists "partial nudity"...Halo 2 for X Box lists only "Blood and Gore, Language, Violence").

The ESRB ratings are somewhat similar to the MPAA ratings for movies. When you read through enough of them, you start to get a feel for what they mean. They'll use "mild" as a descriptor if it's not too bad, or "strong" as a descriptor is it's really bad. Thus, "mild language" is better that "language" is better than "strong language".

Of course, the ultimate decision is yours. :)

The Halo games are awesome. They do in fact have some Biblical parallels and references.

Modern Warfare (I assume it's the second one) is also fantastic

I've never played Timeshift

These games are rated M mainly for violence. I don't believe violent games will melt the brain of a sane adolescent, so I wouldn't worry about it. I'm almost nineteen, so I have plenty of experience with violent video games. Just make sure your child doesn't become so addicted it affects his social and academic life

I have never seen an AO video game. But I think that is the one you want to avoid. Do they really check for ids for video games now? I bought all sorts of mature rated video games when I was a kid. Resident Evil comes to mind.

Decent site, with parent-oriented, detailed reviews: commonsensemedia.org/

Halo's fine. Overhyped, but certainly a lot of fun.

You didn't say which Modern Warfare we're talking about here, and that matters. MW1 (aka Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare) was a great game, a fantastic war simulator filled with patriotism, comradeship, and apple pie. MW2 had all that... but it also had the controversial airport massacre. You can read about that here (the linked article defends the airport sequence - I assume the opposite position hardly needs articulation) and decide for yourself.

TimeShift... I was actually enjoying TimeShift, but all I had was the demo, and I could only get one video game that year, so I went with MW1. The critics didn't care for TimeShift, but there was nothing remotely objectionable in the sections I played.

[quote="wjp984, post:16, topic:213080"]
I have never seen an AO video game. But I think that is the one you want to avoid. Do they really check for ids for video games now? I bought all sorts of mature rated video games when I was a kid. Resident Evil comes to mind.

[/quote]

They definitely check IDs for games (obviously it varies by store, but I can't remember the last time I wasn't ID'd). The FTC's mystery shopper tests have shown an ~80% refusal rate for underage shoppers trying to buy M rated games over the last few years. That's far from perfect of course, but it's harder to get an M rated game than to get into an R rated movie if you're underage.

Source: Ars Technica

My opinion for what it's worth, is that killing is killing. From Mario jumping on goombas, to shooting American soldiers in a modern war epic. But do not loose sight in that these ARE just games. If you and your family are aware and you talk about it before they go and become exposed to games like the later, there should be no problem. In addition games like grand theft auto, where there is sexual themes and such, I am also not against. Why? Because these are still just games. HOWEVER, no child of mine will play a game that isn't appropriately aged for it. If they are old enough to buy them legally they are able to make up their own minds, and if you have done your part in parenting, then they will be able to make a sound decision and if they do decide to play and buy those games they will know that they are just that, games. I don't think god is going to destroy us based on the Sodom and Gomorrah of video games. :thumbsup:

[quote="rjred5, post:19, topic:213080"]
My opinion for what it's worth, is that killing is killing. From Mario jumping on goombas, to shooting American soldiers in a modern war epic.

[/quote]

Well, yes and no. There's a very important difference between, on the one hand, cartoony Mario jumping on a goomba and having it go "poof!" and disappear and, on the other hand, bloodily gunning people down in full 1080p HD resolution.

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