Are you lost when your kids ask for a video game? Despite ESRB age ratings (PEGI in Europe), it can be hard to refuse your child when ‘all the other kids are playing it’. Knowledge is power, so here’s a parents’ guide to this year’s top PC games. I’ll explain what you’ll find in each game, so you can be sure your kids aren’t trying to pull the wool over your eyes.
Battlefield Hardline and Call of Duty
A ‘first person shooter’ with extensive online modes, Battlefield Hardline is rated M for Mature. The game itself is very violent, with lots of blood and gore, but it’s the online play which parents should be most aware of. With in-game voice chat, online games of Battlefield can be full of expletives and offensive language.
It’s also worth remembering that as an M rated game, officially all the players should be adults, so it’s not an ideal environment for kids. Of course the reality is that lots of young teenagers play Battlefield (like other online shooters), which can make the atmosphere quite aggressive, teenage boys being teenage boys. It’s not just playground language – playgrounds have adult supervision, but online games are much less controlled. Of course, there are female players too, but they are still a minority, and there have been lots of examples of harassment and aggression towards female players in online gaming.
The important thing to stress is that online, whoever is playing will be exposed to the language and attitude of the other players, and you can’t control that. All of this is also true for Call of Duty, and there will be a new game in that series later in the year.
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin
This is a compilation of Dark Souls II and all the additional downloadable content that has been released for it. The game has a dark atmosphere, and essentially involves your character wandering around fighting monsters with swords and axes and so on. It can be gory, but the fantasy setting makes this less impacting. It’s Rated T for Teen, which is right. Young kids would be frightened by the monsters and relentless bleak atmosphere.
Finally coming to PCs on April 14th, Rockstar’s epic game is rated M for Mature. And so it should be. GTA V is the perfect example of a game for adults. Sure, it’s fun like a game should be, but it has very adult humor, lots of violence, sexual content, drug use and more. The themes and ideas in the game are beyond what most children would understand, and the often ironic humor would be lost on anyone without adult experiences. Not for kids. Can I say that again? Not for kids.
A car racing game! This is a serious game about cars and racing, nothing more. It’s got an E for Everyone rating – there is be nothing offensive, scary or inappropriate in the game. Project CARS will be ideal for any kid who obsesses over automobiles, with tons of licensed vehicles and real tracks to race. This game would have been a dream come true when I was eight years old!
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Another fantasy game, but much more adult than Dark Souls. Don’t let the fantasy setting fool you – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features intense violence, explicit sexual content, and very strong language. The developers market the game as being the most mature and complex role playing game around, and the very adult themes explored here support this. Like GTA V, it’s rated M for Mature, and with very good reason.
Batman: Arkham Knight
The current series of Batman games are nothing like the 60s TV show, and are more violent and explicit than the most recent run of movies (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises). Batman: Arkham Knight is rated M for mature, whereas previous titles were ‘T for teen’. The previous installment was criticized a lot for the offensive language used by some enemies towards Catwoman – but whatever you think about that, it’s clear that the game is adult by design. Where Christopher Nolan wanted dark Batman movies that children could enjoy, the developers of the Arkham series have made a game that’s really only for adults.
Mortal Kombat X
Mortal Kombat X is the tenth game in the long running fighting series. Courting controversy since the beginning with its famed violent ‘Fatalities’, where losers are killed in a creatively over the top fashion, the gruesomeness has only increased, as technology has allowed for ever greater realism. It’s not a bad game, by any means, but it’s extremely violent, and totally deserving of its probably M for Mature rating. If you’re looking for a quality fighting game without the grossness, try a Street Fighter title!
Farming Simulator 15
Move along, everyone, nothing to see here. Whether anyone should play this or not is another matter, but there’s nothing offensive about it!
There are lots of games that are great for children and teenagers to play, but don’t be fooled by the word ‘game’. Some are very adult and very serious. Ratings systems exist for a reason, so you should at least be aware of the content of the games you buy.
We will update this with more games being released later in 2015 as they are announced.
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