Gaming 101: For Parents who Want to be Involved but are still Confused

There are few things that make parents’ lives more difficult than keeping up with trends. Since the creation of the first video game, they have not only risen in popularity and accessibility, but complexity and immersiveness. 

Today we will go back to the basics. How can we make sure video games provide a safe and healthy environment for our children?


Let’s talk ratings:

You must be wondering: as a parent, how am I supposed to know the game on my kid’s Christmas list is appropriate? Well, the ESRB, or Entertainment Software Rating Board has you covered. Each video game on its casing (usually in the bottom left corner) has one of these ratings listed:

  • E: For everyone
  • E10+: For everyone 10 years of age or older
  • T: For teen
  • M: For mature (17 years of age and older)
  • RP: Means “Rating Pending,” and you’ll only see it in ads before a game goes on sale.

And on the back of the case, there are more helpful phrases to guide your decision-making. Here are some examples of what to look for:

Now you must be wondering, what are these other caveats listed? In-game purchases? Users interact?

Let’s talk about microtransactions:

Microtransactions, simply put, are small purchases you can make to get virtual goods related to the game. For example, if you are playing an FPS (first-person shooter), a microtransaction option might be a “skin” (a cosmetic alteration to your main weapon). Some microtransactions also open new maps or levels for players to experience.

Most microtransactions cost less than $5 and have become increasingly popular in the last several years. They provide yet another revenue stream for game developers, most importantly indie (independent) developers who might make FTP (free-to-play) games.

Let’s talk about online chat and user interaction:

The biggest concern with parents, apart from the ratings and transactions in video games, is how your children interact with other people while playing. 

There are many games that allow multiplayer. Some popular games include Fortnite, Overwatch, and Minecraft.

Being able to monitor these online interactions to ensure your children are avoiding verbal abuse, hate speech, and other explicit content is a major concern, but most games offer extensive customization options to make sure toxic speech is censored.

Now, that’s a lot to take in:

Sony. Microsoft. Nintendo. PC gaming. Mobile gaming. It’s a big world to delve into – we get it. But hopefully this gives you a first look at how to make sure the video games your kids love both provide them joy and a sense of peace to you.

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