It’s nearing Christmas time, and you’re shopping around trying to find the perfect video game gift for your kid, friend, or someone else. But there’s only one problem – you don’t know much about video games. We understand, it happens, and you shouldn’t be ashamed. Instead, you should learn the science behind picking the perfect game, for you, or for others.
Welcome to our series of blogs dedicated to helping you find the best games during this time of year to assist in your Christmas holiday shopping! This series will be broken down into several parts, making it easier to digest:
Part 1 – Game Ratings
Part 2 – Genres
Part 3 – Console Exclusivity
Part 4 – Multiplayer Capabilities Within Games
The very first thing you will want to keep an eye out for is the rating. A company called the ESRB, or the Electronic Software Rating Board, has placed a rating on each and every licensed game on the market. You can find this rating in the bottom left hand corner of most video game cases.
And again in the bottom right of the back of the case, this time with more information.
This rating has been determined by a board of members who dedicate their jobs to assisting people in finding suitable games for people of all ages. There are three factors parts within each rating:
- Rating Categories suggest age appropriateness
- Content Descriptors indicate content that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern
- Interactive Elements inform about interactive aspects of a product, including the users’ ability to interact, the sharing of users’ location with others, if personal information may be shared with third parties, if in-app purchases of digital goods are completed, and/or if unrestricted internet access is provided.
These ratings range and give a broad idea of what age group should be playing it. Here’s a basic breakdown:
- eC – Early Childhood – These games are created for the sole purpose of teaching and entertaining small children. Most commonly found on mobile, PC, or on learning based consoles such as Leapfrogs.
- E – Everyone – These games are suitable for people of all ages. Contains minimal cartoon or fantasy violence.
- E 10+ – Everyone 10 and Up. These games may have slightly more mature themes than E-rated games. May contain slightly more violence, mild language, and suggestive themes.
- T – Teen – Games are generally for people 13 years of age or older. May contain more violence, crude humor, mild language, occasional use of strong language, minimal blood, etc.
- M – Mature – Reserved for people 17 years of age or older. May contain strong language, blood, strong violence, sexual themes, etc.
- AO – Adults Only – Content in these games are suitable only for adults. Games may contain intense violence, intense sexual themes, or gambling with real money.
- RP – Rating Pending – The game in question has yet to be released, and is still being reviewed by the ESRB to find the best rating for the title.
For each game, the front rating will give you the base rating, and to find out vaguely why the game has that rating, you can check on the back. For a further in depth reason for a game’s rating, the ESRB has a rating synopsis for most games available on their website(http://www.esrb.org/ratings/search.aspx).
Keep in mind, the ESRB rating policy is NOT legally binding – however big box stores have deals with the ESRB preventing them from selling a game to someone under the age of the game’s recommended rating. Although we here at Matt’s Game Exchange are not legally obligated to do so by deals with the ESRB, we will not sell a game to someone who is younger than the recommended rating. In addition, we will do our best to steer you in the right direction when Christmas shopping for others.
As the Christmas season grows nearer, we hope this has helped you start your journey on finding the perfect game for family and friends. Check out next time when we break down games into basic genres to discover what genres your friends and family might enjoy best.
You can find out more about the ESRB at http://www.esrb.com/.
And don’t forget – we just want you to play games and have fun!