Should Kids Play M Rated Games?
Telltale Games is reportedly releasing a Game of the Year edition of Season One of The Walking Dead. While it hasn't been officially confirmed by Telltale, their Twitter account hints at some "big news" and the ESRB website shows a listing for the GOTY edition.
The pre-Halloween timing is perfect, and parents everywhere will be tempted to skip dragging their kids to haunted houses this year, instead plopping them down in front of TWD to be scared in the comfort of their own home.
Trouble is, that's not such a good idea.
Parents, Don't Be Lazy
There are some things kids should not see, and being eaten alive or stabbing enemies in the face should probably be included in that list.
The games include some content that likely isn't suitable for children, and the M rating for the GOTY is showing indicates that gamers under 17 shouldn't be playing it. We all know however, that many parents buy these games for their kids and never pay attention to the ratings or what is actually in the game. They go with their kids to the store, let the kid buy the game, and then the kid goes home and plays for hours, days, weeks, and even months on end down in the basement without the parents ever even seeing it.
This is a topic that has been a hot conversation since Grand Theft Auto V came out, and that game is probably more of a concern than The Walking Dead, but it is still a problem. As parents, we are responsible for what our children consume, and if we are not checking what games they are playing, then we are doing a disservice to them. There are some things kids should just not see, and being eaten alive or stabbing enemies in the face should probably be included in that list.
Gamers, Don't be Mad
If you're under the age of 17 and reading this, and are already gathering your cash to gobble up this game, I don't have anything against you. Video game ratings have never been enforced strictly across the board, so it's not uncommon for a teenager to go into a store, pick up an M-rated game, and have no idea they technically aren't supposed to be buying it without a parent.
Stores have gotten better about enforcing age requirements, and if you've gone to a GameStop lately, you've probably experienced that. But the fact of the matter is, you may or may not be mature enough to deal with the content games like this will show you.
Games have ratings for a reason, and it’s not just because the world doesn’t like you. I promise.
Sure - Maybe I'm Wrong About You
Maybe you are wise beyond your years and can play a game like The Waking Dead or GTA V and not be affected. Maybe you are able to separate reality from video games, and if so, that’s great. But the fact of the matter is, games have ratings for a reason, and it’s not just because the world doesn’t like you. I promise.
I’m absolutely not on the ridiculous bandwagon that video games cause people to act violently, and that’s not what this is all about. Games like this expose people to things they may not be emotionally ready to handle. Seeing graphic violence when you’re 12 shouldn’t be normal. It shouldn’t be accepted as okay. Mature games are rated as such because they deal with mature themes, and if it says 17+, you really need to be 17 or older.
But I Hope You'll Think it Through
I know the gamers won’t listen because they’re convinced they can handle it. A lot of parents won’t listen either because they either don’t have the time to put into researching what these ratings mean and just how bad some of these games can be.
But I think that if you’ve made it this far in the article you’ve got a pretty good head on your shoulders - whether you’re a teen or a parent - and I hope you’ll do the right thing.
What do you think?
Did you play M rated games as a younger gamer? Do you think it was okay? Parents, how do you decide what games your kids play? I'm curious to hear some other perspectives.