Erin Hoffman's Inside Job

Erin Hoffman's Inside Job
Inside Job: Kids and Games, Part Two

Erin Hoffman | 19 Oct 2007 17:15
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The one concern I was able to detect, and found across multiple forums, was the notion of videogame addiction.

"More than the violence of video games, as a parent, I'm concerned about issues of video game addiction. I enjoyed playing a lot when I was a kid, but I feel like things are maybe slightly worse now. The games seem to suck you in more now that they are more complicated. I never knew anyone growing up who played for hours and hours at a time like my younger cousins do. Even without the extremes of addiction, I would feel kind of funny about my children playing video games for too long when they could be doing something else with more personal interaction."
- AnnaBananasMom, Justmommies.com

Limiting the amount of time that kids spend playing videogames also seemed to be a major concern, one currently managed "manually" but with a desire for automation:

"But I don't have a problem with games in themselves. I don't even have a problem with violent games provided they aren't in my home. What pisses me off is other parents who don't keep up with what their children are playing or don't think it's a big deal for little 8 year old Timmy to play Halo.
...
I would like for someone to invent a parental control automatically cuts the game system off after a certain amount of time. Say I could set it up to only a person 30 minutes of gametime in a 24 hour period. I'd pay up to fifty bucks for that."
- Kooolaidred, Sybermoms

The suggestion of the automated timer - which sounds a great deal like a physical version of the play schedulers already available for account management on several MMOGs, where addiction has been a longer-standing concern - was very popular.

"I would happily buy a parental control timer thingy regardless of who invented it."
- Pumpkinsmom, Sybermoms

And general knowledge of the Wii - and support for it - was also very strong, combating the sedentary videogame image:

"We play video games a bit. I have really liked the latest fad to make games more active. For example, Dance Dance Revolution, and most of the Wii games. Now, bowling on Wii isn't exactly exercise, but I like that it is more active."
- Juniper, Sybermoms

"The Wii was a stroke of genius on Nintendo's behalf not only because of the innovation, but because it breached the 'wall' and made video gaming a family experience! I expect, one day, a family game night could just as easily be spent with the Wii as it could be spent on board games. And, of course, the Wii also gets people active, which is even better!"
- quietsong, Justmommies.com

Specificity

One thing parents were also looking for was something beyond the ESRB rating system that could tell them specifically why a game received its rating and what it would involve.

Some of the best comments I received came straight out of The Escapist Forum.

"I think right now video games do need a more than a rating system; they need a way to quantify elements so parents can understand what the game asks a player to do. Reviews are great, but they are so jargon and acronym filled that a non-gamer would scratch their heads and just say 'no.' Parents need a medium prepared for the non-gamer, and it won't matter if it's spoiler-filled since they won't be playing the game anyway."
- LisaB1138, The Escapist Forum

"I think one improvement in packaging would help both sides better determine whether or not a game is for them. That would be screenshots from within the game of the most violent and/or sexual scene at the most 'adult' settings the game offers. Even just one picture will tell an interested parent all they need to know about whether that game is for their children."
- 0over0, The Escapist Forum

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