Common Sense Media Lists "10 Uncool Games" for the Holidays

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Common Sense Media Lists "10 Uncool Games" for the Holidays

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Common Sense Media has published its list of "Ten Cool Games That Are Uncool For Kids," a surprisingly sensible list of games that probably shouldn't be played by kids along with alternatives that will help keep their complain-holes shut over the holidays.

It's a common problem for parents with young teenage kids: They won't stop yapping about the latest murderrific videogames that all the cool kids are playing but you, as someone who actually takes an interest in child-rearing, aren't quite as enthusiastic. Short of hitting them until they stop making noise, what's a beleaguered parent to do?

Fortunately for all involved, Common Sense Media is here to help. Its list of ten hot games your kids might be bugging you for (and probably shouldn't play) and ten alternatives more suited to younger gamers is surprisingly comprehensive and has obviously been put together by someone in the know. If you're expecting yet another overwrought effort to keep the kiddies from playing anything harsher than Freecell, you're in for a surprise. The list in full, with alternate suggestions in parentheses:

  • Assassin's Creed 2 (Mirror's Edge)
  • Borderlands (Infamous)
  • Brutal Legend (Ghostbusters: The Video Game)
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Battlefield: Bad Company)
  • Dead Space: Extraction (Deadly Creatures)
  • Dragon Age: Origins (Braid)
  • GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony (Batman: Arkham Asylum)
  • Demon's Souls (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves)
  • Left 4 Dead 2 (Overlord II)
  • GTA: Chinatown Wars (C.O.P.: The Recruit)

Interestingly, the list doesn't go out of its way to criticize the "uncool" games; most, in fact, are praised for what they offer to mature gamers. The alternatives are hardly a collection of warm-and-fuzzy Care Bear games suitable for players of all ages, either. The group said it stuck with "T-rated titles geared for ages 12-15 [with] matched gaming systems - so if you nix an M-rated PS3 game, you can replace it with a similar T-rated PS3 game."

"Similar" is in the eye of the beholder and a kid who's spent a month begging for Dragon Age isn't going to be too thrilled to get Braid in its place. Many of the substitute games, meanwhile, despite being toned down in comparison to the others still include content that some parents will find objectionable. Overall, though, for parents who want to keep the kids happy while avoiding the worst excesses of the M-rating, this list isn't a bad place to start.

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The Dragon Age - Braid combo was the only confusing bit on there.
Emphasis on story, I guess?

But otherwise, what a smart list! A good idea, implemented well!
I hope a few parents actually take heed of this! It's a great idea.

Baby Tea:
The Dragon Age - Braid combo was the only confusing bit on there.
Emphasis on story, I guess?

But otherwise, what a smart list! A good idea, implemented well!
I hope a few parents actually take heed of this! It's a great idea.

Have you ever played Dragon Age? The game in which you can drive a Mace through someone's jaw? You're honestly surprised it made the list?

I'm not completely familiar with the safe list, but it strikes me that the unsafe list contains at least three stellar cooperative online games (l4d2, borderlands, CoD) and the safe list contains one (? --- battlefield: bad company is probably multiplayer).

I suppose it's impossible to really substitute one game for another ... but this is simply a broad impression.

Too bad more parents don't visit that site

Glefistus:

Baby Tea:
The Dragon Age - Braid combo was the only confusing bit on there.
Emphasis on story, I guess?

But otherwise, what a smart list! A good idea, implemented well!
I hope a few parents actually take heed of this! It's a great idea.

Have you ever played Dragon Age? The game in which you can drive a Mace through someone's jaw? You're honestly surprised it made the list?

He is making a comment about Dragon Age being matched with Braid, not about Dragon Age being on the list. The other suggestions tried to offer something similar as a replacement for the former.

Andy Chalk:
"Similar" is in the eye of the beholder and a kid who's spent a month begging for Dragon Age isn't going to be too thrilled to get Braid in its place.

I thought exactly the same thing when I saw that. In fact I would be PISSED... not that Braid is a bad game, it just happens to be COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Other than that (and a couple suggestions I don't recognize - C.O.P. for example) this seems like a really good list! I personally don't think Brutal Legend is a horrible choice for a teenager as long as the parents take the time to disable and lock the gore and language... can you lock those settings? Maybe not, so maybe that's not a good idea... Borderlands is for sure not a good game for young kids to be playing, every time I take it to a new friend's house no matter how long he's been gaming, 10 years or 15, they find the gore is surprisingly strong. They also think it kicks ass, just like the rest of the game!

Um.. L4D2 and Overlord 2? Uh.... no... Just um... no.

On the DA:O vs. Braid comparison, I think many of the line items don't compare well. Speaking only to the lines where I've played both games (sort of), Comparing Assassin's Creed (2) (I've played the first) against Mirrors edge --- they're both jumpy, but Mirrors edge is more of a "race" game (also 1st vs. 3rd person). I really don't fathom the comparison of L4D2 vs. Overlord II. Cooperative online zombie apocolypse vs. non-cooperative non-online fantasy and strategy.

Nice list. The only 2 problems I have with it is that I think they mean Modern Warfare 2, and yet the 2 is suspiciously missing from the title, and that I actually find Call of Duty may be a tad more appropriate concerning war than Battlefield: Bad Company. Which one is more likely to mess the kids up- a game that may glorify war a bit much but overall takes an anti-war message and shows it as the bloody and violent thing it is, or a game that tries to make war humorous (which is alright if done properly, nothing is inherently wrong with dark humor), but ends up with unfunny and disrespectful jokes about something that should be taken far more seriously? This is just more of a personal opinion though- I do suppose Call of Duty is more violent than Battlefield. I really do like the idea they had of offering alternative games rather than just saying games you shouldn't buy, as it gives the parents a sense of direction instead of confusing them and possibly preventing them from buying any games for their kids, as well as suggesting some really nice substitutes. Demon's Souls is great, but what kid lucky enough to have a PS3 is going to complain when he or she is surprised with Nathan Drake under the tree?

ahh the benefit of being a gamer and a parent. you dont have to rely on this sort of thing.
>':-)
good idea for those not in the same position tho.

SuperMse:
Nice list. The only 2 problems I have with it is that I think they mean Modern Warfare 2, and yet the 2 is suspiciously missing from the title, and that I actually find Call of Duty may be a tad more appropriate concerning war than Battlefield: Bad Company. Which one is more likely to mess the kids up- a game that may glorify war a bit much but overall takes an anti-war message and shows it as the bloody and violent thing it is, or a game that tries to make war humorous (which is alright if done properly, nothing is inherently wrong with dark humor), but ends up with unfunny and disrespectful jokes about something that should be taken far more seriously? This is just more of a personal opinion though- I do suppose Call of Duty is more violent than Battlefield. I really do like the idea they had of offering alternative games rather than just saying games you shouldn't buy, as it gives the parents a sense of direction instead of confusing them and possibly preventing them from buying any games for their kids, as well as suggesting some really nice substitutes. Demon's Souls is great, but what kid lucky enough to have a PS3 is going to complain when he or she is surprised with Nathan Drake under the tree?

i think if your child were impressionable enough, I'd much rather he imitate haggard than, say, capt. price.

I didn't find the gore in Borderlands to be surprisingly strong. The cartoony nature of the whole thing really blunts it. I've found the L4D2 gore more "in your face" ... ie: pipe bomb a mob 15 yards away and some of the intestines fly into your immediate vicinity.

Although I suppose the gore of one of the little psyco shotgunners still running around with no head is comparable to the wonderful choreography of valve zombies dying --- they did a good job there.

But then I've killed chickens on the farm --- so the death of things doesn't entirely surprise me.

huh, this is great.
Im happy to see a site that understands that games are not just for children, and dosent judge them that way.
And many of the alternatives fit.

I get the games they listed as kid inappropriate, but the alternatives don't really make sense at all. I mean, Mirror's Edge is NOTHING like Assassin's Creed 2.

Those are pretty much the best games of '09... yea, totally "uncool" because Common Sense media knows so much about vidya games.

I honestly don't see Braid being much of a trade off for Dragon Age: Origins, nor Overlord II for Left 4 Dead 2, but at least the rest of the games I can kind of see a connection (Or atleast between the ones I've played).

Glad to see there are some parental help sites that know what they're talking about, for the most part at least

Wait, Braid in place of Dragon Age? That's like comparing a Dog to a Lobster!

Looking a bit more into this, I don't understand the Borderlands - Infamous and L4D2- Overlord II comparisons either. The gore in Borderlands is pretty tame, whereas Infamous allows you to electrocute innocent civilians. Not to mention the moral choice near the end that allows you to

. As for L4D2 and Overlord, they are as different as Dragon Age and Braid. Plus, I know L4D2 is incredibly violent, but Overlord encourages and glorifies the murder and enslaving of an entire world. Is that really a better message to give your kids?

Andy Chalk:

  • Assassin's Creed 2 (Mirror's Edge)
  • Borderlands (Infamous)
  • Brutal Legend (Ghostbusters: The Video Game)
  • Dead Space: Extraction (Deadly Creatures)
  • Dragon Age: Origins (Braid)
  • GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony (Batman: Arkham Asylum)
  • Demon's Souls (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves)
  • Left 4 Dead 2 (Overlord II)

How are any of these substitutes?

SuperMse:
the 2 is suspiciously missing

The missing "2" was my fault. All fixed and better now.

Some of the substitutions are questionable, yes (most obviously the Dragon Age/Braid thing) but I guess the focus was on matching consoles and an overall "cool" factor rather than specific content. Obviously some of the substitutes on the list aren't for kids either, but the list isn't for small kids either - It's for the 12-15-year-olds who might not be ready for Gay Tony but aren't going to be satisfied with kids' games either. Personally, I'd be happy as hell to find just about any of those games, from either side of the list, under my tree.

* Assassin's Creed 2 (Mirror's Edge) a third person action sandbox game whit story and a "ancient" Italy setting to be replaced whit a first person platform game set in a futuristic city whit an evil government.

* Borderlands (Infamous) a fps rpg set in fallout 2 replaced whit a third person sandbox game, granted this seems to be one of the better replacements because both games have other people shooting at you while you shoot lightning, but they are still very different experiences.

* Brutal Legend (Ghostbusters: The Video Game) okay they are both third person games, you got that AND only that right, this is second wrongest recommendation on this list, beside brütal legend have parenting tools, just watch the intro whit them and press no on harsh language and blood and your kids can experience the awesome game.

* Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Battlefield: Bad Company) well, alright this one you got kinda right and though your kid will be disappointed they will still have a competent shooter, and who knows maybe they will thank you at the end for not watching an entire game as if you had jam on your eyes.

* Dead Space: Extraction (Deadly Creatures) deadly creatures might be an good idea if you want your 15 year old kid to stop playing pokemon but still give them sorta the same game, but manly, but instead of dead space its a swing and a miss (which might be because they don't support motion plus fnar fnar)

* Dragon Age: Origins (Braid) a story heavy classic rpg whit deep gameplay and combat where you cant jump replaced whit a puzzle platform whit a story thats laughable at best but whit time manipulation, also 9 bucks for a Christmas present is to much on the cheap side, maybe buy them another rpg and braid, it is a great game, but i will say that dragon age is only violent in a cut scene at the beginning, and the sex is a joke and there is no nudity in them.

* GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony (Batman: Arkham Asylum) this one is alright, they are different games but as batman : arkham asylum is my game of the year i cant imagine any one will be disappointed, maybe they will even be happier.

* Demon's Souls (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves) okay i actually haven't played this one but judging from the play through i just watched its another miss, one is a rpg whit swords and shield and the other is a third person shooter slash platform, it becomes more and more clear that the people who made this list knows that there is something called games but not quite sure about the different genres.

* Left 4 Dead 2 (Overlord II) and know im certain that they never heard about genres, this is the worst comprising, not only on this list but to ever be made, the only thing i can come to think off where they may be compared is that both games have zombies at some point (overlord has it at some point l4d2 is non stop zombies), but the difference in games are more than at some point they both have the same enemies, buy your kids the australian version of l4d2 if thats what they wished for.

* GTA: Chinatown Wars (C.O.P.: The Recruit) my DS games consist of zelda, mario and pokemon games, nothing that i am proud of but i haven't tried either game, but i did watch some play troughs and checked metacritic for both games and i can start by saying that COP got 57 and gta got 93, so your kid will be disappointed, the genre is correct, but one is praised for game play and story while the other got slaughtered on both, besides the graphic makes it alright for younger gamers to play Chinatown, the blood only makes it look like the yellow blocks turned red, sure theres the mention of drugs but if your kid can either see, listen or hear they already know about drugs, they may not have tried them but this game will teach them nothing new.

And here I was loading my "Kill Common Sense Media Gun."
I think this is the first time I don't want to kill them. Maybe, just maybe people will stop overreacting and come up with alternatives.
:D

Captain Pancake:
Wait, Braid in place of Dragon Age? That's like comparing a Dog to a Lobster!

But it's socially acceptable to eat Lobster. :D

Relatively good list. There are some odd replacement choices, but they've already been mentioned. The comments offer a good message for parents to actually talk to their children about what they play, and do more research than just reading and following a list word for word.

That was.... not a bad list actually.....

I'm suprised. Mind you, I'm still getting these game for Crimbo anyways.

There was one that I was wondering about. Surely, Demons Souls would give children nightmares...but replacing that with Uncharted 2. It's not scary, but it definitely doesn't seem like it's suitable for a younger audience.

"This, kids, is what we call sexual tension."

Sandwich Man:
snip

Yeah, but the violence in Infamous is incredibly cartoony. Even though Borderlands has a cartoony look, the type of violence they use makes more sense than shooting electricity out of your hands.

As for the L4D2 - Overlord 2. yeah, I don't see the connection there.

Not that I think it's suitable for kids (for a few reasons), but Borderlands has gore? I must be more desensitized than I thought. I've spent ~45 hours playing it, and I don't think I ever even noticed. Of course, I was a siren, so everything died because it was on fire, not from physical damage or anything with non-"OMGWTF I'm on fire" animations...

Nalgas D. Lemur:
Not that I think it's suitable for kids (for a few reasons), but Borderlands has gore? I must be more desensitized than I thought. I've spent ~45 hours playing it, and I don't think I ever even noticed. Of course, I was a siren, so everything died because it was on fire, not from physical damage or anything with non-"OMGWTF I'm on fire" animations...

Grab a sniper rifle, or shotgun and shoot someone in the head.
SPLAT!

If any of you have ventured on the site it's rather entertaining to read the 10-15 year old kids complaining about the list.
I don't think they realize that their bitching makes them look bad, and affirm Common Sense Medias stance.

excuse me but 5 of the alternatives are crap: mirror's edge, ghostbusters, bad company (don't care what you dedicated servers fetishist say), overlord 2, and COP. i really hate parental guide sites like these, hardly anyone even listens to them

it's my opinion that parents themselves should research the game and decide whether their kid can handle the amount of violence shown.

it pisses me off to trade brutal legend (which lets you censor gore and language anyways) for ghostbusters (a broken ass game)

With a name like "Common Sense Media", I'd expect exactly the opposite, so it's a pleasant surprise to see such reasonable (maybe even helpful!) suggestions. And my 12 year old brother has apparently been asking for an Xbox 360 and Halo 3, so I'd say they're thinking about the right age group, too.

What the hell?

I don't know any kids with enough brain power to appreciate any of those games.

I'm against the list and the idea of it to be honest. I think you should get the kids what their after unless you are %100 sure you child isn't going to be able to cope. I would just be disappointed to open my Christmas present if I was that kid to find some other game in place of the one I asked Santa for. The problem is that I don't see the big deal with censoring kids from it, I was brought up on violent action movies and horror movies along with violent video games and well I've never committed a major crime in my life. Maybe a few minor one's when I was a child in the old "Boys will be boys" fashion but I've never been tempted to gun down a school simply because it looked cool in a video game or a movie.

I was playing GTA 3 in Primary School and Vice city in year 7 and I've had no ill effects from it nor am I mentally scared because of it, neither are any of the people I've grown up with that lived in the same situation.

swaki:
*Snip*

I completely agree that many of the games are unrelated, but games like L4D havent really had any good substitutions that were released in the past couple years and are rated T or below. At least they got the whole "lots of weak guys gang up on their enemies" thing right.

And Braid with Dragon Age? ... I guess they both had a lot of hype, and you pause a lot in DA so it's sorta like time manipulation? :/ I honestly have no idea how they found a connection between those two. But anyway, who the hell gets someone DLC for Christmas?

Man, I was very much ready to see a bash fest on a heavy handed attempt to criticize games...but yeah, they did something great. It should be obvious when a parent shouldn't buy a game for there children, but they deserve props for providing a tool to help parents buy video games that they can enjoy appropriately. A lot of the alternatives they gave show that they did there research, but a few there also show that there arn't a lot of gamers there. I mean, Braid as an alternative to Dragon Age? That...doesn't even make sense. I guess finding an alternative would be rather difficult, but even, say, Tales of Monkey Island, or maybe Torchlight (I have not played far into Torchlight, Maybe it does end up being mature, I'm not sure) would fit the bill better then Braid. I mean, I love Braid, but REALLY? Would a kid not mature enough to play dragon age even GET Braid? Lets see if there's anything else...Well Borderlands and Infamous are pretty even in my book, and Overlord and L4D2 are a total mismatch. My only issue is that I think actual gamers should come up with a list like this, and help Common Sense Media out in doing a good thing.

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