CES 2008: What They Play — The Video Game Guide for Parents

“What They Play” is a new website that helps inform parents about the specific content in video games that they may find objectionable.   Experienced gaming journalists were recruited to play and write up video games, listing what potentially objectionable content exists in a game.  The intent of this website is help parents understand, in detail, the ESRB rating a video game is given so that parents can make an informed decision about what games they will allow their children to play.  They strive to give unbiased facts about drug use, sexual content, foul language, and violent content, but do not include religious themes in their assessment (I probed on this deeply to the rep’s discomfort, explaining that some parents are sensitive to games that may have anti-religious themes, include the occult, and material that insinuates what they consider inappropriate romantic relationships.  Also, on the other hand, there are also some parents who are sensitive to pro-religious themes and/or content that they may view as discriminatory.  My feeling is that informed parents don’t become surprised parents that, out of shock, go on a crusade to ban what they consider objectionable entertainment for everyone else). Parents can also contribute by posting comments to each write-up.  The two representatives of this website said if this takes off, then they plan on expanding to “What They See” for movies and television and “What They Read” for books.  I asked if they considered manga within “What They Read.”  They said they did not.  I explained that maybe they should because the ratings on manga are just as confusing as those on video games.  Either way, I like what this company is doing and I hope they succeed because I want everybody to have an enjoyable gaming experience and I like the idea of giving parents the tools they need help their children select appropriate entertainment.

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