What would they be rated now?

prs04Zach P. AskedRecently, I’ve been wondering about a few classic M rated games and I was wondering if your previous rulings still stood from the old site. The list is as follows, it might also be helpful to know which ones have filters: Call of Duty 4, Call of Duty 5, Gears of War, BioShock, Left 4 Dead, Resistance: Fall of Man, Resistance 2, Assassin’s Creed, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and Fallout 3. I know that, lately, your reviews have been a little more liberal so I was just requesting some re-reviews based on your new, liberal perspective.

Good questions Zach. True, I have become more lenient as my kids get older and now that the heat is off the industry. When GamerDad launched games were still blamed by everyone. Journalists, lawyers, psychologists and parents were more scared. But gaming has made great strides since then, so defending them conservatively became – in my opinion – less helpful to parents. Also, by liberal and conservative I’m not talking politics.  On the Right we have the culture warriors and the Left we have hand-wringers.

Ok, first off, me: Yes, some would get lower age scores from me. But back then I had a bunch of reviewers and I always let them have their say.  Basically what kids oughta do is encourage their parents to let them rent the game – to see if it passes muster at home. Or visit Youtube and watch some game footage. Or visit ESRB.org and read their reasoning for their ratings. They added this feature despite my suggesting it multiple times and them saying “Not a good idea.”

You are 100% right that there should be a site that lists Age Filters and how effective they are.  I’ve encouraged Whattheyplay and CommonSense to do this and they haven’t.  My other great ignored idea is to give info on age capability.  This is tough but CRUCIAL for parents shopping for kids 2-7. Board games do it, why not video games?

Call of Duty 4, Call of Duty 5, – 15 years old

Gears of War, – 17 years old

BioShock, -15 years old

Left 4 Dead, – 15, less if horror movies aren’t a problem

Resistance: Fall of Man, Resistance 2, – 15

Assassin’s Creed, 13- 15

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion,  – 13 seems more appropriate

Fallout 3, – 15 is probably best, depending on how much sexuality is a problem

17 Responses to “What would they be rated now?”

  1. Would you really give Gears a 17 even considering that it has a filter? It seems less offensive than, say, Fallout, although I admittedly haven’t played the latter, it’s just my impression from videos I’ve seen.

  2. I work in video game retail and I have to deal alot with parents who are concerned with the ratings that are printed on the game. I personally don;t know that I would suggest Fallout 3 for anyone under 17. The game on the surface just seems a little violent with some language. But the more in depth the game gets the more vulgar it gets. I have had many “conversations” with NPC’s in the game that have lead to some pretty vulgar things. Not just cursing, but in the context it is in is usually very adult. There is a difference between a soldier in COD yelling a curse word because he is shot and you having the option to say “F— you, Dad!”

    I agree with you on the age capability prints developers should put on the games. A lot of times I find parents who buy E rated games and come back to complain that the games are too hard for their child even with the E rating. It gets tiring explaining to parents that just because a game has no “adult” content doesn’t mean it’s easy. I think a big part of the problem is the lack of game education most game retailers (*cough*GameStop*cough*) have. I think that with games getting as popular as they are that people who are in these positions should be knowledgeable and worth more. It’s sickening to see the ridiculous turnover rate at game stores. If you own a Wii and that’s all you know, you are not a gamer. I have to hear co-workers everyday spouting out wrong information because they really don;t know, but somehow are still in a retail game position.

    I digress. I hate to use your site as a public forum for ranting, but I agree with a good deal of what you post and I send every customer I get who games with their children to your site. Context is a big issue in games and not all violence or language is uncalled for. I am a big fan of games that are T rated and still have massive content and great game play. Just like comedians like Bill Cosby and Sinbad who are hilarious yet completely clean games can do the same. But sometimes games, like Lost Planet, do have mature themes and could use a little extra blood or language to convey the plot and story of the game. I agree with most everything on your list, I just personally feel that Fallout3 is a very mature title and people should stick to the 17+ age recommendation.

  3. My logic about M-rated games being okay for 15 or 13 is basically based on the idea that there’s often worse in PG-13 movies. Except in terms of language, which is why I go to 15 on them – even though personally I think it’s f***ing stupid to care about language when kids are, you know, listening to Rap and going to High School.

    But always feel free to challenge me and my reasoning and THANK YOU for recommending GamerDad and being a useful and responsible retailer. Do me a favor, stick around and keep giving your perspective. These articles tend to get found by kids for months, so your advice will last a long time.

  4. Gears is a good point but what good is a filter when you’re still teabagging foes and ripping them apart with a chainsaw? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with recommending it to younger, I just feel more comfortable keeping it at 17. This might be because this is one of the few games that parents seem to get really ANGRY about. I can be cowardly sometimes.

  5. (*begin rant*)
    As a parent and gamer and overall consumer of entertainment I find the various rating systems (for games, movies, tv, etc) to be anywhere from a decent starting point to useless. The bottom line is that every parent has different thresholds for violence, sex, blood & gore, foul language, etc. Every child processes exposure to these things differently. If you are a parent that cares, then you simply need to pay attention and do your homework.

    If you own a console, rent the game from Gamefly and play it yourself to see what it is like. Watch footage on YouTube or the publishers website. Read reviews. Any parent/guardian who goes simply by the rating on the box and then complains that a game or movie is too this or that isn’t doing their job.
    (*end rant*)

    I think that providing parents with easy access to game play footage, particularly the bits that cause the ESRB to give a particular rating would be a great idea. And kudos to Nixor for being out there helping all the clueless parents of the world, because there are many of them…. 🙂

  6. I’m rather confuzzled why Bioshock got 15 considering its mature themes, drugs, violence, language and (limited) sexual content. o.O

  7. Yeah the industry needs a “skillz” rating for games.

    My general recommendation is for young kids is to stick to NIntendo-published games on the Wii. They do one of the best jobs in the industry of gradually ramping up the difficulty and not starting at too high of one to begin with. The games themselves aren’t usually very complex in terms of controls, but that doesn’t mean they don’t ultimately ramp up a bit in difficult or can’t provide a challenge to even the most seasoned gamer.

    I take offense to the notion that you aren’t a gamer if all you own is a Wii. 😉 I understand where you are coming from, but remember many own a 360 and just own Madden or Modern Warfare. And really don’t know anything else about gaming.

    So I think “gamer” isn’t the system you own – but how much you follow games and are into them. I find many employees on gaming sites absolutely ignorant about the Wii.

  8. I do not agree with your notion that young kids need to stick to the Wii. There are plenty of other good games for other systems. I may only be saying this because I intensely dislike the Wii and all of the casual gaming that it stands for, but why can’t a kid play some Lost Planet, Halo, or Prince of Persia? None of those games are really any more intense than say, Twilight Princess and Metroid, and all are fun to a degree. Just because a game is published by Nintendo doesn’t make it the perfect family game. Personally, I agree that fifteen year olds can handle these games. Fallout is extremely gory, so maybe not that one, but any of the others is okay. I don’t like the ESRB’s assumption that everyone keeps the same maturity level until they turn seventeen. I ask you, is there any real jump in maturity from one day before the seventeenth birthday to the seventeenth birthday? No, of course not. Not to mention the fact that I know several seventeen year olds who are thoroughly less mature than other fifteen year olds.

  9. Anti-Nintendo bias and Pro-Nintendo bias aren’t something I’d waste my time on. The Wii is clearly better for families because it has something for everyone and plenty of non-gamer friendly fare. It also offers a lot more choices for people with little kids. Maybe it’s not the best choice for a family of hardcore gamers or for families where only teenagers game. That’s all up to the families involved.

    The ESRB doesn’t assume that 17 is some magical age where kids suddenly become ready for adult stuff. It’s just a guide, like the movie ratings, for parents who don’t care or don’t want to think too deeply about whether this game is more kid-friendly than that game.

    I tend to default to 15, rather than 17, because I think by 15 the cat is out of the bag. There’s plenty of sex, gore, bad words, etc., available all over the Internet to really worry about how bloody Fallout 3 is. Any teen who wants to see this stuff, can, and will. So the main purpose of the ESRB is to provide a rough standard that parents can use or disregard. My purpose is only to clarify.

    And Freakhead is right. The best way to see if you’re dealing with amateurs at a gaming site is to see how they regard the Wii. It’s a game system not a badge of coolness, honor or gamerness. The Wii is a nice friendly Volkswagon to the Xbox 360 or PS3s Lexus.

    They’ll all get you to where you want to go. The only difference is the options and mileage.

  10. You’re probably right about the ESRB, but the fact of the matter is that so many parents adhere so strictly to the ratings system that they might as well be assuming that the magical age is seventeen. I agree with the ESRB’s mission, I just think that they’re going about it the wrong way. You, on the other hand are going about it the right way. The ESRB is attempting to slap an age rating, which is objective, to maturity, which is very subjective. I don’t like the ESRB, I’m going to go on record saying that, because I think that they are completely screwing up the system. The content descriptors are a very good idea, but the age rating is a bad idea. Oh, and I’m sorry if I came off as anti-Nintendo. I don’t hate Nintendo. I don’t like the Wii, but other people certainly have a right to. I just happen to think that the motion controls were a poor choice. Meanwhile, I thought the Game Cube was the best thing since sliced bread.

  11. i agree with freakhead all the way.gamerdad thx for taking ur time to re rate these games.been alot easier to convince my parents.ur awsome =)

  12. also ive seen movie like saving pvt. ryan,the patriot,we were soliders, and 30 days and nights. ive also seen the tv show band of brothers. do u thank left 4 dead is approprite?

  13. nvm.

  14. “Recently, I’ve been wondering about a few classic M rated games and I was wondering if your previous rulings still stood from the old site.”

    Hey gamer Dad, I’m 13, I’ve been wondering this too, but I would like a linger list. Also I recently read your rating review for Halo 3 and I’m going to show it to my mom. Assassin’s Creed 2 is another of the games I’ve wanted to play, but my parents are pretty anti-M. Do you have an article on Assassin’s Creed 2

  15. Hello gamerdad. I am 12 years old and i was wondering if i should be playing fallout 3. Ive played all cod games since i was eight, i just finished playing bioshock1-2,and i play the god of war series. But i went to gamestop and the clerk said i deffinately should not be playing it. wich i dont agree with cause my friend has it and we have played it please tell me what you think

  16. What ages would u recomend for halo games

  17. On AC, you said 13-15. Did that mean 13 with filters, and 15 without?

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