Team Fortress 2 in NZ

Jayson (14) from New Zealand Writes: “I’m a 14yo guy who live in NZ and my dad is being rather unfair. I’ve played a very wide range of games rating from “G” to “R18”. While at home however I’m only allowed to play games rated “T”. I’ve let it go many times before but there is this one game called “Team Fortress 2” and it is rated “M” for cartoon violence. . . .

I have showed my dad videos and screen-shots of the game but he still believes it will be bad for my to play. I get annoyed because he has never played it before and knows nothing about it yet he says I’m not allowed to play it. On that note, he has never played a modern game let alone anything to do with shooters. I was just wondering if you could dig up some information or give your professional opinion on my situation. This is a special case for me because I’m very bored at home with nothing to do and also because the in-game chat for this game will enable me to talk to friends and even some family that i haven’t talked to in years. I would really appreciate something to back ME up so he will let me play it.

Hi Jayson, first of all, sorry, I have a policy where I don’t openly question or contradict parents – so I can’t tell your Dad to let you play a game that he’s at least done a little home work on. Screenshots/videos/etc., I can correct misconceptions, I can tell him that I would allow my own 14 year old to play this game with friends and that, as shooters go, Team Fortress 2 is cartoonish, silly, very well made, and tasteful for what it is – a game about two teams competing to blow each other up.

It is also less violent than Rugby.

What I CAN do is just explain the game and why it’s so fun.  Mr. Jayson’s Dad, remember when you were young and you and your mates would run around with fake guns or with sticks meant to be guns playing war? Remember what was going on in your head? That was bloodier than this game.  The game simply gives graphics and rules to the kind of social competitive fantasy play that pretty much all men – and some women – in all cultures engage in.

In TF2 you have the Red team and the Blue team (any inaccuracies from this point on are due to my not playing this game for a few years). Each team features different classes (positions, like in sports) that have specific roles. There’s a sneaky guy, a sniper, a flamethrower, a big heavy machine gunner, a trap setting engineer, and a soldier type. Oh, there’s also a Medic who’s role is to follow teammates around HEALING them. Anyway, the two teams fight over territory to get the flag of the other team and score points to win the game. That’s the basics right there.

It’s paintball, in virtual space.  When I blast a character played by my best friend in the world I’m not killing him. I’m doing the equivalent of pinning him in wresting or slam dunking him on a basketball court. That’s the kind of competition these games represent. The violence and gunplay are just window dressing, adding to the comic book appeal.

In TF2 a person who is “dead” is punished by having to wait a while to come back into the game – respawn. No one gets hurt, nobody can get hurt, and the thrill the game provides isn’t not KILLING, it’s SURVIVING.  The background might be violent, but most team sports are violent as a subtext, and at least this one de-emphasizes the blood in favor of cartoon visuals. The positions, characters that are playable all require skill and practice, like any game. There’s also a fair amount of strategy involved.

My point is, if this game offends you, then any violent sport or activity – like, again, paintball, for lack of a better example – should also offend you. If it’s just the virtual blood that bothers you, well, that’s a legitimate concern. One I think is nonsense but an opinion you have a right to hold.

The social aspect shouldn’t be ignored and while there are jerks online if you play randomly (most can be avoided or muted) the game is meant to be played co-operatively. Each player playing their position and playing it well, working together to win the match. If your son has friends and family he can play this game with – so much the better!

If you fear the game will make your son more aggressive or violent – I say don’t worry about it. The studies that indicate games like this cause aggression also show that futbol or rugby or wrestling or boxing – cause similar aggression. My main point sir, is that Team Fortress 2 is all about good old fashioned traditional fake violent boy play.

And when you were a lad —- you would have loved it!

You can check my credentials on this site – the basics are I’m a 39 year-old father of two with 11 years as a professional game critic, 7 years as an expert in games and media violence, and the experience of playing hundreds and hundreds of violent video games without a dent in my empathy or compassion for real living beings.

The call is always up to you, but this is as good a bending point as any. There are far, far more violent and anti-social games your son could be playing.

Hope that helps Jayson and Jayson’s Dad!


26 Responses to “Team Fortress 2 in NZ”

  1. That’s one of the best, and most well thought out articles I’ve read in a long time. Kudos.

  2. Thanks! As always, spread the word

  3. Same here, great article. I agree with everything you said, although I’ve only played a few times.

  4. I agree . And well put to geather and thought full about the Game. I am a 47 year old gamer dad and I love CounterStrike Source ( Valve = Steam ) were the game was released and played . I myself dont play the game , only because its just like you state ” Team Fortress 2 is cartoonish, silly, very well made, and tasteful for what it is. the game is meant to be played co-operatively. Each player playing their position and playing it well, working together to win the match. If your son has friends and family he can play this game with – so much the better! ” and Im more into the realistic warfair . But I do have a 6 year old and a 12 year old I let play that game and they love playing against each other . they bolth have there own Steam accounts and I try to monitor the players they can hear or talk to online ( mute ) because like you say, the only drawback to that game are the mouths of some players…

  5. Is Halo Reach and Team Fortress about the same intensity level?

  6. THanks for the review. I’m going to let my son check it out.

  7. @Anonymous no, Team Fortress 2 is much, much milder than Halo Reach. TF2 is cartoony and Halo is very real.

  8. Just found this site – brilliant! Thanks for giving me some guidance.

  9. Thanks for the insightful comments!

  10. My parents wont let me play tf2 exempt man vs. machine. M vs. M is a new game mode where you fight waves of ROBOTS. its really fun too

  11. I am twelve and I can play TF2, well when i say i can i do but
    technically my parents dont know like i havent introduced tf2
    to them but if they come into my room
    and see me playing it they dont question

    But really I think nova 3 on android
    is more violent than this

    This is just a fun, light FPS shooter

    I hope that helped



    This yahoo page says how to turn off gore and blood. Haven’t tried it yet but plan to soon.

  13. “If you fear the game will make your son more aggressive or violent – I say don’t worry about it. The studies that indicate games like this cause aggression also show that futbol or rugby or wrestling or boxing – cause similar aggression. My main point sir, is that Team Fortress 2 is all about good old fashioned traditional fake violent boy play.”

    I would have to disagree with this statement and say that the boys father should worry about this. Whilst TF2 may cause similar aggression to football or rugby, there is a very big difference. In both of these cases the nature of the play triggers a release of hormones and adrenaline which is where the aggression comes from. The big difference is that when playing a physical game like football or rugby, the body can process the adrenaline and it moves through the system (it’s the fight or flight mechanism). When playing TF2, the adrenaline builds up in the system and has no where to go. It creates more aggression, and stress and anxiety.
    I have recently banned my own son from playing TF2 because of the deterioration in his behaviour. It’s amazing how quickly he calms down and his behaviour improves when he’s not playing this game.
    I think it’s a major worry for parents, especially at a sensitive time for a persons brain as in the teenage years, it undergoes huge changes. High levels of adrenaline and stress hormones such as cortisol are a very bad idea.
    Sometimes parents have to take a stance to protect their children, even when it’s an unpopular decision.

  14. I disagree. My son plays this, and the worst thing that has happened in terms of aggression is if an annoying player is bugging him, or if a group of people in the game gang up on him. He reacts to it mildly, trying to ask the annoying player and the people ganging up on him to stop. If they don’t, he quits the server he’s in and goes on a different one or does offline play

  15. is it suitable for a ten year old?

  16. I have an 11 yr old, and feel this game while cartoonish has the perspective from the player’s eyes, and is walking up to others and shooting them “point blank.” It is almost a voyeuristic act of killing someone point blank. It is definitely not as graphically violent as other rated M games, but I feel almost perspective of an execution-type shooting is very bothersome. It desensitizes these young kids to this pretty disturbing act in my opinion. I am not worried that my 11 year old is going to run out, get a gun a shoot somebody, but I just can’t see this as being something good to expose my 11 year old too. The problem is all of his friends play, and their parents are clueless to what this young kids are doing. Sucks being the bad guy! Does anyone agree with my feelings towards this? Also, could someone tell me if Team Fortress 2 and G-Mod are the same thing??

  17. Awesome! hopefully this helps me, too!!

  18. You want pro opinion? Well have it.
    1)Yes, there is just a little bit bad about the game: Heavy and Medic are gays, but this can be only found out in fan made videos, and nothing in-game shows this. There is a lot of blood.
    2)Scout: don’t show your dad the Scout’s Primary weapon (Scattergun/ Force-O-Nature/ Soda Popper/ etc.) taunt. Cuse he slapps his own not telling you what in cace you let your dad read this.
    3)The good thing about ANY video-game (including TF2) is that you have to think. Matt said ” walking up to others and shooting them “point blank.” ” I don’t agree with that. Well, maybe in case of Scout or Heavy this is true, but, let’s take the Spy. Think: what’s the right time to sap engi’s sentry gun, uncloack – buckstab – cloack so that you don’t get spotted, right character to duisguise as, (i think it will be very foolish if a sniper will go to his intel room, so if you go for the Intellegnce, duisguising as a Snipr is a very bad idea, and much much more.
    If you need more information, contact me on

  19. How in the world do you compare a game that had blood and body parts to football and rugby? One is active physical participation while the other is a passive blob in front of a screen.

    We are desensitizing our children to killing and aggressive behavior. It’s sad to see parents think that because this is “cartoonish blood and killing” it makes it OK.

    Before you go an call me a crazy kook who doesn’t know how the modern world operates, all I can say is, “you’re wrong!”

  20. @Mother, did you read the entire article above? Not trying to sound rude, but there are good reasons going FOR video games influencing violence and lazyness, but nearly the entirety of the article are the good reasons of how they DON’T influence violence and aggression.

  21. is this game ok for a 13 year old.
    I love this game but if it is able to desensitize me I would rather quit

  22. like I said I love this game
    but I’ll quit

    Mother are you actually a mom

  23. Thnx alot, I’m trying to convince my parents to let me play at the moment, and this article really helped. Also, I have Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2, and in my opinion, camparing that to TF2, Tft is Elmo with bubbleguns, do you agree? Btw, I’m 13 if that helps at all, lol

  24. This is me a 10 year old talking. I never played this game. Neither do I mind the blood and gore. If your child takes dying/losing etc easily like me. Then the game is allowed. But the best age to start playing is at the age of 14. Because that seems more mature. Although many people found a way to get rid of the blood and gore. The fact that you have to “kill” and end a life of a enemy in a virtual life might result in the child becoming slightly aggresive depending on age. When I die or lose in a FPS shooter then I dont take it seriously like other kids do. Sometimes I even laugh positvely when I die. However it might get VERY frustrating when you cant win the game nor enjoy it. This disses me off heavilly. Other than that. Trust the critics! If I were a critic I would change the age rating to 14. However if your child is young and wants a harmless gun shooting experience in real life then there is a brand of toy guns called Nerf. The company makes toy gund. The bullets are very soft, squishy and are made out of sponge. This allows for friendly play for indoors and outdoors. When a bullet hits you then it only hurts a little. As if somebody pinched you. However if the child is sensetive to pain wether it is related to a disorder or natural then I dont reccomend this toy brand if you are going to play with others.

  25. My 13 year old is obsessed with this game. He wants to stop doing his sport and music and other activities, arguing that because he is a straight A student he can do what he wants with his leisure time. Which is, basically, being on the game for 3 hours at a stretch, surfacing occasionally to do something else. He uses up all our broadband allowance and i refuse to get more. It makes him listless, sometimes aggressive. He leaves the dinnertable as soon as he finished eating, to return to it. I have got to the point of disconnecting the modem and setting clear boundaries, which are generally ignored whenever possible. All family discussions have failed. It is not the violence, cartoonish or not, that worries me; it is that it is clearly ADDICTIVE for certain kids, and an escape from the real world. Before this it was Clash of Clans; another game with no end point – these games just carry on and on. And on.

  26. Aus dad, I think that it is not the game that is addictive, but rather that YOU are incompetent at setting boundaries. Your son needs something else to do, not an angry father saying he is addicted. Maybe help him find something else to do, though i reckon he will be over the ‘addiction’ by now.

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