Note: Dylan McAndrew is a student at McNeil High School and provides our ApaCenter blog readers with “The Teen Perspective.”
An “M” (Mature) rated game is a game rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) as having “content suitable for persons 17 and older.” This content may include graphic violence and blood, language, and sexual content. In other words, it is the videogame equivalent of an R rated movie. Since many of the most popular titles in the gaming industry have this rating, it is obvious many kids below the age of 17 would have an urge to get these games. However, because of the graphic nature of these games, many parents wonder what age really is appropriate to play M rated games. Some advice from the teen perspective is as follows:
Maturity Level– Probably the most important factor is the overall maturity level of the kid. Some kids will go around repeating the vulgar language heard in the game and are unable to determine which parts of the game are realistic (i.e., could happen in real life) and what is completely impossible. They can also be frightened of the material and feel uncomfortable around the violent or sexual parts. This obviously means they are not old or mature enough for the game. On the other hand, some kids can take the material well and understand it’s just a game for entertainment. They understand scenes in the game are meant to depict inappropriate matters and are not meant to be repeated in real life. Most likely, they are mature enough to play the game. Still, some parents just don’t want their kids to be exposed to that kind of stuff. In my opinion, by your early teens the majority of people should be able to play at least some M rated games. I have known people since 2nd or 3rd grade playing some of the most graphic games, which I think is way too young.
Not all M rated games have the same content– Even in M rated games, there is a large spectrum of the overall content. Some have milder content than others, while some are as graphic as can be. For example, the popular game Call of Duty is mainly M rated because of violence and gore, but the game Grand Theft Auto is rated so because of sexual content, drug references, language, as well as graphic violence. I (nearly 15 years old), for example, am allowed to play certain M rated games, as long as they aren’t sexually graphic and have the approval from my parents. To be honest, I am fine with this and can play most of the games on my list. Something parents can do if they are concerned about M rated games is watching some game play footage of the desired game on YouTube. This can give the parent a glimpse of what their child would be experiencing while they play and if it is right for them or not.
Many popular games are not M Rated– Although many of today’s best rated and most popular games are rated M, many also are not. Sports games, such as FIFA and Madden NFL, are rated “E”(for Everyone) and are among the most popular at my school. This is important to note because games do not have to be M to be fun. Games rated “T” (for “Teens ages 13 and up) are also a good compromise to make. If you think your child is too young to play M rated games, allowing them to play T rated games could be a compromise. Although this isn’t the most pleasing option for kids and teens, it still is better from kids’ perspective than being restricted to only E-rated games.
Deciding upon whether to allow your kids to play M rated games can be a dilemma. The real trick is finding the spot in between where they aren’t exposed too early, yet not missing out on the popular games either when they’re older. Of course playing M rated games are far from necessity, but in this day and age it is a common form of entertainment among teens especially. By knowing your kid well and about the games in question themselves, you should know if they are ready or not.