I don’t play video games much anymore, I tinker sporadically, but wouldn’t call myself an active gamer, at least not like I used to be. Back in the 80s and early 90s I was a big Infocom and Sierra fan. (I actually wrote the official walkthroughs for several Sierra games way back when, although I am not sure I should have just admitted that in public). Anyway, although I don’t get to play much nowadays, my kids do (and I do sample every game they play, before they play it). Game play time is greatly restricted, as are the games I let my kids play. But the big question is, how can you really determine what games kids should play? ESRB ratings are important, but they are not the end all. For starters, there are games that ESRB approves that I might not, and the reverse is true, too. But even beyond ratings, how can you determine that your kids will enjoy a game, even if it is age appropriate? Which games will give them a sense of accomplishment, and which will merely frustrate them? Which are manageable and enjoyable for kids of specific ages? Are there games that can actually encourage them to read? (Shocking suggestion, I know, but we actually own one game that did just that!). What games are compelling and worth buying, and which are duds (despite ratings and glowing reviews)? When I got my Xbox a few years ago I asked around (I actually posted a message on this blog, and received invaluable suggestions). I also chatted with other gamers, including Ray Camden who gave me his recommendations for that Xbox and my newer Xbox 360. I also gave him, and others my own recommendations, based on the games we own. And this informal to and fro between Ray and myself recently crystallized in the form of KidGamers.org, a new blog by Scott Stroz, Emmet McGovern, Ray, and myself, where we plan on posting our own reviews on games for kids. The emphasis is less ratings, and more real feedback based on our own experiences as parents of gamers. There are a couple of reviews up there right now, and we plan on posting new reviews at least a week. Feel free to check it out.
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