Best and Worst Video Games
My ten-year-old son is excited about video games, both online and offline. Like any good citizen of the planet, I want him to have fun and learn to kill aliens, but I worry about some of the graphic violence and objectionable themes in today's video games. Can you recommend some GOOD games, and tell me which ones we might want to avoid?
They're Not Called "Killer Apps" For Nothin'
MediaWise is an excellent resource for keeping tabs on the trends and conditions of video and technology aimed at young people. And they've recently published a 10-year assessment of the game industry (online and personal products), concluding that progress not withstanding, "killer apps" (the most popular software in a given category) still tend towards the violent and ugly aspects of life.
Nevertheless, they do remain optimistic that things are changing. And in particular they are pleased that an international rating system is moving the game industry closer to an understanding of the impact these products actually have on the thinking and behavior of our young (and increasingly older) players.
Recommended Video Games for Kids
In addition to their assessment of the decade, they also published their 2005 Video Game Report Card. In that, they identify the Good and the Bad of gaming options, using their standards about the social and learning value. MediaWise recommends the following games for children and teens
On the serious Gamer's side of the story, a website called GameSpot has posted its year-end assessment of downloads or actually played games. They have a wide range of "Best of" categories under such interesting titles as:
Obviously, Gamers take this stuff seriously when it comes to fun and artistic expression. But interestingly, GameSpot's 2005 popular play list somewhat mirrors the "Parent Alert" warnings provided by MediaWise. Most of the popular games from GameSpot are rated Mature with warnings on the store packaging or Web portals. Their list includes:
Interestingly, a game of remarkable popularity called Food-Force.com was released and enhanced over the last year by the United Nations. It simulates the experience of the player being part of a collaborative team of experts who come together on a dangerous adventure to feed the hungry and malnourished in a fictional nation. As the players go through this adventure, they learn fascinating facts about the true issues of food policies and practices worldwide.
Perhaps it says something that while this online game received little marketing attention (and was not even reviewed by MediaWise), some 2 million people downloaded the game in its first six months. By comparison, the top games of GameSpot seldom exceeded 50,000 downloads.
More Recommended Sites
See also Common Sense Media - an independent non-profit organization dedicated to helping families make the best media choices for their kids.
Got a favorite family-friendly game site? Post your comment below.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 11 Jan 2006
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Best and Worst Video Games (Posted: 11 Jan 2006)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved