Best and Worst Video Games

Category: Software

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

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (E 10+)
  • The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer (E 10+)
  • Peter Jackson's King Kong (T)
  • Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (E)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (T)
  • Sly 3: Honor Amongst Thieves (E 10+)
  • We Love Katamari (E)
  • Sid Meier's Pirates! (E)
  • Dance Dance Revolution ULTRAMIX3 (E 10+)
  • Backyard Baseball 2005 (E)
  • 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:

  • Best Original Music
  • Most Surprisingly Good
  • Best Story
  • Best Voice Acting
  • Best Creative License
  • Best Use of Sweat
  • "Danger, Warning!

    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:

  • Civilization IV
  • Ninja Gaiden Black
  • Resident Evil 4
  • Battlefield 2
  • Mario Kant DS
  • Fifa 06
  • Need for Speed
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • FEAR
  • Food Fight!

    Interestingly, a game of remarkable popularity called 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.

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    Most recent comments on "Best and Worst Video Games"

    Posted by:

    14 Jan 2006

    This is great... I looked over the Good and Bad lists with my 9-year-old and got some ideas for new games to try. Fortunately he wasn't familiar with any of the Baddies. We're going to visit the MediaWise site to get more info - thanks!

    Posted by:

    John Howard Oxley
    16 Jan 2006

    I find the inclusion of CIVILIZATION IV on "Mature" list to be most puzzling, and did not see anything on the GameSpot site suggesting it was likely to shock sub-teens. Surely it cannot be any more violent than a history textbook!

    Posted by:

    17 Jan 2006

    Can you take any group that talks about "killographic" games all that seriously? OK, they're a lobbying group. And they will go to extremes in cases to make a point.

    They SEE a part of the "problem" with kids getting mature video games is that parents aren't parenting - yet they still point the finger at the video game industry. I appreciate much of what they're *trying* to do, believe it or not. A list of "kid friendly" games is all well and good. But should a parent need an "alert" that a game called Battlefield 1942, or Resident Evil, FEAR or the like is probably "not a kids game?"

    I suppose the best suggestion would be teaching parents how to research games. Showing how to download demos, where to find screenshots and descriptions and the like - and reinforcing the idea that yes, you SHOULD go and see what your kids want to play. It would make the lists like these "alert" lists obsolete.

    Posted by:

    24 Mar 2006

    I am a grandmother of nine and I am always giving PC games to my grandkids. I have done this for the past 9+ years. I have never given them any PC games that have graphic violence or expletive language.

    Since the advent of ratings for these PC games, it is really easy to see on the shelves what it good and what is bad, for kids. The E rating means Everyone and rarely do these PC games have anything on them, to even worry about. It is the T (Teen) rating that you must really keep an eye on. Look for Demo's to try out, Screenshots and most importantly, READ about the basics of the game. The M or Mature rating, pretty much says it all. I know that anything rated M is NOT for my grandkids.

    While I totally agree that it is up to the parents and grandparents to oversee what their kids and grandkids play, it cannot be ignored that ratings has certainly been a boon, for all of us. I know that it has saved me lots of money in the long run, so, I do NOT make mistakes purchasing the wrong PC game.

    However, I disagree that making "lists" is a bad thing or stupid or obsolete. I know that I am always appreciative of someone else who has taken the time to do the research for me and help me make a good, sound, solid decision. There are way TOO many PC and Video games out in the market today, not to have "good and bad lists" available.

    Posted by:

    07 Nov 2008

    Is Garry's Mod appropriate for children under 10?

    Posted by:

    07 Mar 2009

    "Is Garry's Mod appropriate for children under 10?"
    Absolutly not.

    Posted by:

    #1 kid
    27 Nov 2010

    iv been playing alot of games but i recommend not to play rated m games some of T games are appropriate .
    bad: good:
    god of war spongebob
    grand theft auto umm so buy any game that ant rated m!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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