The Video Games Your Kids Shouldn’t Play

By  |  Monday, December 7, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Common Sense Media has spoiled the fun of teens and ‘tweens everywhere, releasing a list of 10 games parents should avoid giving their kids as gifts this holiday season.

The list includes 10 alternatives, but that’s of little consolation when most of them are third-tier or year-old releases. For instance, Assassin’s Creed 2 is swapped for last year’s Mirror’s Edge. Battlefield: Bad Company is recommended in place of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Some of the alternatives don’t even resemble the original, like the platform puzzler Braid instead of the fantasy RPG Dragon Age: Origins. I also got a kick out of Demon’s Souls’ downvote partly because of its “depressing vibe” and brutal difficulty that can “break the spirit of even the most seasoned gamer.” How true!

I don’t want to rag on Common Sense’s list too much, as I like anything that helps parents be smart about media, but in general I tend to be wary of “play this, don’t play that” recommendations. One reason is that some of the games mentioned have parental restrictions built in. Brutal Legend, for example, asks at the start of the game whether you want to see gore and hear curse words. It’d be too bad if some teens, especially if they love metal music, missed out on that game, so a more valuable list would say which of these games has parental controls.

But the bigger issue is that the rating isn’t necessarily the be-all end-all. The teen-rated Infamous, for example, lets players become forces of evil (or good, if they choose) and kill innocent people. The game’s not as gory as Borderlands, but it stands on trickier moral footing. Left 4 Dead 2 is a bloody game, for sure, but it demands teamwork with real people online to defeat a common foe.

I’m not saying a 10 year-old should necessarily play either of those games, but a little more understanding of what the games entail, regardless of their rating, can go a long way towards making decisions that keep everyone happy.



8 Comments For This Post

  1. NanoGeek Says:

    It would be nice if the ESRB said in their ratings whether games included parental controls or not.

  2. Minty Dervish Says:

    @nano vista/w7 can block games based on there ratings. For PS3/Xbox 360 you can also do that. So they don’t really need to list that.

  3. Seumas Says:

    It really has to be miserable to be a kid these days when everything about society and life and being young is nerfed for you by over-zealous busy-bodies with nothing better to do.

  4. tengeta Says:

    Typical way of dealing with it, get rid of it and go to the opposite extreme. Its one thing to have your 7 year old playing Halo 3 and cheering everytime he gets a headshot, I really am not seeing the issue with kids over thirteen doing it. I did it, many of my peers did it, and we aren’t feeling some primal urge to go out on shooting sprees.

  5. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    Normally I’m not really pleased by anything telling people games are evil, and I especially agree some of the info is wrong (for example contrary to what common sense media says Left4Dead2 really IS more about teamwork than it is about the gore – as an experienced 21yo L4D1 & L4D2 player I should know :p), I kinda like this idea.

    Because if there is one thing I can’t stand is parents not caring about what games their children play: every time I see a 13yo kid at the local game store whining to his mother to get GTA4 and getting what he wants without the parent even looking what the game is about, I really get seriously annoyed.

    So I really support any initiative trying to inform parents about todays popular games – as long as it’s done in a fair way. And at first glance, Common Sense media does just that 🙂

  6. NanoGeek Says:


    I meant that it would be nice if the game ratings said whether or not you could turn off profanity, gore, and other things from within the game.

  7. r4i software Says:

    Hi all…

    I am playing games on pc and i like to know more about gaming…

    I like this article because it’s provide lot’s of fun and knowledge…

  8. jpeiler Says:

    I am 12 years old and kids my age at my school get to talk about these M games and their parents let them play them. But, pleasssse, parents, don’t let your child be like this. There is game ratings for a reason. Kids aren’t supposed to see violence. There is E games, and they aren’t just for little kids. They’re for EVERYONE. EVERY AGE. Alot of adults play them. Please this advice if you are a parent and reading this. Violence, even in video games, is secretly sending a message into your child’s mind.