Each game review is intended to answer the question:
“Does this game reflect the gospel well?”
I am not attempting to tell you what games your child should play.
There are a lot of video game review sites that will tell you about the graphics, the controls, whether this game is more interesting/fun/worthwhile than previous versions, etc. A great site for that kind of review is Plugged-In Gaming. They do a wonderful job and give you lots of content to read. Some other options I use for that sort of research are:
At Gamer Revolution the goal of game reviews is to point our hearts and minds back to the truth of the gospel: The good news that overwhelms our bad news: God loves us. While we still hated him he sent his only son to live a life we couldn’t, died a death we deserved, and raised him to life so that we might have life TODAY. That’s great news. We don’t seek satisfaction in video games, we seek it in the God who loves us more than we can know.
With video games that means our focus isn’t “hard far is too far?”. These game reviews ask “Does this game reflect the truth of the gospel?”.
These game reviews are scored for players aged 6-16. This will generally mimic the ESRB rating and shed more light on the reasons why those games earned the grades they did. A game may be rated “Teen” and we hope to give a quick and clear insight into what that means when it comes to issues
Scores are out of 10. 10 is the best score, 1 is the worst.
Very few games are a pure 1 or a pure 10. That’s where we come in.
- Parent Approved Hero: Does the hero / heroine of the story reflect decisions and a mindset that matches with the gospel?
- Appropriate Combat: Even in games where you defeat enemies there can be a big difference from stomping on goombas (Mario) to cutting their heads in half (Walking Dead). We allow our kids to play tag where they get out, and even laser tag or nerf wars. There is a place to look at the violence and gore factor.
- Constructive Language: Is there swearing, racially charged language, or use of slang in the game? We often will include a grade for the online portion of play as well.
- Spiritually Sound: Is there use of magic? Are there spiritual powers? How realistic is the magic / spiritual battles? What images a portrayed in this? There is a spiritual difference between Dungeons & Dragons using reagents to summon demons and Mario picking up a star to become invincible.
- Family Safe: The family is a wonderful symbol of our relational God and video games needs to reflect the values that support a healthy family.
- Sex It’s not just when people are naked. Some games have sexually suggestive content or have hyper-sexualized characters.
- Drugs, demons, destruction: What messages, images, and/or themes are there?
- Safe for Time and Money: Specifically, is the game designed to get you to play for longer than you intend or invest more than you normally would? We ask questions such as: How long does it take to beat? How long is a play session? Shorter is better. How many sessions are required? Does it require/encourage purchasing to win?
- Downloadable Content (DLC): What can be purchased after you already own the game? New levels, characters, gear, add-ons, etc.
- Hook Factor: Is the game geared to hook you into playing more? Is it a highly repetitive grinding game? Does it require extensive play time in raids? Does it push you to spend real money in order to buy crystals/coins/etc? Does it require continual follow-up throughout a day so you’re always thinking about it? Does it allow a player to just play and then move on or is it setup to tie you in and get you continually coming back.
- Positive Messages: Are there concerning topics addressed in the game or ones that parents need to look for carefully?