Video game reviews are an important resource for parents to make informed decisions for healthful and balanced gaming.
The Importance of Balance
As a teacher I see young people every day that walk into my room who are out of balance. Daily I have student who are emotionally spent, sometimes they are spiritually dry, sometimes they are just hungry and sleepy. The joy of education is that we don’t simply work with a single text and say “wherever you are in life, take this!” We work with the whole learner.
The same is true in gaming.
A great teacher works with the whole student.
Every person is: Physical, mental, emotional, sexual, spiritual
There are lots of video game reviews that tell you if the game or technology is cool:
- Common Sense Media
- Plugged In Gaming
- ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board)
Yet there are surprisingly few that address two major questions: Is it healthful? Is it balanced?
Balanced Gaming and a Healthful Person
- Physical: how physically wound up will the player get? What will their heart rate, dopamine, adrenaline do while playing?
- Mental: what intellectual topics are brought up? What themes?
- Emotional: how are themes, images, and topics addressed? Is it distressing
- Spiritual: is this respectful or simply used as a trope? Are the viewpoints well-conveyed for a complex conversation or are players pigeon-holed into agreeing with the author / designers?
- Sexual: is this done in a healthful, age appropriate and respectful way?
To do this well I got the help of a dozen ILoSA (a gaming club I’ve run the last two years) young people and they helped me nail down this firm list of categories and a strong set of games to review. They arrived at a total of 7 categories that are brief enough to be useful, but detailed enough to be helpful.
Video Game Review Categories
My game reviews will specifically focus on the following from a scale of 1 (very poor) to 10 (very strong). The higher the score, the better these games are for a fun and full balanced experienced.
- Positive Hero:
- Appropriate Combat:
- Constructive Language:
- Family Fun:
- Spiritual Safe:
- Balanced for time and money:
- Uplifting Message:
Note: A low score doesn’t mean a game isn’t fun. It means that game contains aspects that are unbalanced. ex: A game that includes a high amount of violence and an unbalanced push for paying to win (balanced time/money) may be extremely fun and addictive. It will score low because it isn’t as healthful as other options.