Video Game Reviews: The Scoring Guide

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:

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?

The Process

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.