Do you have a video game console in your home? If you do, no doubt your child has brought home a game from a friend, rented a game from the local video store or they are pressing you for a few bucks to buy one at the store. How do you know if the game is suitable for your family? A quick glance at the video game ratings on the boxes can be a big help.The ESRB or Entertainment Software Ratings Board was founded in the mid 90′s to help guide users by assigning content ratings to computer and video games.Video game ratings have two different aspects to them, an age rating which is listed on the front and a content description that is listed on the back.There are six age ratings symbols that could be listed on the front. The following is a listing of the different age ratings.EC (Early Childhood) – Games with this rating are intended for ages 3 and older and do not contain inappropriate material.E (Everyone) – Games with this rating are intended for ages 6 and older and may contain minimal cartoon or mild violence or may contain very small amounts of mild language.E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) – Games with this rating have content suitable for those 10 and older and may contain mild violence, mild language or some suggestive themes.T (Teen) – Games with this rating are intended for ages 13 and older due to violence, suggestive themes, minimal amounts of blood or some strong language.M (Mature) – Games with this rating have content suitable for those 17 years of age or older due to intense violence, blood, sexual content and/or strong language.AO (Adults Only) – Games with this rating are only intended for those 18 years of age and older due to prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.If you see a game with an RP it stands for Rating Pending and the game is waiting for a final rating prior to the games release.In addition to the age appropriate ratings on the front of the box, there is a content description on the back of the box. There are over 30 content descriptions to help you determine what your child is being exposed to. Some example descriptions are Blood, Comic Mischief, Edutainment, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Real Gambling, and Use of Drugs.It is important to note that even though a game receives a rating, that rating is for single player gaming. One of the more attractive aspects of today’s video games is the ability to play them online with others from all over the world. Many games allow use of a headset or even a video camera. Whenever you play a video game online (just like when you play a group game at school or a board game at a party) your child may be subjected to things out of your control such as inappropriate language.As a parent, video game ratings can be a great help to you, however it is important to not just rely on ratings on the side of the box. Also make sure to spend time watching or better yet playing the game with your child or participating in an online game to better determine what is appropriate for your child.
When we refer to online games we are normally referring to video type games that we play on a computer via the internet. Some video games are played over the internet using mobile phones and video consoles, but generally speaking online games means computer games that need an internet connection to be played. Simple text-based multiplayer games were the first of these types of games as internet connections were slow and expensive when these games were first introduced in the 1980s. Gradually these games became popular in the 1990s, with today’s online games featuring virtual communities, realistic graphics and multiplayer games where people can even play one to one or in knock out tournaments for cash prizes. We all know that the internet is the fastest growing market place in the history of the world but did you know that there is an online games sector that is growing 4 times faster than the internet overall! Yes! and it’s the “Online Skill Games” market.There are many styles of Online GamesSome of the different types of online games that exist:1. Real time strategy games: This type of game is all about strategy where, for your army to fight successfully against the other internet players you need to develop a game plan by building lots of resources2. First person shooter: Here the players compete with each other one to one. In most first-person type games, the online game allows the death match or arena style of play. In this style of game play the view you see is the one seen from your character’s eyes.3. Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG): In this type of game each person has to keep trying to reach the next highest level until he has reached the top one written for that game and these online games can have, simultaneously, thousands of players from every part of the globe, playing in a giant virtual world interacting against or with each other. Gamers can keep playing these types of games for months or even years!4. Browser type games: These are pastime games that are quick, simple and small that are played in your browser. The popular Java and Shockwave technologies are used to develop these games.5. Online skill games: An online skill based game is a web game played in tournament format or one to one. Each player pays a cash entry fee to play with a cash or merchandise prize going to the winner or winners. The outcome of each competition is based on the player’s ability and performance not luck.How Do Online Game Companies Make MoneyAll games today, are playable online. How do we make money? This is the question that companies making the online games have to ask themselves. The majority of companies make single-player games that are played at home and in this the player has to beat the artificial intelligence of the enemy. Today these games normally include an online multiplayer version which can be played against or with other Internet players. By selling their game DVD/CDs is how these companies earn their profit e.g. Warcraft 3 and Counter Strike. Advertising and promotions is how browser game companies make their money. MMORPG companies generally charge their players a monthly fee and continue to add content by programming new scenarios etc in their games e.g. Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft. Some don’t, but survive because their DVD/CD sales are high e.g. Guild Wars.What is the future of online games?Soon there will be a new entry into the online skill games market. According to their Free Online Games Market Report they will be the first company with their new online skill games platform, to launch a business that encapsulates three of the newest phenomena on the internet today. Online Games Entertainment, Social Networking using web 2.0 and a new way of marketing which has been described as Social Marketing 2.0. One of the core differences with this new platform over the conventional models is that we the players can if we want share in the profits while we play our games. With the market today (2007) worth approximately $5.2 billion USD and predicted to rise in the next 3 years to over $13 billion USD that’s $412 per second and with social networking sites already reaching 45% of web users and the 4 major Instant Messengers having more than 400 million users between them this potentially could be a whole lot of money.