H for helpful: Guide tells parents if games are ‘naughty or nice’

For parents, this holiday season has been made a little easier. While standing in the dreaded video game section, wondering if the game they are holding onto is appropriate for their child, they can now get their answers by simply asking their phone.

 The Entertainment Software Rating Board, also known as ESRB, has released an updated version of their free award-winning mobile app, just in time to help with the Christmas shopping.

“The ESRB rating search” now includes voice recognition.

Parents shopping for gamers this Christmas have a little help.

Photo by: Michael ChanThe app allows its users to look at in-depth reviews and ratings released by ESRB, by either taking a photo of the cover or typing the game’s name on their smartphones. The app’s latest update now allows users to simply say the name of a title to access reviews.

“Some parents don’t let their 13-year-old play ‘Teen’ rated games because of a little sword slashing,” says Karen Sproul, the owner of Video Game Traders of Canada, located on Centre Street in Calgary. “So this is a neat app to help parents, who want a little more information.”

ESRB is the self-regulatory body that was established by the Entertainment Software Association in 1994. The ESRB is responsible for ratings handed out to all computer and video games, which consumers see on the packaging of products.

“Rating summaries offer a comprehensive and detailed description of the types of content a parent would want to know about before making that final decision to buy a game,” ESRB president Patricia Vance said in a press release. “Putting that level of detail into parents hands where they often need it most — in the store — is what makes our mobile app such a valuable resource.”

Terry Wood, who was at Wal-Mart looking at a game for his son, usually does his research at home prior to purchasing a video game. But Wood was pleasantly surprised by the app, while using it on games he didn’t get to read about.

“This is a great app for parents who don’t have time to research at home but have smartphones they can use,” says Wood. “It’s pretty handy.”

In April, the ESRB mobile app won a Parents’ Gold Choice Award. It is an award given to the best material for children: books, toys, music and storytelling, magazines, software, videogames, television and websites.

The app allows users to access information to more than 20,000 game titles. ESRB’s database consists of nearly all games released since July 2008. Parents should expect to be able to find the rating for the holiday season’s most sought after titles.

mchan@cjournal.ca