Age ratings are more complicated than they first appear, especially if you are a parent who is new to gaming. With more games crossing over from casual to hardcore it’s more important to understand how to read a videogame box to identify the games that are best for your family — something we will look at in the next episode of FGTV.
Case in point is Driver: San Francisco on 360/PS3 and Driver on 3DS. I had been playing and enjoying the big console version of Driver: San Francisco and even let my oldest play a little of it with me — it’s only a ESRB Teen rating.
In the evening I was playing Driver Renegade 3DS in the bathroom, while my youngest son took his daily dip — being only three means we still keep an eye on him, although I think this is more because we imagine he is younger than he actually is.
While I waited for a cut scene to load I realized my son was singing to himself. Nothing unusual about this; he often does this while he plays. But this song involved some surprising language, along the lines of: “Hey hey hey, you’re my s–t hud / come on little bear, my mumma funking little bear.” I think some of the original lyrics may have been lost in translation.
As the cut-scene started I realized it was the 3DS game that had introduced this color to his vocabulary. Something about the game being on the 3DS, and the fact I’d played the 360 version with my kids earlier in the day, meant that I wasn’t expecting it to have that sort of tone. My brain had filtered it out, but there it was in front of me merrily swearing away for all to hear.
I went and checked the box and sure enough it was rated ESRB: Mature on 3DS compared to ESRB: Teen on the big consoles. Needless to say I promptly turned the volume right down on the game, and was more careful who was in earshot when I was playing.
I know that Nintendo have courted a much more hardcore audience with the launch of the 3DS, and the likes of Super Street Fighter IV and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries have been designed for older gamer.
But it goes to show how engrained the DS is (for me at least) as a casual or young person’s handheld console. It doesn’t take much to get me confused on the best of days, but the differing ratings on different systems here got me in a real pickle.
[This article was originally published on wired.co.uk]