I was listening to a parenting podcast the other day and they mentioned a few terms for video games parents probably don’t know. The idea that I wouldn’t know what a MMO was actually made me laugh out loud, but then I realized that they are totally right! People who don’t spend giant portions of their free time gaming don’t know what the heck we’re talking about!
So, I put together this list of 11 types of video games parents should know about.
DISCLAIMER: I want to point out that I love gaming, and I have let my child play several of the games I’ve listed below. I am NOT telling you to keep your children from playing these, instead I just want you to be aware of what they’re doing and my definitions are here to help you make informed decisions.
MMORPG: Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game
- These are games that you are playing in a made up world with lots and lots of other people, and it probably means people can chat with you. This is a big deal because most of the time the chat is open ended, and they can say or ask anything they want. These are games like World of Warcaft, Runescape, and Lord of the Rings Online
TCG: Trading Card Game
- These are games that you play with cards. In the past, they were played mostly in person with friends and real cards, but now there are games like Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone that let you play with virtual cards. In order to play these games, you need to purchase packs of cards. When they games were real-life games, you would go to a store like Wal-Mart or Target and purchase these cards in packs, but now that the games are online, you purchase virtual versions of the cards, and you can usually purchase them right in the game. This can be bad because if you have your credit card linked to your child’s account, they can buy these cards without your permission.
MOBA: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
- These are online strategy games you play with teammates. Your team works together against another team and it’s sort of a tug-of-war battle over resources on the map. These are games like League of Legends, Team Fortress, and DOTA. You have to be careful with these games because, while they are free to play most of the time, you purchase in game points with real money to buy cosmetic things like skins for your characters. These games also feature an in game chat without any way to disable it. Your children can read what their entire team is saying, and oftentimes it is NOT kid-friendly. That being said, these games are super fun.
FTP: Free To Play
- Free to Play is such crap, because it’s pretty much a total lie. It means that the basic features of the game are free, but if you want access to other features in the game, you need to pay. Lots of Facebook games play this way, like Farmville and Candy Crush.
RTS: Real Time Strategy
- These are games like Starcraft, Civilization, and Command & Conquer. They can be played online against a teammate, and often have open chat, so you need to watch for that, but for the most part these games are pretty tame. Games like Starcraft have a huge following on social media sites like Reddit, and the communities go to bars to watch professional gamers play these games on television for big cash prizes. (This is similar to how you would go and watch a football game with your friends on a Sunday afternoon.)
FPS: First Person Shooter
- These games are mostly played on consoles like Xbox and Playstation. They are almost always marked with mature content, and for good reason. These are games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Rainbow 6. Most of the time, they feature lots of shooting and blood. Also, when your child is playing on Xbox or Playstation and they are most likely going online to play this game with people from all over the world, and everyone wears headsets so they can talk to their teammates. This means that people can hear and talk to your child freely.
- These are games like Diablo, Dark Souls, and Skyrim. They are popular on both computer and console and are often a little darker in nature. There can be a few multiplayer aspects to these games (like Diablo 3, because you can crawl through the dungeons with your friends and have open chat) but they can also be played completely alone. BUT– Skylanders also falls into this category, and that is a GREAT game for kids to play.
Action Adventure RPG
- These are games like Zelda, Mario and Fable. Many times, the terms Action Adventure and Dungeon Crawler are used in the same way, but dungeon crawlers were generally considered a little darker. These games have a pre-determined number of levels you need to beat in order to complete an overall mission. Many of these games are console-based, and totally okay for kids.
- Simulation games are games like Moshi Monsters, American Girl Online, and even the Sims. These games are games where you simulate “real-life” activity such as washing and brushing your pet, hanging out at the mall with friends. These games can be found on console and pc, and are super popular with girls. You need to be careful though, because some of them do feature an open chat online, and games like the SIMS have parts that are not okay for younger kids to see.
Sandbox, Open World
- Basically, these are the games like Minecraft. This game is so difficult to talk about because it really IS whatever you make it. Be aware, however, that your child can go online in this game and play with people from all over the world, and these online servers feature open chat. Lots of times, groups of kids will get together on one server (for example, my daughter has her own server that she plays on with friends from the neighborhood as well as her grandpa), but you need to be very aware of what type of server your child is logging into.
So, go forth and PLAY GAMES!
I know that’s what I’m headed off to do. 🙂