ESRB Mobile App Does Well to Make Our Lives (As Parents) Easier

Being a gamer and a father, I’m well aware of the goings on in the Games Industry and what my 12 year old daughter should and should not be exposed to when playing video games.  However, many parents simply don’t know the difference between Call of Duty and Pokemon.  While the ESRB has done wonders for the gaming industry in the way of education, and clearly marking games today with a rating and a brief description as to why the game received the rating that it did, many parents still seem to need more information to help them make a determination on whether a game purchase is ok for their child or not.

For example, take Halo: Reach and Duke Nukem.  Both games receive an M rating.  However, parents may have seen Reach and said to themselves, “Well, it’s just a bunch of guys shooting aliens.  That’s not all that bad.”  Then they look at Duke and wonder how it can be any different.  In reality, we as gamers know that Duke is a far cry from Halo, as the Chief has never come across topless dancers or received a BJ in a stall on a Covenant carrier.  So these poor parents buy Duke Nukem, take it to their frothing 12-year-old and are horrified as their kid learns all of the dirty pick-up lines they’ll ever need while carrying a stripper over their shoulder, stopping on occasion to smack her bottom a few times to make sure she knows who’s in charge.

Outraged parents contact their Congressman.  Said congressman puts forth a bill banning video games.  The Supreme Court gets involved.  You know the rest.

However, there is a solution for parents out there.  Last year, the ESRB released their mobile app for iPhone and Android, and I’m pleased to say that after much begging, pleading, and sobbing, someone over there finally heard me and released the app for Windows Phone 7.

The app is easy to use.  Simply download it from your iTunes/Zune/whatever-Android-uses store, launch the app, take a picture of the cover of the game or enter the name into the search field and ‘Voila!’, you have everything you wanted to know about games and why you may or may not want your 12 year old playing them.  The app displays information such as the game rating, a brief synopsis of why the game received the rating, and if you desire, a full summary is available to provide you with all of the details on what made the ESRB come to their decision.

To test it out, I decided to aggravate the employees at Gamestop by spending about half an hour picking up random video game boxes and taking pictures of them.  The app works exceptionally well and is fairly quick when using the box recognition portion.  Although at more of a fault of the phone than the app, I did have to turn off my camera’s flash as it produced too much glare for the software to accurately detect what it was looking at.  However, once the flash was disabled, the software was able to recognize all of the currently released titles that I tested without further issue.

I even showed this app to a few parents while I was at Gamestop.  They were genuinely excited, because it made their lives much easier as they no longer had to decipher the back of the game or wait in line to talk to an associate to ask questions.  Everything was right there in yellow and black.  The ESRB mobile app is a very quick and efficient way to get information on the fly and is highly recommended to anyone and everyone that has a little gamer in the house.

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