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In response to "Inside Job: Getting Real About Kids and Games" from The Escapist Forum: Before reading: I just want to say I have always believed that the phrase "It's the parent's responsibility" has come up FAR too many times. Many of us have been able to hide games from our parents, and it's becoming harder and harder to say it's easy for them to restrict games. I realize that they should always look at ESRB...but chances are only a third of the world knows what ESRB stands for, much less IS, so that's an invalid argument. Say it again when there is a more general awareness of it.
Article seems to in some ways echo my thoughts, and furthermore comes up with good suggestions...well written. There's a lot of people out here poking holes in arguments...not enough patching those holes up.
I think one improvement in packaging would help both sides better determine whether or not a game is for them. That would be screenshots from within the game of the most violent and/or sexual scene at the most "adult" settings the game offers. Even just one picture will tell an interested parent all they need to know about whether that game is for their children.
Many times once 7 pm or so rolls around, all of these promos for ghost and slasher films start coming on TV. I've had to teach my kids to laugh at them (we call them "stupid movies" because of how they're so obviously trying to scare people - like walking around saying "boo" all the time) because otherwise they get totally freaked out. If just one similar screenshot from within a game were put on the box, one could likewise determine whether or not that was a game for kids.
But that all depends on the parents in the end. Most parents honestly don't want to be bothered monitoring their children's media habits, and no amount of information made available is going to change that. It doesn't matter how easy or clear you make it, many parents will simply not do it. Many will then say that it's the parents' fault - and I would agree 100%. Unfortunately, those are also the same parents who will later file lawsuits and support people like Jack Thompson to do their thinking for them. See, they have nothing to lose because they don't game - they don't care if games are eliminated, even, because they don't play them.
I'm a mother of three boys - ages 15, 13 and ten. One of the reasons I play games is that it's a way to stay connected with my boys. There's a point in a young man's life where the mother becomes a bit superfluous, yet because I game, my children still are interested in what I have to say. Usually it's game related - my son actually called me when Devil May Cry 4 went multiplatform (an OMG moment for me, TBS), but I like to think my ability to connect about gaming leads them to believe I can connect about other issues.
Parents who will spend countless hours shuttling their kids from place to place, volunteering in their kids classroom, or reading the assigned novel beforehand do think the time invested in gaming is a waste. I'm not sure why. There's not a rated M game in my house I haven't played. I'm rather blase about man on monster violence, but I'm very vigilant about man on man violence and sex, so games like GTA don't even get a purchase.
I think right now video games do need a more than a rating system; they need a way to quantify elements so parents can understand what the game asks a player to do. Reviews are great, but they are so jargon and acronym filled that a non-gamer would scratch their heads and just say "no." Parents need a medium prepared for the non-gamer, and it won't matter if it's spoiler-filled since they won't be playing the game anyway.