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Month: December 2007

ESRB- What every parent needs to know

ESRB- What every parent needs to know

ESRB Being a gamer mom, I have to stay on top of not only the current games, but what type of content they contain. With everything from a Wii to a DS (Blessings to Nintendo) to a PlayStation and X-Box 360 as well as computer games, I see just about every new game that rolls out. Being a mom of kids ranging in ages from 6-14 not to mention the fact that I enjoy playing these games as well, I have to stay up on the ratings of each new game. That is where the ESRB ratings come into play. Do you have any idea what I am talking about when I say ESRB ratings? If you plan on buying any video games for your family– especially your children– you need to know what this means. In short, ESRB stands for: Entertainment Software Rating Board. ESRB is a non-profit, self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). They are the ones who assign video games and computer games their ratings based on their content.

What does that mean to you?

In short, “know before you go” exactly what the industry has to say about the game you or your children want to buy. Meaning… is this age appropriate? It may seem innocent, but without knowing the rating you can unknowingly set yourself up for a shock.

How does it work? Here is how ESRB explains the process. (There is more to it. Go check it out.)

Prior to a game being released to the public, game publishers submit responses to a detailed written ESRB questionnaire… specifying exactly what pertinent content (as defined by ESRB) will be in the game. Along with the written submission materials, publishers must provide a videotape or DVD which captures all pertinent content, including the most extreme instances, across all relevant categories including but not limited to violence, language, sex, controlled substances and gambling. Pertinent content that is not playable (i.e., “locked out”), but will exist in the game code on the final game disc, must also be disclosed.

Once the submission is checked by ESRB for completeness, which may also involve ESRB staff members playing a beta or alpha version of the game, the video footage is reviewed by at least three specially trained game raters. ESRB raters must be adults and typically have experience with children, whether through prior work experience, education or by being parents or caregivers themselves.

I will break it down for you.

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Brothers and sisters– and not one headlock or noogie

Brothers and sisters– and not one headlock or noogie

Last week my brother flew into town from Florida (boy were his arms tired–bah-dumbum) so obviously I got my tail to Houston to visit with him. And get this– sans kids. That’s right. Just me. Alone. By myself. Without responsibility. (Let us pause for this moment of bliss, moms.)

There is something about a shared bond of growing up in the same house with the same parents that can take 3 people who are so very different and make them so similar. Good friends. The best of friends. I remember my Mom once telling me that the day would come that not only would I have fun and enjoy the company of my brother and sister, but I would seek it out and crave it. I was pretty sure she had lost her mind. No way would the 3 of us ever have anything in common enough to enjoy time spent together. Chalk another one up to Mom being right. Again. As usual.

I am not sure I can actually tell you how much that visit meant to me. A chance to hang out with my brother, my sister and my Daddy without kids. Even my brother-in-law stepped up and watched my nephews a few times so just the 4 of us could be together. I needed the recharge. I needed the awesome verbal butt-whooping my brother can deliver with a look and a few words. I needed the laughter. Oh, the laughter when we all get together is out of control. Off the hook. It rocks. (Obviously, I did not read any thesauruses while I was there either.)

We talked about stories from childhood. I realized how little I knew about things that were going on even as I grew up in the same household. (Can we say egocentric last born child? I knew we could.) Oh, nothing scandalous or bad. (Sorry to disappoint.) Just the difference in the way the baby of the family viewed life compared to the way the oldest child viewed it. I was seriously out of the loop on the way things went down. BUT I also learned I was spoiled rotten. (Enough “DUH’s” from the peanut gallery!) My sister learned that she was actually the GOOD one. I wasn’t bad as much as I was creative when it came to school and my attendance. She freaked when I explained how often I cut, how I did it and that there was more than one occasion where my Mom knew about it and looked the other way. It was good for her to hear that she was the good child and pretty awesome for me–The Baby Formerly Known as The Nark– to learn that she fell second in line in the Kids Who Pushed the Limits and Disobeyed Our Parents contest. Woot! I always thought I was the good one. Not so much, suckas!

And of course we talked about life and how things have changed in the last 2 years. (This would be where I got a pretty good verbal butt-whooping from my older brother. But no headlock.) We laughed at the bizarre things. Became sentimental over the mushy things. And compared notes on life. (I came in last here and my brother and sister were quite stern on this one. In short, “get my act together or a headlock will look like Disneyland.” Massively censored, I might add.)

Shared history. Shared joys. Shared traumas. Shared lives.

I drove home in a funk. Thinking about how life can throw things at you and knock you so far off course you cannot remember which way you were going let alone your destination. You can have friends help you. Have a spouse to lend a hand. Even kids to remind you why you need to get up in the morning. But the people who have known you all of your life, those who share your history that bonds you from cradle to grave, they can help you find your way back on course. They can be your true north to lead you back home.

My brother and sister have helped. Are helping. Thirty-eight years old and my big sister and brother are still protecting their baby sister.

And isn’t that what every parent hopes for?

I think Mom would be proud about now.