Vigilance over video game violence

Violence, profanity and gore are just some of the things you might see in a typical family’s living room and it’s all because of video games. But as more violent games get released just in time for Christmas, what can parents do if their kids want to play these games?

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) – Violence, profanity and gore are just some of the things you might see in a typical family’s living room and it’s all because of video games.

It all depends on the game ratings. According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), “ratings provide concise and objective information about the content in video games and apps so consumers, especially parents, can make informed choices.” Among the most common ratings are “E” for everyone, “T” for teen and “M’ for mature 17+.

But are parents taking the ratings into consideration before buying games for their children? One local mom says it’s all about educating her kids about the violence in video games.

“My boys, my two older boys, are video game-holics. They play anything and everything,” said Brandi Still of Chippewa Falls.

Still has five kids, ages three to 13 and each of them has a video game console in their room.

“The Wii, the Wii-U, PSP, 3DS, two Xbox 360’s and two Playstation 3’s,” Still listed.

One of her sons is saving up for the new PS4. You could call some of Still’s kids “hardcore gamers.” They’ve got lots to choose from like “Just Dance,” “Spiderman” and “Mortal Kombat.”

But among the pile of games, there are also games that are rated “M” for mature, like "Assassins Creed" and "Gears of War."

“Over time, I learned that they know the difference from right from wrong. They know there's not going to be a zombie apocalypse coming,” said Still.

She said as long as her children know what’s real vs. what’s fake, rated “M” is okay for her 10 and 13-year-old boys.

“They're getting old enough to know the fact that it's make-believe and they're not ever going to see that in real life,” she said.

Still said she used to check ratings on the video games but now found the best way to approve a game is by having her husband test it out first.

“We've tried for so long to shield it but they're going to see it somewhere. They're going to go to a friend's house for a sleepover and they're going to have it being played. They're going to be at school hearing it be talked about,” said Still.

Still said it’s inevitable that kids will be exposed to violence and everything else that comes with the media at some point.

Bed Adamson of Altoona says some of these games are clearly not designed for children.

“They see blood, guts, gore,” said Adamson. “Drug-use, violence, murder, heads exploding, everything.”

Adamson is an avid gamer and knows all about “Call of Duty” and other games your children might be asking for this Christmas. Just in the last couple of months, we’ve seen the release of “Grand Theft Auto V,” “Assassins Creed IV,” and “Call of Duty Ghosts.”

Adamson said Xbox LIVE may be one area parents might be concerned about. It gives gamers online access to play and chat with anyone around the world.

He recalled a time he was playing Call of Duty when the person on the other end started speaking profanities.

“And at one point, I think he had called me some expletives and then his mom got on the line and was trying to reprimand me for swearing at her child, but he’d begun the battle” said Adamson. “What I told her was, he shouldn't be playing the game online with adults. This is a game built for adult, played by adults and it’s rated NC-17 and she’s exposing her child to all this and she had no idea what she was exposing her kids to online.”

And if you were to play the blame-game, Adamson said it wouldn’t be the child’s fault or his fault.

“It’s the parent’s responsibility to filter what their kids are being exposed to,” he said.

Still said she agrees because she only allows her kids to play LIVE with friends and family members.

“It kind of goes to monitoring the internet, you want to make sure you know what your kids are doing or who they're talking to,” said Still.

Still said another idea that’s worked for her is setting a limit on how many hours your child can play video games each day.

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