We've had disturbing reports this week about a game which "locks out" players for increasingly long periods of time if they don't play every day, leading to kids having melt downs as they realise all their progress will be lost. Apparently this game locks out players for periods of time from 5 minutes to 5 days if they are not playing at certain intervals.
Of course the parents of this child had no idea this function was built into the game. That's been my experience often with parents - they just don't know about what is happening in games until the young person is well and truly addicted - and at that point, its much harder to do something about.
So - here is a list of questions I think as parents we must be asking before we allow our young people to buy a new game.
This is only the first step - once we have the answers - we still have to decide whether the game is appropriate or not, but at least we will have the necessary information in order to make this decision.
- Does this game have a rating?
- What is the main purpose of this game?
- Does this game let you play with or talk to other people while you are playing? Can you turn that function off?
- Do people get shot, injured or hurt in any way in this game?
- Is there sex, or talking about sex in the game? How about drugs?
- Can you pause this game or save the game at any point during the game? What happens if you need to turn this game off quickly?
- Is there any reason people might like to play this game at particular times of day or night?
- What about this game seems fun to you?
- Do you think there is any other benefits to playing this game (other than fun)?
- Do any of your friends play this game?
- Are there any ads shown next to or inside this game?
- Is there any option to buy something inside this game which helps you go further?
- Does this game lock you out for a certain amount of time if you don't play it?
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