borderlands 3

Can My Kid Play Borderlands 3?

Posted by | PC, PlayStation 4, Tips for Parents, Xbox One | No Comments

Can My Kid Play is a series of helpful guides for parents that dive further into the ratings and content of video games. We do not pass judgement, instead providing insight and information so parents can make their own informed decisions.

What is Borderlands 3?

Borderlands 3 is an RPG-shooter. Players choose one of four Vault Hunter characters and embark on a campaign to recover vault key fragments to open a vault before the villains. The action takes them across several alien worlds, meeting lots of eccentric friendly characters and zany enemy factions, but the focus is always on the loot. Vault Hunters constantly acquire new and better randomized guns with lots of different styles, abilities, and stats.

The gameplay supports up to four players online or two players locally via splitscreen.

What platforms is it available on?

Borderlands 3 is available on PC (Epic Games Store), Mac, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

What is the ESRB Rating?

Borderlands 3 is rated M for Mature with the following content descriptors: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, and Strong Language.

What is the overall tone of the story?

Borderlands 3 introduces yet another foursome of eager Vault Hunters as playable characters, though players will run into, and complete missions for previous series characters like Lilith, Tannis, Moxxi, and Ellie. Players are tasked with exploring various regions and worlds, killing beasts and bad guys and helping solve problems, such as liberating a planet from a hostile corporate takeover.

Despite the violence there’s a very clear dividing line between the good guys and bad guys. It’s all very action-packed and full of snarky jokes, though the story occasionally dip into the dramatic, including the deaths of major characters.

What is the level of violence?

Borderlands’ cartoony art style can be a bit deceptive. On the one hand the action looks like a comic book come to life. On the other, it’s still pretty violent, with enemies exploding left and right with a decent amount of blood and body parts. Bodies are not left behind however, but simply disappear instantly as loot pops out directly onto the floor. The violence is played more for laughs than drama.

What is the level of alcohol and/or drug use?

None. There are no options for the players to ever engage with alcohol or drugs. There’s a bar on the Sanctuary ship that players use as a base, but the only thing they can do there (besides talk to Moxxi) is play the slot machines.

What is the level of adult language?

Very adult, and a major source of the M rating. Characters frequently curse, including the f-word, as well as make the occasional suggestive comments and dirty joke.

What is the level of sexual content or themes?

One of the fan-favorite ally NPCs, Moxxi, is infamously sexualized throughout the series, in both her outfit and her dialogue. Many characters aren’t shy with making overtly sexual jokes and comments, though they’re rare outside of Moxxi.

What is the level of online interactivity?

The Borderlands series is known for its four player co-op gameplay, including two players locally via split-screen. Loot can be set to only see your own loot, so no one can steal from each other. Players can trade items and dual each other, but it must be consensual, and players can equip different emotes that their characters can perform. Voice or text chat is done entirely through the consoles or third-party programs like Discord.

What else do parents need to know about Borderlands 3?

The world of Borderlands is one of snarky violence. At least one faction is made up of bandits, who are little more than half-naked psychopaths who scream weird things while charging at you. The comic art style and jokey tone frequently disarms the bloody violence, while the world continues to revel in it.

There’s a side mission on Promethia that reflects Borderlands 3’s gleeful dark humor. The quest-giver mentions that her whole family was murdered and wants you to get revenge. Problem is, she doesn’t know which of two bandit leaders did the deed. They both brag they were responsible, and taunt you the entire time. Without ever finding proper proof, players can choose to kill either one, but at the quest-giver’s behest you can also kill both of them for a greater reward. A lot of these quests and characters are deigned to elicit laughs at their own over-the-top ridiculousness alongside with the satisfying shoot ‘n loot gameplay.

dragon quest

Can My Kid Play Dragon Quest 11?

Posted by | Feature, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Tips for Parents | No Comments

Can My Kid Play is a series of helpful guides for parents that dive further into the ratings and content of video games. We do not pass judgement, instead providing insight and information so parents can make their own informed decisions.

What is Dragon Quest 11?

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a traditional role-playing game developed in Japan (also known as a JRPG). Like the Final Fantasy series, each game tell its own story, and you don’t have to play previous entries to understand the classic story of plucky young heroes battling the forces of evil.

Players take on the role of an unnamed, unvoiced male hero and venture into the 3D fantasy world of Edrea, making allies, fighting enemies, shopping in towns, completing quests, and delving into dungeons. Monster and character designs are mostly unchanged from Akira Toriyama’s (Dragon Ball) colorful and legendary kid-friendly designs that has made the series an enduring RPG staple over the last three decades.

What platforms is it available on?

In the US Dragon Quest 11 originally launched on PC (Steam) and PlayStation 4 in September 2018. A Definitive Edition, which includes extra features such as a 16-bit pixel graphics mode, released on Nintendo Switch on September 27, 2019.

What is the ESRB Rating?

Dragon Quest 11 is rated T for Teen by the ESRB, with the following content descriptors: Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Simulated Gambling, Suggestive Themes, and Alcohol Use.

What is the overall tone of the story?

While the colorful characters and anime art style is instantly kid-friendly, the story does occasionally dip into some heavier places. Without going too far into spoilers, the protagonist has to reconcile with family deaths, characters are attacked and even stabbed in cutscenes (though without blood or gore), and one major character is sacrificed at the end of the game’s initial ending. It’s not exactly Game of Thrones, but the plot and writing are a bit more mature than the art style would indicate.

What is the level of violence?

Battling monsters is the main part of the game, though the violence level is about on par with any action or fantasy animated series. There’s no blood or gore. Monsters don’t sustain any visual injury and disappear when defeated.

What is the level of alcohol and/or drug use?

Player characters cannot use alcohol, but can and will come across a few NPCs who are clearly drunk in a bar, including slurred speech.

What is the level of adult language?

There is no adult language in Dragon Quest 11.

What is the level of sexual content or themes?

Some of the female outfits and armor are overtly suggestive, such as bunny outfits that are meant to emulate the old Playboy bunnies. Players can also solicit a service called “puff-puff” from a few female NPCs in various towns, for money. The associated dialogue is highly suggestive and filled with innuendo, though it doesn’t show anything on screen.

What is the level of online interactivity?

Dragon Quest 11 is a single-player only game. There are no online interactions.

What else do parents need to know about Dragon Quest 11?

Dragon Quest 11 might looks like it’s designed for kids, but it is a full-length, 75+ hour RPG with turn-based combat, multiple party members to manage, and dozens of hours of story and quests. It might make a good stepping-stone RPG with its friendly art style and more classic good versus evil themes compared to more mature RPGs. Combat is generally simple and straightforward, and the default difficulty is mostly a cakewalk for RPG veterans, but could be a good fit for younger gamers.

monster hunter

Can My Kid Play Monster Hunter: World?

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Can My Kid Play is a series of helpful guides for parents that dive further into the ratings and content of video games. We do not pass judgement, instead providing insight and information so parents can make their own informed decisions.

What is Monster Hunter: World?

Monster Hunter: World is a third-person action-RPG where players customize their hunter and set off on a new world to hunt gigantic monsters, such as dragons, dinosaurs, and toothy fish-creatures. Hunters can swap between 14 different weapon styles, each with their own signature playstyle and moves, and upgrade their weapons and armor by using parts earned from hunting and capturing monsters. The game supports up to four players hunting monsters together in online co-op.

What platforms is it available on?

Monster Hunter: World released in 2018 on PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. A major expansion pack, Iceborne, recently released in September 2019, and is available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and coming later to PC. Monster Hunter: World does not feature cross-platform play, meaning friends will need to play on the same system to play online together.

Note that Monster Hunter: World is not available on Nintendo Switch. There is another Monster Hunter game available on Switch, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, but it’s an HD port of Monster Hunter Generations, originally released for handheld gaming device Nintendo 3DS in 2016.

What is the ESRB Rating?

Monster Hunter: World is rated T for Teen with the following descriptors: Blood, Mild Language, Use of Alcohol, and Violence.

monster hunter: world

What is the overall tone of the story?

Although players spend much of their time battling giant monsters, the tone of the campaign is one of discovery, knowledge, and research. Hunters are tasked with exploring each new region of the New World and invariably hunting and fighting all its native inhabitants, in the hopes of tracking down rare and powerful beasts known as Elder Dragons.

The New World has a seemingly unlimited supply of creatures to hunt. Hunts are generally seen as culling herds or protecting the colony rather than exterminating species. Quests occasionally give the option to capture creatures rather than kill them.

What is the level of violence?

Fighting giant monsters is the primary task, and though blood is listed as an ESRB descriptor, Monster Hunter: World is not a gory game. The violence level is closer to a comic book film, or a PG-13 Godzilla or Pacific Rim to be more thematically appropriate. Swords slash, hammers bash, and teeth chomp, but hunters and monsters alike get smacked around rather than bloodied and torn apart.

The Blood descriptor primarily comes from one of the regions, the Rotten Vale, which is one big elephant graveyard for monsters, full of bone piles and blood pools.

Visually the monsters don’t show much wear and tear during a fight with a few notable exceptions. Many monsters have severable body parts, such as horns or a tail, though they’re never accompanied by blood or gore. When heavily damaged, monsters will indicate they’re near death by limping and whining as they attempt to retreat back to their home turf.

Hunters won’t get very far without carving out monster parts they need after the hunt. The actual carving is done as abstractly as possible, with hunters kneeling down with a knife, then popping back up with the part.

What is the level of alcohol and/or drug use?

Hunters have the option to drink at the canteen in town. Eating a meal before a hunt boosts the hunter’s stats. Additional ingredients, including alcohol, can be earned by completing optional quests.

What is the level of adult language?

Language is generally mild, with characters spouting the occasional “damn” or “pissed off” during story cutscenes.

What is the level of sexual content or themes?

There is no sexual content at all in the story. The player character can be male or female, as can any hunter, with the only difference being the voice lines and the way each armor set looks. Armor is heavily stylized fantasy armor, ranging from full-body plate mail to midriff-exposed spiky bikinis for women.

What is the level of online interactivity?

Monster Hunter: World can be played entirely in single player, but is notable for allowing up to four players to join forces and hunt monsters together. As a purely cooperative game, players can easily interact via the pre-built phrases, or often not need to interact at all as they hunt together. Friends can join together by forming friends-only squad sessions.

What else do parents need to know about Monster Hunter: World?

Unlike most video games, Monster Hunter: World cannot be paused. This can be a major issue as many hunts can take between 30-60 minutes to complete, and time is a factor in every hunt. “Just one more mission” can be a lengthy undertaking, and quitting out early results in almost no rewards.

Monster Hunter: World is also a very long and complex game, with an almost unending supply of monsters to hunt and gear to upgrade. The main story alone easily takes over 50 hours, and more than likely much longer with all the side quests and missions to gain better gear. Each weapon style features advanced combos, and every monster requires experience and observation, as well as quick reflexes and weapon knowledge, to successfully take down. The result can be frustratingly challenging but also very rewarding.

Parenting Hero App Adds New Scenarios

Posted by | Mobile, News, Tips for Parents | No Comments

Parenting Hero is a mobile game app designed to help parents deal with common child-raising challenges through illustrated scenarios. The app originally launched last year on iOS and Android. This week the app received an update that added two new scenarios, bringing the total to 17.

The scenarios in Parenting Hero help teach parents how to communicate with their children by identifying their feelings and resolving conflicts by role-playing through certain situations. The scenarios are guided by over 1500 illustrations. The writing is based on the guide book How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7 by Joanna Faber and Julie King.

Specifically the app helps parents encourage children, set limits, and use praise while avoiding the pitfalls of bribery or punishment.

Parenting Hero was developed by award-winning Polish studio MythicOwl. The app is available now on iOs and Android for $2.99.

 

Fortnite

The Parents’ Guide to Fortnite

Posted by | Feature, Mobile, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Tips for Parents, Xbox One | No Comments

Shove over, Minecraft and Pokémon GO, there’s a new gaming phenomenon in town. Over the last year Epic Games’ Battle Royale-style shooter Fortnite has become one of the most popular games on the planet.

Even if you’re not a teen or the parent of a teen, there’s a good chance you’ve at least heard of Fortnite. But what is it exactly? Is it okay for younger kids to play? How much of it is online interaction? What does Battle Royale mean? Read our Parent’s Guide to Fortnite for answers to these questions and more.

What is Fortnite?

Fortnite was developed by Epic Games, the makers of Gears of War, and first launched in Summer 2017 as a paid Early Access title. The plan was to allow people to pay to jump in and play the game in an earlier, beta testing state, while transitioning the game into a free-to-play title supported by paid loot boxes in 2018.

The game was actually much different than the popular version that everyone players today. It was originally a cooperative tower defense and action game. Up to four friends and online players could jump into games together and select a map with an objective. From there everyone ran around collecting loot while building bases and defending against waves of enemies.

The action was light-hearted and reflected the cartoony art style, but the gameplay was mediocre and repetitive. Read our Early Access Preview.

What about Battle Royale?

“Fortnite” technically refers to two separate game modes, which have since evolved into two distinct games: Fortnite: Save the World and Fortnite Battle Royale. The original tower defense game mode became known as Save the World when Fortnite Battle Royale was released.

Last year PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) was heating up as an extremely popular online game, featuring a Battle Royale free-for-all.

fortnite battle royale

Battle Royale is a subgenre of competitive online shooters and action games. It takes its name from the 2000 Japanese film in which a class of teenage students are captured, dropped onto an island, and forced to kill each other to survive. Think government mandated Lord of the Flies. Or The Hunger Games.

In video game terms, Battle Royale games drop their players (both PUBG and Fortnite use 100 per server) onto a large island. Everyone starts empty-handed and must quickly scavenge for weapons and supplies. A shrinking circle keeps everyone close together, and if you die, there’s no respawning. The last player (or team) standing is the winner.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds popularized the concept, but Epic Games applied it to Fortnite, creating an entirely separate free-to-play game mode called Fortnite Battle Royale. Now when anyone refers to Fortnite, they’re most likely talking about Fortnite Battle Royale. Fortnite: Save the World still exists, but lacks the popularity of its PvP sibling.

It’s free to play? Can players spend money?

Yes and yes. Fortnite Battle Royale was launched as a completely free-to-play game, and it’s available on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, as well as mobile devices.

Fortnite is primarily supported by its seasonal Battle Passes (in Battle Royale) and random loot boxes (in Save the World). The Battle Pass allows players to unlock a series of cosmetic loot rewards, such as new outfits and parachutes. Players can then either earn them through playing, or pay more money to unlock them faster. Think of the Battle Pass as an optional subscription service, each one costing about $10. Players can also buy cosmetic items directly from the shop.

Loot Boxes have come under fire in the gaming industry as a controversial form of gambling. In Fortnite’s case, all of the purchasable items and loot are cosmetic only, leading Fortnite to be considered one of the less insidious free-to-play games.

Many consider Fortnite to be an example of free-to-play done right, and players can easily enjoy themselves in the game without spending a dime. That Rangarok outfit sure looks cool, but it confers no actual in-game bonuses or advantages. It just looks cool.

Note that consoles and mobile devices have parental controls allowing you to disable in-app purchases.

fortnite

What about the rating? Is it okay for kids to play? Is it Online only?

Fortnite is rated T for Teen by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. The primary gameplay involves eliminating other players, but the action, like the art, is very cartoony and stylized.

The Battle Royale mode is technically a bit less scary than the original Save the World incarnation, as it lacks the hordes of cartoonish monsters. On the other hand it’s all too easy to be eliminated quickly, through no fault of their own, and be left spectating for the rest of the match. Fortnite is highly competitive, and like any competitive match, can bring out both good and bad qualities.

As an inherently online game, it’s saddled with the typical toxic chat channel that plagues many online games. There’s no voice chat at all in solo mode. Text chat be be turned off in-game, but there’s no parental lock for it. The general consensus is for kids to be at least 13 before venturing into any online game.

Note that the other popular Battle Royale game, PUBG, has a Mature rating and features more realistic visuals and depictions of violence.

Is it okay for my kid to watch others play Fortnite?

As a highly competitive, tense game, Fortnite is increasingly popular as a spectator sport. In the growing age of YouTube, Twitch, and constant live streaming, Fortnite’s popularity for streamers is undeniable.

But this question is more about YouTube and Twitch culture than it is about Fortnite specifically. Find out which streamers your kids are watching and do a bit of research into their personality and their video content. Most streamers are charismatic and entertaining for young people (and quite skilled at the game), but some have unsettling videos or toxic beliefs that they readily impart on impressionable viewers.

Currently the most popular Fortnite streamer is Ninja (neé Richard Tyler Blevins), who has risen in popularity along with Fortnite itself, becoming the most popular streamer on Twitch with nine million followers. Ninja is sponsored by Red Bull and has helped raise money for charity, as well hosted celebrities on his Fortnite stream.

Fortnite Battle Royale

Are my kids playing too much?

The primary concern about Fortnite isn’t tied to the game itself, but how much time kids and teens are devoting to it. To much of any activity, to the exclusion of anything else, is a bad thing, and that can include gaming.

With Fortnite it may be easier to set limits on matches rather than a set time. An average Fortnite match takes about twenty minutes, and players aren’t going to want to stop playing in the middle if they’re still alive. Thus “one more match,” may be easier to dictate than “10 more minutes” when setting time limits.

Fortnite continues to grow in popularity, recently surpassing an astonishing 100 million downloads on mobile devices. It’s not going away anytime soon, but with a little understanding it needn’t be so worrying.