How OtakuDad Approaches Reviews

15 11 2008

 

No reason...just funny

No reason...just funny

After writing my first review for this site, I think it’s important to take some time to discuss what the purpose of this site is, and how I will approach reviews.

 

First things first, however.  It’s important to know that all opinions and thoughts from this site are my own, and should not necessarily be yours as well.  I am at a specific point in my walk with Christ, my gaming preferences, and my stage as a parent of two young children.  Some of this may apply to you, some of it may not.  The point is to take my perspective into view when reading my reviews.

That being said, my ultimate goal is to talk about gaming and the things I like and think you, the reader, would be interested in reading about.  But that’s something a lot of sites already do.  So why go to me, when I have no resources to meet with industry movers and shakers?  Why read OtakuDad when he can’t even go to E3 or the Tokyo Game Show or something? 

Because the Christian perspective is important, and that’s what I’ll attempt to add.  I have no interest in avoiding games simply because their content is not stereotypically Christian.  But if I see something (like the violence in Left 4 Dead) that I think is worth noting, I will do so, because it’s important for all of us, as Christians, to examine what we are putting into our heads and our hearts, daily.  We need to be sure that we are taking steps to encounter Christ, on his terms.  This doesn’t mean we have to be cloistered in some mountaintop monastery or something, but it does mean that we must not delude ourselves into accepting what we should not accept.

Therefore, part of my reviews process will be examining a couple of things:

Whether the rating by the ESRB is appropriate – I have one major rule, as a gamer that is also a parent… If you are a parent, and you purchase games that are not appropriate for your child, and the rating is there?  Don’t blame the industry, the game-maker, or even your child.  That falls solely on your shoulders.  The ratings are there for your benefit as a parent.  They outline the types of things that merited the rating, as well as the rating itself.  There is no excuse when you say “I didn’t know Manhunt 2 was so graphically violent and disturbing!” because frankly, it’s not Rockstar’s fault.  They made it clear.  All you had to do was read a blurb and you’d know it wasn’t for your 9 year-old. 

However, with all that in mind, I’ll make sure that the rating given by the ESRB is indeed appropriate for the game.  There’s definitely times when M-rated violence squeaks by with a Teen rating.  If I feel the language should have merited an “M” instead of teen, I will tell you so.  Or vice-versa…if a game has an “M” rating, and I feel that it could be appropriate for players younger than 18, then I will let you know that as well.  Of course, this all comes down to you, the parent.  You need to work with your children to develop safe and hard boundaries for what is good for your children, and what you feel comfortable placing in front of them.  (Not to mention, you’re spending hard-earned money on those games!  Don’t you want to know more about these purchases?!?)

Secondly, I’ll measure whether a game potentially lifts up someone’s walk with Christ, potentially brings that walk down, or if it simply hovers in the middle, having little effect.  Let me clarify that a little too:

As Christians, we are called to live a life of holiness.  (And to be clear, holiness does not equal perfection.  Holiness means simply “being set apart”, or in regular english, it means we’re to be different, because we have a different purpose than the rest of the world.)  We are to live for Christ.  Therefore, even though the game may be appropriate for the age group determined by the ESRB rating, and even though the game may be commonplace, in terms of content, it may or may not be a good thing to be playing as a Christian, because of the net effect the game has on our mindset with Christ.  

A friend, and colleague, Daniel, told me this: We have two lives within us.  The true self and the false self.  The true self wants to obey God and to always move closer into his light.  The false self wants to satisfy its own selfish and sinful desires.  We need to feed the true self and starve the false self.

I agree with this entirely.  So while a game may not in itself be something evil or be something “wrong”, it may be something that hinders our walk, or potentially allows us to feed that false self.  And it’s also important to note (again, reminded of this by Daniel,) that it’s not enough to simply shun the false self, but that we must actively feed that true self as well.  There are games that without being overtly Christian, or even being Christian at all, can have net positive benefits to our walk.  Games that encourage positive thinking, service to others, etc… these can all benefit our walk.  And games that are more generic, without any type of ethical situations or circumstances bound within their structure?  Those games will be identified as “middle of the road” types of games.

Beyond this, I will rate the games in two more commonplace categories:  Gameplay and Visuals (with which I also include “immersion”, as I love that aspect of gaming).  These will be rated on a 10 point scale, with 0 meaning that the game doesn’t even work, 5 being an average game, and 10 being an amazing touchpoint of gaming culture.

Thanks as always for reading, and feel free to contribute any thoughts you have on what I’ve written.  It is appreciated!

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2 responses

15 11 2008
Karl

I got more out of the chart. Just kidding. I’ll be very interested to hear your thoughts from an explicitly Christian standpoint. There is very little said constructively to parents about video games from someone who actually enjoys them.

16 11 2008
otakudad

Karl, thanks for reading. I appreciate that someone is interested in that perspective. I figured that not too many Christians were actually writing about games that weren’t “Guitar Praise” or the Left Behind game. 🙂 In fact, you can probably expect a blog sometime next week about the state of games made for a Christian audience. (It won’t be pretty.)

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