Parents are usually concerned that playing video games can cause their children to become addicted, sociopaths, or even distempered to growing up and facing reality.  Questions, concerns, and common misconceptions arise in private practices, from families, and society about video games, video gamers, and what the possible impact they may have upon the players.  This post additionally contains some tools which have been useful in therapy to work with the video gamer in understanding their characters, the world around them, and also with management of difficult situations.

Entertainment Software Rating Board

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a website dedicated to rating video games based upon the content of the video game and applies to video games whether they are digital or physical.  The ESRB usually rates video games previous to their release to the general public.  They base their ratings upon content descriptors and interactive elements which provide even more information on what can be experienced while playing the video game (e.g. comic mischief, blood, mild lyrics, etc.). They even include downloadable content in their rating system due to how it may change the gameplay.  The ESRB rating system has been highly acclaimed by many individuals and companies who use it.  In fact, companies rely on the ESRB system in order to market and sell their games appropriately and disallow underage children to purchase games which may not be appropriate for them.

Currently, the ESRB has six rating categories which help to inform the purchaser.  They are located in the table below, but can be accessed easily through the ESRB website at  Their website additionally provides handy resource guides from family discussion guides about video games to how to set parental controls on video game systems.  Furthermore, the ESRB has a multitude of resources for families to read unbiased reviews of games and make informed choices about which video games to get for their children.



Source: ESRB



Source: ESRB

Leveling Up

Children and adolescents get “grounded” or disciplined often throughout their lives and parents are always wondering how to approach the topic of video games and discipline.  Luckily there are tactics which work such as taking the system or game away, but a smart kid, and there are plenty of those, will figure out how to get around these punishments by obtaining a new cord, controller, or even in some cases a copy of the game from a friend in order to continue playing.  What is usually suggested is that the parents find a safe place for the entire system or desktop which the child has no access to without their help.  However, then the question arises of when would be an appropriate time to give the items back.  Fortunately there are creative parents who have found ways to use video game mechanics against their children for punishment while getting chores completed as well for those busy parents.  The following is an example which is used in my practice quite frequently and has really positive outcomes for the family and can easily be tailored to any age or situation. [Click Here For Free Download]

These are examples of chores which can be completed around the house in order to work through the punishment and obtain their video games back.  The important thing to remember is not to make the points too much to be able to get ungrounded quickly, but to also not make them too little in order to have the child completely ignore the exercise.  Finding the middle ground of these chores and their value should be a discussion with the family to determine their worth.

Child’s Play

Child’s Play is a charitable organization which has immense backing in order to seek improvement for children in hospitals and domestic violence shelters across the world.  hey are backed by many corporate sponsors from the video game industry and have even teamed up with EEDAR, a specialty video game research firm.  EEDAR has a massive database which uses a point system in order to rank video games dependent upon their content and playability experiences.  Using this knowledge in Child’s Play, they have been able to come up with a therapeutic video game guide.  The guide is freely available online and is updated regularly.  The guide ultimately spawned from a need to provide recommendations of which video game to play dependent upon the symptoms of the child and is used as a quick reference.  Ultimately they recommended that games be placed into six symptom categories of Pain, Short Term Boredom, Long Term Boredom, Anxiety/Hyperactivity, Sadness, and Cognitive Impairment.  Some specific games are listed below (there are too many to list for each category entirely), but it is important to keep in mind that this list does not mean that people should be using video games for all aspects or give credence to the notion that video games are the solution to personal difficulties or should be played due to this list.  This list is for informational purposes, but also specific video games the author has used as well with success. [Child’s Play Doc Download]

Archetype Checklist

With video gamers playing a multitude of varying video games and each having their unique experience and environment, it is important and helpful to think of their avatars as personal representations of themselves.  They may be virtual, but they are a form of them regardless of the lack of tangibility.  The archetype posts (see here for previous ones) provided information about these archetypes and the following list is a useful form to use in therapy or at home when talking to video gamers.  It provides ideas about their character depending on their actions, gameplay, and abilities. [Video Game Archetype Checklist Download]

Learn more about how we use these cultural artifacts to help families, clients, and professionals succeed at Geek Therapeutics.

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