Editor’s note: WORLD recognizes that video games have a substantial impact on America’s culture, particularly the lives of young people. While not all families welcome video games into their homes, those who do can benefit from thoughtful analysis of the games from a Christian worldview. Ben Cogan is not only a Christian but also a video game expert.
For families whose children have video games on their wish lists this Christmas, finding fun but appropriate choices can be a challenge. The November release of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have made gaming systems hot sellers this season. In the month of November the PS4 sold about 2.1 million units and the Xbox One about 2 million. Here are some recommendations for family-friendly gaming content, as well as a list of games to avoid. All of the recommended games are rated E for Everyone.
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes. (For all Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo consoles and Nintendo DS) Lego and Marvel comics team up to bring the Marvel Universe to life in Lego form. This game’s family-friendly story, slapstick violence, and goofy comedy help to make this a great game even if you aren’t a diehard Marvel fan.
Skylanders SWAP Force. (For all Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo consoles and Nintendo DS) This third game in the Skylanders series, which combines toys and video games, makes many improvements. The fantasy game is all about good-versus-evil in a lighthearted story. The one drawback is cost; the game comes with one regular Skylander and two of the new Swap Force figures as well as the portal to scan the figures. Any additional characters cost extra. Some of characters are ghoulish, but their purchase is not required to enjoy the full game.
Disney Infinity. (For Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS) Infinity also combines toys and video games, so it can be pricey to get into. Disney movies are the themes for levels and can only be played with characters from that movie. In addition to movie-themed levels, the Toy Box allows players to create their own world where all the different Infinity characters can run free. This game has plenty of charm and also many recognizable Disney characters. Each movie-themed world offers a new storyline so players aren't just reliving what happened in the movie. The violence is cartoonish and comical.
Madden NFL 25, NBA 2K14, FIFA 14, and Forza 5. (For all systems; Forza 5 for Xbox One only) make great games for sports fans and are safe as long as they are played in offline mode. Playing them online opens up the game to uncensored interactions with strangers.
And now for the list of games to avoid:
Call of Duty: Ghosts. This game is the top seller this season. As the latest in the Call of Duty series the formula hasn't changed much. This military shooter takes place in the near future and has graphic violence andoffensive language.
Battlefield 4. Another bestseller, the Battlefield series is similar to Call of Duty, but has more elaborate game play. Battlefield 4 has many of the same issues with graphic depictions of war violence and strong language.
Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag. This game takes the Assassins Creed franchise to the high seas with pirates as well as many graphic assassinations. The game also has issues with language and adult situations.
Grand Theft Auto V. GTA V goes above-and-beyond to earn its rating of M for Mature. In addition to violence and explicit language, the sexual content is extreme. A rating of Adult Only would have been more accurate.