By Lisa Guernsey
January 31, 2008
It often seems that being clueless about video games goes hand in hand with being a parent. But a new site called WhatTheyPlay.com aims to give parents an inside scoop by going beyond the ratings and offering evaluations written by knowledgeable gamers — many of them parents.
The site’s database lists 16,000 games. You can search by the type of game (“puzzles,” “sports,” “shooter”), the child’s age, the console and the rating given by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Each entry offers space for parents to write about what they found troubling or exciting about the game and how their children reacted to it.
About 700 games have descriptions written by staff members who play for hours to put the ratings in context, said Ira Becker, one of the site’s founders. Ratings for a Final Fantasy Tactics game, for example, cite a drug reference. “It took 20 hours of game play to find that drug reference,” Mr. Becker said. It comes when a character talks about “the vile pursuit” of opium smuggling.