Friday night topic: FPS gaming with kids

It’s not an exaggeration to say that FPS games have altered the course of my life. Since my very first experience with Quake back in the day, a game I’d hotly anticipated after reading about it on sCary’s Quakeholio and Mr. Wolf’s Quake Den, I’ve been hooked on first-person shooters. Doom and its precursors were great, yes, but the transition to 3D, rapidly followed by the move to OpenGL acceleration and Internet-based multiplayer gaming, was the thing that really captured my imagination. That led to a career change and then another one, ultimately leading to TR as a full-time endeavor.

However, I’ve not felt entirely comfortable sharing that genre of game with my kids until recently. The trouble is that most FPS games just aren’t geared for kids at all. FPS games have established an entire culture centered around blood and gore, profane smack talk, and violent, adult-oriented themes. Try finding a good FPS multiplayer game with something less than an M rating from the ESRB, for instance. I’m glad games like Bad Company 2 are what they are, but just one shooter clean enough for kids would be nice. And not that Nerf game for the Wii.

My two older kids are now ages eight and 10, and my wife and I just recently decided they were ready to be introduced to FPS multiplayer gaming—if only we could find a game that wasn’t entirely inappropriate for children. After thinking over the problem, my answer was to use Unreal Tournament 3 with the "reduced gore" option enabled and "auto taunts" from bots entirely disabled. (Older versions of UT had the ability to disable "mature taunts," but it seems to have disappeared from UT3‘s menus. There’s a possible .ini file setting, but I don’t think it works.) That combination of settings produces a game that isn’t too full of pink mist, bouncing giblets, and cuss words. There’s still cartoonish animated violence, but our kids watch Tom and Jerry cartoons, so I figure this isn’t anything new.

We have run into problems with UT3 failing to honor our request for taunts to be disabled on occasion. The problem is intermittent enough to be really frustrating. I have no desire to be hearing from a teacher at school about some choice words my son picked up from a video gaming session with his dad. But overall, it mostly works and is more or less age-appropriate.

We’re now having dinner-table conversations about deathmatch strategy and how to circle strafe. It’s loads of fun to see my kids pick this game up so fast and seemingly appreciate it so much more than the kiddie games they play on the Wii (which are great, too, but aren’t at the top of my gaming enjoyment hierarchy). Already, they’re begging me to play each night and asking to try out new game types like CTF.

I have to wonder whether game studios haven’t missed the boat by failing to produce a truly kid-friendly—or even kid-targeted—Quake III Arena clone. Just being the only one would surely count for a lot.

So here’s the question. If you’re an FPS fan and old enough to have kids of your own—or just nieces and nephews, perhaps—how have you gone about sharing your appreciation for FPS games with them? Is there any game in particular that you think is a good candidate for kids to play? Do you think an eight year-old playing a violent, gore and profanity-laced FPS is simply No Big Deal? Or should they just be playing with Mario and Princess Peach until they’re 17? Any solutions besides our UT3 one that you think merit consideration? Discuss.

Comments closed
    • mrwolf710
    • 12 years ago

    How did I miss this article? Nice to see my old site mentioned.

    • KilgoreTrout
    • 12 years ago

    But… but… Hitler is in that game! The kids will become nazis! Cybernetic nazis! With chainguns!

    • LoneWolf15
    • 12 years ago

    Bingo. He’s not locking his kids in a box, he’s being responsible by deciding what age is appropriate to expose children to content.

    This “why would you want to limit what your kids are exposed to?” argument forgets the concept that some things are too much for a child at a certain age. By waiting to explain them or expose them and doing so on a gradual, age-appropriate basis, you aren’t locking your kids in an ivory tower, you’re just waiting for the right time when they’re mature enough to reason out and understand what you’re trying to explain.

    • satsuper
    • 12 years ago

    Wow you certainly have clutched at a lot of straws there and made a ton of assumptions.

    What you are suggesting is that games are the cause of sociopathic behaviour and that it encourages these so called “screwed up” people to do what I can only assume to be “screwed up” things.

    That said can you point me to any examples where this has happened?
    You seem to mention something about curves but it seems this is data that only exists in your head to support your warped world view.

    If you also think games teach you how to kill then I would say you are out of touch, I have played plenty of shooters and would still have no idea how to reliably operate or aim a gun let alone bring myself to kill somebody.

    I also don’t see any reason to have some ridiculous knee jerk reaction to the interactivity of violent games, any form of violent media could have the impact you describe. If people are so out of touch that they model their actions based on what they see in games or movies then removing these things isn’t really going to solve the much more important and real problem of their mental state.

    • Bensam123
    • 12 years ago

    I don’t quite understand how this works. Parents from a generation that grew up on blood and gore and seemingly turned out fine, don’t think it’s appropriate for their children. Quake may not have been as bloody as UT3 is today or have as much cussing, but Duke Nukem was around back then and not only did that have crap loads of swearing, but also nudity. As a kid you didn’t have that censored.

    It’s all relative. I’m sure eventually some company will get to the point of making photorealistic dead people flying around the screen or anatomically correct people sliced in half. How is that really different from movies kids are watching or other things? As a kid you didn’t run around to your teachers and tell them about your new swear words or about a new porno you and your friends watched while your parents are out.

    Parent’s are becoming over protective of their kids. Even if they’re exposed to the blood and gore of video games as well as the mature language and even a porn every once in awhile while the parents are out, it’s how you interact with them, treat them, and overall raise them that affects them. Even if there is mature language in game if you don’t stoop to using it yourself and hold yourself to a higher standard, they see that and imitate that.

    Somehow parents think just by censoring some of the information that they’re giving them they don’t get it from anywhere else, which is quite wrong. I don’t know how adults forget what it was like when they were growing up, but it is largely impossible to control the flow of information to them. If not from your sources, then their friends, the things they see on TV, a passing conversation… the limits are endless.

    Instead of looking for a gibless legos starwars, I’d look more for quality games that both you and your sons can appreciate and have fun playing. If the swearing really bothers you, DON’T USE IT, and if you see them using it tell them it’s not appropriate (don’t yell at them about it).

    Most importantly though, KEEP THEM AWAY FROM TARDS. They’re all over the place. Worst infuence would be WoW. CoD4 or MW2 isn’t that bad if you can disable voice chat on the console. None of it is productive, it’s just a bunch of smack talk from adults or children and stubbed egos. Trolls online are no better then bullies used to be IRL and they can affect the development of children.

    Just have fun, that’s what gaming is all about and censoring things now wont change anything. Games are just going to get gorrier and gorrier and more profane.

    It should be worth noting, while growing up around stuff kids think it is no big deal, but if you artificially protect them from real life once they finally get a taste of it, it takes a lot more to make them stop.

    • clone
    • 12 years ago

    if you can’t distinguish the difference between watching and or listening to violence compared to playing an active role in the violence, from the planning to the controlling then the discussion ends.

    rate “problems on a curve”… without video games “this many” ppl who already have a number of issues will kill….. now add video games and those who were on a fringe, who’s issues weren’t quite as serious could become and will be better at killing now add photo realism and eventually interface changes for the sake of realism…… and now those who had issues will be that much better, those who’s issues weren’t quite so bad will see it as a viable solution to their issues, and those who are having a bad day and have issues who likely would never be so pathetic may see it as an option.

    so why are we working as hard as possible to entertain sociopathic behaviour.

    • drfish
    • 12 years ago

    I’ve still got my original Nerf Area Blast CD. I played it back in 2000 or so, it was basically the first multi-player FPS I ever tried. To this day I still occasionally break it out. Of course every time I do I wish Voodoo was still around so I could play in in Glide mode. I should try it out in Windows 7.

    • jbraslins
    • 12 years ago

    +million. Well said.

    • dogchainx
    • 12 years ago

    Probably because he’s being a responsible parent. Limiting your children to certain material isn’t detrimental. You’re protecting them from material that is too adult for them. Its up to you to decide when they are ready to handle adult-themed violence. Don’t condemn someone for being prudent…

    • derFunkenstein
    • 12 years ago

    Carry on then. 🙂

    • burntham77
    • 12 years ago

    Halo 1 and 2 for the PC are pretty solid shooters. I do wish they’d give us Halo 3 for Windows. I can’t use a console controller for FPS games.

    • burntham77
    • 12 years ago

    Hey, I am a 32 year old man and I want a Robot Unicorn!

    • burntham77
    • 12 years ago

    Thank you! If you raise your kids to be smart, you won’t have to shield them from much. They will be smart enough to handle “adult” things. I would rather my child have knowledge than ignorance.

    • burntham77
    • 12 years ago

    The Jedi Knight games are all fine FPS games for all ages. There are dismemberments, but nothing bloody. The Half-Life games, while bloody, are not overly so.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 12 years ago

    I remember thinking TF2 would fit this bill. Then I saw all the awesome bouncing giblets and blood and kill cams and loved it

    • DTShakuras
    • 12 years ago

    Why does most of the games recommended have to be current games? I suggest Wolfenstein 3D, the grandfather of fps and a timeless classic. There isn’t that much gore in the game either. As other people have said, explain to your kids what’s real and fake.

    • Ozobamai
    • 12 years ago

    +1 on Nerf Arena – at least in concept, although I don’t know if it will run on any modern machine. This is how I started my kids on interactive gaming a decade ago. The entire atmosphere is fun and light-hearted. Compared to most of the sophisticated mods I’ve seen, this would seem to be a trivial adaptation for almost any modern FPS engine. We played on LAN together for many hilarious hours.

    On a related topic, by far the most “useful” games (for anything remotely related to life skills) have been the RTS genre. To excel at understanding (and rapidly computing) the complex relationships between armor, damage types, resource optimization, etc. requires very good analytic, estimation, and problem-solving skills. My sons have both turned out to be math whizzes, and I’m convinced that part of this is their RTS game-play.

    • HisDivineShadow
    • 12 years ago

    Such a difference in generations. I grew up knowing the difference between what was real and what wasn’t. Parents didn’t “not do” things because the kids were awake, were around, were there. Parents just did what they were doing and we learned quickly that the scary thing on the TV’s not real. Its fake. Make-believe. Entertainment. Nor did everything in the house have to stop the second the children needed to go to bed and when we wanted something, we rarely got it.

    Oh, and I walked a hundred miles barefoot over broken glass formed from the oppressive heat of unfulfilled dreams turning the sands of the deserts we lived into glass.

    Personally, I think you should find a game with a modicum of violence (blood included) and harsh language, let your kids be exposed to it (in a controlled environment) and be there to help them understand that adult language is to be used sparingly and in adult situations. And that the violence displayed on screen is the same fake violence that’s in Transformers, Avatar, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

    In this way, you’re not shielding them from something they’ll encounter eventually anyway and you’ll not foster a scenario where eventually they crave what you at first denied them. Because kids always become aware of and then seek to have access to those things you refuse them. If you give it to them without making it seem super important, they won’t even know it could have been a problem.

    If you insist on sticking with your, “Shield them from the bad stuff until they’re driving a car and sneaking into R rated movies,” plan, then I second the Halo, Half-Life, Portal, Serious Sam suggestions. You’re just doing them and yourselves a disservice in the long run, though.

    • satsuper
    • 12 years ago

    I have seen a few of these type of comments but yours make no sense at all since you conveniently forget all other forms of violent entertainment. People who can’t distinguish between games and reality have a ton of problems anyway which won’t be fixed by removing violent and realistic games.

    • DrCR
    • 12 years ago

    Dirt2?

    • travbrad
    • 12 years ago

    Yeah Portal was the first thing I thought of. Technically maybe it’s not a “FPS” depending on your definition but it’s still a lot of fun, and actually requires you to use your brain to figure stuff out.

    They may be a bit dated now, but I don’t remember the Thief series having much/any gore, although maybe that’s a bit “darker” and/or slower than what you had in mind. I played them around that age (10), for whatever that’s worth.

    I know you mentioned Bad Company 2 specifically as being too gory, but the original BF1942 wasn’t very gory at all. It may be a bit much for an 8yo (that’s up to you), but perhaps not a 10yo.

    The original HL wasn’t too bad either, again maybe a bit much for an 8yo though. Theres some somewhat “scary” enemies.

    There seems to be a trend towards more gore/”realism” in newer games. I can’t really think of anything from the past couple years. I guess Halo is similar to UT, but it’s just a poor quality clone IMO. :p

    • derFunkenstein
    • 12 years ago

    The idea that you’ll allow something once you allow someone else to allow something is pretty stupid. It’s the same herd-thinning logic of “so and so lets me” or “so and so’s mom lets them”. Either you believe something is right and you enforce it or you believe something is not allowed and you stand firm. Or, you can just cave by letting someone else effectively parent your child and you give in to the pressure from your kid. Pretty lame, dude.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 12 years ago

    Yeah, I’ma have to agree there.

    • clone
    • 12 years ago

    Photo realism in FPS’s really bothers me……. with regards to kids at an impressionable age let alone later in life I’m not ok with it.

    I believe their is a lot of value in reduced visual realism as it keeps the imagination away from confusing real life… a genuine separation of “church and state”….. their are screwed up ppl out there and I find value in err’ing on the side of caution.

    a former friend of mine talked about how mad he was that government was trying to limit realism and interfering with game content (was during the whole rockstar games hotcoffee mod thing) but I openly said I welcome a level of restriction and thought that possibly games were starting to go to far…… without a doubt I was certain the dialogue needed to be started now instead of later.

    he was really annoyed and went on to say it really pissed him off that one day he may not be able to realistically slit someones throat…… it’s almost comical how harsh the comment is……. even now I couldn’t disagree more than I did at the time to which I commented “how sad that must be for you…. .the whole waaah I can’t realistically slit someones throat”….. “do you have any idea how pathetic that really does sound let alone disturbed”?

    with regards to FPS’s for kids I’d give the nod to the whole Stalker series and older less realistic titles…. I’d also give the nod to Unreal 3 just because it’s that far out their but the latest round of realism just isn’t for me and will not be for in my view kids under the age of 18…. as for ever getting the realistic “slitting of the throat” I’d prefer that never happen but hey if their is money in it some piece of trash will do it.

    yes I know the difference between pixels and ppl, the problem is can you guarantee every single player can distinguish?…. what’s it worth…. put a life number on it for the sake of sociopath pursuits.

    • Meadows
    • 12 years ago

    You idiot. BioShock is not for kids.

    • danazar
    • 12 years ago

    Halo is a great suggestion.

    • rogthewookiee
    • 12 years ago

    I’m surprised, no one has mentioned Halo! If you can find a copy of Halo 1 for computer that would work well I think. The enemies are aliens and are not very anthropomorphic. I don’t recall the taunts to be anything objectionable.

    My parents were/are very against FPS. But some of that is trauma from living in Africa (Sudan and Ethiopia) were the only guns you see are used to kill people.

    I started killing animals before I ever took up a mouse and keyboard. I am a hunter and the respect for life I have found out of the very messy death of real animals can’t be taken away by a game I play in the house.

    On a side note, game skills do not equal gun skills. I’m a pretty good shot, but I suck at FPS. After a round or two of getting trounced at CoD I usually take my friends outside and show them how you really shoot a gun!

    • wira020
    • 12 years ago

    I think Bioshock 1 n 2 is a great game for kids.. there’s some .ini setting that can be edited for no blood n gore… Bioshock 1 could be too scary for them tho… that game have very strong moral lesson too..

    I remember when i was around 12, i always watch my older brother play Resident Evil ( 3 i think ).. i could never play it myself because it was too scary for me at the time… during those time, I could never stop playing Metal Gear Solid.. good clean fun that game was…

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 12 years ago

    Mope, no FPS games in this household. Kids get enough shit thrown at them to do without those gore ridden games. Like others said it is too back that good, clean games are hard to come by, they are other there, but it is never on the top.

    • BadSquishy
    • 12 years ago

    I just logged on to mention World of Padman

    Though I have to admit the following: I haven’t played it in years, so I don’t really remember if it meets the criteria.

    However, it is free (as in beer, maybe free as in speech too) and the download is only 550MB for the game and 63MB for the latest patch. There’s also a map pack to add-in. Check it out.

    • Kurkotain
    • 12 years ago

    nevermind, i’ll edit this later…

    • ApockofFork
    • 12 years ago

    I haven’t played it in a while, and its not an fps but I would recommend beyond good and evil to any kid. Just a great game with both non-violent exploration gameplay and lots of the more traditional 3rd person action elements. Plus its one of the only games i can remember playing that actually moved emotionally at all. Somebody who has played it more recently will have to remind me if all the content was appropriate(but I imagine it was… since you could just go around photographing wildlife in the game) Otherwise, the suggestions i’ve seen so far seem pretty good.

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 12 years ago

    There is still some bad language in the taunts if I remember correctly. I think he’s looking for something where he can eliminate that.

    • alex666
    • 12 years ago

    I once had a thread gong at the PC Guide on games for kids that lasted a number of years actually, with occasional posts. The premise was as follows: What are some good games with great graphics that are NOT FPS. Hell, over the years I’ve invested in all this great equipment, but other than some sims and some racing games, there seemed to be no games that had terrific graphics like Crysis, which of course is a FPS. It seemed like most of the great graphics games are FPS and that really sucks. Personally, I find the games pretty despicable and pathetic. My opinion, my tastes and preferences. I will not let my 12 yo son play them. The most shooting I let him do are games like Pacific Fighter and and the like, plus the Lego Star wars and Indiana Jones games on the Wii, which he still likes..

    I am both horrified and impressed Scott that you started this thread. It’s a good topic that probably needs a full open discussion.

    BTW, the most recent system I built has a core i7 860 Lynfield cpu with a big fat Zalman hsf and a HD 5870 video card, velociraptor, and so forth; its graphics potential goes largely unused. I am open to any suggestions for good game s for kids and the parents that are graphically beautiful but are not FPS. Thanks all.

    • RickyTick
    • 12 years ago

    My daughter is 5 and has very little interest in video games. Maybe that’s because it’s nearly impossible to find a game for a 5 yr old girl. The Dora games and Barbie games we’ve found so far are not challenging and really quite boring.

    My son is 8 and could play Super Mario Galaxy 1 or 2 on the Wii all day long. He’s tried some Lego Star Wars and Indiana Jones and really liked them, but they don’t hold his interest like Mario. I let him play Battlefield on the Xbox 360, and he really liked it, but I felt like it was just too mature for an 8 yr old.

    One FPS multiplayer that might be a good option is Shattered Horizon. There’s no blood, no gore, and virtually no audio. Plus the players don’t have a face, it’s all underneath the space helmet. There’s the occasional player that types obscenities, but I’ve found that to be rare.

    So to answer your question Scott; No, I don’t game with my kids. But I help them with their games and show them tips or hints, and I keep their games age appropriate. Furthermore, I don’t play my games unless the kids are in bed or not around to watch. Maybe I’m a little overprotective, but I want my kids to be kids for as long as possible.

    • colinstu
    • 12 years ago

    I grew up watching my Dad playing Myst, Riven, Sanitarium, Lighthouse, Phantasmagoria, etc. I’m still a little spooked watching those games!

    TF2 kicks ass though, love that game!

    • SonicSilicon
    • 12 years ago

    I’m not sure how well it would work in multiplayer given it tended to have issues with modern coded Doom (iD Tech 1) engines. (There were some misaligned or misorientated textures, even in the proper levels.)

    • MaceMan
    • 12 years ago

    When he was 8, I let my kid watch me play HL2. Ravenholm spooked him. He told me to let him know when that part was done. Then he’d come back. That told me what I needed to know about his sensitivities. I kept an eye on Steam and directed him to things like Plants vs Zombies and various PopCap games. I couldn’t find any legitimate FPS for him. Instead, I discovered RPGs work better for kid accessibility (and learning/teaching?). I redirected my son to Wizard 101 (extensively free to play [f2p]). Then after he had that down, we push on to Dungeons and Dragons Online (again, extensively f2p). Its worked pretty well.

    • thecoldanddarkone
    • 12 years ago

    As long as it’s not really grusome I don’t think I’ll mind, however I’ll agree with the you statement. I’m constantly muting entire servers. I’m playing a game I don’t want to know about your brother, your fantasies, whining, problems with religion and various other things that don’t apply to the game. I play a game for teamwork and some mindless fun.

    • Meadows
    • 12 years ago

    I let my five year old sister play Serious Sam 2, using God Mode. She’s started to learn how to properly control an in-game entity.

    She ignores the blood, we don’t even talk about it even when it’s obviously portrayed. She does fine in nursery school, no undesired behaviour at all except a love for sweets that’s hard to control.
    SS2 was good because she enjoys the hilarity.

    You could try the new Serious Sam HD games – they have various eye-popping stuff /[

    • My Johnson
    • 12 years ago

    Me and my wife have no problem with the gore in the shooter games. It’s the teenagers on voice chat that we have a problem with. But training my son never to repeat any choice words he picked up wasn’t too difficult.

    • squngy
    • 12 years ago

    Well I wouldn’t worry too much about blood if I were you, people bleed if you shoot them after all, but thats coming from someone that got into gaming with the likes of mortal combat, I was around your kids age too…

    Any way my suggestion of a game to play with your kids is…

    WORMS! (Armageddon or world party preferably)

    Its one of the most fun games in the world, no bad language and you can turn of blood.
    It isn’t first person, but when your having so much fun, who cares?

    • BenBasson
    • 12 years ago

    I agree with this, Tribes 2 could be the way forward. There are still some servers that run it; have a look around online. It’s an awesome team-working game, completely based in the realms of fantasy.

    The only thing is that online play with other people probably necessitates language filtering. I can’t remember if Tribes 2 has it and if so how effective it is.

    • DrCR
    • 12 years ago

    Not sure if this was covered by anyone yet, but I’m personally more focus on teaching life and death, how to handle and use firearms, and the morals of when to defend life and when to take it.

    Unfortunately we live in a world where the above is not taught. The result is violent video games, plus abortion, euthanasia. And scores of people defenseless against those that wish to do them harm.

    I’d recommend you take your kids to the range with you sometime. Take a few old water filled milk jugs and hit them with a rife, to emphasize the reason for careful use. Take them hunting or if you don’t hunt the next time you have chicken for dinner, get a live one from a nearby farm and dress it yourself rather than outsourcing that to Tyson et al.

    FPS alone will just get them used to virtually killing. I would suggest this alone, without a proper foundation, would be unwise, but I imagine you’re a good parent and they have at least some foundation. 🙂 The best game I can think of for kids would be AmericasArmy2 or CallofDuty (iirc COD is clean, but played that a while back).

    Edit: If the foundation is still to immature, combat flight sims would probably be a great way to go. Machine vs machine (you can see the ‘bad guy’ eject, et al). I used to use Warbirds 2.x. Nowadays I use Dirt, mainly because modern WW2 CFsims just don’t feel right and I don’t have a Win98 box to play Warbirds on.

    • yogibbear
    • 12 years ago

    Have you realised you can hold down z and basically do infinite z + dash + z + dash if you time it right? 50k is pretty achievable in the first few hrs of initiation.

    • Trymor
    • 12 years ago

    l[

    • 5150
    • 12 years ago

    Agreed. That’s all we ever played.

    • dashbarron
    • 12 years ago

    Proximity mines in the complex…hours and hours of fun.

    • cegras
    • 12 years ago

    Well, even if I wasn’t, my upbringing was such that my outer shell is completely socially acceptable.

    • Machupo
    • 12 years ago

    I’ll def. agree with the above. Scott, your kids are going to run into these thematic concepts (blood, gore, killing, violence in general, etc) at some point; whether that’s already occurred, in the near future, or years away is an almost random possibility based upon the friends they keep, their parents, etc, etc, etc. Basically something that is out of anyone’s complete control.

    You have the ability to be there for their first impression of a concept and to manage the way they are introduced to it and work with them on how they should process the input. The willingness to introduce an unfavorable concept (as unfavorable, mind you) is something that is sorely lacking in many cultures (especially American, where we like to just *ban* everything we don’t like and thus make it all the more cool for kids to check out). Don’t punt the decision until something/somebody else makes it for you!

    That being said, I know I’ve been completely unhelpful here at providing a good game to give them (no kids yet). Sorry about that 😉

    • derFunkenstein
    • 12 years ago

    We always played License to Kill mode (one-shot) with power weapons in the Complex. Those games would always last about 5 minutes with four players and it was totally luck. Except there was a room you can hide in that nobody could get you in if you watched the door. But if you sat in the best place to watch the door, the rocket launcher COULD get you because it goes through walls. Alot of super-fast strategy there.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 12 years ago

    Just because you’re not a serial killer does not mean you’re “fine”. 😉

    • majorhavoc
    • 12 years ago

    Well, I have a 10 year old girl, and even if she had an interest in FPS games, I wouldn’t let her, at least not until I strongly suspected she was playing them anyway at a friend’s house (the weak spot in many a parent’s plan to keep their kid from engaging in inappropriate pursuits).

    I think part of the calculus has to be the nature of FPS itself. It puts the player in the eyes of the (usually human) game character; seeing the game world and performing actions as a real life person would. That not only increases the realism factor, it invites the player to more readily adopt the mental and emotional perspective of the game character.

    A game character who is, after all, primarily concerned with running around a virtual world killing things (which more often than not are other human beings) in spectacularly violent ways. For me, that raises the ick factor associated with the idea of young children playing FPS games even beyond similarly violent 3rd person shooters or side scrollers.

    For me, this aspect of FPS gaming is at least as much of reason to give me pause as the inappropriate social aspects of multiplayer FPS.

    SNM had a good suggestion. The Descent games are stylized first person shooters in the sense that for all practical purposes, your game character isn’t really the pilot of the ship, it’s the ship itself. And your opponents aren’t people, or even living sentient beings, they’re mining robots. Devious, insane, homicidal robots, but robots nonetheless.

    • StefanVonS
    • 12 years ago

    My vote is for one of the original call of duty games. Gore free and no cussing of any kind in multi-player. Downside: no bots

    • KamikaseRider
    • 12 years ago

    I would choose Half-Life (The first one). It has lots pf puzzles to solve and kill some bad guys at the same time.

    Then move to TF2, Counter-Strike or DoD.

    Battlefield 2 is a good choice too.

    • Firestarter
    • 12 years ago

    What about Quake Live? It doesn’t have gore, although some of the chatter could use a filter.

    edit: you can also disable taunts

    • yogibbear
    • 12 years ago

    So do you consider Borderlands an adult game? I consider it a childish silly arcarde shooter. Yes it’s fun at times (though i got bored eventually) but it still doesn’t make me think or wonder or spend any time considering that there was much thought beyond glossy animations and blood and gore everywhere to sell it as fast as possible.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    I know what you mean, but splattery gore and torrents of f-bombs kind of cross a line beyond boobies and butt shots.

    • yogibbear
    • 12 years ago

    But see that’s where i’d disagree… the supposably “adult” content is like… here have some BOOBIES and then some glossy HD butt shots. None of which is adult at all. Childish crap concept of what playing a serious and mature game is all about. I much prefer the adult content/context when playing Max Payne or Alan Wake or STALKER than i do from playing GTAIV or some other lousy throw away title. Specifically it’s in the delivery of the content rather than the content itself. E.g. one game’s childish boobies could be fit another games appropriate context and pacing. I’m interested to see where Mafia 2 falls in this grey area.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    Lol! I just played that for entirely too long. I couldn’t seem to get above 25,000 points. It took me a bit to realize you’re supposed to dash through the stars. *face palm*

    • Joerdgs
    • 12 years ago

    Practically any FPS Valve made?

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    It’s tough to define what is “adult” beyond racy subject matter, as it could refer to anything from high school age and up. Shooters as of late certainly seem to target the high school demographic. What would be “adult oriented?” Sim Office? :p

    • yogibbear
    • 12 years ago

    Robot Unicorn Attack is for her!

    • Sunburn74
    • 12 years ago

    Timesplitters series is for kids mostly.

    • yogibbear
    • 12 years ago

    I totally agree and about the only games that i can play where i don’t have these gripes of “oh here’s the bit where they sell this game to such and such stereotype” is the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series otherwise i’m left playing old games if I want a non-cookie-cutter-esque shooter.

    • yogibbear
    • 12 years ago

    Only games worth playing for your kids are: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Condemned and Dead Space. Everything else will give them a false sense of security. What’s better than learning about Chernobyl and Nuclear Accidents, Criminals and their Psychology and then Space Travel and Alien relations. Almost the perfect mix to bring up some kids that will do well in a space program or two.

    • esterhasz
    • 12 years ago

    just a small point: you’re saying in your post that most FPS have an “adult oriented theme” and I really do not agree. At age 33 I find that I have a growing difficulty to cope with what I perceive to be a genre entirely tweaked to the tastes of adolescence. The testosterone leaking rough guys, the incredibly flat portrayal of female characters, etc. – all this is really putting me off and as much as I love the genre, I am often bored when playing, I skip cutscenes, etc.
    An adult oriented FPS would really be something and I do have certain hopes for The new Deus Ex. It’s the titles halfway between FPS and RPG that seem to be the place where imaginary universes beyond Hollywood action flic narratives may sprout…

    sorry for the off topic…

    • indeego
    • 12 years ago

    My kids have no interest in the games I play. I sometimes try and sneak some FPS’s to let them see me play but they seem bored by them.

    My son likes Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 platinum and my daughter likes this virtual horse thing called Bella Sarah that drives me out of the room (music mostly) so gratingg{.}g

    • Hirokuzu
    • 12 years ago

    I suppose this is a borderline FPS, and more of a puzzle…
    You guessed it.
    Portal.
    That or TF2?

    • trackerben
    • 12 years ago

    The old battlefield 2 singleplayer has gore-free mode. As a bonus, kids will learn some physics, particularly the importance of not being run over by vehicles – great for teaching pedestrian rules.

    • I.S.T.
    • 12 years ago

    Really, it depends on the kid in question as to whether or not M rated games are acceptable. I was always mature for my age, so my mom had no problem letting me watch R rated things or play M rated games, as long as she previewed them first. Violence just didn’t bug me as a kid. It bugs me now(Dunno why), but as a kid, I was immune to it.

    Edit: She was more concerned about sex than she was violence. I was always sensitive to sex in movies, so she mostly kept that out of my life.

    Really, in the end, it’s a choice each parent needs to tailor to each kid. Some kids are ready soon, some aren’t. To claim a universal approach of all kids are ready by the age of nine, or kids aren’t ready until their teenagers just isn’t realistic. My mom had to take a different approach with my sister. She was generally allowed to play Teen rated games, but M Rated ones were off limits until she was 13 or so. Me and my sister’s cases prove a universal approach doesn’t work.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    That’s nifty. The mines were the best.

    • Prion
    • 12 years ago

    What about Chex Quest?

    • warhead
    • 12 years ago

    I also struggle with this issue. My son is 7 (the newborn can’t type yet) and very adept at the computer. For the most part, I’ve contained his interest in computer games to the realm of driving and flying and puzzle-type games, avoiding the shooters altogether. We have a ton of fun on TrackMania, Dirt, etc. However, the inevitable will occur, and he will be introduced to this genre sooner rather than later, most likely by other kids when I’m not around (X-boxes and Halo at someone else’s house, for example).
    Contrary to what some will want to believe, exposure to violence in media, and that includes games – IS damaging, and desensitizes them. Despite what one person commented earlier, the 4 year olds cannot distinguish what’s real and what isn’t, since they have no context. And, the whole reason we have a rating system in the first place is that the evidence and science bears this out. I really wish than all that energy being put into control, I wish more innovative, kid-friendly games would be created – remember incredible machine? And I’ll leave the FPS games to water balloon fights and Nerf.

    • bthylafh
    • 12 years ago

    Kids will still pick up on violence. He’ll probably be more aggressive later on than he would be without seeing that.

    • Deanjo
    • 12 years ago

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned World of Padman.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 12 years ago

    Good Old Games (gog.com) has Descent 1, 2, and 3 for sale, and they hold up very well. Twelve years ago, we had Descent LAN tournaments in the high school computer lab.

    Of course, the best part of Descent parties is waiting for someone to barf.

    • End User
    • 12 years ago

    Yet another vote for TF2. You need to find a family friendly server.

    • Cuhulin
    • 12 years ago

    I used Halo for that purpose, though not until my son was 12 (i.e., almost at T level), and even then, he was only allowed to play with his mother or I until he was 13.

    I like the idea of using mechs for this purpose.

    • DreadCthulhu
    • 12 years ago

    Another vote for TF2. As a plus, it happens to be on sale at Steam for $10 right now.

    As a side note, I really think people overestimate the effect of watching violent stuff has on kids. My 4 year old nephew watches me and my brother-in-law play L4D2 whenever we LAN, and it doesn’t bother him. Kids can tell what is real and what isn’t at a pretty young age. He will probably be playing with us when he develops a sufficent level of hand-eye coordination.

    • ImSpartacus
    • 12 years ago

    Yeah, I love TF2. As cartoonish as it is, it can get really really gory by default. Exploding bodies, identified limbs, etc. Good thing you have options in that area.

    • Prospero424
    • 12 years ago

    Yeah, I have to second Team Fortress 2, especially if you limit your kids to playing on a local passworded server.

    It has cartoonish gore, but even that can be disabled by either a console command on the server or a simple mod( I’m not quite sure which). If you do that, candy and presents appear instead of gibs and blood.

    Either way, the content is loads less “mature” than UT3.

    Plus, if I had kids, I can’t imagine a shooter that would be more fun to play with them. So much great humor and teamwork.

    • satsuper
    • 12 years ago

    If you want to play a bit of multiplayer Goldeneye you could always get the Goldeneye:Source mod. No real gore in the Source engine remake either and there is always a fair bit of strategy involved especially once your kids get sneaky with the mine placement. You do need a a copy of a source engine game for each player though, I am not sure if the free HL2:DM qualifies.

    TF2 is great and the new bot features would be good to pick up the game but eventually the bots become a bit useless and you have to migrate online. Also if you enable the low gore when people get gibbed party hats and hamburgers take the place of gibs!

    HL2:Deathmatch is also worth a look, the gravity gun always provides some interesting matches and its also free.

    §[<http://www.steampowered.com/ati_offer1a/<]§ §[<http://www.steampowered.com/nvidia/<]§

    • cegras
    • 12 years ago

    Why would you want to limit what the kids are exposed to? Isn’t it more important to teach them social etiquette than prevent them from even experiencing what they are not supposed to experience?

    I grew up on unfiltered internet and games, and I still turned out fine, not a serial killer, because my parents were good parents and taught me what is socially acceptable and what isn’t.

    • Voldenuit
    • 12 years ago

    I don’t see how taunts and language in shooters is worse than what you find in the average PG-13 action movie. In fact, they’re often milder, and the violence is much less visceral in most cases.

    Strangely enough, the most amoral children’s entertainment I’ve come across was actually Pokemon, because the show evinced a mentality of mindless acquisition and animal cruelty.

    §[<http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/05/28/<]§

    • MadManOriginal
    • 12 years ago

    Didn’t quite read all of the replies and this doesn’t address Scott’s question so sorry to be a stinker but imo video games, especially of this type even if ‘cartoony,’ should be kept for slightly older ages, say at least 13+ or maybe a bit older like 15+? Basically when they’re reasonably in to puberty anyway. The thing is habits formed at this age can stick hard, or go away entirely too ;), the problem is you can’t really tell at the time. Too much video content consumption really isn’t good for kids. At that age some friends or I maybe had Ataris or Nintendos and we would spend some time playing them but we didn’t really have any epic gaming sessions and when we did game it was always in a more social setting than online provides. Toys that are more ‘real world’ (legos etc) are vastly preferable imo and so is playing outside.

    Anyway it still comes down to strict limits when raising your kids right so be sure to set rules and limit gaming time, get homework and chores done first etc and don’t be afraid to kick them outside espeically during the summer. Some games that aren’t simple FPS but rather strategy and tactics that require thought and analysis more than reaction and might teach them a little about the world would be good too. Things like Sim Cities, Civ, turn-based strategy games if you’ve got a ‘little warrior’ (I loved military stuff at that age,) and so on.

    • WillBach
    • 12 years ago

    I hate to say it, but it kind of is a big deal. Keep them to sims and adventure games. Mech Warrior and X-Wing are both great fun and good for the reflexes, while being low on gore.

    • LockeOak
    • 12 years ago

    TF2 also has a no-gore “party” mode, I believe. All of the body parts are replaced with streamers, beribboned packages, balloons and noisemakers. It’s about as close to kid-friendly as it’s going to get, until, of course, your kids find Jarate.

    • thesmileman
    • 12 years ago

    Second on Serious Sam!

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 12 years ago

    I wasn’t allowed to play T rated games until I was thirteen. The permission to play M rated games was more gradual, but I didn’t own any until after I was seventeen anyway. I don’t really feel that this has hurt me in anyway. I’ve since played through a lot of the games that I missed and some of them were good, some were bad.

    On the actual topic of the lack of T rated multiplayer shooters, it’s gotten especially difficult in the last few years. Back when I was thirteen, there were games like Battlefield 1942 and Medal of Honor. Even Call of Duty was rated T. Now the best games are all rated M. Literally, all of the best games are rated M.

    You might want to take a look at the recent Call of Duty games. I remember that the PC version of MW1 had a setting to disable blood. There were some bad words spoken by the announcer between rounds and I’m not sure if those can be disabled.

    • Left_SHifted
    • 12 years ago

    Counterstrike 1.6 with z-bots(with blood sprites off)

    oops, posted twice :S

    • Left_SHifted
    • 12 years ago

    Counterstrike 1.6 with z-bots(blood sprites off).

    • Tumbleweed
    • 12 years ago

    §[<http://bzflag.org/<]§ is the FPS for you.

    • NeelyCam
    • 12 years ago

    What’s wrong with Tribes 1? That game was purty.

    • gyrfalcon1
    • 12 years ago

    Once they’ve mastered UT3 you should graduate them to Tribes 2. An understanding of jetpacks will greatly improve their knowledge of gravity and momentum. Bot support on a number of maps and game types as well as virtually no cursing(except Shazbot!).

    • ironoutsider
    • 12 years ago

    Simple, Warsow. It’s open source, Free, and about as gory as a basket of kittens sitting in a garage with the car on. Graphics are fairly low requirements on this game and it doesn’t look bad at all. Kind of cartoonish with the heavy cell shaded edges. Lots of fun too!

    • Skrying
    • 12 years ago

    This is easy… Team Fortress 2.

    The new “offline practice” mode now that allows you to play with bots. Which is great if you want to avoid in-game chat. Though you can also disable in-game voice chat and in-game sprays (which can be quite… graphic). Plus the visual style of the game is great and any “gore” isn’t gritty and real.

    Yep… that’d be my vote based on your criteria. My personal opinion though… it doesn’t matter. Good parenting is certainly going to overwhelm any negatives of a game, and any language your kid might pick up is already being floated around on the school bus by the 5th grade. But… your kid not mine.

    • bthylafh
    • 12 years ago

    IL-2: 1946 does multi-player, and you can adjust the flight model between arcade (good for kids) and full realism. Not too demanding on compute power either, since (less the add-ons) it dates to about 2002.

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 12 years ago

    Do you let your kids watch tv?
    There’s far worse violence and sexuality there than in games.
    Besides, it’s not real.
    Explain to them that it’s entertainment, and you don’t mix games like GTA/Postal2 with reality.
    Not that you should let kids play those games anyway, or even play them yourself, being the big steaming pile that they are.

    You shouldn’t shelter your kids too much, since that’ll create unfounded fear of the world, and artificial dependency.

    Depending on how far you take it, your kids will grow up not knowing how to change oil, cook, travel, wash clothes/dishes, etc, and be total failures in life.
    Let them do things, it’s the only way they’ll learn.

    • dpaus
    • 12 years ago

    My kids and I used to enjoy multi-player flight sims

    • Vasilyfav
    • 12 years ago

    I think Dead Space is an amazing game for kids, especially if you have several kids.

    It’s a very good way to determine which one of your sons is a pussy.

    • bthylafh
    • 12 years ago

    Modern Doom source port? GZDoom has OpenGL graphics, though it can be dodgy on ATI video – you’ll want one of the Subversion builds for ATI, but those seem to work OK.

    §[<http://svn.drdteam.org/gzdoom/<]§ A Doom WAD is necessary, of course, but they can be had cheaply from Steam if you don't have an old copy lying around. The blood's either heavily pixelated or particles (OK, and there's gibs when you hit a weaker enemy with a rocket). There's seventeen years of free third-party levels out there, some of them very high quality - for example, one of the Bioshock 2 level designers released a Doom version of the Arcadia level, and it was very good. edit: Ah, multiplayer. Couple of other ports that are better for multi-play: ZDaemon and Skulltag. I'm not a social gamer, so I'm afraid I don't know much about these two. Looks like Skulltag, at least, supports OpenGL.

    • SonicSilicon
    • 12 years ago

    The only two suggestions that come to mind are Serious Sam : The Second Encounter and Nerf Arena Blast.

    The prior has an option entitles “hippy blood” where everything disintegrates into flowers and fruit. I’m not totally sure if the voiced quips are completely free of obscenity / questionable content, though they generally were too busy being humorous.

    The latter is an older Windows [9x] game based around the original Unreal Engine. I only played the demo, but it was very well balanced, fun, and provided plenty of game modes. It can be summed up as Unreal Tournament for kids or family. Finding a copy would likely be more work than it’s worth, though, given it’s age.

    • blitzy
    • 12 years ago

    does TF2 support bots? that’d probably work if it does

    • lethal
    • 12 years ago

    FWIW I played carmageddon when I was about 10 or so and doom / rise of the triad before that, but graphics were a whole lot less realistic back then.

    Team Fortress 2 may be the closest thing to a “kiddie friendly” game, but that’s mostly because the pace is pretty fast and the cartoonish graphics reduce the shock value of people running around in flames and such.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 12 years ago

    It may not be a PC game, but Goldeneye 64 was sure big in its time and it wasn’t gory or profane. Tons of kids played it together even though it obviously didn’t have online multiplayer, and I don’t remember it raising a stink amongst parents like Mortal Kombat.

    That type of game is obviously commercially viable. There were a lot of things about it that proceeding FPSs should have paid attention to, but here we are, ten years later, with just that many more clones of the same old, same old.

    • SNM
    • 12 years ago

    My dad introduced me to Descent when I was about 10, and I played a lot of X-Wing and Mechwarrior stuff, but the first game I shot humans wasn’t until I was 15 or so…and proper FPSes didn’t enter into my life until I was about 17 and bought Far Cry.

    So, there used to be plenty of more child-appropriate shooters, but these days, not so much. Perhaps the next MechWarrior title, or another mecha game? I’m not a huge RTS fan but playing them with other people in the room is definitely fun, so try those out too.

    • MuParadigm
    • 12 years ago

    I seem to remember that most of the Star Wars franchise was low on gore. Also, 3D puzzlers/explorations, like the Myst series, have the immersive qualities of an FPS without the violence.

    .

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!