Former EGM Editor Launches Game Content Site for Parents

November 12, 2007 -
Is Halo 3 okay for little Johnny?

Parents who struggle with such decisions may now turn to an additional resource.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, John Davison, former editor of popular video game magazines like Electronic Gaming Monthly and Official PlayStation Magazine has launched What They Play, a website which bills itself as "the videogames guide for parents."

Said the former EGM editor, the father of two young boys:
We wanted to provide a place where parents can turn to for neutral, objective information on the games their kids might want to play.

We really believe that it's the parents that should be controlling [what games their children play]. And the best way to do that is to tell them the facts so they can make the call.

Former Ziff-Davis colleague Ira Becker is partnering with Davison on What They Play.


[...] via GamePolitics [...]

@ Jack Thompson

It looks like no store would sell Manhunt 2 to your son yet.

Now you will not be able to use that as an excuse to violate my amendment right to play a game like Manhunt 2 if I want.

This is a good idea, although I rather thought GamerDad was already doing this.
As long as it doesn't become preachy, we don't need another capalert.

@ Colonel Finn: True, but at least it's another attempt to keep a line between us and the game-hating community. But how long do you think it will take for them to cross it?

@ Jack Thompson: Get a haircut.

Jack Thompson has not been on this site over the weekend, I think that he will bring us new information on the school shooting in finland that happened a few days ago.

Of course the new information would be that video games caused the killings.

In Jack Thompson's opinion.

Anyone else think the guy in the pic looks like Gordon Freeman from Half Life 2?

"tell them the facts so they can make the call."

That's what the ESRB already does... /facepalm

Still, I suppose it may be easier for a parent to take information from another parent and accept it more readily than the labels on the box. Anything that helps to get the message across that not every game is appropriate for your kids and helps clueless parents figure out which is good.

Fear and misinformation = fail. Education and information = win.

@ Shoehorn

while it is true that the ESRB already does it, they don't really explain the context of the content, at least not in the way a paragraph of information could.

for example, Halo 3 has the content descriptor "Blood and Gore"
what it doesn't explain, is that 98% of it is blue and green alien blood.

A quick check shows that despite the voting, every game completely agrees with the ESRB as to age appropriateness. Seems kind of useless.

As has already been said, GamerDad already does this very well.

Still, every little bit helps. Eventually, people will find their preferred site.

I'm still waiting for an overall media version (TV, Movies, books, music, as well as video games). And I mean an intelligent version like GamerDad's or the one proposed here. Not the "morally superior 'do it our way or you're bad Parents'" of the PTC and the Organizaed Crime organization, the CSM.

NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

I really like the age averaging mechanism they have on the site. I think that is a good tool.

A big error I noticed on the site is that they treat controllers & other peripherals like games, even assigning an M rating to the Halo 3 controller & headset.

we've got a week before Mass Effect comes out and the poopie hits the proverbial fan (I listen to VCPR A LOT). While it's pretty cool that a game has a well blocked, but for the most part uncensored, (I didn't see anything covering up the alien's naughty parts but shadows) lesbian sex scene (that's an oxymoron if ever I've seen one), we ALL know SOMEONE'S gonna find that offensive. Not a man though, men's brains are somewhat powered down by the concept of lesbians, I'm no exception.

Glad to see that yet another person in the video game industry has figured out what I said eight years ago on 60 Minutes is accurate--that the industry should stop selling mature games to kids behind their parents' backs. Hooah!

Hey! Its Gordon Freeman!

Its very certainly a step in the right direction. Not just for parents either, its christmas round the corner and the grand folks need help to find the right game too!

Hey, this can't hurt. One can never have too much accurate information. You never hear someone complain that they know too much about something to make an informed decision. He's a former video game magazine editor, so I doubt he'll attempt to ban any games.

@ video game time & Luigi

No need to bring him up. He's not made any comments and this story is unrelated to it.

@ Video Game time

You must be a glutton for punishment man? C'mon, don't entice the beast and stay on topic dude.

I've been waiting anxiously to see John's new project, and was immediately interested to see how it would turn out when I first found out what it was going to be. It's a much needed service, honestly - and as people who grew up with games turn into parents, it's simply great that they'll have some way to check out games before letting their kids loose on them, so to speak. The ESRB, while a necessary and functioning(?) program, simply does not provide the insight that I think Davison's company aims to. Great job, and good luck to him.

@ The Discombobulator

I mentioned about his son not having an M rated game sold to him by which that is on the content topic.

So many people have posted about situations that had nothing to do with the topic.

You do not need to mess with me, so back off me.

Well, I'm looking at it this way ,there's one more resource parents have no excuse not to use, thus further proving willful ignorance over slimey sales tactics.

@ Gameboy

The reason why Jack Thompson has not made any comments, is because he wants us to think that he is either dead or he gave up. If Jack gave up, there would have been more information about it. If Jack was dead, there would have more information about it. He tried this same stunt, months ago, but it turned out that he was alive and that he did not give up. I won't fall for his stupid stunt, again, unless there is evidence, that he either gave up or he died.

Sorry for the double post...

@ everyone

Well, it turns out I was right. Jack Thompson is still alive and that he didn't give up. Jack Thompson did his stupid stunt, again.

@John Simpson

Funny how the one time we supposedly saw a public apology from Thompson we immediately knew it was BS.

@jack thompson, attorney

That's not an industry problem, that's a retail problem. The gaming industry just makes the game, what happens to the software after it leaves the distribution center has nothing to do with the developers themselves.

@jack thompson, attorney

Adding to my above comment, what this is is a man who recognizes a problem and is adding yet another resource onto a pile of resources that parents as a whole have no excuse, ABSOLUTELY no excuse to not make use of.

This is proving willful ignorance over the sleazy practices you accuse the industry of, even though the gaming industry itself has nothing to do with actual sale. Hell, John Carmack[I hope I spelled that right} wasn't on hand to sell me my copy of Doom 3.

@jack thompson

When have you ever said parents are ill-informed. Oh wait, your talking about the statement he never made, that the industry is purposely selling games to minors.

He started the site to inform parents, the ones that are too lazy to research games before they let their kids play them. You know, what gamers have been saying for the past 10 years.

This is a nice move. It seems like it will do the same thing as Gamer Dad. I hope he doesn't mind the competition. :)

I think that the more tools the better. Especially when they are quality tools unlike the PTC and the CSM.

This is a great idea, I'm all for sites providing detailed content analysis for parents provided they don't use it as a watch dog group or call for the industry's heads when they find objectionable content. Most importantly, a website should use facts of the game, and the game in its unaltered form, to make these judgements.

They should provide the ESRB rating, and then augment it with what they observed in the game, or say they don't agree with the rating and back it up with facts. Most watchdogs like Common Sense Media will just say "well its uber violet and should be an AO" doesn't cut it. Cite specific evidence from the retail, unmodified version of the game (no PSP Manhunt hacks) and give your reasoning behind that.

Obviously there are games not designed for children, but they have to get an M rating in order to get published. Not to beat a dead horse, but if the big 3 allowed AO games and stores offered to sell them (even under the counter, and only with proof of age which is 18+) that would make sure that games that truely deserve an AO get it, and the industry and manufacturers support and enforce that rating.

Anyone else notice the dude looks a little too much like Gordon Freeman?

@E. Zachary

Nah I truely doubt it would be competition. A parent looking to get informed would most likely read both and then weigh the pro's and cons. I think it would be great if both sites linked to each other with something like a "Would you like a second opinion?". Though of course the number of parents looking to get informed is the true problem here...

Wow Jack, way to show off your inferiority complex..."Somebody (meaning everybody) thinks that violent video games should not be sold by kids,'s all because of ME! I'M PERFECT! I'M GOD! YESSS! HOOAH!"
On a more serious note, this guy's agenda is nothing like yours. He seeks to educate parents so they won't go out and buy their kids M- rated games, where as you want to tell parents "it's not your fault at all, it's those filthy game developers. They forced you to go to give your child $60 and not check what he's spending it on!"

@ somerguy

I meant it in jest. I had hoped the smiley would have been a clue. As the rest of my post says, the more quality tools the better.

Ah, Jackie, Jackie Jackie... You either make my blood boil, or give me a good laugh.

Try washing your glasses or wearing contacts BEFORE you read the website.

No matter how many times we tell you, you still don't get it. You're hopeless.

P.S. Sorry if this sounds insulting, but I was in a particularly bad mood right now

And that's a neat idea. I should introduce that website to my family (at least, those who understand english).

In the world of Jack Thompson, every child in America is at risk of being tied down and forced to play Manhunt 2 by roving bands of R* games developers.

This site, on the other hand, seeks to inform parents that buying violent games for their children is a bad idea, even if they whine and cry.

Also, Jack... ever think that you're making the problem worse by drawing less-than-ethical parents to the notion that they could buy games for "Lil' Billy" that will make him go crazy, then sue the companies for profit?

In America, land of child stars and high-pressure youth sports, you can't discount that there would be parents who listen to you and make the wrong choices because of it.

@ Mr. Thompson

Instead of going on television, trolling boards, and flaming gamers across the internet, why didn't YOU make a resource site for parents that explain the ESRB ratings?

@Jack Thompson:

"Glad to see that yet another person in the video game industry has figured out what I said eight years ago on 60 Minutes is accurate–that the industry should stop selling mature games to kids behind their parents’ backs."

You are wrong as usual. This man has figured out, like the rest of us, that the issue lies with parents who don't realise that video games are not all for kids and some are inappropriate. This man's new site is to give parents the information they need so that they don't buy the wrong games for their kids.

Also, you are incorrect regarding the industry selling games behind parent's backs. It is the the children who are buying the games or getting their hands on them by the other means behind their parent's backs.

Is it 8 years ago already? Wow, you'd think you would have learned since then... Try reading this new site, it might help you understand the real issues at hand, instead of viewing everything in light of your personal and petty vendetta against Take Two.

@ somerguy

I like the idea of GamerDad and What They Play linking to each other. Its a good idea and allows parents to find more resources and opinions faster.

To be fair, maybe they should also link to a more critical site, too. I hate Common Sense Media, but compared to some other sites they are fair and balanced and might offer a good counter-point on occasion.

"Glad to see that yet another person in the video game industry has figured out what I said eight years ago on 60 Minutes is accurate–that the industry should stop selling mature games to kids behind their parents’ backs. Hooah!"

Wrong as usual Jack. He said that parents need to be educated so they can make the decision about what games are proper for their homes. Never did he say that hack lawyers should make that decision for them.

[...] Video Game Website for Parents: What They Play Posted on November 12, 2007 by Alex Taldren Game Politics pointed me to this, a video game website geared toward parents called What They Play.  The website was created by John Davison, a former editor of the video game magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM).  It is similar to most video game community websites but with one major difference, it isn’t for you (gamers).  [...]

Also as far as Mr. Davison's website, I applaud anyone who attempts to educate parents on this matter. Though Gamerdad has been doing this for years now.

@ Jack Thompson RE: "Glad to see that yet another person in the video game industry.. " blah blah blah

Look! Jack misinterpreted reality to suit his own agenda again!

If EGM can't even provided an objective review on Oblivon, a game with massive glareing flaws (none of which there review even mentions), how can they be objective with this?

So, this is basically just like Gamerdad?

@Jack: The point isn't that they're selling them behind their parents backs, it's that the parents, not knowing enough about what their kids are wanting, buy the mature games for them.

Anyone else think the guy in the pic looks like Gordon Freeman from Half Life 2?

Damn it, I was going to say that but you beat me to it.

Gordon Freeman to the rescue!


You're misinterpreting the story, as usual, though we have yet to figure out if it is from malicious intent or mere stupidity. This is a guy basically making a review site for parents, with an emphasis on content. He isn't advocating anything for retailers, he's just going more in-depth than "M for Mature". Further, the video game industry has nothing to do with who buys their games - that is a retailer issue.

Two things I want to point out:

1. The site has no way to search for AO games. Is this because What They Play has confidence in parents figuring out for themselves the juvenile suitability of a title rated "Adults Only" or because it would be pointless seeing as AO games pretty much can't exist at retail?

2. This part of its mission statement: "We won't tell you what to think. We won't make decisions for you. We believe the only true parental control in your home is you." (emphasis What They Play's)

Andrew Eisen

@everyone who thinks he is gordon

Yes, that is also what i first thought. A movie you should see is also 9th gate. Depp looks alot like gordon in that movie as well.


Hey i got a great idea for you. Next time there is any new about that guy.. call him by his real name. :D

I'm sick of people screaming "PARENTAL RIGHTS!" & never thinking about youth rights. Under 18's have rights too.

@ JT

"Glad to see that yet another person in the video game industry has figured out what I said eight years ago on 60 Minutes is accurate–that the industry should stop selling mature games to kids behind their parents’ backs. Hooah!"


2. I never saw a 'Take Two' store anywhere in my local mall, did you? Then quit saying the industry is selling them.
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