John Davison, the former editor of Electronic Gaming Monthly, has started What They Play, a website that bills itself as "the videogames guide for parents." Reading a few of the reviews already up, it seems that the site focuses on short, fairly traditional reviews with a final "moral warning" for parents. For example, on Guitar Hero III:
However, be aware that the ESRB's "T" rating for "Lyrics" and "Mild Suggestive Themes" is no joke. The songs in the game deal with traditionally edgy themes of rock music, ranging from the sexually suggestive ... to the occult
Or on Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare:
As you might expect from a game designed to evoke the intensity of a battlefield, the action is frenetic and often presents situations where the player is under fire from all sides. The blood and gore, though not gratuitous, is prevalent throughout. Bullets tear through body armour and into flesh, explosions throw combatants around like rag dolls, and corpses litter the battlefield in the aftermath of each skirmish.
As much as I appreciate a website to help parents increase their videogame literacy, I wonder if another review site is really what parents need. Parents need to be encouraged to do more than just decide if its ok to send junior into the den with the latest release. They also need to understand how to talk to their kids about the themes of games while playing along with them. They need to learn how to play games for meaning and relevance rather than just for distraction. I'm not sure What They Play is going to move that needle.