Game Review Ratings

There are many things I look for when I’m reviewing a game. How does the game play? Is the story well written? Are there many glitches? Basically the same criteria as anyone else. As a Christian I have a few additional criteria as well, but not always what you might expect.
Christians tend to focus a lot on violence and moral content that is obvious, and that’s ok. I try to look to some of the more subtle aspects of the content. We tend to look at violence for example and being near taboo in our games. I am of the mind that if God can put it in the Bible with a purpose than perhaps we shouldn’t be so squeamish. So I tend to draw a different line than other Christian reviewers that I’ve seen.

I have a 3 rating system. A secular rating from 1 to 5 stars looking at the standard criteria. On top of that I have a 1 to 5 cross system where I look at how friendly I think a game is towards Christians. Finally I either agree or disagree with the ESRB rating and tell you what I think it should be.

Some games I simply won’t review. There will be games where I believe it is obvious to anyone that they are simply too immoral or too violent for Christian consumption. These would be games such as the Grant Theft Auto series or God of War. While both receive very high acclaim on the secular market I simply won’t play them and would recommend that nobody else play them either. Yet I will be one of the first to say they were probably each get a 4 or 5 star rating.

5 Stars – Excellently crafted game. Whatever flaws there may be are outweighed by what was done right and easily forgiven.

4 Stars – A well crafted game. It’s not perfect but there is a lot more good things to say than bad. If only they had just added or fixed a little bit more.

3 Stars – This game is fairly average. They could’ve got a lot better or a lot worse. Usually these games had a lot of potential but just fell short, or had too many bugs or unfinished features holding it back. It may or may not be worth a buy or rental.

2 Stars – Could’ve been better. Not really worth a buy unless you really like games like the one in question. In which case it’s a rental if there isn’t something better you want to spend your money on.

1 Star – Stay away. Stay very far away.

5 Crosses – Not only is it Christian friendly but promotes Christian values and gives players a good scripturally sound message. It’s unlikely any non-Christian game will receive this score.

4 Crosses – Doesn’t necessarily promote Christian beliefs but tries not to promote immoral behavior either. Most non-Christian games won’t make it this far but there might be a few.

3 Crosses – Fairly neutral in most respects. There may not be many positive messages but not many negative either. This is usually a mix of good and bad points.

2 Crosses – Christians should probably steer clear of these. Especially if you believe in the “garbage in, garbage out” philosophy. There are usually very secular and sometimes cultic ideas in here such as magic or ghosts or just downright immoral behavior and messages that have little to counter balance them.

1 Cross – Just unfriendly to a Christian audience. Anyone who might be susceptible to secular and/or cultic notions of events and immorality should steer clear. In fact in most cases you probably shouldn’t play this at all. Usually these games aren’t bad enough that I’ll refuse to play them, but they’re probably pretty close.

ESRB Ratings – Click here to go to the ESRB website. AO – Adults only. This is usually reserved for X rated content. It’s extremely unlikely I’d give a game this rating as I’d refuse to play them if I know it has this level of content.

M – Mature, only for those 17+ This is the ESRB’s equivalent of an R rating for a movie with much the same criteria. I have additional criteria from this Christian’s perspective. Many games I will give this rating to based on content unfriendly to Christians. I will generally feel that Christians should be firm in their faith and guarded against some messages in the game and see them for what they are before playing.

T – Teens. Appropriate for teens of course. A game will have to probably receive a 3 cross rating or better from me before I give a game this rating. There is probably content you wouldn’t want small kids to deal with in these games but any teen should be mature enough.

E – Everyone ages 10 and up. This is a pretty kid friendly game to begin with but will need at least a 3 cross rating before I’d recommend it.

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