What They Play is a website launched in November 2007 by What They Like Inc., and is the first in a series of proposed internet sites to help parents cut through the rhetoric and make informed decisions about what their children consume for entertainment.
Co-founder John Davison (best known to the gaming community as former Editorial Director of the 1Up Network and as The British Guy on that network’s 1Up Yours podcast) says in a video interview with DL.TV, “There’s a lot of people that want to tell you what to think, and… what’s appropriate or not, but what we wanted to do was to be able give parents the information that they need to know about the content of videogames.”
WhatTheyPlay.Com’s Game Review Archive
The game reviews on What They Play are not reviews in the traditional sense, but rather overviews of the game’s content. No judgments are made about playability, creativity, or graphical prowess. Rather, these informative articles dissect the game entire in the goal of providing context for the game’s ESRB (Electronic Software Rating Board) rating.
Says Davison in the DL.TV interview, “for parents … The review score is irrelevant.”
In this spirit, a featured review of Devil May Cry 4 explains the exact nature of the violent content of the game. There is a lot of blood, but after a brutal beating, all signs of injury vanish, leaving no gored holes or protuberant ribs. Players are scored on the stylishness of their violence. A character named Gloria apparently has a sexy outfit. The game’s playability or fun factor are never even mentioned, except in the context of why this game is sought after.
The site’s Game Finder search is a simple tool for sorting through the site’s content. It allows you to narrow your search by what console is in your home, what genres you would like to explore, the ages of the children (1 through 17) you’re buying for, and the highest ESRB rating you wish to allow.
Searches for specific titles can be narrowed this way, but you can also use the feature to browse in hopes of finding an appropriate game for your youngster.
Ask GamerDad is a column written by Andrew S. Bub, whose nom-de-plume “GamerDad” is trademarked. Bub writes a blog called Gaming With Children, but his column on What They Play revolves around answering questions posed by gaming parents.
When a grandfather asks what sorts of games he should be buying for his grandchildren, GamerDad replies with advice regarding not only mature content but also coupling the grandchildren’s interests with his own, suggesting, “surprise your grandchild by bringing over a new fishing game to try with them… Try to marry your interests with theirs and find common ground where you can.”