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Is Gacha Club appropriate for children?

Gacha Club is rated 9+ on iOS and Everyone 10+ on Android. This means that it is generally considered appropriate for children aged 9 and up. However, there are some concerns about the game’s community, which can be toxic and inappropriate at times. Parents should monitor their children’s use of Gacha Club and talk to them about the potential dangers of online gaming.

What is the age range for Gacha Club?

The recommended age range for Gacha Club is 9-10 years old. However, some parents may feel comfortable letting younger children play the game, as long as they are supervised. It is important to note that the game does contain some mild violence and suggestive content, so parents should decide for themselves whether or not it is appropriate for their child.

How hard is Gacha Club to play?

Gacha Club is a relatively easy game to play. The controls are simple and the gameplay is straightforward. However, there is a lot of content to explore, so it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Parents may want to help their children get started with the game and teach them how to navigate the menus and features.

Where can I play Gacha Club?

Gacha Club is available on the App Store and Google Play.

How much does Gacha Club cost?

Gacha Club is free to download and play.

How popular is Gacha Club?

Gacha Club is very popular. It has over 10 million downloads on the App Store and over 5 million downloads on Google Play. The game is also very popular on YouTube, with over 1 billion views of Gacha Club gameplay videos. (It is worth repeating that many of these videos on YouTube are inappropriate for kids)

What is Gacha Club about?

Gacha Club is a dress-up and role-playing game. Players can create their own characters, customize their outfits, and play mini-games. The game also has a story mode, which allows players to follow the adventures of their characters.

What does Gacha Mean?

The term “gacha” is derived from “gachapon,” which are Japanese toy machines where customers insert coins and receive a random toy in a capsule. The excitement and unpredictability of what toy you might get is a key aspect of the experience.

In video games, particularly mobile games, the gacha system is a feature where players can spend in-game currency (which can often be bought with real money) to receive a random virtual item. These items can be characters, weapons, costumes, or any other in-game assets. The rarity and utility of these items can vary, with some being common and others being extremely rare.

Why are Gacha Games Controversial?

The gacha system has been controversial because it can encourage gambling-like behavior. Players might spend significant amounts of money trying to obtain a specific item or character, especially if the odds are low. This has led to discussions about regulations and the ethical implications of such systems, especially in games targeted at younger audiences.

Regulations: Some countries have implemented or are considering regulations to ensure that gacha mechanics are not exploitative. For instance, Japan has regulations requiring game developers to disclose the odds of getting specific items.

How do you play Gacha Club?

Here are the basic steps on how to play Gacha Club:

  1. Download and install the game on your device.
  2. Create a character and customize their appearance.
  3. Play mini-games to earn currency.
  4. Use currency to purchase new characters, clothes, and accessories.
  5. Complete the story mode or create your own content.

Can I play Gacha Club with my child?

Yes, you can play Gacha Club with your child. This is a great way to bond with them and learn more about their interests. You can also help them with the more challenging aspects of the game.

How long does it take to play Gacha Club?

The amount of time it takes to play Gacha Club depends on how you play it. If you are just interested in creating characters and outfits, you can play for a short amount of time each day. However, if you are interested in completing the story mode or playing the mini-games, you can spend hours playing the game.

Are there any other games that are similar to Gacha Club?

Yes, there are a number of other games that are similar to Gacha Club. Some of these games include:

  • Gacha Life
  • Gacha World
  • Gacha Resort
  • Gachaverse
  • Anime Gacha

These games all offer similar gameplay to Gacha Club, with the ability to create characters, customize their outfits, and play mini-games. However, they each have their own unique features and art styles.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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What is the PlayStation Portal?

The PlayStation Portal is a dedicated device that allows you to stream games from your PS5. The experience will be similar to the Remote Play feature that is already available on the PS5, but the Portal is a standalone device that does not require a smartphone or tablet.

We already know that there are plenty of reasons to want to play console games off of the TV. Families have been doing it on their Nintendo Switches for years. It isn’t any surprise that Sony would want to find a way to let their PS5 owners do something similar.

They haven’t released a handheld console since the PlayStation Vita. That didn’t sell very well, so it makes sense that they would try a different approach. The Portal definitely qualifies.

The device features an 8-inch LCD 1080p display mounted in between two halves of a Duel Sense controller. It retains all of the features of the Duel Sense controller as well. The LCD screen runs at 60hz for up to 60fps gaming. Put simply, it is a powerful device that will display PS5 games remarkably well.

What are the limitations of the PlayStation Portal?

The PlayStation Portal does have a few limitations, which are worth considering before you buy one. These limitations include:

  • It can only be used to stream games from a PS5.
  • It does not support 4K resolution.
  • They weren’t ready to divulge battery life information (which doesn’t give me a lot of hope that it will be very good).

What are the system requirements for the PlayStation Portal?

This isn’t a game or a standalone piece of hardware. So there are no “system requirements” to speak of. However, You DO need a PlayStation 5 in order to use it.

How much does the PlayStation Portal cost?

The PlayStation Portal will cost $199.99. This is actually a very reasonable cost considering the technology involved.

When will the PlayStation Portal be released?

The PlayStation Portal will be released in 2023. Sony has stated will be announced soon.

Is the PlayStation Portal safe for kids?

The PlayStation Portal is as safe for kids to use as the PlayStation 5. This is a device that gives you another way to use the PlayStation 5, but it doesn’t play games on its own.

Is the PlayStation Portal worth the price?

It’s hard to say whether anything is worth the price because that is subjective. However, if you are looking for a portable way to play PlayStation games without relying on your phone or a tablet then the Portal is a good option. With that said, if you already have a smartphone or tablet that you can use for Remote Play, then the Portal may not be worth the extra cost.

Our Opinion on the PlayStation Portal So Far

This is a very niche product that will be a great addition to some households and a dud in others. There are absolutely going to be users who pick this device up for an inexpensive way to stream their PlayStation 5 games off the television. We already know that there are plenty of use cases for that. (The success of the Nintendo Switch and the Steamdeck can tell you that much. But, there will also be users who won’t need it at all. It will be very interesting to see where this shakes out with regard to sales numbers after release.

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The Spiel Des Jahres, translated as “Game of the Year,” is not just an award—it’s a seal of quality for families seeking the best in board gaming. Since its establishment in 1978, this prestigious accolade has been guiding parents and caregivers toward games that promise fun and memories that can last a lifetime! In 2022, the coveted award went to Cascadia, a tile-laying game for nature lovers everywhere! As we step into 2023, let’s explore this year’s winners and nominees that are perfect for family game nights.

A Brief History for New Parents

The Spiel Des Jahres was initiated by German game critics with a vision to promote top-tier games in the German market. Today, it’s a global benchmark. Winning or even being nominated can significantly boost a game’s popularity, making it easier for parents worldwide to identify quality games for their children.

Spiel des Jahres 2023 Winner

Dorfromantik – Das Brettspiel (Dorfromantik – The Boardgame) is more than just a game—it’s an experience. Crafted by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach and brought to life by illustrator Paul Riebe, this tile-laying game is perfect for families. Players aged 8 and up can bond over creating serene landscapes. This gorgeous game is actually based on a video game of the same name and helps teach kids about strategy, patience, and the beauty of nature.

Other 2023 Spiel Des Jahres Nominations

  1. Fun Facts by Kaspar Lapp is not just entertaining but also educational. It offers enlightening self-assessment, making learning fun for kids and adults alike.
  2. Next Station London by Matthew Dunstan is a colorful adventure through London’s underground, teaching kids about the city’s history and geography in an engaging manner.

Kinderspiel des Jahres 2023 Winner

Mysterium Kids is a gem for younger members of the family. This acoustic association game is tailored for children aged 6 and over and was designed by Antonin Boccara and Yves Hirschfeld. It encourages listening skills, teamwork, and creativity as kids try to solve mysteries using sound clues.

Other Nominations for the 2023 Kinderspiel des Jahres

  1. Carla Caramel by Sara Zarian lets players take on the role of ice cream parlor owners. It’s a cooperative game that fosters teamwork and decision-making for kids aged 4 and up.
  2. Gigamons by Johann Roussel and Karim Aouidad is a delightful monster-collecting game that builds memory and recognition skills for kids aged 5 and over.

Kennerspiel des Jahres 2023 Winner

Kennerspiel des Jahres 2023 highlights games for older kids and teens. The winner, Challengers!, is a chaotic tournament game suitable for players aged 8 and up. It’s a fantastic choice for families with older kids, promoting strategic thinking and healthy competition.

The 2023 Spiel Des Jahres Awards offer a treasure trove of family-friendly games. Whether you have young children, tweens, or teens, there’s something for everyone. As parents, investing in these games means not only hours of fun but also opportunities for learning and bonding. So, why wait? Dive into the world of board gaming and create cherished family memories!

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Dive into the world of gaming with our Summer 2023 issue of Engaged Family Gaming Magazine! Celebrate a decade of gaming insights, discover the magic of the new Adventure Time RPG, and get the latest scoop from the Summer Game Fest 2023. Whether you’re a digital adventurer or a tabletop enthusiast, this issue promises a treasure trove of information, reviews, and exciting announcements. Join us as we explore the ever-evolving gaming universe and ensure you’re always in the know!

  • Editor’s Note: A heartfelt message from Stephen Duetzmann, Founder and Editor in Chief.
  • Engaged Family Gaming Turns 10: A look back at a decade of gaming, passion, and community.
  • Adventure Time: The Roleplaying Game: An introduction to the whimsical world of Ooo in RPG format.
  • Olympics Esports Series 2023: A roundup of the winners and highlights.
  • Summer Game Fest 2023 Announcements: From the return of Detective Pikachu to PlayStation’s Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.
  • Wholesome Games: A spotlight on some wholesome games like Mineko’s Night Market and Fall of Porcupine.
  • Video Game Review: An in-depth review of “Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.”






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Mortal Kombat 12 is coming soon and it is going to be everywhere. It may not garner the national attention of a game like Grand Theft Auto 6, but it is a high enough profile that everyone who is into games will be aware of it (especially our kids). There will be clips of the violence all over social media, and streamers will be playing it like mad. This is going to influence a lot of kids (maybe even your own) to ask for it. Below is all the information we have about it so far so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to let your kids play.

What We Know About Mortal Kombat 12 So Far

All that we know about Mortal Kombat 12 is that it is in development and will be released by the end of the year.

The MK team released a video on 05/01/2023 that hinted at things to come!

What is the Mortal Kombat 12 Release Date?

We don’t have a confirmed release date yet. We don’t even really have a release window yet. There is still a lot of 2023 left though, so it is possible it could release this year if it is announced during the summer.

What Kind of Game is it?

Mortal Kombat is a popular video game franchise that has been around since the early 90s. At its core, Mortal Kombat is a fighting game that features a cast of characters with unique abilities and move sets. Players fight against each other in one-on-one battles until one player is declared the winner. The game is known for its emphasis on gore and violence, with finishing moves (fatalities) that are designed to be graphic and over-the-top.

One of the core MK elements that draw a lot of attention is the Fatality system. Each best-of-three match ends with an opportunity for the victor to input a special move and be “rewarded” with an intensely violent animated scene where their character kills their opponent. These fatalities are so brutal that I honestly can’t even embed a video.

Franchise Popularity

Despite the controversy surrounding the franchise, Mortal Kombat remains popular among gamers. The franchise has sold over 49 million copies worldwide and has become a cultural icon in the gaming community. Fans eagerly await the release of each new installment, and Mortal Kombat 12 is no exception.

The Potential ESRB Rating for Mortal Kombat 12

One of the biggest concerns surrounding Mortal Kombat is the potential ESRB rating. The ESRB is the organization responsible for assigning age ratings to video games. Games are rated based on their content, with ratings ranging from “Everyone” to “Adults Only.” While we don’t know what rating Mortal Kombat 12 will receive, previous installments in the franchise have received “Mature” ratings. They simply are not intended for children. I can’t imagine a world where Mortal Kombat 12 doesn’t receive an M rating after review.

The only exception to the M ratings for MK games was a game called “Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.” This was a crossover game that featured Mortal Kombat characters facing off against DC heroes like Batman, The Flash, and Super-Man that was rated T for Teen.

Mortal Kombat 11 included the ESRB rating descriptors “Blood and Gore”, “Intense Violence,” and “Strong Language.” It sure does earn those descriptors, too. Matches are full of ultraviolent moves that show blow splashing, bones breaking, and internal organs being dismembered. I’m a grown man and I have trouble watching some of the fatalities.

It is Up to the Parents

Ultimately, it is up to parents to decide whether or not Mortal Kombat is appropriate for their children. While the game is not intended for children, some parents may feel comfortable allowing their children to play the game under their supervision. Others may choose to avoid the game altogether.

The Importance of Parental Controls and Monitoring

For parents who do choose to allow their children to play Mortal Kombat, it is important to set boundaries and monitor their children’s gameplay. Play with them if you can. This will give you a more complete view of the content they are consuming than any guide ever could. You should also talk to them about the games they are playing and the content in them so you can understand how the content is making them feel.

Alternatives to Mortal Kombat for Kids

There are plenty of alternative games that offer similar gameplay without the gore for parents who are uncomfortable with the violence in Mortal Kombat. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Street Fighter VI, and Tekken 7 are all popular fighting games that are rated either E 10+ (Super Smash Bros.) or T for Teen (Street Fighter and Tekken).

You can also check out our EFG Essentials lists for additional alternatives.

The EFG Essentials

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has officially announced that eSports are coming to the Olympics! 

The 2023 Olympic Esports Series is an exciting event that the whole family can enjoy together. For the first time, the series will feature live, in-person finals, giving talented players the chance to advance to the Olympic Esports Finals 2023. Hosted at Singapore’s Suntec Centre from June 22nd to 25th, these thrilling finals will be a major highlight of the newly announced Olympic Esports Week 2023.

Gathering in Singapore for this one-of-a-kind competition, participants will go head-to-head in front of enthusiastic fans, vying for the esteemed title of Olympic Esports Series champion. The (sure to be) electrifying finals will be streamed live on Olympics.com and Olympic social media channels.

“The Olympic Movement brings people together in peaceful competition. The Olympic Esports Series 2023 is a continuation of that, with the ambition of creating more spaces to play for both players and fans of elite competition. We look forward to witnessing some of the world’s best compete on the global stage, as well as exploring together shared opportunities and lessons – across health and wellbeing, training and innovation.”

David Lappartient, Chair of the IOC Esports Liaison Group 

Building on the success of the Olympic Virtual Series, the IOC’s new competition format aims to support the growth of virtual sports within the Olympic Movement. The 2021 series, held before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (which where delayed to the pandemic), saw over 250,000 participants from over 100 countries compete. 

The 2023 Olympic Esports Series shows how the Olympic Movement, gaming, and esports communities keep working together, creating fun and exciting chances for players and fans of all ages.

The events that will be included are:

  • Archery (in partnership with the World Archery Federation, played using Tic Tac Bow),
  • Baseball (in partnership with the World Baseball Softball Confederation, played using WBSC eBASEBALL™: POWER PROS),
  • Chess (in partnership with the International Chess Federation, played using Chess.com),
  • Cycling (in partnership with the UCI, played using Zwift),
  • Dance (in partnership with the World DanceSport Federation, played using JustDance)
  • Motor sport (in partnership with theFédération Internationale de l’Automobile, played using Gran Turismo).
  • Sailing (in partnership with the World Sailing, played using Virtual Regatta),
  • Taekwondo (World Taekwondo, played using Virtual Taekwondo)
  • Tennis (International Tennis Federation, played using Tennis Clash)

Is it Spelled “Esports” or “esports?”

The correct spelling is “esports” (with no capitalization).

I’m sure more than a few of you are questioning that since I spelled it two different ways in this article. The reason for the difference is that it is spelled Esports when included in the title of an event. Hope that clears it up!

What do you think? Are you going to watch these Olympics esports events? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

The EFG Essentials

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GTA6 is coming! And that means parents need to start paying attention. This game is rated M for a reason. It’s not appropriate for kids. In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about GTA6 (that we know so far) so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s appropriate for your child.

GTA games are known for their violence, gore, and sexual content. GTA games have always been popular among kids and teens. GTAV was no different. The game was so popular that it sold over 11 million copies in its first week. That’s a lot of copies! And that means a lot of kids were playing it.

I’ve said it before on Engaged Family Gaming content. I’m not here to judge. You know your kids and your family better than any of us here at EFG do. So if you want to let them play, then by all means. Our goal is to provide as much information as we can about the content of the game so that you can make a real decision.

Grand Theft Auto 6 Is Going to be Everywhere

A recent report revealed that GTA6 is deep in active development. We also know that Rockstar Games, the developer behind the game, has all hands on deck developing it. That tells us that an official announcement isn’t far off and the hype train for its launch will only start building from there. GTAV is one of the best-selling games of all time. Its successor will likely be a MONSTER. It will be a major topic in every available form of media once it is released. There won’t really be any way for you to avoid it.

And if you can’t avoid it, then your kids can’t either. They will see ads. They will likely watch streams and YouTube videos. And, more importantly, they’ll hear about it from other kids either at school, in sports, or on the bus. It is almost inevitable that they will ask for the game so we want to make sure you have all the information that you can so you can be prepared.

When is GTA 6 Coming Out?

We don’t have anything even close to a release date. But fans are speculating that it will be announced before the next Take 2 Earnings call on May 17th. It is worth mentioning that a reveal wouldn’t necessarily mean that a release is imminent, but they could announce a release window. If the reveal comes before May 17th, then there is an outside chance that GTA6 could be released this Fall ahead of the Holiday season. But I think it is more likely that it will be released in 2024.

The Potential ESRB Rating

Grand Theft Auto 6 is still in development and doesn’t have a release date (or even a release window at this point.) That means we don’t have ESRB information about it yet. However, we can infer what the ESRB rating will be based on the rating information for GTA5. It was rated M for mature with the content descriptors “Blood and Gore,” “Intense Violence,” “Mature Humor,” “Nudity,” “Strong Language,” “Strong Sexual Content,” and “Use of Drugs and Alcohol.” That is quite the laundry list of mature descriptors.

Sexual Content and Violence Against Women

One thing that I think is worth being called out separately is the sexual content. Parents often think of violence when they think about GTA games. But, the sexual content is often either forgotten or isn’t even thought about at all. This leads parents who are less concerned about violence to let the game slide. (This is a pretty common thing in the US. Many parents are far more concerned about nudity and sexuality than they are about guns and violence.)

Another detail from the Bloomberg report is that GTA6 will feature a Latina protagonist. That is, admittedly, a big step for the franchise. It does mean that all of the violence being done against you while playing the game will likewise be done to a woman.

GTA Online 2?

GTA 5 included GTA Online which has been one of the most prolific online games of the last decade. In fact, “Shark Cash,” the game’s digital currency, generates more than $800 million annually. That kind of success isn’t something that Rockstar can ignore. It is very safe to assume that GTA 6 will include either GTA Online access OR access to a sequel to the smash hit online game.

GTA Online is a very different beast than the main game. It includes the expected content, but also the added “spice” of online interactions. The community that plays GTA Online is broad and robust and includes players of all ages. So this is definitely something parents will want to be aware of and consider.

The Choice is Ultimately in Parents’ Hands

So there you have it, parents. Everything you need to know about Grand Theft Auto 6. It’s coming out soon and it looks like it will be just as violent and explicit as its predecessors. Let us know what you think in the comments below! Are you going to let your kids play? or will you be staying away?

Looking For Alternatives to GTA 6?

If you are a parent looking into alternatives to buying GTA 6 for your kids, then look no further than the EFG Essentials. These are family-friendly games that the Engaged Family Gaming staff has vetted as high quality. None of them are rated M for Mature by the ESRB.

The EFG Essentials

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Looking for exciting family entertainment? Discover our free digital magazine, packed with family-friendly video games, board games, and movie updates. We’re your go-to source for gaming and fun!

2023 Olympics eSports Series

Get ready for the Olympics debut of eSports! We’ve got the lowdown on the games that will be at the event!

Game Reviews

Discover the perfect games for your next family gathering with our 4 pages of in-depth video game and board game reviews. From puzzles to action, we’ve got something for everyone!

Family Gaming At the Movies!

We share our reviews of the Super Mario Bros movie and Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

Subscribe to our free digital magazine for the latest trends and news in family-friendly gaming and entertainment. Elevate your family fun today!


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What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The Nintendo Switch is wildly popular, and Nintendo is pairing it with an online subscription service similar to both Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus. Their service, called Nintendo Switch Online, launched in the fall of 2018 and is a great value for families looking to get more out of their Switch experience. 

The Pitch

Nintendo Switch Online is an annual subscription service that is required into order to play Nintendo Switch games like Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online. It also includes bonus features like access to cloud saves, and access to a suite of NES and SNES games. Subscribers also get access to exclusive sales offers and Switch online exclusive games like Tetris 99. 

Nintendo Switch Online is an annual subscription service that is required into order to play Nintendo Switch games like Splatoon 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online. It also includes bonus features like access to cloud saves, and access to a suite of NES and SNES games. Subscribers also get access to exclusive sales offers and Switch online exclusive games like Tetris 99.

How Does it work?

You can subscribe to either Nintendo Switch Online (the base subscription) OR Nintendo Switch Online with Expansion Pack (the base subscription with additional features).

Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online is a subscription-based service that can be purchased annually, or in smaller increments. The service needs to be maintained in order to continue the benefits and maintain access to the features. 

The service includes: 

Online Play – Online multiplayer gaming using the Nintendo Switch Online platform

NES and SNES – Nintendo Switch Online – Nintendo Switch Online members have access to curated library of more than 60 NES and Super NES classic games. The collection initially only includes NES games, but was updated a year later to include SNES titles. The curated library of games will grow over time. These games also include online competitive/cooperative play with friends. Certain games (like Super Mario Bros.) even include the ability to virtually pass the controller back and forth.

Save Data Cloud – Subscribers can back up their save game data to the cloud. This makes it easier to retrieve their save data if they lose their Switch or start to use a new one. It is worth mentioning that some games aren’t compatible with cloud saving. The most noteworthy examples are Pokemon Sword and Shield and the upcoming Animal Crossing: New Horizons. 

Smartphone App – Nintendo has released a smartphone app (available for iOS and Android). It syncs with the subscriber’s Nintendo account and includes some minor enhancements for different Switch games. You can also use it to use voice chat with your Nintendo friends as you play. (Certain games, like Fortnite, circumvent Nintendo’s app and allow voice chat through the game software itself. This isn’t universal though.)

Special Offers – Subscribers will have access to exclusive sales and product offerings. They have included controllers, discount game vouchers, and even an exclusive game (Tetris 99). 

Nintendo Switch Online With Expansion Pack

This subscription includes all of the benefits of the base subscription with the below additional benefits. 

Nintendo 64 Games

The Expansion pack includes Nintendo 64 games like Mario Kart 64

Gameboy Advance Games

The Expansion pack includes Game Boy Advance games like The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap and Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3.

Sega Genesis Games

The Expansion pack includes access to a collection of Sega Genesis games like Golden Axe and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Game Expansions

The Expansion Pack also includes the DLC to several popular Switch games like:

  • The Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Booster Course Pass
  • The Animal Crossing New Horizons – Happy Home Paradise Expansion
  • The Splatoon 2: Octo-Expansion

How Much Does it Cost?

Nintendo Switch Online can be purchased annually, quarterly, or monthly. The service also has a 7 day free trial. 

Annual Subscription: $19.99

3 Month Subscription: $7.99

1 Month Subscription: $3.99

Nintendo Switch Online also has a Family Membership option where up to 8 Nintendo Accounts can share an online subscription for $34.99 annually.

Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pass can be purchased annually for $49.99. 


This basic Nintendo Switch Online service is a great value for families. The cost is relatively low at $20 a year and it includes a wide array of free games to play.

The Expansion Pack is a significant increase in price, but the fact that it includes additional DLC content for some the best Switch games on the market helps a lot.

If your kids aren’t interested in the NES/SNES games and only play Fortnite, then this is a service you can likely avoid. Fortnite doesn’t require an active subscription to play.

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to EA Origins Access

A Parent’s Guide to EA Access

A Parent’s Guide to the Xbox Game Pass

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Plus

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a self-regulatory organization that assigns ratings to video games based on their content. The ESRB rating system is designed to inform parents and consumers about the content and age-appropriateness of video games. The ratings range from “Early Childhood (which has since been retired) to “Adults Only” and are assigned based on factors such as violence, sexual content, and language. In this blog post, we will explain the ESRB rating system in more detail and provide tips for parents on how to use the ratings to make informed decisions about the video games their children play.

What Does the ESRB Stand For?

ESRB stands for the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.

What is the ESRB?

They are a non-profit organization that assigns content ratings and establishes advertising and privacy practices for the “software entertainment” (Read: video game) industry.

The History of the ESRB

Video games started with very simple graphics because of hardware and software limitations. The first home console was the Odyssey, which released in 1972. (source History.com) That changed over time as computers and consoles became much more powerful. Eventually, games like Doom, Wolfenstein, and Mortal Kombat were on store shelves. These games, and others like them, featured more realistic depictions of violence than ever before and it definitely ruffled feathers among parents, educators, and politicians around the globe. Up until this point the console manufacturers did their own ratings for the games on their platforms. This led to inconsistency and confusion among parents.

The US Congress took action in 1994 and introduced the Video Game Rating Act. Its listed purpose was “to provide parents with information about the nature of video games which are used in homes or public areas, including arcades or family entertainment centers.”

This by itself doesn’t sound bad, but video game companies immediately took action to present consistent rating information themselves in order to avoid handing the process off to the government. (It is worth noting here that the film industry did the same thing with the MPAA.)

First, the major players in the industry formed the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA). Then, the IDSA formed the ESRB later that same year with five rating categories and seventeen content descriptors. The goal was simple: to help consumers understand the content of the games they were buying and to help calm down the politicians. 

Why is the ESRB Important?

The ESRB is considered important because it helps to ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate content by assigning ratings to video games based on their content. These ratings are prominently displayed on the game’s packaging and in digital storefronts, making it easy for parents and other consumers to determine whether a game is appropriate for children. The ESRB rating system assigns one of the following ratings to video games: Early Childhood, Everyone, Everyone 10+, Teen, Mature, Adults Only.

Additionally, the ESRB also provides detailed information about the content of a game on its website, including a content descriptor that indicates the specific types of content that prompted the rating. This information is intended to help consumers make more informed decisions about which games to buy.

Furthermore, the ESRB also offers an online service called “Privacy Certified” that helps developers to ensure that their games comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the ESRB Privacy Certified program requirements. This helps to protect children’s personal information from being collected and shared without their parents’ consent.

In summary, the ESRB is considered important because it helps to ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate content, it allows consumers to make informed decisions about which games to buy, and it also helps to protect children’s personal information when they play online games. 

How does the ESRB Enforce Its Rating System?

Technically, participation in the ESRB rating system is voluntary. However, all of the major console manufacturers (Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo), as well as all major retailers require that the games they sell be rated. This applies enough pressure to ensure that just about any game your kids want to buy will have been rated.

The ratings themselves are based on self-reporting though. This means it is technically up to the manufacturers to send complete information regarding the contents of the game. Failing to do so triggers different processes within the ESRB depending on whether the game is digital or physical.

Digital games are straightforward. The ESRB can rapidly update the rating information. This has proven to be a sufficient deterrent. These changes would be obvious and traceable which would create a PR nightmare for the manufacturers, and no one wants that. 

Physical games are a different beast. Updating the rating information can be costly, and very confusing. The ESRB discourages this with sanctions and significant fines (That can be up to a million dollars!).

Advertisements and Marketing

The ESRB also has an Advertising Review Council (ARC) that ensures that accurate and appropriate rating information is displayed on the packaging and in marketing materials like trailers and ads.  Publishers that participate in the ESRB rating process are contractually obligated to follow “Principles and Guidelines for Responsible Advertising Practices.”

The Principles are general rules that publishers need to follow with their marketing. None of them should really surprise anyone. They include things like: 

  • A requirement that advertising accurately reflects the nature of the game and its rating. 
  • A requirement that advertising for a game rated T or M may not be targeted to younger audiences. 

The guidelines get much more specific and list content that needs to be avoided in marketing materials. Some of these guidelines include things like:

  • Graphic and/or excessive depictions of violence
  • Allusions or depictions of acts of verbal or physical abuse toward children
  • Allusions or depictions of acts of sexual violence
  • References to illicit drug use and/or depictions of illicit drugs and any accompanying paraphernalia. 

The ARC performs what they call “compliance reviews” for marketing materials to ensure that the principles and guidelines have been followed. One key thing to note is that they don’t just perform these reviews with consumers in mind. They make their assessments with their eyes on the broader general public because public sentiment is important for the industry as a whole and no one wants an advertising campaign for one game to potentially impact another one.

The ESRB Rating Process

The rating process is detailed on their website (which you can find here), but largely consists of a group of trained reviewers looking over written documentation, early builds, and video footage of the most extreme examples of the content in the game. The game developers need to be careful to include everything; the ESRB makes rating decisions based on all of the content included on the game disks. This even includes game data that is locked out and unavailable for play.

After the content is reviewed, each game is designated with one of six rating categories and is assigned content descriptors. These descriptors document what parts of the game are responsible for the rating or may be a point of concern for consumers.

ESRB rating is not mandatory. There is no state or federal mandate (currently) demanding that all games go through the process. However, most major retailers, like Wal-Mart and GameStop, will not carry a game that has not been rated by the ESRB so it is encouraged in order to help games be commercially viable.

The Two Different ESRB Rating Processes

There are two different rating processes that the ESRB uses to rate games. The process used depends on whether the game will be released on a physical disc on store shelves or if it will only be released digitally.

Physical Games

The long-form process starts when the game’s publisher submits two key pieces of data to the ESRB for review. They are (quoted directly from the ESRB website):

A completed ESRB online questionnaire detailing the game’s pertinent content, which essentially translates to anything that may factor into the game’s rating. This includes not only the content itself (violence, sexual content, language, controlled substances, gambling, etc.), but other relevant factors such as context, reward systems and the degree of player control; and a DVD that captures all pertinent content, including typical gameplay, missions, and cutscenes, along with the most extreme instances of content across all relevant categories. Pertinent content that is not playable (i.e., “locked out”) but will exist in the game code on the final game disc must also be disclosed.

Once this information is received a set of at least three ESRB raters review the content and they work together to decide what rating the game should be given. The ESRB staff will then review the information that the raters gave and might even do ANOTHER review to make sure there is parity between the recommendations.

Rating Summary

Shortly after this is completed the ESRB will generate a rating summary that goes into more detail and will include info about the contributing factors. This is where they get into the “why” behind the rating itself.

That rating is then returned to the publisher who has the opportunity to change the game to reduce their rating. If they choose to do so the process will start again. I would guess that HALO 5 went through a lot of these revisions as they deliberately went after a T rating.

Once the rating has been completed and the game is published the ESRB completes yet another review of the games to make sure that nothing snuck in and to ensure compliance with any of their changes. The packaging and the inserts are reviewed as well! (No stones are left unturned here!) A lot of the post-release review comes in the form of playtesting which is really similar to what we at EFG do when we review a game. They, however, are mainly focused on the content of the game and whether or not it matches up with what they were told in the pre-launch screening process.

Digital Games

The short form process is intended for games that will only be available for purchase online. It is aptly named as it consists mainly of a questionnaire that is made up of multiple-choice questions. The digital game’s publishers will answer questions similar to the above, but will also answer questions about location sharing, monetization, and if the user is granted unrestricted internet access through its use.  These responses are used to automatically generate the rating category, content descriptors,  and interactive elements.The short form process is intended for games that will only be available for purchase online. It is aptly named as it consists mainly of a questionnaire that is made up of multiple-choice questions. The digital game’s publishers will answer questions similar to the above, but will also answer questions about location sharing, monetization, and if the user is granted unrestricted internet access through its use.  These responses are used to automatically generate the rating category, content descriptors,  and interactive elements.

How Does the ESRB handle DLC?

Generally speaking, the rating of the “core product” applies to its DLC as well. However, publishers are expected to resubmit if it contains content that is different from the core game. 

The Four Parts of An ESRB Rating

Rating Categories

This is the part we all know about. Each game reviewed by the ESRB is assigned a “Rating Category” that suggests its age appropriateness.

  • E (Everyone)
  • E10+ (Everyone 10+)
  • T (Teen)
  • M (Mature 17+)
  • AO (Adults only 18+)
  • RP (Rating Pending)

Content Descriptors

These descriptors are short phrases that identify what elements of the game caused an age rating to be assigned. Some examples might be Violence, Drug use, etc. These are, in my opinion, the most important part of the rating. Every family is different and every parent has different priorities regarding the kinds of content they want to let their kids see. These categories help with that!


  • Alchohol
  • Tobacco
  • Drugs


  • Animated Blood
  • Blood
  • Blood and Gore


  • Cartoon Violence
  • Fantasy Violence
  • Intense Violence
  • Violence
  • Violent References


  • Comic Mischief
  • Crude Humor
  • Mature Humor


  • Language/Lyrics
  • Lyrics/Strong Lyrics


  • Nudity
  • Partial Nudity


  • Real vs Simulated


  • Sexual Content
  • Sexual Themes
  • Sexual Violence
  • Strong Sexual Content
  • Suggestive Themes

Interactive Elements

These are points of interest in the mechanics of a game that are noteworthy but don’t necessarily impact the age appropriateness of the game. Some examples of these types of elements are:

Online interactions

  • Online purchases
  • User information being available to other users

What if the ESRB Makes a Mistake?

Mistakes can absolutely happen in any system. This is especially true for any system that involves people. Fortunately, the ESRB has systems in place to make corrections in the event that a game hits retail with incorrect rating information. 

They also have processes in place to demand that a game be pulled from shelves in the event that the rating error was a result of a developer providing incomplete or misleading information

What if I disagree with the ESRB’s Rating of a Game?

The ESRB rating system doesn’t leave much room for interpretation on the part of the reviewers. They have a strict rubric for their ratings. It isn’t unreasonable to disagree with them though. I’ve gone on record as disagreeing with the ESRB’s rating of Final Fantasy 7 Remake. I feel pretty strongly that it should have been rated M instead of T based on the consistent adult language and a scene with strongly implied sexual violence.

They have a contact form on their website where you could ask questions about a rating. This would be a good opportunity to provide feedback if you have it.
The ESRB president, Patricia Vance, was on the What’s Good Games podcast and said pretty clearly that they intend for their ratings to be guidelines. They know that there will be differing opinions from house to house and even by region.

ESRB Rating Categories in Detail

ESRB E Rating Explained

This rating is fairly self-explanatory. The games themselves are generally appropriate for players of all ages.

They will contain no (or at the very worst: minimal) violence. Any violence that is depicted will be animated or fantasy violence. You might see Mario bouncing on a Koopa’s head, but you won’t see anything much more intense than that.

Most games that I would consider “family-friendly” will fall into this category by default. Board games, most mini-game collections, and most mascot platform games (eg: Mario and Sonic) fall here. Even the most conservative parents will have a hard time finding anything objectionable in these games. Many of them are tamer than an episode of Spongebob.

One thing that I need to stress is that ERSB ratings are rating the CONTENT. They do not rate difficulty. The perennial Madden series is a great example here. These games are rated E for Everyone. But, the game has a steep learning curve because it is a professional Football simulator. Most 5-6-year-olds would have a difficult time navigating the menus and playing the game even if the content itself is appropriate for them.

There used to be a rating category labeled EC for Early childhood, but it was retired in 2018. There just weren’t enough games in the category to justify it. Instead, these games are rolled up into the E rating. 

ESRB E 10+ Rating Explained

Games that are assigned the E 10+ rating by the ESRB contain content that should be suitable for children 10 years and older. The content is often described as “moderate impact.” These games may contain minimal cartoon or animated violence. There may also be animated blood, foul language, and minimal suggestive themes. This roughly translates to the video game equivalent of most Disney films. You might see a fight, but it won’t be any more impactful than most Saturday morning cartoons.

Many games in this category can be classified as family-friendly. As I mentioned above, these games are rated as equivalent to most Disney films. If you are a more conservative parent, then it is best to check the content descriptors used on the back of the game’s box or on ESRB.com. You can use those descriptors to make decisions about what content you might want to exclude and what you find acceptable. For example, you may be fine with mild cartoon violence but push a game aside because it contains mild language.

Trivia: This rating was implemented on October 1, 2004 by the ESRB. The first game ever given this rating was Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. (Who knew?)

ESRB T Rating Explained

Games with this rating may contain content that is suitable for people age 12 and older. It is worth noting, however, that there is no restriction for children under the age of 12 from purchasing these games without an adult. The content in these games is a step above games rated E 10+ in that they have a stronger impact and often contain more intense violence, suggestive themes, and crude humor (like in a Simpsons or Futurama episode). These games can also include simulated gambling. These games are rated similarly to moves that are rated PG-13.

Many parents dismiss games rated T for Teen by the ESRB outright, and I don’t think that is necessary. Many of these games are perfectly acceptable for young children with parental supervision. The “More intense violence” descriptor places most games that involve any sort of combat to this category. 

I remember being a father with young sons and there was a wide selection of games that are rated T for Teen that I played with them. Some specific examples are Street Fighter 5 Ratchet and Clank, and Marvel’s Spider-Man. The key here is to make sure you focus on the content descriptors and make sure that you only exclude games that include content you find questionable.

ESRB M Rating Explained

Games with this rating are a significant step above games rated T for Teen. They often contain more/more realistic gore. They may also have more significant sexual themes and/or vulgar humor. These are the games that we hear about on the news for pushing the boundaries of “appropriate.” Some of the more significant examples that have reached the mainstream media are games like those found in the Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto series.

Many major retailers have internal policies that bar the sale of games with this rating to any person age 17 or less without parental consent. It isn’t illegal though. The state of CA had passed a law making it illegal at one point, but this law was been deemed unconstitutional by SCOTUS. It is possible that CA or other states may attempt to pass similar laws in the future, but this ruling makes it less likely.

Perspective on M Games

I am regularly asked at what age-rated M games are appropriate for kids, and I always answer the same way: 

“You know your kids better than I do. It depends entirely on the maturity level of your child, and what you feel comfortable letting them experience.” 

Some parents feel comfortable watching slasher flicks with their young kids. Others wouldn’t dream of watching anything other than Disney films until their children are ten. Video games are the same way.

I would like to say that many rated M games are rated as such because they tackle serious issues and require a more mature perspective in order to really understand them. But, I’m not going to smokescreen you here. The vast majority of M rated games are patently inappropriate for most tweens and young teenagers because they are mindless examples of violence and sexuality. That’s not to say that they are never good games (many of them are excellent), but a lot of them aren’t substantially different from something like Scary Movie.

There are, however, a few that are legitimately thought-provoking. They can be used as tools to help discuss very serious subjects with your son or daughter if you feel they are mature enough to handle it. 

Example to Consider

My favorite example of this is the level “No Russian” from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (This was an Xbox 360 game… so I’m definitely dating myself here.) The players take on the role of a US agent who is deep undercover with a group of Russian terrorists. As the level progresses the player accompanies the terrorists as they assault a Russian airport that is teeming with innocent civilians. The player is not required to fire a single shot over the course of the mission, but they are forced to slowly walk through the airport while terrorist gunmen fire on, and kill, hundreds of civilians.

The media immediately attacked this level as soon as it was discovered for glorifying violence and allowing children to virtually commit heinous crimes against innocent people. They were technically correct but missed the point. I have played through the level and I felt suffocated. I was immersed at the moment, and imagined myself in that airport and wondered what it would be like near those victims. The level doesn’t glorify acts of terror. Instead, it shines a spotlight on what they mean. I can’t imagine any other form of media giving as complete of an image as a video game. These are prime opportunities to discuss these types of events… if you are talking to someone who can really understand it.

ESRB AO Rating Explained

I’m only mentioning this rating because I don’t want to leave anything out. These are games that contain content that has been deemed inappropriate for anyone under the age of 18. They may include “prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual activity, and/or gambling with real currency.” 

There is good news about these games though. Games that are given an AO rating are not sold in any retail stores, nor are they sold on any of the major digital games marketplaces like Steam, iOS, or the Epic Game Store. You won’t be seeing them on your kids’ shopping lists.

It is not unheard of for some games to be given an AO rating initially, only to have the game adjusted by developers to bring it down to an M. This is a similar process to the one that movies go through when they perform additional edits or reshoots to get a PG-13 rating.

RP and RP Likely Mature 17+

Video games are often announced alongside a wave of marketing material years before they are officially released. The ESRB rating process happens very late in a game’s development. Publishers will denote games that are in this gap period with a placeholder rating. These ratings are placed on all prerelease marketing materials and will be replaced on any packaging materials once the official rating has been released.

There are two placeholder ratings that get used currently – RP and RP Likely Mature 17+.

  • RP: This placeholder rating is applied to any game that is pending a rating from the ESRB. 
  • RP Likely Mature 17+: This placeholder rating is used for games that are more than likely going to end up rated M. There are some games that are intended to be rated M from the start of development (Like Mortal Kombat or Call of Duty). They get this placeholder to help avoid consumer confusion as the release gets closer. 


In conclusion, the ESRB rating system is an important tool for parents to use when assessing the suitability of video games for their children. By understanding the ratings and the factors that go into them, parents can make informed decisions about the games their children play and ensure that they are age-appropriate. Additionally, it is important for parents to monitor their children’s gaming habits and have open and honest conversations with them about the content of the games they are playing. By following these tips, parents can help ensure that their children have a safe and enjoyable gaming experience.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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