Getting the most from videogames with your family is no easy matter. Games are complex, long and offer a range of experiences not always evident from the first few minutes.
However, with a little research you can find the right games to play and easily avoid experiences that you consider not suitable.
Hitman serves as an interesting example in this respect. It's a PEGI 18 rated game, which means the Games Rating Authority rates it as only suitable for those 18 and over. Therefore the game cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18 in a shop.
However, there are some games rated highly by authorities that you might allow your older kids to play - depending on their maturity and understanding of the material.
Hitman isn't one of those. As good as it is, it is not a game for children.
You might consider caving in to a 13 year-old's demands to download the latest Hitman game, which is available as an episodic download for Xbox One, PS4 and PC. And those pleas might intensify when the second episode appears online soon. But while it is a superb game for adults, it is a prime example of where the ratings are spot on so you need to think again.
To actually understand the experience offered by Hitman some more details are helpful.
Hitman is of the action adventure stealth genre. Here players control the central character, Agent 47, in various assassination missions. They play from a third-person perspective and use a variety of weapons and strategies to complete each level - guns, garrottes, traps, explosives and poison can all be used.
As with previous titles in the series, this game's story revolves around Agent 47's work for the mysterious International Contracts Agency (or ICA) and his handler Diana Burnwood. The PlayStation version also has a set of exclusive missions called The Sarajevo Six.
Carefully examine the ratings
The game receives its PEGI 18 rating for "motiveless violence against innocent characters" and "strong language".
More information on this is published by the Games Ratings Authority (GRA) that states "Agent 47 can beat, shoot or strangle anyone in the game". Also it is "possible to kill a large number of people at one time as Agent 47 shoots into crowds" causing people "to run away in panic or crouch on the floor with their hands on their heads". The GRA also highlights that Agent 47 can kill people by "strangling them, as they struggle and kick their legs, until they fall unconscious" or "snap their neck while they are incapable of running or defending themselves".
The strategic game-play and violent action could be seen therefore as a gratuitous murder simulator by some, although the attraction of the game-play leans more towards acting out a James Bond style role than Jack the Ripper.
The game offsets some of the violence by making it clear that each target is a bad or evil individual. It's still quite disturbing stuff - particularly when dispatching people by strangling them or snapping a henchman's neck before stuffing their body in a dustbin to acquire their uniform as a disguise.
While some games' story and strategic elements are a veneer or excuse for violent gun rampages, Hitman stays true to its assassination genre. If players stray too far from stealth or employ the wrong strategy they are soon stopped in their tracks.
It's worth also noting that our criticism isn't of the game itself - which is actually excellent. We're just warning you to think again if you are considering allowing a child to play it. It's most definitely not a game for children but maybe something for older family members to enjoy once the kids are in bed.
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