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Do You Know What's in the 5 Video Games Your Kids Want for Christmas?

Every year, parents look at their children's video game wish list and wonder what to buy. Here is a handy content guide for the 2012 holiday shopping season.

Every year, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are given a list of games their kids/grandkids/nieces/nephews want for the holidays, and to some folks, they might as well be in a different language.

As an adult, you might be wondering, what are these games exactly? Is there a lot of gore, cursing, or suggestive content in them? How do we tell? Should we also question how early we want to expose our kids to these things?

I'm pretty keyed in on this great bastion of entertainment (or time-wasting, however your opinion falls) called video gaming. Below you'll find at least one game they'll be asking for this year and what you need to know to not feel stupid when buying—or not buying—it.

5. World of Warcraft - Mists of Pandaria

Chances are you know of this game in some capacity (most likely through South Park or any TV news program reporting on the downsides of video gaming). For those that don't know, the game—also called "WOW"—is more or less a fantasy-based computer game where you shoot spells at gigantic dragons with friends or random strangers. Think Lord of the Rings, if it were a video game, yet still set in its own vast universe.

See that mountain off in the distance over there? You can fly to it and experience a whole different environment.

What you should consider
When it comes to this game, supervision is highly recommended. While a lot of fun and one of the best games in its class, it's meant for a demographic of people that have a LOT of time to dedicate to the experience (although that’s been toned down since the beginning).

There is little blood and gore, but it is implied in some ways through player deaths, which occur quite frequently. It's generally the game chat community that is the most vulgar component of the WOW experience—all your terrible visions of 1990's AOL chat rooms. You can turn it off (but the kids will turn it back on too).

Available only for the PC.

4. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Essentially a game set in the middle of war where you're a hero/leader ridding the world of that great evil. Your kids will go bonkers for this game, and, like Halo, its online multiplayer option is a huge selling point.

What you should consider
You literally only need to watch the video to get an idea of what you're buying: lots of gore, killing and death by stabbing. It's the brutality of war brought into a video game.

Available on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii: U

3. Borderlands 2

This is part of the new breed of games where you tend to get a lot out of it by running through a couple of times. Why all the fuss for the game? Its distinctive graphical style and game play: you essentially run around talking to people to get more and more guns in an enormously fun way.

What you should consider
It's extremely gun-heavy, so if you have any aversion to that you might want to hold off. The box cover art ought to be enough to scare you away. The combat and cut-scenes can be very gory as well. Fun for adults who don't take life seriously, but something to be mindful of for the kids.

Borderlands 2 is available on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

2. Halo 4

The next release in the long-established franchise of Halo, Halo 4 is a first-person shooter. That means the view of the screen is (generally) only of the game and a gun while you shoot at various alien and zombie types. They explode and die, but not in the way that body parts are flung all over; it's very story-driven, and you take up the role of essentially a super solider.

What you should consider
Halo is also known for its online multi-player mode, which can also be called the shouting box for kids to yell at each other—so be prepared for that. Personally I'm not a fan of that aspect, but it is a selling point.

Halo is only available for the Xbox 360.

1. New Super Mario Brothers: U

The best Mario to date in terms of graphics, "New Super Mario Bros: U" will probably be a game you'll want to check out. Plus, of all the games mentioned here, this one is probably the most family-friendly option. 

What you should consider
Super Mario games on the whole tend to be family-friendly in every way. To put it simply: unless you have issues with jumping on top of people's heads, you probably won't find much to dislike.

The only kicker about this game is that it requires the Wii: U, the new game system from Nintendo. I suppose the first thing you need to ask yourself is do you want to spend $299.99 to buy another game system and take up yet more space in your living room?

Here are a few other games that might make your kids' lists:

  • Assassin's Creed - A game where you stalk, rob and kill assassination targets for various reasons and outcomes. 
  • Madden NFL 13 - A football game released every single year. The knock on this is that in a year's time the game can be bought for $1.99. No violence other than hits. 
  • Resident Evil 6 - You kill lots of zombies in situations meant to spook you in dark landscapes. Not as scary or bad as years past, but not for the faint of heart at all. Expect nightmares from the young ones. 
  • Far Cry 3 - A game where you run around killing things dispatched by evil warlords; beware.


Digital Production expert Jamie Blanchard has managed social media accounts for NBC Sports, G4, Versus and Sprout. You can contact him at: hirejamieblanchard@gmail.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Pepper'smom December 07, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Thank you! Very helpful for the aunt and the mom!

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