I’ll start this off by saying that What They Play‘s Nicholaus S. Noles is not a bad writer. He’s done some good articles for WTP that are really informative for parents that might not necessarily be in-the-know about the gaming world. Plus, he’s looking out for parents and kids, and, if you don’t mind me going soft for a second, is important.

With that disclaimer, I’d like to say that his “Mafia II: 6 Things Parents Should Know” is not actually helpful in deterring parents from buying Mafia II, and in fact, might have just sold me on the game. His 6 things after the jump.

So, check this out. You know how when video games really took off in the late 80’s/early 90’s and immediately you heard every parent talking about your NES as if it had magical control over the youth of America? That’s the feeling I get from this article. It’s like every argument that senators like to use when there’s a debate about violence in games.

Nicholaus’ 6 Things YOU Should Know:

  1. “Gangsters shoot guns and drive fast cars in Mafia II.” You know, I actually have no problem with this, though whenever I read “and drive fast cars,” I immediately think about some Miami Vice or something.
  2. “Empire Bay is an ‘open world.'” Nicholaus then just talks about how awesome open worlds are. And they are. It’s actually an ongoing debate as to whether open worlds or standard storylines are more likely to create violent thoughts in children. In other words, if you set a child free in a living, breathing digital world, will he choose to do the same violent things that a storylined game would make him do? Nicholaus only grazes the surface of what I’d consider the most compelling and thoughtful of his points. He does mention that the open world can ring up more violence, car chases and shootouts. But that’s kind of it.
  3. “Gangsters use strong language, drugs, and alcohol in Mafia II.” This one is my favorite because he actually SAYS, and I quote, “f**k, s**t, ba***rd, b**ch, p**sy, c**t”. With the asterisks in place. It’s like he sat there with his yellow pad and wrote down the words he heard. It’s like if you tell someone there was an apocalypse, you’re going to assume there was fires, deaths, rape and destruction. All the dude had to say was “Mafia II uses the f-word like it ain’t no thang.” We would have got the idea.
  4. “Mafia II is intensely violent.” I thought we covered this in the first topic, about gangsters having guns?
  5. “Sexual content and nudity are depicted in Mafia II.” I don’t have a problem with his paragraph about the sexual content. In fact, I read the paragraph over and over and over again. My only gripe was that the screenshot above his paragraph was of two dudes smoking cigarettes and not the “bare bottom” he was talking about.
  6. “Additional downloadable content is planned for Mafia II.” O NOES, NOT DLCz! This harks back to my point about parents being afraid of video games. We shouldn’t use downloadable content as a point of fear – on the contrary, usually DLC is a great way to extend the fun of your investment in the game. But the point is that if you’re not buying this game for your child, you won’t be there to buy the DLC. Problem solved.

So let me say this again – Nicholaus is a good writer and I appreciate the work he does for WTP. I just had to razz him a little for this article, because I don’t think it actually helps parents decide whether to buy the game or not. If anything, some of his points will probably make the parents want to buy it for themselves – which then makes it more likely that their children will either see their parent playing the game, or play it themselves.

Here’s MY humble one thing parents should know about Mafia II: It’s rated M for “Mature” by the ESRB, and, as Nicholaus notes, lists these as the reasons – “Blood,” “Intense Violence,” “Nudity,” “Sexual Content,” “Strong Language,” and “Use of Drugs and Alcohol.” Done. No question. If you’re a parent, you don’t need to know that there’s guns and fast cars. You need to know that the ESRB said there’s “Intense Violence” and “Blood”.

Now if you excuse me, I’m going to re-read Nicholaus’ paragraph on the sexual content again.

Sauce: What They Play