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Gaming With SMA: Choosing Your First Game

Posted on April 29, 2022
Article written by
Bryce Parks

If you’re just starting out as a gamer, you’re in for endless hours of fun. In the modern era of gaming, there are so many options that it can be a bit overwhelming to choose a first game for you or your child. Hopefully this guidance will help you get a good start with gaming. (If you still haven’t settled on a gaming platform, here’s some guidance.)

Game Ratings

No matter the age of the new gamer, always check out the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating of the game before making a purchase. The ratings reflect the content of the game. The ESRB bases its ratings on the amount and degree of violence, blood or gore, rough language, references to alcohol and drugs, gambling, and nudity or sexual content that appear in each game.

ESRB ratings for games are:

  • E — Everyone
  • E10+ — Everyone ages 10 and up
  • T — Teen
  • M — Mature, ages 17 and older
  • A — Adults only, ages 18 and up
  • RP — Rating pending

Parents of child gamers usually pay more attention to ratings to keep kids away from more mature games. Adult gamers may pay less attention to the ratings, since they can play all games regardless. If you have specific concerns or want more details about what’s behind the rating for a game, there are plenty of reviews readily available online with a quick internet search.

Ratings Don’t Define Players

Another consideration often connected with a game’s ratings is the online multiplayer community that comes along with it. Toxic behavior and language is more often found with higher-maturity games. Competitive first-person shooters are generally considered to be the most likely to have rude communities.

Some games have ratings that may be misleading in this regard. Sports games, for example, are almost never rated M, but many players in the online sports gaming world are aggressive. Remember, video game ratings are strictly based on the core contents of the game. The rating doesn’t reflect the character and behavior of the community, which would be impossible for developers to monitor.

Some games offer chat filters to prevent certain words from being typed, but there’s no filter for what’s said into a microphone. Unfortunately, games rated as acceptable for children with communication features can wind up having as toxic a community as mature games. The only real solution to combating online toxic behavior is to report and block offending players.

Of course, there is also no need to be involved in multiplayer games. It’s never a bad idea to dive into a single-player adventure for an enjoyable solo experience.

Play Without Limits

After taking into consideration ratings and communities, it is time to decide what to play. Long-time gamers like myself are open to trying almost any type of game without hesitation. Others may not be interested in competition, but rather collaboration.

Under certain circumstances, some gamers with spinal muscular atrophy may only want to play games that they’re physically capable of playing. For example, for players who have somewhat slower movements, strategy games might be a good option since they are more reliant on brainstorming than anything. YouTube has many videos of gamers trying out different games, so you can see what play is like. You can also ask friends for recommendations on what to try before investing.

Endless Possibilities

Playing your first game — and honestly, the rest to come — should always feel like a pleasure. Gaming should never have any real negativity associated with it. What kind of worlds do you most want to explore? Who do you want to be surrounded by as you play? The possibilities go on forever.

What are some of your favorite games, or which ones are you considering? Weigh in below in the comments.

Read more about gaming and SMA:

Columnists on mySMAteam discuss SMA from a specific point of view. Columnists’ articles don’t reflect the opinions of mySMAteam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. Content on mySMAteam isn’t intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Bryce Parks has SMA type 2. He hopes to make a difference to people through a variety of creative forms. Learn more about him here.

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