If you have kids that love video games, you’ve surely got a lot of questions as we approach the holidays. Today we had a chance to catch up with Betty Shock. She is Regional Vice President at GameStop, and we asked her some questions that are probably on your mind. Many thanks to Betty for taking the time to lend us her expert opinion and make our last minute game shopping a bit easier!
– What will be most popular this holiday? What games will be the hardest to find?
We continue to see a great deal of interest in the Nintendo Wii this holiday season. While these are still available at GameStop stores nationwide, we encourage people who are interested in the Wii should not wait as it continues to be in demand and hard to find. We’re also seeing a great deal of interest in Nintendo’s Wii Fit as the concept of “gamercising” – or exercising using video games – gains traction, which often makes the Wii Fit hard to come by.
Other popular games this holiday season in the traditional video game category include Gears of War 2, Call of Duty: World at War, Fable 2 and World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. And sports games such as Madden NFL ’09 and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All-Play remain hot.
– Families will be looking for ways to save this holiday. What promotions, if any, will GameStop offer their customers?
Everyone is looking to save this season and GameStop definitely has a number of value options available. To start, GameStop has a wide selection of new and used games – and this holiday season has more than 2,500 titles under $20.00! These titles include some of the hottest new releases and accessories designed to fit even the smallest of budgets.
– What is the right age for kids to be introduced to gaming and what are kid friendly titles that might be educational?
Interest in video games can start at a very early age. In fact, more than 90 percent of the games in stores today are rated appropriate for ages 13 and under.
While we encourage parents to decide what is best for their own families, there are a wide range of games that cater to the younger demographic that provide educational value as well as enjoyment for the player. Games including the Brain Quest series, which specialize in an age-appropriate curriculum-based activities, and Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree encourage and inspire younger children to enjoy learning with fun number games and word puzzles.
– What are the biggest trends this season? Are their any games that get the entire family involved?
This season we’ve seen tremendous growth in the casual gaming arena. The traditional genres such as racing, sports, and shooters are still popular however; new categories for the casual gamer have emerged including music, fitness, cooking and puzzles.
The hot video games in these categories include: Music games such as Guitar Hero: World Tour, Rock Band 2 and Wii Music; sports titles such as Tiger Woods All-Play 09 and Madden NFL 09; cooking games such as Cooking Mama: World Kitchen and Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine; and puzzle games like Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree and Brain Quest.
To help make shopping for these new game genres easier for gift givers, GameStop has also created an online holiday gift guide and a “hint generator” to help ensure everyone gets the games they want. Test it out for yourself at www.hintorelse.com.
– What types of games seem to interest kids these days (e.g. action, sports, music, role playing)?
According to the Entertainment Software Association, 85 percent of all games sold in the U.S. last year were rated E for Everyone, E 10+ or T for teen, giving kids today a great deal to choose from!
Social games like Guitar Hero: World Tour, Rock Band 2, Mario Kart and DanceDance Revolution that the entire family can enjoy together are especiallysought after. These games encourage multiplayer involvement, making it especially attractive for large groups.
The newly released DeBlob, Spore and Little Big Planet are creative and interactive, and are fast becoming family favorites. Of course, traditional sports games continue to attract interest from all ages, thanks to popular series like Madden NFL and Tiger Woods Golf.
– How do you follow the ESRB rating system and how can it help our readers ensure the age-appropriateness of their gifts?
Located on the front of every box is a rating symbol – assigned by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), an independent regulatory body – to help parents and individuals determine the maturity of the content. There are six ESRB rating categories in all, including: C, Early Childhood; E, Everyone; E10+, Everyone 10+; T, Teens; M, Mature; and AO, Adults Only. These symbols, similar to those used by the motion picture industry to rate films, allow adults to make informed decisions about what’s appropriate for the child on their list.
Following the ESRB rating system is actually very simple and easy to use: Check the ESRB age ratings that appear on the front of every game package, and the content descriptors that appear on the back. You can use both parts of the rating system to select the most appropriate game for the child on your list.
Additionally, all GameStop employees enforce the Company’s policy to restrict sales of games rated M, for Mature by the ESRB. GameStop does NOT sell, reserve, or offer Mature-rated games to customers under 17 years of age. When a Mature game is scanned, an ESRB advisory appears on the register screen requiring employees to ask any under-age customer for a valid photo ID, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
If you’re looking for ratings information or to learn more about video games both the Respect the Ratings (www.respecttheratings.com) and ESRB (www.esrb.org) sites provide a wealth of information and ratings summaries for every rated video game on the market.