To the average parent or grandparent of a teen or tween, it can seem that kids often speak an entirely different language. Today’s young person is fluent in a slangy mixture of pop-culture references, cellphone shorthand, and electronics abbreviations. Merriam-Webster recently had nearly everyone past their mid-30s scratching their heads when they recently announced their Word of the Year for 2007 was ‘w00t’ (yes, with two zeroes instead of the letter ‘o’), a video gaming term briefly defined as an expression of joy.
If you watch much TV, you may have seen the recent Verizon commercial in which a teenage girl laments the fact that her parents actually bought her a pony for Christmas rather than the new cellphone she really wanted. Parents hoping to avoid similar miscommunication with their children when it comes to the overwhelming world of video games may have help.
What They Play (www.whattheyplay.com), billed as “The Videogame Guide for Parents”, was created by a pair of entertainment industry veterans and according to the web site “offers parents a deep, searchable collection of information that objectively describes the themes, content and player experience of the latest and most popular videogames.” Most video gaming sites tend to be written by gamers for gamers, making the content nearly unintelligible for the uninitiated. What They Play helps bridge that gap, so when a teen asks for the latest MMORPG, they won’t receive a bag of trail mix. Of particular note is the feature article “Making Holiday Wishes Come True: Helping parents understand the videogames their kids are asking for” which breaks down the differences between various consoles and games. This may be a must-read if you still don’t know the difference between PS3 and PSP or Manhunt and Mario.
And just in case you were thinking it, a word of advice: Don’t buy the pony.