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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Super Mario 3D Land

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012

Assassin's Creed Revelations

Saints Row: The Third

Battlefield 3

Some great alternatives for kids

[Note: This list of the 10 best-selling video games on Amazon.com is from the week of November 7, and may not exactly match the current top 10 list.]

Rated M

Good for kids?
Not really, but could be worse. Plenty of shooting, but little blood or gore.

Biggest problem:
The game's Wild West online community, in large part underage kids already, is prone to offensive language of all stripes.

Caption by / Photo by Activision
Rated M

Good for kids?
Probably too slow-paced and complex for most children.

Biggest problem:
You can choose to be good or evil, or nearly any shade of gray morality in between, and negative behavior is often rewarded.

Caption by / Photo by Bethesda
Rated M

Good for kids?
Sci-fi shooting, but no blood or sex--it's a bit surprising this game even received an M rating.

Biggest problem:
Like other multiplayer games, you can run into a lot of questionable online chatter from people you're playing with.

Caption by / Photo by Microsoft
Rated E 10+

Good for kids?
Definitely, and it’s reasonably mentally stimulating, with puzzle-solving and exploration.

Biggest problem:
There's a bit of a Jobsian Reality Distortion Field about Zelda games. They’re good, but they’re not *that* good.

Caption by / Photo by Nintendo
Rated T

Good for kids?
No worse than an Indiana Jones movie, but can be scary in places, especially if you're not into spiders...

Biggest problem
A handful of double-entendres from one of the characters as a running joke.

Caption by / Photo by Sony
Rated E

Good for kids?
Yes, but it can get frustratingly difficult later on.

Biggest problem:
Are younger kids even aware of Mario these days?

Caption by / Photo by Nintendo
Rated E

Good for kids?
Sure--and no soccer moms!

Biggest problem:
Potential future football hooliganism…

Caption by / Photo by Konami
Rated M

Good for kids?
You’re playing as a member of historical league of assassins, so probably not…

Biggest problem:
Lots of, well, assassinations.

Caption by / Photo by Ubisoft
Rated M

Good for kids?
Definitely not. Gang wars, shootouts with the cops, and plenty of urban sex and violence.

Biggest problem:
It lacks any of the redeeming storytelling qualities of the Grand Theft Auto games (and that's not intended sarcastically).

Caption by / Photo by THQ
Rated M

Good for kids?
More realistic and grimmer than Call of Duty.

Biggest problem:
Plenty of ripped-from-the-headlines global hot-spot violence. Multiplayer matches can get heated.

Caption by / Photo by EA Games
There are plenty of great games for kids that haven't made the best-seller lists. Among them:
  • Disney Universe [Wii and Xbox 360 (via Kinect)]
  • Ratchet and Clank All 4 One [PS3]
  • LEGO Harry Potter, Years 5-7 [all platforms]
  • Kinect Sports: Season Two [Xbox 360/Kinect]
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