What does RPG Stand For: A Parent’s Guide

Words by
Abby Alger

JAN 16, 2024

What does RPG Stand For: A Parent’s Guide

If you have a child who loves video games like I do, you have probably been asked (or begged) to let them play the latest popular video game. 

A trending gamer slang term right now is RPG, short for role-playing games. Many of us have played RPG video games as kids (the OG Final Fantasy or Ocarina of Time, anyone?!) but many of today’s games can now be played online with strangers, have more realistic blood and gore, and may not be as safe for kids.

What is an RPG game?

RPG stands for role-playing game — a game where players take on the persona of a fictional character and make decisions as that character. RPG games originated as analog tabletop games, such as Dungeon and Dragons, and the concept evolved into a genre of RPG video games.

RPG video games can be played on smartphones, computers, video game consoles, or on VR headsets such as the Oculus

The gamer community is a passionate one and there are strong opinions on what constitutes a “true” RPG game. The following examples are based on the broadest definition of RPG (so please keep the pitchforks down, haha).

Popular RPG games for kids include Among Us, Pokémon Go, Zelda, Super Mario RPG game, and Hogwarts Legacy.

What is a turn-based RPG game?

RPG video games are a large genre with several types and subgenres. For example, in turn-based RPG games the players take turns making decisions for the characters they are portraying. Think of chess on role-playing steroids — player A makes a decision to move his troops in a battle, and then player B takes a turn and chooses to attack. 

While adult gamers herold the best turn-based RPG games to include Dragon Quest, Valkyria Chronicles, and Yakuza series, these games may not be appropriate for kids.

Are RPG Games Safe for Kids?

Simply put: some RPG games are safe for a kid or teen, while others are not. It depends on factors including the game’s content, the console’s parental controls, and the child’s development and maturity level.

In general, games that have features that allow players to talk to other players (through chat or comms) pose a risk of predators and cyberbullying, and doxing. Unfortunately, this includes most games today. 

Comms definition

Are RPG’s addictive for kids?

Even games that offer parental controls will most often have open communication with strangers as the default, putting kids at risk unless parents set up an account and opt-in to controls. If your child is playing a game online, taking time to set up controls is a worthwhile investment.

Are RPG’s addictive for kids?

RPG video games can really captivate kids’ imaginations with immersive storytelling and strategic gameplay, which also means they have a risk of addiction. 

A study by Iowa State University found that the constant rewards, character advancement, and immersive fantasy worlds in video games can lead to excessive gameplay. However, the same study found a positive correlation between video game playing and creativity. Age-appropriate video games can have positive effects on kids and teens when game time is monitored and balanced with off screen activities

Top RPG Games

League of legends, Final Fantasy, Word of Warcraft and the latest Bulder’s Gate 3 are the most popular RPG games. But are they safe for kids?

Is League of Legends safe for kids?

League of Legends (LoL) is not safe for most young players and needs parental insight to determine its appropriateness for teens. LoL is a popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game rated “Teen” by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), implying it’s suitable for players aged 13 and above. 

LoL has elements of violent combat and the game’s competitive nature can sometimes lead to a hostile gaming environment, with instances of frustration, inappropriate language, and negative comments from other players.

Lol has online communications with other players, which can put teens at risk of being groomed by predators online

League of Legends Parental controls

League of Legends (LoL) does not offer parental control settings. 

Is Final Fantasy safe for kids?

Final Fantasy is a longstanding series of fantasy role-playing games. Each installment varies greatly with unique characters, worlds, and narratives, ranging from lighthearted to quite intense. Final Fantasy game ratings range from E for Everyone to M for Mature.

The appropriateness of Final Fantasy for kids can greatly depend on the specific version in question and the child’s age and maturity level. Some installments contain mature themes, intense combat scenes, and complex narratives that may be better suited for older players. 

The most recent release, Final Fantasy XVI, was rated M for Mature for Blood and Gore, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, and Violence.

Final Fantasy parental controls depend on which console you are playing on. 

Is World of Warcraft safe for kids? 

No, World of Warcraft (WoW) features violent combat and some dark themes, which may not be suitable for children. Further, the social aspects of the game, which involve interacting with other players online, hold risks of predation and cyberbullying

Wow is a renowned fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The computer-based game is available for Mac and Windows platforms, but is not on gaming consoles such as Xbox or Playstation. 

World of Warcraft Classic Hardcore

World of Warcraft classic hardcore is a mode of WoW where you only have one life in the game.

There is also a WoW companion app that allows players to communicate with online communities, manage auctions, and explore game content on a smartphone or tablet. This has a risk of increasing a teen’s addiction to the game even when not at a computer, and allows communication with other players on a phone, increasing the risk of cyberbullying and predation

World of Warcraft Parental Controls

World of Warcraft (WoW) has parental controls, including:

• Game Time Limits
• Weekly Play Time Reports (via email)
• Custom Play Schedules
• In-Game Purchases Control
• Communication and Profile Settings

Parental controls are not the default in WoW — parents must create an account and opt-in to each setting. 

Is Baldur’s Gate 3 safe for kids?

No. Baldur’s Gate 3 is not safe for kids. Baldur’s Gate 3 is a classic RPG game inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and rated as Mature 17+ by ESRB for its violence, gore, nudity, and sexual scenes. 

Baldur’s Gate lacks built-in parental controls, but does allow the player to control settings to filter settings such as nudity, gore and language.

What Parents Can Do

There are so many great resources out today to help parents review and monitor video games. When your child comes home with the latest request, here is what you can do. 

Determine if the game is appropriate for your child

First, determine if you feel comfortable with your child playing the game in question.  Review the game’s content and determine if it aligns with your family’s values and if your child is mature enough.

One tool parents can use is the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), an organization that rated the content of a game or app so parents can make informed decisions. They have a rating website and an app for parents to quickly search ratings for games.

Common Sense Media is another great source of reviews of everything from books to movies to games. Parents can include comments with their experiences.

Can my child play this game: If the answer is no (or not yet)

If you choose not to allow your child to play a game, brace for impact (but stand your ground). Kids can be passionate about video games and may be very vocal or upset if denied a game they want to play. 

You can say a firm no without contingencies, or set an age or milestone they need to meet to be able to play in the future. Maybe you teach them safe gaming principles, only play a game together for both a bonding experience, or always have an adult in the room when playing as a way to monitor their safety. You can stay firm when they complain and explain why you made the decision.

If you have allowed a game into your home and regret it, it’s not too late to shut the lid and establish new rules. Kids will be upset initially, but over time things can smooth out as new expectations become the norm. When we know better, we do better.

Can my child play this game: If the answer is yes, consider parental controls

If you determine your child is ready for a game, but are cautious about them communicating with strangers online or other dangers, parental controls can help. 

Thankfully, a lot of gaming consoles and online games are installing parental controls to protect kids. Most often these features are not on by default, meaning the parents need to set the safety features up for them to work. Be aware that determined kids can hide apps and find ways around parental controls.

A growing number of games are on smartphones as apps, or accessible via the web. These may not have parental controls. The safest route for your family could be kid-safe devices that do not allow for any addicting or dangerous video game apps.

Keep the conversation going

Above all, talk to your child often and openly about what they are doing online, including in their gaming world. You want to know what is going on in their world — including their online worlds.

If your child is playing games online, it’s recommended you regularly discuss online etiquette, digital citizenship, and what to do if they feel unsafe or make a mistake online

The key is to help them see you will not be angry at them, but help them if they are in trouble. This increases the chances of them reaching out to you for help.

What video games does your family enjoy? Let us know in the comments!

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