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Dear Gamer Mom: Should I Buy An M-Rated Game For My 12-Year-Old?

One mom asks if Mortal Kombat 11, an M-rated game, would be a good purchase for her 12-year-old son on his birthday.

Dear Gamer Mom,

My son's birthday is coming up and he really wants Mortal Kombat. His friends play it, he's played it at their houses with their parents' permission, but I worry the game is too violent. He's turning 13, if that matters!

- Mortal Mom In Minneapolis

Thanks for your question, Mortal Mom. In order to help you make the decision, finding out more about the game itself is the best idea.

When it comes to games with more adult-orientated content, a large part of the decision will be based on the personality of your child. While some can easily distinguish between what’s real and what is made up, others find the lines a little more blurry.

Games have age ratings in the same way as movies and TV shows and checking these is the best place to start. Anything with a rating which is higher than your child’s age needs to be explored fully before you blindly give it to them.

Mortal Kombat 11 is the latest video game in a long-running, M-rated fighting game series which prides itself on its high levels of violence. Its ESRB rating warns of "Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language." Over the years the violence has become more realistic as game graphics have improved. It’s a series which is definitely not for younger children, but with teens, it’s more of an individual judgment call.

The gore cannot be turned off in the latest game, but it isn’t always prevalent. This is due to the fact that the worst of the violence is contained in the "Finishers" for each character. When an opponent is defeated  the game asks you to “finish them.” Once this happens, pressing a series of buttons quickly will then trigger what’s known as a fatality. This is when the character is killed in an over the top and extreme way.

If these are not used then the violence level is in line with other fighting games, such as Street Fighter. If the game is played in story mode then fatalities cannot be used, although some of the cut scenes detail brutal deaths.

It all comes down to what level of gore you consider acceptable for your individual child. You can read other parents' opinions on the game over at common sense media.

Alternatively, there are many gameplay videos on YouTube. Searching for Mortal Kombat videos will allow you to watch someone else play the game, so you can see for yourself the content and judge accordingly.

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