Last year, my 7 year-old cousin at the time discovered Modern Warfare 2 through my 12 year-old cousin. Ever since that day, my now 8 year-old cousin has become enamored with the Mature-rated Call of Duty series. For him, Modern Warfare 2 was his Mortal Kombat; it was his gateway drug to Mature-rated games. As of now, he owns Conflict: Denied Ops and Sniper: Ghost Warrior, which he brags about being M-rated all the time.
I didn’t bring this anecdote up to talk about parenting. I don’t approve of him playing content I would deem inappropriate for him and I do what I can to keep that stuff away. The reason I bring this up though, is because my 8 year-old cousin now views that M rating as a symbol of cool. He loves the fact that he owns games that he knows he’s too young to be playing. They’re his forbidden fruit and he’ll take anything he can get at this point.
All of this made me think about my video game collection and how it relates to the ESRB. Once upon a time, the Mortal Kombat series was my forbidden fruit. Did my catalogue of games evolve in relation to the ESRB guidelines or did I overdose on forbidden fruit? I do the math to answer these questions and highlight any insights regarding gaming as I grew up.