RPGs to play on Nintendo Switch for an 11 year old?
May 23, 2019 1:41 PM   Subscribe

My son is dying to play Skyrim - he loves RPGs and this seems right up his alley but when I look at reviews I've seen mentions of rape potentially in the game. Looking at other RPGs, like Octopath Traveller, there is some major objectifying of women. Is there an RPG that is appropriate for an 11 year old on Switch?

My issue isn't with the violence in the games - we talk about game violence vs real-life violence often and I feel like that part is under control. I just can't stomach the idea of the exposure to objectifying women and comments about rape. He's growing up in a area where his exposure to those types of things is pretty limited and I would like to keep it that way. Are the reviews wrong and it really isn't an issue? Are there better options out there?
posted by a22lamia to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Tales of Vesperia is fantastic, and although the main female character Estelle comes off as a bit.. overly feminine at first, she is a strong character. No rape but if you're watching for it, a sweet girl crush/lesbian romance mid way through the game :)

The main character, Yuri, comes off as the good hearted bad boy vs his best friend who is also good hearted and wants to create change through the rules. Overall, just great messages but not preachy.
posted by valoius at 1:53 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

Can you give us examples of the reviews that have mentioned rape in Skyrim? I've never played Skyrim on the switch, but I've played it a lot on other platforms (Xbox, PS4), and I've never encountered anything I'd consider even close to sexual assault. (FWIW, I'm a middle-aged woman, and I always play as a female character.) It's possible that player-created mods add such things -- but I don't know if those are available on the Switch.
posted by Janta at 1:55 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]

I've played a ton of Skyrim and never encountered anything that I can remember that would approach rape. Is it possible they were referring to the sort of things you can do with mods/customizations to the game? Such things do exist because anyone with the skill and desire can write any mod, but someone would have to go deliberately out of their way to find and install such a mod.
posted by Twinge at 2:07 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Janta, I generally use common sense media for game reviews for kids. There are a few different pages for the game depending on which platform it is but I came across parent comments that mentioned rape & women being referred to as whores. I'd have to sift through them to find them again.

A little more digging and it looks like mods are the source of most, but not all, of the questionable material.
posted by a22lamia at 2:08 PM on May 23

I haven't played through all of Skyrim's content, but based on my experience with the unmodded game, I would not hesitate to call it age-appropriate for an 11 year old. There was very little sexuality or objectification that I can recall.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:10 PM on May 23 [8 favorites]

I've played Skyrim on both PS4 and Switch.

The player character can't sexually interact with any other character, although you can get engaged and married (to a partner of either sex).

I don't recall any content related to sexual violence or the degradation of women. In fact, Skyrim is one of the few RPGs where armor for women seems designed to be more functional than titillating. Female NPCs are shown as competent warriors, rulers, mages, etc.

I think it's a suitable game for an 11 year old.
posted by Chuck Barris at 2:32 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]

Looking at the Common Sense Media review of Skyrim, I see their section labeled "What Parents Need to Know" mentions "some women...referred to as whores". In the base game, I can't recall a single instance of that. There is a line of ambient dialog that some bandits will say that refers to women as harlots (the actual line goes something like "lying little harlot, that brat ain't mine...") but the only thing I can think of that comes close.

If you're okay with the violence level in the game -- there's blood, though it isn't persistent, and occasionally your character may behead someone randomly -- I think Skyrim would be totally okay for an 11-year-old. Just avoid community/player-created mods.
posted by Janta at 2:37 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

You are all making an 11 year old and his parents very happy. He asked me for the address to Metafilter so he could write a thank you note! I'd still love to hear other recommendations!
posted by a22lamia at 2:39 PM on May 23 [8 favorites]

Hive Mind
c/o The Mods
221B Plate o' Beans Way
Eponysterical, HA, 8675309
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:46 PM on May 23 [12 favorites]

I also don't remember anything like that anywhere in Skyrim - it's not impossible that somewhere in the game there's an NPC who says something questionable, but it's definitely not a heavy feature of the game. Since he'd be playing a Switch specifically, mods won't be an issue.

As far as other options, it depends a little bit on what specifically it is about Skyrim that appeals to him. If he likes the open world wandering around and slaying things aspect of it, you absolutely cannot go wrong with Breath of the Wild, which is just a phenomenal game all around. If he likes sort of old-school turn-based RPGs (which Octopath Traveller would be) you might want to try Undertale or, no joke, Golf Story (I have no interest in golf but it's a delightful little game).

He might also like Bastion, which is a pretty great action rpg that features a compelling narrator telling your story as you play it.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:51 PM on May 23 [4 favorites]

The Pokemon games are pretty solid RPGs. Would he find Let's Go Pikachu or Eevee to be too childish? Final Fantasy and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 shouldn't have any objectionable content either.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:21 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]

The Skyrim wiki is pretty comprehensive in terms of dialogue/text--here's a search for "whore." It's is used in dialogue a few times in sidequests, and then more liberally in some of the texts you find lying around the world. Similarly for "bitch".

That said, in the overall context of the game, it's used very infrequently (for comparison: a search for "bastard"). It's definitely not a game that heavily features objectification/degradation of women, but it is there occasionally. My sense is that it's there more as "some characters are assholes" than trying to push a particular image of women. It's up to how you want to parent, but I would personally talk to my child about what it means when people use those words, and what it says about their character, and use that to contextualize it in the game.

But if you want a more kid-friendly Skyrim: definitely go with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It's much closer to Skyrim than traditional RPGs because of the open world/crafting, and it's a great game overall. It's enjoyed by many adults as well as kids.
posted by brook horse at 4:34 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]

Although it isn't a traditional RPG, in that it takes place in chapters and is linear, the new Steamworld Quest: The Hand of Gilgamech features robots and you battle using cards. I'm enjoying it quite a bit so far.
posted by tacodave at 4:51 PM on May 23

I agree with everyone that Skyrim is pretty tame without mods but I want to emphatically second the recommendation for Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, an incredible open-world game that copies and refines many of the best parts of Skyrim, and has kid-friendliness (while still being extremely fun for adults) as a major design goal. It's widely regarded as the best game on the Switch.
posted by waffleriot at 5:28 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Ni No Kuni and its sequel could be right up the kid's alley. They have a Miyazaki film look but are long, fairly complex RPGs with big worlds to explore. Some heavy themes but more like... tyranny and destruction rather than rape and exploitation.

Skyrim without mods is pretty tame, though I wouldn't put it past a couple quests to have some adult references. I would actually look up some mods that improve the game but don't add questionable content - there are some good guides out there.

The others in this list are also great recommendations. Honestly there are a ton of great games that are age-appropriate. Breath of the Wild especially!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 6:12 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Seconding Breath of the Wild, and I'd check out Grandia, a port of a PlayStation classic RPG that's supposed to come later this year.

Also: The ESRB's website often has detailed writeups describing each game's rating on its website; here's the one for Skyrim.
posted by Monster_Zero at 7:17 AM on May 24

[Mod here, just noting that (a) this delightful and (b) he can absolutely send us a letter. The company mailbox is:

MetaFilter Network Inc.
PO Box 83386
Portland, OR 97283

Happy tromping!]

posted by cortex (staff) at 11:06 AM on May 24 [5 favorites]

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