It’s a great headline in Kotaku.com – “Confessions of a failed gaming parent” – and what he’s confessing to is that the loophole his all-too-smart son Tristan found was … his parents!
“My wife and I set up parental locks on the [Xbox] console and on Tristan’s Xbox Live gold account,” so Tristan found “human error” workaround. Among other measures, his parents didn’t allow Tristan to play Halo 3 (because it’s rated M for Mature; see the ESRB’s game ratings guide), only create maps, which he’s apparently very good at. “For Tristan, Halo 3’s map maker is like virtual building blocks,” his dad reports. So, because they set up his Xbox account so he couldn’t play Halo 3, “every time our son asked to create a map in the game we had to manually unlock the console with our password. Earlier this month, Tristan started surreptitiously switching the game in the console that my wife was unlocking to Modern Warfare 2 [also rated M], getting her to unwittingly unlock the first-person shooter. Eventually, we caught him in the act.” The writer/dad doesn’t say what the consequences were. He does say that, as if in response to Tristan-type workarounds, Microsoft is “rolling out even more robust parental controls come this fall.”
They include a new Xbox Live Gold Family Plan for up to four linked members. That will have a Family Center part of Xbox Live, about which Tristan’s dad writes: “What intrigues me most about the Family Center is that activity monitor, which can show you what games are being played by each account holder and for how long” – which will make it harder for smart kids to sneak new games by their busy parents. Please see the article for more details.