It's probably a safe bet that the majority of Microsoft new Xbox 360 consoles are purchased by parents, especially this time of year, and that almost automatically requires a certain level of add-ons that parents would take note of, more than the kids. The new HD-worthy console is a powerful computer and DVD player as well as a video game unit, and Microsoft made certain it also comes with a far amount of parental control bells and whistles to regulate content.
The Xbox 360 system reportedly expands the concept of typical parental controls into a "Family Settings" feature that can be set to grant or restrict access to offline games and DVD movies based on pre-established game and movie ratings. In other words, junior will not be watching R-rated movies or playing super violent or explicit games online in the privacy of his bedroom (unless he knows how to get around the controls, of course).
According to Microsoft, Xbox 360 is offering five ways to customize an offline gaming/entertainment atmosphere:
- Game Ratings: The console reads game ratings on each disc, ranging from EC (Early Childhood) to M (Mature).
- DVD Movie Ratings: It recognizes the Motion Picture Association of America's U.S. ratings that are encoded in most DVDs. (Not all DVDs encode their rating, however, so in those cases the DVD will play by default.) The Xbox 360 can be set to play R, PG-13, PG or G-rated films.
- Original Xbox Games: Original video games do not include the same kind of encoded data as Xbox 360 games, so Xbox 360 cannot determine the game ratings of original Xbox games.
- Set Pass Code: Parents can log in with a Passport Network account to set up a separate pass code that will protect Family Settings.
- Turn Off: Without kids in the house, users can turn off Family Settings entirely.