Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Doom Wasn't Responsible for Columbine

A word for my employer who I have been so diligently busting my hump for and has taken great pleasure in springing overtime upon me with inconsiderately short notice:

I am now beginning to face the fact that I will have certain decisions to make as a parent, when I become one in several years. What will I allow my daughters to wear? When should I let them or my sons get their ears pierced? What should I allow the to read?

But a hallmark question that I will have to answer is, "What video games will I allow them to play?" I got to thinking about that while reading this article, yesterday. As an adult who grew up a gamer in the modern era, I will have a perspective that my parents, and maybe many of my readers, did not have when answering this question.

My childhood wasn't a terrible one. And video games, I did have. So, what did I play? I played "Doom" probably the most popular violent game of my teen era. Alien blood and guts, screams of pain, and nightmarish monsters were the staple of that game. And, man, was it cool! I probably beat that game a dozen times. The coolest weapon was the chainsaw. You took the most damage using it because you had to get close in, but whacking those aliens to pieces was so gratifying. Then, there was the "Barney" mod (short for modification), which allowed you to turn some of the monsters into the big purple dinosaur. Such sweet revenge for that stupid "I love you" song.

I played numerous other "first-person shooters" (commonly called FPS) that used guns and had blood, and blah, blah, blah. I turned out just fine. I love the Lord. I desire to serve Him. I don't abuse my wife or mutilate animals. I haven't had the urge to murder a person. My obnoxiousnous is natural, and would probably be worse if I didn't release a little aggression doing something (like playing video games). Allow me to take that the other direction though. I love my wife and cherish her, putting her before the other things (except God) in my life. I have had pets who I have cherished and treated humanely, and I feel a strong sense of injustice when I see animals or humans mistreated for no good reason. My personality quirks are not so awful or bad that other people can't stand to be around me or disdain me.

The truth is, violent video games are not the source of the problem. If a child/person already has violent tendencies, video games will serve to exacerbate them. Just as you wouldn't put a beer into the hand of an alcoholic, you should not put a violent video game into the hand of a violent/overly aggressive individual. It's just common sense.

What will my rules be:

  1. Until age 12, no video games depicting real violence. Lego Star Wars and Star Fox Command would be fine, but not Gears of War. "Cops and Robbers" or "War" are commonly played by kids under 12. Violence is an integral part of that fantasy play. But, at the end of the day, the Nazis and the Americans went home and had chocolate milk together. Nobody really died.

  2. After age 12, no video games that depict violence for the sake of cruel or twisted purposes. No Bully or Grand Theft Auto. The original Grand Theft Auto for the PS was not bad, but it also didn't have prostitutes or realistic violence.

  3. No games that have sexually explicit elements to them. Again, Grand Theft Auto is probably the best example of that. I even stay away from racing games that have women showing too much flesh on the box cover. That is a strong standard I have.

  4. No MMORPGs such as EverQuest, World of Warcraft or SecondLife. If you don't know what MMORPG stands for, Google it. You'll learn something new ;) They very easily become a substitute for having a real life.

  5. Game time limits will be set. That will be addressed based on each child's desires, level of innate sense of responsibility and personality.

I suggest to parents that if they don't know what their child is playing, they have a problem. This includes even the safe games. These games become a part of a child's life experience, and it'd be similar to send them on a trip to the zoo by themselves...and you wouldn't do that, right? It opens up a window of understanding to that child's life experience. You don't have to play, but sitting patiently for a while and watching once a week will go a long way to help develop your relationship. Just as they would point at the monkeys at the zoo and say, "Hey, Dad, look at that stupid monkey!" it will give you an opportunity to understand that story that your child is immersed in. Much like reading a book with them. Sit and watch them play, or play with them if possible. Ask them questions about story and plot elements to the game. If your homeschooling them, have them do a report on the story of a video game they beat. Trust me, they'd love that. Maybe you could get an exchange system going?

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT sit down and start asking questions to get caught up on the plot of the game while they are in the middle of playing it. ESPECIALLY NOT DURING A MOVIE CUT SCENE THAT CAN'T BE REPLAYED AFTER IT IS OVER!!! That is a breakfast or dinner table discussion. You wouldn't do that to someone in a theater if you walked in on the middle of a movie, would you? (in case anyone is wondering, the correct answer to that rhetorical question is "No") Get caught up on the plot of the current games they're playing at other times, then sit down and watch them play for a while. Ask a few questions here or there (maybe they need to pause the game for a short moment to explain something). Maybe it will bore you, but they will be happy that you took interest in such an integral part of their childhood experience ten years from now. You can send me your payment then :c)

If you want to take it even one step further, check this out. Some of you might really dig it.



Dapoppins said...

Your doing a great thing,Jared, thinking about the future and planning out some strategies. Be sure to discuss with the wife. Who is going to be home most often with the Kid? Any standards you develop must be agreed upon by that person.

My son plays only very tame games. We tried out the new Rayman recently, and it was a very silly and still too hard and had this yucky stuff (in the words of the eight and five year old) so we won't be buying it anytime soon. We tried Ice Age too, and the kids were grossed out by having to go inside a dinosaur...at least the younger ones and the hubby were...

Anyway our big issue with young boys is not what they play, but the instant obsessive behavior that develops overnight. Not only must he earn his play time, it is always limited. But that doesn't stop him
from thinking, reading, dreaming, talking, and planning the game for the next time he plays.

Drives me nuts.

Chanda said...

I agree that it's always a good thing to plan for the future. I think part of what stresses some parents out most is getting bombarded with the "issues" they are faced with before they really have a plan layed out.
As far as video games are concerned, I guess I'll leave that up to my husband. He was an avid Zelda warrior and also loved Star Fox as a kid. He doesn't really play much now except the Madden stuff.

~*SilverNeurotic*~ said...

I think that you have some good ideas about video games. Personally, I'd be one of those parents that probably wouldn't even buy a game system for their kids, and possibly not even a tv...but that's a good reason why I'm not having kids (lol)...

Moderation with anything, especially video games is a good thing...and doing research before allowing a video game into the house is good so you'll know what type of game it is, besides some pimply teenager at the store raving about the cool graphics and all the bells and whistles.

About the other things such as what books to allow and movies and tv shows...I think the same rules could apply, or at the very least, try to watch possibly questionable movies and tv shows...or sit down and read the same book your kid is reading so you have have honest open discussions about subjects that can be tricky to discuss out of the blue (drugs, drinking, sex, etc.)...it's much easier to have a book or movie that discusses these issues and let that lead to an honest discussion between you and your kid (teen), then walking in their room one day and saying "Just say no to drugs, drinking, smoking, sex, etc. and not really having an honest discussion about it.

Niki said...

And here I sit remembering my junior high experience of playing OREGON TRAIL on the Apple IIE's in our computer lab at school. We also had Atari at home which is amazing because sometimes we couldn't afford groceries...yet there was money to buy games.

No gaming systems in my home. The kids do love their educational games on the computer though. We also have a timer that we're not afraid to use.

I do think it's good that you're thinking ahead, but please make a case for owning a gaming system...or what is beneficial about kids playing video games. I'm curious...

Delia said...

Hoola loves computer/video games. But we limit his time and what he can play. Every game that he plays, we also play it with him because we want to know every single thing that he plays. That's just the thing. When he gets a new game he knows he can't play it until we are with him. We only buy games within his age limit, but nowadays, you never know what's on one.

He's easily entranced with them and sometimes he doesn't like to stop when his time is up but he knows the rules and he doesn't argue too much. I know that if we hadn't set those rules into place from the very get-go, we probably would've had big time problems with him. So I think it's very wise of you to come up with your rules now.

Badoozie said...

Hmmmm....as a parent who thought long and hard BEFORE I had my son, I think you are on the right track. As per my own experience, I found that after some time, of really stringent standards, I could see that the mouse does not make the man, and I loosened up some.

I think your age limit of 12 will get bumped, and I think you will find suggestive themes in just about every video game out there, hidden by way of cheats. I'm an eavesdropper, and a very observant parent, so these things I know.

I don't ask blatant questions or interupt play time, I listen and learn.

Things jump out at me, and then we talk about it.

The most important thing to remember is that satan doesn't care if you are upstream or downstream as long as you are EXTREME. you will find yourself learning as you go with the kid thing..I sure did

I had a rule, NO GUN TOYS...so what did my little 3 yr old do? He used the letter "L" from his alphabet puzzle to simulate a gun. go figure!

Anne said...

First, Badoozie's comment... I was the same way about the gun thing but there is something about boys and this natural urge to make anything into a gun or sword. SO, I relented and let him play with toy guns but insisted on teaching him proper gun safety - not pointing at people and we only kill animals if we're going to eat them.

As for the video games, as long as I can avoid the issue we won't have them. HubbaDood is 7.5 and hasn't bothered us about it. I believe there are better things to do with our time - if we're going to play games it's gonna be a game of Uno or some kind of other educational family game.

OH, what about PONG?! That was cool! :)

Dapoppins said...

Hey, really. I think I should just plop them down in front of the tube and hand them a controller. I can get more blogging done that way...

Chelf said...

I like the idea of pre-thinking your stance. This way, you are not stumped when the kid asks "Why?"

I agree, you will probably bump the age of 12 thing... I bet the kids play Wii with you by 5. But at least with Wii, they can get up, move and do. They won't just sit and stare.

Many parents these days forget that the backyard is a giant plaything, and many kids don't have the same imaginations we did, because they don't go there and make up their own entertainment.

Just don't dare to say, "I would NEVER let my kids (fill in action or word here)". You will eat that in the first week of parenthood, and for the rest of the kids' lives.

majeau13 said...

I agree completely dude. I'm a huge gamer, but I never got into first person shooters, or RPG's. I'm mostly into sports games.

No problems here!