Friday, February 29, 2008

Raising your child on video games

There's been a lot of hoo-ha about violent video games being the cause of mass-killings in the last few years. Whether it's overprotective parents or ambitious lawyers using the 'Video Games Made Them Do It' defense, everyone seems to be jumping on the bandwagon just like they did about Elvis' hip movements, marijuana, Judas Priest and The Basketball Diaries. In any case, the media love to portray video games being the sole cause when children turn from this:

into this:

So what can be done? Well, it seems to be in 99% of these cases, the parents are pretty clueless about what the games contain and have no idea why their children would play them.

Well, listen up you prospective Mummies and Daddies. If you're about to become a parent and are afraid of your child turning into a sexually-crazed Charles Bronson after playing Super Mario Galaxy, then drop what you're doing and read on.

These are the most important points to remember.

  • Ignore the mainstream media

Despite what may believe with their cheerful and uplifting stories about chained-up grandmothers and happy dole-bludgers, when it comes to video games it will only be bad. As far as mainstream Print and Television outlets are concerned, there only exists two types of games:
  1. Pong
  2. murder/rape simulators
Why would they report on a video game being good? Because that ain't news and nobody would watch. They specialise in mis-information for sensationalism and ratings. If this is news to you, then you have a lot of work to do.
  • Check out the games your kids want to play.

If you're wandering through a games shop and your son runs up to you brandishing a copy of Call Of Duty 4, have a look at the damn thing. How about that? It's not Tetris. It's a WAR game. A game where you can participate in the joys of sniping people in the head and blowing up foreigners with rocket launchers. Now stop and think. Would you allow your ten year old child to watch Saving Private Ryan? No huh? Well, the same thing applies here. Put it back on the shelf and tell your child to wait a few years. DO NOT call for a ban on all video games. You seen any of the Hostel movies? Did you call for a ban on all motion pictures when that chick got blowtorched in the face? Of course you didn't. Because you're not a nutcase. You just thought it was a crap film and forgot about it. Look at the rating stickers of these games, you can't miss them. They're goddamn huge nowadays.

  • Do not buy your kids crappy games.

See this game here? It's garbage. I wouldn't befoul my house with its presence. And I haven't even played it.
If you're buying games like this for your children, it is obviously more for your benefit than your kids. You want them out of your face and for them to stop poking you. If you're buying games like this, you don't deserve children. I'm not overdramatising here, YOU ARE A LAZY PARENT.
I know you'll argue, 'But my kid loves Shrek!'. Sure they do. But I'll let you in a little secret: Games based on movies are terrible. They only exist to get more of your money. They are rushed out to meet movie release dates and as such, aren't made with much care.
If Christmas is coming up and you want a buy a video game for your child, have a look at video game websites or magazines. They rate every game that is released based on gameplay, visuals, controls, sound effects and such. Check out the highest rated and award winning games and go from there. DO NOT buy a game without reading reviews of it first. Considering you'll be paying between $50-$120 for these games, do you really want to waste your money on a game your kid will only play for ten minutes because its boring or hard to control? They'll be right back in your face poking you in the eye again.

  • Play the games with your kids.

You know why people love video games? Because they're FUN. Why else do you think it's currently a multi-billion dollar industry? And you know what else? The average age of a gamer nowadays is probably older than you. Why not sit down with your kid and play for a few hours? If you can pull off a 16-hit punch combo or ten headshots in a row, you'll become legend. If your kid is a bit sulky about getting his ass handed to him, don't respond with "Suck it you noob bitch!". Instead try to get your kid to teach you other particulars of the game (because your ass-kicking was luck, wink, wink) and that will make them feel better. And you'll have some priceless respect in their eyes. Eventually.

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