I don’t really understand the constant complaints about children playing video games at such a young age. You can say it ‘rots’ their minds, or gives them violent, or antisocial tendencies, but I was pretty much raised on the damn things, and I’ve never killed anybody (not that I haven’t wanted to). In fact, I feel that games have made me more intelligent, and a great deal more confident, than I would otherwise have been.
I’ll admit that, when I was younger, I would just toss away homework and dive back in to whatever I was playing before I left for school that morning, but I feel that having to read what was happening to ‘me’, rather than some goddamn dog called Spot, or Patches, or some other stereotypical canine de nom, was improving my ability to read at a much faster rate. In primary school, there were only two people (myself included) who played video games consistently, and had been doing for a couple of years already. I hate to say this, for fear that my arrogance as little more than a seven year old will overcome my more recent humility, (woah, how much of a pillock do I sound right now?) but we were the two who consistently knew the answers to such difficult questions as ‘how many syllables has gorilla got?’, or ‘can anyone tell me what the square root of four is?’.
I think I learnt more of what I know now, from video games, music and my own reading, even at that young age. I’d slack off on the designated reading, playing Sonic & Knuckles, Fantasy World Dizzy or Pokémon: Arena, and instead bring in Terry Pratchett novels, I’d ignore my writing exercises in order to scribble down fantasy stories which, to be fair, I think were actually pretty good for someone who could barely count to a hundred (I still have trouble with the tens, don’t tell anyone).
I suppose, a lot of this idea that games are ‘rotting’ children’s minds comes from things like GTA, but I don’t really get that either. If you don’t want your children playing it, don’t damn well go out and buy it for them. I think, the second you allow your child to play any games that they are ‘too young’ to play, you lose any right to complain about said games harming a child’s psyche. When I was at the same, I was trying to find a way to be Dr. Robotnik (which is his real name, by the way, this whole Eggman deal can take a long walk off of a short cliff, as far as I’m concerned), whereas they are rolling with Playboy X and gunning down union workers on a construction yard.
I don’t think this affects a child, or at least one who doesn’t already suffer from a severe case of douchebaggery, any more than watching In The Night Garden makes them want to be made out of felt and lose any ability to talk in coherent sentences. In fact, I’d say ITNG messes up children more, I mean, have you seen this drivel? It’s like Dr. Seuss lost his ability to rhyme, and write, and make any kind of sense at all, and then took more drugs at one point, than Johnny Cash did in his entire life! God knows, it was playing in the booth we were given, when I went out for a meal last week, and I wanted to rip someone’s throat out by the end of it. Which is an experience games have never given me, (unless it was either a character in the game I wanted to hurt, or I listened to anyone talking in an online game of Call of Duty).
Perhaps it is that, that is the problem. Children are joining in with online games at a much earlier age now, and are being ‘subjected’ to the type of conversations that go on in them, typically revolving around ‘U Killed Me U Faget’, or some variation of such great wit, and neither parents, nor developers can ‘control their online interactions’. First of all, I think that is bullshit. No doubt these are the same people that blame Family Guy, American Dad or Robot Chicken for their children learning to swear.
Secondly, yes, there are scum online who use these racist, sexist, homophobic slurs, but if your child can’t see why that is wrong, even at the age of, say, eight (which does seem to be the average for an online CoD or Halo game), then you have already failed as a parent. Am I being a little hostile? Maybe, but at that age I wouldn’t have thought even for a second that calling someone a faggot, simply for their sexuality, that telling a woman she belongs in the kitchen, or whipping out that ever terrifying ‘N-word’ was acceptable, whether you have the anonymity the internet brings or not.
If you don’t want your kids to watch programmes targeted at older viewers, play games with an 18+ sticker on them, or talk to people on the internet, then don’t let them do it. It isn’t hard. Just put the game, the headset or the remote control on a goddamn shelf, and give them a book. I hear Clifford the Big Red Dog put one out in 2011, and it’s meant to be an absolute doozy. Hell, you could even do what my parents did; just distract me with Bob Dylan, Queen and the Beatles until I barely remember what it was I wanted to do. I’d rant about music making kids into little shits as well, but I hardly feel that a ‘blog’ based around Gaming is the place to do it.
These may well be the same arguments you have heard over and over again, God knows I have, but that is because they are the right arguments. So, to summarise, take responsibility for your own kids, or I’ll rip your throat out. Whoops, sorry, that must be all that GTA talking, or maybe Sonic is finally taking control.