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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

When it comes to video games, parents just don't understand.

In my last few blogs I’ve talked about the violence in video games and how games can be both educational and fun. Today I’d like to discuss why parents need to be more educated and interactive when it comes to video games and their children.

Growing up in the Atari, and Colecovision days, my parents were actually far more involved in video games than I was. A lot of my family members would have their own family systems and as a family they would take turns playing. It was actually a cool time.

Enter Nintendo and Sega. This is when kids took over. The joystick turned into the game pad and the once easy to understand days of Pac-man became a bit more complicated. My parents were no longer as interested in games. Once in a while, my dad would still play Tetris or Duck Hunt, but in general they stopped playing. This was also the period when games left the living room and entered my bedroom. Buy the time of Super-Nintendo, I was locked in my room with buddies playing Zelda or Mario, and yes the first GTA.

Then came Sony playstation, and no my parents barely saw me at all. There were attempts to get my parents involved in certain games like Grand Tourismo or the new Pac-man games, but they were completely disinterested. I realized at that point that games were now for kids only.

The funny part is that when game became more adult, the adults took less interest. Unmonitored by the absolute ambivalence by the adults, the violence grew, because when you’re a raging and angry teen it was fun to watch someone’s head blow off without repercussion.

Enter X-Box, and the new GTA. Now my parents are walking by my room watching me beat a woman with a bat, with a couple of friends. By this time I was entering adulthood ready to head out into the world, so they didn’t really care. They did shake their heads in disgust though.

Now realize that while I was older, wiser and far more ready to play these kinds of games, there are a whole lot of kids that grew up during this phase. Little boys and girls locked in their rooms with their elder siblings perhaps, playing these games or merely watching them play these games.

Now games are far more advanced and a new social network of online friends playing these games together in the comfort of their own bedrooms.
Unsupervised they obsess over World of Warcraft. Games are now becoming so advanced that they mimic life. Even better they create new more exciting lives. Virtual lives where they are the heroes; they save the girls or conquer the fortresses with their own friends as partners. They now have online relationships forged though a common love for the game. And now, now that they are no longer leaving their rooms, that they are displaying social disobedience towards a world outside that they no longer relate to, parents are finally taking notice. 

You see the problem? Things are now way different in the gaming world. Parents who used to play along with their children no longer do. It’s time for parents to stop the crying about what they no longer understand. It’s time for you to start to understand. Learn about WOW, about games in general. Not the BS media scrutiny by those who study insignificant numbers. Talk to your children, take the game out of the bedroom and bring back to the living room. Engage in conversations with them. Find out who their online friends are. Be a parent that tries to understand their lives, and that doesn’t condemn it.

Maybe if and when this happens, games can start to evolve past the first person shooter, and be a more educational and more fun for everyone and bring you closer to your kids. 

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