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The PA Report - The challenges, and hypocrisies, of raising kids in a gaming house

2

Posts

  • AvrahamAvraham Registered User regular
    I think the most important thing one can do is to be a role model because it's your actions and behavior that the kids will examine more critically than any rule or lecture.

    tumblr_mw0i6gT4l61qgwizbo1_250.png :bz: :bz: :bzz:
  • fortyforty Registered User regular
    But the GTA game with "all the niggers" is awesome! Why wouldn't they want San Andreas?

    AKAthatoneguyskeetshart69
  • Trivial_PunkTrivial_Punk Registered User regular
    I honestly believe that by attempting to regulate their interactions with the larger video game culture, you are acting as a role model. I remember being a kid, and knowing that there were things my parents did that I wasn't ready for. That doesn't mean they looked down on me, but like the carefully curated route you're taking, they introduced me to masterpieces of both the literary and visual world, as well as the games of their generation. I could play Poker before I could play Monopoly. It makes sense. Children, raised intelligently, will someday understand the purpose of context. You're their father before their friend, or babysitter, and I salute you for that. All too often, parents will use games as a means to busy their kids and keep them from scraping their knees on the side-walk. Games are part of a balanced life, and I'm glad you respect the role you have, as well as the children you have it in relation to. Good article.

  • BWMBWM Registered User regular
    Seems like the main challenge for you is...you. You've seen the "power" of video games, but I wonder about that, because if you had, you'd be all for games. Because frankly, video games, compared to books (by which I mean basic fiction, not biographies or books on finance) and TV and movies and comics, video games use your brain the most. Pretty much every game is a puzzle to solve; how to beat this bad guy, how to kill everyone in this room without an alarm going off, etc. You actually THINK. You also practice coordination and hone your response times. Sure, make sure your kids don't flunk out of school or turn into lazy slobs, but we are finally beginning to grasp the fact that most gamers are well-adjusted, employed adults with keys and responsibilities and everything, and to have one of our own act like games are some sort of brain poison we only allow kids to have grudgingly so they don't try to sneak some in the dark is a step backwards.

    Harinezumiskeetshart69
  • Polar PeacePolar Peace Registered User regular
    Great piece, Ben.

    As the father of three gamers, and a gamer myself, I can identify. All three kids have developed their own niches in the gaming world. My oldest son (9) is heavily into RPG/Adventure games. My daughter (7) is a Minecraft fiend and aspiring artist. My youngest son (6) can't get enough racing games and platformers. The dynamic in my own house sounds very similar to others (homework done, rooms clean, THEN games), but I actually had to make a significant change from that routine once.

    The kids started losing interest in other activities outside of gaming (despite rooms full of toys, books, and whatnot). When it came time to turn off games for the day, it was all groans, moans, and whining. Then the inevitable "What can I do NOW?" would come and Daddy would be greatly displeased. My wife and I realized perspective was needed and we turned off the games for a month. I explained that it wasn't a punishment but more of a lesson for us all to learn, so we could find ways to enjoy ourselves outside of gaming, while also developing an appreciation for the privilege that video games are. I mean, I didn't go right out and give them the "Children in Ethiopia don't HAVE video games!" speech, but that was the basic message I wanted to put across so they weren't taken for granted. Behavior improved over that month, and then we agreed to move on with video games only on weekends (contingent on behavior during the week). We're currently in our second month with weekend-only gaming and things are going well. My kids have actually stopped asking to play video games entirely during the week, and they are churning out the homework and doing chores as requested to make sure the games are earned for the weekend.

    More than anything, I'm trying to teach them that our responsibilities to ourselves and others come first. Our reward for a job well done, for finishing our work, is the joy of gaming (or anything else they want to do with their free time). I anticipate a return to daily gaming as they get older, but for now this system is working well.

    Now I just have to wait till they're asleep most nights so I can break out Farcry 3 for a rare session! :)

  • rowan_urowan_u Registered User regular
    I understand your fears about screwing up your kids . . . but 30 minutes a day? Yike.

    When I was a young kid I bought screen time by reading, tv or pc time had to have an equal amount of reading time. Later I had no restrictions at all. I feel that i turned out ok.

    On my own kid, he is 11 and homeschooled. The only restrictions he has is a two hour computer break per day (he has his own pc), and obviously while he is doing schoolwork he can't be gaming, but other than that the pc is open at all times.

    We don't own a tv, and I don't buy him anything with military propaganda in it (CODalikes), but I'm ok with him playing mature stuff like Half Life 2 or Left 4 Dead. He only see's commercials at grandma's house.

    Now, he's only half way grown up, but let me give you an example of how he's turning out sofar. He is majorly into Minecraft MODing and Redstone circuitry. He's at the point at age 11 where he can wire up a LED countdown clock that sets off a bomb. This is with absolutely no help from dad. (dad can hardly get his buttons to open his doors) He discovered redstone himself, learned the skills from youtube, and just makes cool stuff with it. Keep in mind that he's no genuis, has the same troubles with dividing fractions as any other 11 year old, but that gaming has got him to the point of learning electronics BY HIMSELF. This development absolutely cannot be overstated. It is drop dead amazing.

    I had a somewhat similar experience as a kid with Microsoft basic, and a desperate desire to create the perfect Star Trek game, leading to a career as an IT Analyst today.

    As a parent I try to be VERY VERY careful about telling my kid you can't do that. I'm strict only about pornography, and military propaganda because I know how vulnerable young males are to these. Passion can often seem like addiction, but please be careful with the next generation! Cripes if anybody should know gaming is not a bad thing . . . it should be us.

    teknoarcanistskeetshart69
  • Polar PeacePolar Peace Registered User regular
    Great piece, Ben.

    As the father of three gamers, and a gamer myself, I can identify. All three kids have developed their own niches in the gaming world. My oldest son (9) is heavily into RPG/Adventure games. My daughter (7) is a Minecraft fiend and aspiring artist. My youngest son (6) can't get enough racing games and platformers. The dynamic in my own house sounds very similar to others (homework done, rooms clean, THEN games), but I actually had to make a significant change from that routine once.

    The kids started losing interest in other activities outside of gaming (despite rooms full of toys, books, and whatnot). When it came time to turn off games for the day, it was all groans, moans, and whining. Then the inevitable "What can I do NOW?" would come and Daddy would be greatly displeased. My wife and I realized perspective was needed and we turned off the games for a month. I explained that it wasn't a punishment but more of a lesson for us all to learn, so we could find ways to enjoy ourselves outside of gaming, while also developing an appreciation for the privilege that video games are. I mean, I didn't go right out and give them the "Children in Ethiopia don't HAVE video games!" speech, but that was the basic message I wanted to put across so they weren't taken for granted. Behavior improved over that month, and then we agreed to move on with video games only on weekends (contingent on behavior during the week). We're currently in our second month with weekend-only gaming and things are going well. My kids have actually stopped asking to play video games entirely during the week, and they are churning out the homework and doing chores as requested to make sure the games are earned for the weekend.

    More than anything, I'm trying to teach them that our responsibilities to ourselves and others come first. Our reward for a job well done, for finishing our work, is the joy of gaming (or anything else they want to do with their free time). I anticipate a return to daily gaming as they get older, but for now this system is working well.

    Now I just have to wait till they're asleep most nights so I can break out Farcry 3 for a rare session! :)

    Incenjucar
  • rowan_urowan_u Registered User regular
    I understand your fears about screwing up your kids . . . but 30 minutes a day? Yike.

    When I was a young kid I bought screen time by reading, tv or pc time had to have an equal amount of reading time. Later I had no restrictions at all. I feel that i turned out ok.

    On my own kid, he is 11 and homeschooled. The only restrictions he has is a two hour computer break per day (he has his own pc), and obviously while he is doing schoolwork he can't be gaming, but other than that the pc is open at all times.

    We don't own a tv, and I don't buy him anything with military propaganda in it (CODalikes), but I'm ok with him playing mature stuff like Half Life 2 or Left 4 Dead. He only see's commercials at grandma's house.

    Now, he's only half way grown up, but let me give you an example of how he's turning out sofar. He is majorly into Minecraft MODing and Redstone circuitry. He's at the point at age 11 where he can wire up a LED countdown clock that sets off a bomb. This is with absolutely no help from dad. (dad can hardly get his buttons to open his doors) He discovered redstone himself, learned the skills from youtube, and just makes cool stuff with it. Keep in mind that he's no genuis, has the same troubles with dividing fractions as any other 11 year old, but that gaming has got him to the point of learning electronics BY HIMSELF. This development absolutely cannot be overstated. It is drop dead amazing.

    I had a somewhat similar experience as a kid with Microsoft basic, and a desperate desire to create the perfect Star Trek game, leading to a career as an IT Analyst today.

    As a parent I try to be VERY VERY careful about telling my kid you can't do that. I'm strict only about pornography, and military propaganda because I know how vulnerable young males are to these. Passion can often seem like addiction, but please be careful with the next generation! Cripes if anybody should know gaming is not a bad thing . . . it should be us.

    trevoraciousskeetshart69
  • Thanatos2kThanatos2k Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    Also take it from me - the more you try to restrict how long your kids can play video games, the more they will want to do so behind your back.

    After years of ineffectual time restrictions, when my parents finally caved in high school and basically let me play whenever as long as my homework was done, I found that I would actually run out of desire to play. You can only replay Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana so many times before you want to find something else to do. And it's not like I had the cash to buy every game out there.

    Thanatos2k on
    skeetshart69
  • 3Suns3Suns Registered User regular
    Ben, parent as your conscience dictates. For me, when the boys were young, I allowed no games during the week, and then only 2 or three hours per day on the weekends - unless we were all going through a game together like Mario Galaxy or such.

    Now, my boys are 16, 13, and 11, and the oldest one is already holding down a part-time job, doing well at grade level in two languages (Japanese and English), and is completely without rules for gaming and study time. (Aside, he is in the top hundreds for several FPS. Outstanding gaming skills - he is my body guard in the virtual world.)

    In parenting, there is no such thing as "quality time". There is only quantity time, or not enough. The exception to this is when Father and Mother are working hard just to make ends meet - the children see this and understand, and themselves will try hard in their own responsibilities just so that they can have an easier adult life.

    The one area where a parent will almost certainly get into trouble is if they deceive their children. I noticed the picture for this article (hiding the DS behind the back). Gaming on the sly, or telling the children that the blood depicted on the screen (even if it is just the original "3D" Castle Wolfenstein) is ketchup, will almost certainly teach them to lie and hide things from you. That I can promise any parent.

    (I say this as a parent and as a teacher of 20+ years of experience, with B.Ed, M.Ed, and PhD abd)

  • J. D. MilknutJ. D. Milknut Lord of Chipmunks Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    I imagine when I have kids I'll do something similar. I definitely am with you on the making them play less than I did. But there are some games, such as Portal or Minecraft or World of Goo or Final Fantasy 6... these are games that I'm going to actually make them play. :P

    gekm71tpnnd5.gif
  • TeucerTeucer Registered User regular
    How do your kids accomplish anything in the games they play in only 30 minutes? I don't even hit my stride in a game until that point.

    Thanatos2k
  • euichoeuicho MaineRegistered User regular
    Thanks, Ben. This was pretty wonderful. I'm glad to see I'm not alone in... Damnit I really need to change that avatar. Seriously though, thank you.

    Pinny Pal Profile | PAX East '10,-'15
  • teknoarcanistteknoarcanist Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    There's a pretty funny bit in that Minecraft movie where Mike Krahulik is talking about raising his son. He says something like "I know the instinct, I'm supposed to limit their time playing games, but I come in here, and he goes 'Dad look what I built in Minecraft,' and he's designed a Roman aqueduct. Like a fully-functioning aqueduct; he's in here figuring out how to move water from one place to another. ...I'm not gonna tell him to stop!"

    teknoarcanist on
  • TEMTEM Registered User regular
    I've always wanted to see some creative nonfiction written by Mr. Kuchera, and this essaying is pretty close to the mark. Thanks for sharing this!

  • nafhannafhan Registered User new member
    Number one thing you're doing: being involved in your kids lives! Good on you, and even better that you're writing an article encouraging this type of behavior.

    trevoracious
  • chanmanchanman Registered User regular
    When comparing what you grew up with and what your kids are growing up with, I can't help but think of retro gaming. Or inflicting your childhood on your kids. Plus think of all the money you'd save!

  • theredfishtheredfish Registered User regular
    I remember a summer when I was in high school and my younger brothers were in middle school. After a month of listless unhelpfulness, full of unmade beds and dirty dishes that culminated in a soiled carpet because we were all too engrossed to walk the dog, my father cut the plug off of the television. That act of supposedly permanent desperation galvanized us; we resented our parents for going to such extremes to get any work out of us at all, and we were determined to prove them both wrong and stupid.

    The next morning, the very first day of the new regime, my brothers and I drafted a schedule of who would do which chores when, based largely around Cartoon Network's programming schedule (these were the dark days before dvr). After our parents left for work, I forced two partially-bent paper clips into the remaining TV wire and plugged it into the wall, allowing my brother to squander his allotment watching Scooby-Doo while I washed the dishes. (Later that summer we began to share time with a newly-acquired ZSNES emulator that we hid from our parents by storing it and a deep roster of classics on an iomega zip drive, of all things.)

    The worst that ever came from our illicit modification was a blown fuse once, but we seriously could have killed ourselves and burnt the house down. At the time I didn't give two shits about that, I was going to watch TV and play video games no matter what got in my way. Anything else: brotherly teamwork, an early start on my EE, or actually doing housework, was incidental to facilitating my summer entertainment.

    Do what you have to to get your kid to hit the highlights: homework, chores, personal hygiene, but know that your game-playing child is primed to solve the puzzle of your parental restrictions, and their solution will be as extreme as the imposition you pose.

  • theredfishtheredfish Registered User regular
    I remember a summer when I was in high school and my younger brothers were in middle school. After a month of listless unhelpfulness, full of unmade beds and dirty dishes that culminated in a soiled carpet because we were all too engrossed to walk the dog, my father cut the plug off of the television. That act of supposedly permanent desperation galvanized us; we resented our parents for going to such extremes to get any work out of us at all, and we were determined to prove them both wrong and stupid.

    The next morning, the very first day of the new regime, my brothers and I drafted a schedule of who would do which chores when, based largely around Cartoon Network's programming schedule (these were the dark days before dvr). After our parents left for work, I forced two partially-bent paper clips into the remaining TV wire and plugged it into the wall, allowing my brother to squander his allotment watching Scooby-Doo while I washed the dishes. (Later that summer we began to share time with a newly-acquired ZSNES emulator that we hid from our parents by storing it and a deep roster of classics on an iomega zip drive, of all things.)

    The worst that ever came from our illicit modification was a blown fuse once, but we seriously could have killed ourselves and burnt the house down. At the time I didn't give two shits about that, I was going to watch TV and play video games no matter what got in my way. Anything else: brotherly teamwork, an early start on my EE, or actually doing housework, was incidental to facilitating my summer entertainment.

    Do what you have to to get your kid to hit the highlights: homework, chores, personal hygiene, but know that your game-playing child is primed to solve the puzzle of your parental restrictions, and their solution will be as extreme as the imposition you pose.

    herojoe
  • SlurpySlurpy Registered User regular
    Ben, I'm pretty much with you exactly on this. "Half an hour, and then outside you go. I brought home some PVC so you can make a potato cannon."

  • DedwrekkaDedwrekka What Would Nyarlathotep Do? Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    @Ben Kuchera
    Alright, so, here's the question I ask every parent about their kids and Video Games.

    Do you play the games with your kids?
    I'm not just talking about playing in a multiplayer game, but also sitting down and talking to them as they play or encouraging them on as they do something, or even just sitting there while they play and reading a book.

    I know I probably don't need to ask that, because you yourself put that article in The Cut.

    But there are too many people I meet who have no idea what their kids are playing, and/or have no interest in connecting with their kids while they play or engaging them about how they play. It should be no different than cheering them on when they play a sport or when they're trying something new on the skateboard. If that 30 minutes of play is 30 minutes of alone time, don't you think kids would want to have their dad engaging them as a friend during that time? If they're sneaking in to watch you play, isn't that just as much about being there with you being the guy killing the enemy in the latest shooter as it is about seeing the latest shooter?

    I just remember that the thing that got me the most engaged about gaming was having my 16-hour-a-day-working dad sit down with me and my brother and play a tournament on NBA Live on the SNES. The amount we played and what we played wasn't as important as the context in which we played.

    Dedwrekka on
    vprice509Sariig
  • trevoracioustrevoracious Registered User regular
    I'm trying to remember the last time I learned something helpful from a comments section anywhere. I guess the internet is full of surprises.

  • trevoracioustrevoracious Registered User regular
    I'm trying to think if I had any restrictions on video games at all. Never had much trouble getting my homework in on time. I know my mom made me go outside every now and then when I was younger. But after the age of maybe 10, I can't recall ever being told to play less. Except in the summer when I had to read an hour every day which was a lot like being in hell.

    Now I'm just about ABD on my PhD in English(?). To this day, though, I'd much rather pick up a controller than a book. I actually despise the vast majority of literature, but I think that's more a function of being forced for years to read only the best stuff ever written than of playing games too much. Sometimes I worry that being born in the 80's has made me a worse reader than I might have been otherwise.

    Maybe I would have benefited from more enforced reading. Maybe I would have revolted against books, and I wouldn't be in the awesome place I am now, for which I am utterly grateful.

    I don't know, man. Anyway, I'd have to say that I really enjoy my life as a gamer, and I suppose I'd rather have more joy than more smarts anyway. I guess. But maybe games give me a different kind of smarts? I feel like I know nothing about this very important topic :p

  • NoelVeigaNoelVeiga Registered User regular
    Weird stuff here about the relationships between reading and gaming. Growing up I always felt that one thing got me more into the other. I was younger than ten when I started playing games with friends and I got my own by the time I turned ten. I was an avid reader my entire life, and the gaming sessions, sitting down on my own with a DOS prompt and a copy of The Secret of Monkey Island felt very similar to falling asleep later making my way through a novel or other.

    Maybe that's different these days. Less reading and more talking in games, and that kind of thing, but I see positive feedback there, not negative feedback. PC games, and these days mobile games, also have the advantage of getting people to become more computer literate, which is key in development. Oh, and there's the fringe benefit of learning other languages, especially if English is not your first language. Certainly I wouldn't be as fluent as I am without gaming, although maybe widespread localization has also eroded that part of it.

    Seeing Ben, who is clearly an intelligent and articulate person, act with so much fear around his kids, especially in an area he knows well and understands deeply speaks volumes of the kind of society we build for children today. Endlessly fearful, overly cautious and deeply insecure, the chronically immature generation I belong to is rising... well, I wonder what comes out of this eventually. Probably not much worse than ourselves, kids are more resilient than people think, one way and the other.

  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    My parents were ultra restrictive with me when it came to video games. It actually ended up having the opposite effect. I looked at video games as a forbidden fruit, something I had to sneak behind their back. Like hip-hop music (which I was also in to as a teenager, and was not allowed in my parents home). Or dungeons and dragons, again, not allowed in my parents home.

    What did I end up doing? Skipping a lot more school to go play video games at friends houses, because I couldn't at home. Hanging out with much older friends so I could play D&D at their houses without my parents knowing (I hid my AD&D 2e Player's Handbook under my mattress, much like your sons comic). Hiding my Notorious B.I.G. CD under my bookshelf so they couldn't find it.

    It fractured our relationship, because I felt they were absolutely against everything I enjoyed, and that pissed me off. It made me a rebellious, snotty teenager who had failing grades, a bad attitude and a bad home life. It sucked. I became completely uncontrollable, to the point where I was basically kicked out when I was 17. Our relationship never fully healed. We are still pretty distant to this day. They still see me as their godless heathen son who plays video games and dungeons and dragons, and I still see them as oppressive, illogically frightened, bullies.

    In the end I think paying attention to, and in some ways, controlling your a children's access to media is good. Being overly restrictive can very easily lead to the opposite effect. It can distance your relationship with your children, making them feel they have to hide their pass times and passions from you. Not to imply that your relationship with your children will end up like my parents and I. Children are not foolish though, and at a certain age they start to become aware of and resent the hypocrisy. While my parents didn't engage in my pass times in a hypocritical manner, they had myriad vices of their own which made them hypocrites. It's probably why to this day, hypocrisy, especially in the political spectrum, is one of my biggest tinder keg issues.

    GnomeTank on
    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh SFV: Brainling
    Jeremiad
  • gacbmmmlgacbmmml Senior Web Developer IHG.comRegistered User regular
    You played Game Boy in school? Exactly how old are you Ben? Or should I say how young?

    Noah (girls are cute, but monkeys make me laugh)

  • SagerotheSagerothe Registered User regular
    It's sad seeing parents who obviously care about their children enough to want to avoid san andreas but clearly are to stupid to realize why they're probably hurting them. Letting a kid play manhunt should be legal child abuse, that' too harsh... Child neglect! for letting kids 10 years to young to play M rated games. That seems really accurate! You should be able to say "I will not sell you a m-17 rated game because I believe you will let your child play it. under state stature blah section blah, I cannot sell you adult content if I believe it will be given to a minor."

  • kilroy214kilroy214 Registered User regular
    I appreciate your honesty, Ben. And I applaud your courageous parenting. If parents really cared about their children, they would do what they deem necessary to protect them. Most parents would rather be a "friend" to their kids, rather than a parent. I truly believe that quality, courageous parenting would solve most societal problems we have in the world today. Not all, but most.

    When I have kids one day, I will have strict rules. No M rated games, for sure. I didn't have these rules. My parents bout me a copy of Conker's Bad Fur Day, for crying out loud. And I loved it. Still love that game. But I will not expose my children to such mature content until they are capable of understanding and handling it.

  • nephilim42nephilim42 Registered User regular
    edited January 2013
    One thing I want to say about parenting that might not be apparent to people who don't have kids is that what's appropriate and works really varies from family to family and situation to situation. I know that sounds super obvious but the ramifications and applicability can be more subtle than the normal talking points for these discussions indicate.

    For example if Uncle Bob who is a gamer comes over frequently and the kids look up to him and know he's a gamer, an hour of game time for the kids can mean very different things depending on how the rest of Uncle Bob's life looks. If Bob is on top of things like doing well at work, in good health, a nice guy, and has healthy relationships then that game time (even when Bob isn't around) means something different than if Bob is irresponsible or failing in life in some significant way. That is really tricky to manage and feel out as a parent and the 'right' thing is going to vary.

    nephilim42 on
    EmpiricalLoonieSewblonimpureascetic
  • IshanjiIshanji Registered User regular
    "I realize that the largest influence I’m having is to make this content irresistible, as the comic book hidden like a Victoria’s Secret catalog proved so eloquently."

    This rings true for me. How to avoid this issue is one of the biggest questions I have in regards to parenting.

    I never had this problem with games because I was able to play nearly anything I wanted. I played Doom/Quake/Duke Nukem 3D (with the sexual content filter on, because blowing heads off is okay but titties are obscene) with my father and brother over our LAN. Since there were very few "untouchable" games I never felt especially drawn to the violent ones, spending far more time on adventure games like Secret of Monkey Island and Legend of Kyrandia.

    On the flip side, my parents were very restrictive about the music I was allowed to listen to. Anything that even obliquely referenced sex, drugs, or alcohol was verboten even when I had no idea what the lyrics meant and it was only a single song on the album. As a result I ended up seeking out that music through friends and classmates; I'd loan other kids the violent games they weren't allowed to have and receive the music I wasn't allowed to have in return.

    I have to wonder how much of this is an uphill battle, especially nowadays with so much potentially objectionable material only a few clicks away on the internet. No matter how good of a parent you are, kids are always going to break rules. It might just be a matter of guiding them to break less important rules rather than allowing them to be raised on a steady diet of Manhunt, Saw movies, and gangster rap.

  • vprice509vprice509 Registered User
    You sound like a good dad to me. Kids follow your example.

  • WarpZoneWarpZone Registered User regular
    I'm the wrong person to ask, but I feel like we all become the people we are in spite of our parents, not because of them. At least you seem aware of the hypocrisy of your position. Maybe having kids really does change you? That always seemed like a cop-out to me, an excuse for someone to have their cake but keep their kids from eating it too. I was a kid when I came up with that theory though, and I haven't had kids of my own, so if the hypocrisy is an inevitable biological process, produced by some Parenting Gland when you view your own child, I wouldn't know.

    Think back to your own childhood, though. When your kids themselves become aware of the hypocrisy, that'll be when the teenage rebellion starts. If they should land a successful blow against your regime, rejoice, for you are the one who taught them all their critical thinking skills. They didn't pick it up from school, and they damn sure didn't get it from the TV.

    Sewblonimpureascetic
  • adilsherwaniadilsherwani Registered User new member
    Wow - awesome article all around, but one part really jumped out and bit me:

    "You meet amazing people in this job, but you’re often exposed to the worst in people as well ... Video games are almost too powerful, and they can take you over. It’s important to be a well-rounded person first, and then let games in."

    I often wonder why gamer fanatics generally seem to be the worst fanatics... more frothy and foamy and "death threat"y than the movie or music fanatics. I used to think of it as a correlation, but this made me wonder if the games themselves are a major cause. And then I suddenly remembered the day in 1995 that I canceled my PC Format subscription after years of regular readership because they gave Gabriel Knight 2 - a game I had not yet played - a score of 78. It was the sequel to my favorite game of all time so OF COURSE IT MUST BE BETTER THAN 78 I'M CANCELLING MY SUBSCRIPTION RIGHT NOW!! The memory is embarrassing but at the time I was so convinced I was doing the honorable thing.

    All "games promote violence" talk aside, I definitely see a nugget of truth in here - that games are powerful, that they inspire a lot of ... fandom, loyalty, dedication, and sometimes fanaticism... a lot more than other forms of media, that they can consume you and take you over if you're not mature and well-rounded enough to handle them and see them for what they are. And of course, "mature" doesn't always map to specific numerical age values.

  • impureasceticimpureascetic New York, NYRegistered User regular
    edited January 2013
    I'm not a parent. I just wanted to thank you for the excellent article, Ben. Many of the comments below reflect my thoughts in various ways, and other comments were excellent grist for my mill whenever I eventually stop wasting so much of my DNA on practice runs. I love the Report.

    impureascetic on
  • tobymandiastobymandias Registered User new member
    I've been thinking about these things and about how hypocritical I am about gaming. I've been a player since our family bought a Commodore 64, I think I was around four at the time and I still waste a lot of my time playing. My parents didn't let me spend all of my time playing originally but after they got divorced I immersed myself in to the worlds of games like Fallout, Sam & Max Hit The Road and Quake. I remember these times fondly but now that I'm older I notice that I used games as an escape mechanism. I still do.

    Now that our daughter is seven I've introduced her a bit to gaming but I've been rather strict about it, sticking to colorful "safe" games and even gone so far as to start her off from my old SNES and I've actually hidden my copy of Super Castlevania 'cause it might be too scary for her... I hid Super Ghouls and Ghosts for a completely other reason: I don't want her childhood be wasted trying to beat that game, it's just not worth it.

    I instead try to get her to do the things I enjoyed most in my own childhood like reading, drawing and playing with the other kids. I had the fortune of growing up in a small town where every kid played together but now we live in a city and I've noticed that I feel like the kid is losing something important from her childhood that I got to experience.

    Thanks for this article, really made me feel better about the whole thing knowing that there are others that have to struggle with these same issues.

  • BWMBWM Registered User regular
    I already posted once, but a question has occured to me that I'd like to ask. I see, in the article and several comments, this notion of sending kids "outside". Now, would one of you please tell me how you get the internet in Rivendel? Because I have to imagine it's nice that "outside" for you and your kids is a fantastical world of magic and adventure. For me, as a kid, "outside" meant crab grass and fire ants and 110 degree weather. Playing was out of the question; we either went to the house of a friend whose parents weren't irrational, or sought shade and water, like nomads. Even if the weather was such that we might have done something, we weren't going to after being forced out. Now, if I have kids where I am living, "outside" is a frozen tundra. No snow, even, to play in; just freezing cold air and rock-hard ground. I can't really see what benefit kicking them out into that will teach them, except survival skills, and I don't see them doing anything but seeking warmth and talking, which are the exact same things I did playing Halo with my friends. So, tell me honestly, what do any of you actually expect "outside" to do for your children?

  • RaphDSRaphDS Registered User regular
    I am the older cousin to three grade-school level kids. Their parents (my uncle and aunt) let them play games liberally and I realized that they didn't know better what the content entailed. I applauded their courage to trust in the maturity of their children. Still, I liked playing the role of "curator" myself. I would get them on the "good stuff", by loaning them my copies of Zelda and Mario Galaxy for their Wii. I won't be able to stop them from playing something like Manhunt or Gears of War, but I want to be able to steer them to classics like Portal.

    I think that's the heart of the article. We're all raised differently with different styles regarding the content of media, but we want to pass on to our children the best of what we had. For Ben, that means making sure they get to read and learn and get good in school before playing. And that's a beautiful thing.

    After all, every gamer parent owes it to his or her children to see why Bioshock is a good game and why we avoid buying Duke Nukem Forever.

  • Casey ReeceCasey Reece Registered User regular
    Curating the experience your kids have with games may seem like a great idea, but to me it would seem rather inconsequential. The important thing would be for them to know how to distinguish quality on their own. Playing great titles and great titles alone may actually rob them of the tremendously great experience of playing a game that isn't that great - discovering what's lacking in it - what they would do differently - and moving away from the scenario with knowledge and experience.

    I'm super lazy. If I were to have kids, I would install in them a natural sense of wonder. I would show them the world of games, show them the potential it has, tell them of the ups and the downs, let them know we will experience it together, but that they are in charge of the experience. They want a game? Great. I'll give them the money and they'll go down to the store and pick it up. If they're not old enough to get the game - it'll probably go a long ways towards them not picking it up. If they pick it up anyways - well, shit guys. That's life. I never really did such things myself, but if they happen to go down a path where they buy some axe-murderer game, play it, freak it, or secretly enjoy it and complete it - that's part of the journey. I watched R rated movies when I was eleven and twelve, and what I discovered through them was most important:

    When it's just you and the movie - regardless of what the rating is - and regardless of the content being represented (guns, mutilation, tits, etc.); it's the art itself that makes the game/movie worthwhile. Seeing a movie with an R rating on it didn't get me excited when I was fourteen years old, because I was allowed to watch R movies, and I discovered that they usually weren't to my taste. If a movie that looked interesting was rated R - I'd watch it without even thinking about it. I wasn't watching the movie because it had an R attached to it, I was watching it because the premise, the story, the effects, the actor, the technology, or even a funny one-liner was in it and I wanted to see it. Heads getting blown off and bare breasts weren't special - they weren't good, they weren't bad, they were merely viewed in the context of the impression the movie left as a whole.

    The last impression that I would ever give my children is that what I'm looking at is whether or not they fit someone else's metric for watching a movie. Of course I'm not going to let my eight year old watch a hyper-violent movie, but hyper-violent movies exist, and should my child witness one and have questions, I would have answers. We would engage in a conversation and I would let them know that there are many things in the world they're going to run into that might scare, shock, or surprise them. That it's alright to feel those emotions, but that it is their responsibility to work with and through them, to feel free to interpret and understand the vision of the artist who authored the work, and to understand what the imagery itself may be trying to relay or represent in the real world. I don't want to wait until my kids are eighteen before they figure out that they can go out and really delve into anything. If I came home and my twelve year old daughter is listening to new age pop (that may contain sexual content/innuendo!!!1!) and wants me to give it a listen, and my ten year old kid asks me what the Matrix is, I'd figure I'd be doing alright.

    Sychoticjimmyblueskeetshart69Zenbryo
  • zyxwertdhazyxwertdha Registered User regular
    This was such an interesting article for me - I have two children, aged 8 and 9, and I've absolutely struggled with the same things that were described. Specifically, inappropriate content (either sexual or violent), douchebags on the internet, and maintaining a balance between gaming and the real world.

    I started the kids with a SNES emulator on the home computer. So for quite a while when they were talking to their friends at school about Mario and Zelda, they were talking about Super Mario Bros and Link to the Past.

    That was quickly followed with Minecraft, which I am hugely positive about. Minecraft, particularly creative mode, has probably been the single most influential game in my house, and the constructions that the kids have made have evolved from kind of chaotic houses to really complex cities and redstone circuit machines. Although as a parent, OMFG the Minecraft mod system is terrible.

    These days both of the kids have been really pushing for online and MMORPG type games, and I've been resisting. We've had some good and bad experiences on Minecraft public servers, and a lot of the content or interactions just aren't something that I'm ready to expose the kids to. Basically what we've decided is that public internet games require a parent as a co-pilot at this point, but that obviously gets rid of the independence and exploration that we like.

    jimmyblue
  • hazardousindexhazardousindex Registered User regular
    Fantastic article, Ben. I was nearly moved to tears by the end.

    The article reminded me of a piece Michael Abbott wrote on his blog Brainy Gamer about playing Skyrim with his daughter. The link is here: http://www.brainygamer.com/the_brainy_gamer/2012/07/skyrim-for-small-fry.html

    Michael's article is the first time I realized what a powerful and positive thing games can be for our children. Your fond memories are of skipping school to play FF7, but just maybe your kids' fond memories can be something like that instead.

    skeetshart69
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