As gamers we are constantly being told by the media that our choice of entertainment is harmful in some way or another – be it eye strain, clogged arteries of general increase in tendency to commit rape – and normally I wouldn’t post anything up about such an article, but what is unusual is that this opinion piece is based upon some interesting logic. What’s worse is that for all the dreadful pigeon-holing and generic name calling there is a generally acceptable point in there… Luckily the Mirror newspaper didn’t manage to generate an article I could agree with totally, else I fear I would probably be found wibbling my lips with my underpants upon my head next week.Paul Routledge will probably find his email inbox stuffed with rants from defensive gamers by the time I write this, but I have to say that whilst 90% of the ‘article’ – and I use that term VERY loosely – there is a point made that I think deserves a bit of attention. For you see when I am reading the trashy tabloid crap that came free with my Plasticine storage box – The Mirror has been giving Plasticine stuff away through WH Smiths all week – I couldn’t help but notice this headline:
Now how could I possibly keep quickly turning the pages – I was after all only looking to see if there was anything else for free in the pages – after being told unceremoniously that children were in fact being ‘zapped’ by computer games? The article focuses mostly on the worrying rise in cases of ill-behaviour, lacking attention spans and ADHD cases in British schools. This is not scare-mongering, it deals with the findings of a teacher asking his pupils about their habits, and the results were quite worrying. There really is a huge rise in these types of students – to the point that local authorities run PRU’s (Pupil Referral Units) to deal with the kids that need more support. But how is it that there is a rise in kids going off the rails?
It’s commonplace to find digital media being used as a scapegoat in most cases. The Internet is blamed for lack of attention, giving the jittery mouse-user the opportunity to satisfy a never-ending stream of consciousness that cannot be matched with a textbook in a classroom. The same goes for young people’s sexual preferences. Whereas my generation would find a mere glimpse of cleavage enough to fill a weekly wank-bank – unless you were lucky enough to know a bigger boy who might sell you a well-thumbed page from Fiesta or Men Only, or if you were REALLY lucky, found some by the railway tracks/canal – kids today have a wealth of filth awaiting a few button presses leading to a lack of interest that can only be satisfied by ever-increasingly obscure tastes:
You see there is undeniable evidence that supports these changes in attitude, but can we really blame any media for corrupting the Nation’s youth? Not at all.
See while idiots like Mr Routledge may blame ‘Game Nasties’ – nice hark back to a name only recognisable by people too old to be referred to as ‘young’ these days, just to satisfy the baying middle-class, right-wing wankers – for this change, but as we know from documents like the Byron report that stated quite clearly that there was no link between media and behavioural problems there is a third party who is solely responsible for the safety and well-being of these kids, the parents. As the article goes on to say:
“Yet parents bleat about their kids suffering from ADHD and suchlike and demand statements that will allow extra hours of personal tuition – when the fault lies largely with themselves for allowing their children to destroy their growing years.
Before they clamour for special treatment at school, mums and dads should take a long, cool look at what goes on within their own four walls”
Couldn’t agree with this more.
My father and my Uncle Daryl were the main people responsible for my love of gaming, but they held that responsiblity close to their chests. I wasn’t allowed to play more mature titles until I could demonstrate an understanding of the difference between reality and fiction, my first proper violent game was Mortal Kombat II – I’d skipped the first as my mate John had it – and my mother took my to Peterborough Toys R Us to buy it for me – for a princely £44.99 – and I was allowed to play it as much as I liked once I’d helped around the house and done any homework that I had. My parents knew I was able to cope with the obviously cartoon-like levels of violence, it was so far from ‘reality’ anyways, and I was rewarded for being a good kid.
With my children I try to be careful as to what they see and hear when I am gaming, I don’t play overtly sexual/violent games with them around, but I would happily play games including Bulletstorm, Halo Reach, Crackdown 2, Fable III and Gears of War 2 without a second thought. I know my kids, and I know that they can differentiate between the game and the real world. But if I was to come back from work to find them re-enacting scenes from the games that I have played – or indeed the games that they play, my youngest has picked up the slam on the ground and shoot in the air move from Bulletstorm as something he finds amusing – and there is no harm in this. Kids *should* copy what they have experience of. I played soldiers as a kid, I would climb hills as if attacking a castle and I would throw stones into a stream like they were grenades. All of this came from the films my Dad and I watched on Sunday afternoons.
Indeed a good friend of this very site recently posted this on Twitter:
I bought MK2 on the PS3 last night. Danni wants to play it. Shall I let her?
This kind of considered approach is nothing but healthy. Opening up the situation for discussion allows gamers to share experiences and feelings on subjects that may well lead to a sharing of knowledge. Parenting should be about mutual discussion and considered opinion yet sadly an ever-creasing parental type seem to think that the digital devices are the third parent in the family unit. Is it any wonder that their sprogs grow up to be maladjusted?
Ultimately it isn’t my place to judge others, yet I constantly find myself reading articles in the papers or seeing reports on daytime TV shows that show the ‘shocking truth’ about gaming, the Internet or movies. If a parent is likely to fail their children then that child will fail, no matter how good the ‘system’ is. We can’t blame digital media for bad parenting, because these parents’ parents obviously did something wrong themselves, and they didn’t have these excuses. Call it bad blood, call it lack of education, call it what you like, but don’t blame the game.