Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Video Game Violence v. Mean Mom Attitude

Per an email from a friend…
“BTW - are any of your brood (particularly the boy) into the World of Warcraft?
I've said no -- more than once -- and apparently I'm the meanest mom at _____
Middle School.”

Well… no, none of my brood are into World of Warcraft (sounds nasty and bloody and let’s admit it, maybe a bit cathartic also?) – why are none of them into it – are they pussy peace loving tree hugging hippy daisy chain making pansies – NO! In fact, the oldest concerns me because she loves fire and she ‘wants a gun’ – “The Boy” (we refer to him all the time like that, I hope he doesn’t get some sort of emotional scar) is very into shooting, maiming, swords, cross bows, guns, knives, playing airsoft, playing paintball, and yes he would love video games where he could shoot stuff or ‘blow shit up’ – The youngest… well okay she is a peace loving tree hugging hippy daisy chain making drama queen – but 2/3 of my children would love to ‘blow shit up’ in real life or virtually.

So… my friend is not “the meanest mom at _____ Middle School”, well she might be, but she is no meaner than me. My children are also not allowed any video games where they shoot people. But, after being rather addicted to Spyro myself when they were younger, and well killing the little dudes by breathing fire on them (is this really that different than tossing a grenade into a Nazi bunker in ‘WWII whatever the hell it is that my husband plays’?) made me realize that video games are by the nature of them – competitive. And by the nature of competition, there is generally, not always, but generally, a good guy and a bad guy. So I changed my thinking a little – my kids cannot play games where they shoot PEOPLE (except Nazi’s in the game that my husband plays – oh yeah and other bad guys through history in some other games that are around the house – there is something about Spartans…) nor can they play games where they can be ‘the bad guy’. So, they can play games that I don’t think are too awfully violent, where they kill imaginary weird alien crap, or truly universally bad guys like Nazi’s. (Please don’t go off on me about how a lot of Nazi’s had no choice and were not bad people, they just did as they were ordered out of fear – I live with a history major that will tell you all the good that Custer did – you can hardly argue with me that people get stuck in circumstances historically – it’s like preaching to the choir). And they can ‘blow shit up’ – but… there are time limits and when I deem that it is affecting their behaviour or attitude I simply ground them from all game platforms (including PC and hand held) for however long I think their transgression merits.

Now, they do have the option of trying to argue this with me – recently my son tried explaining the merits of Vice City to me – rofl… as if I was going to listen to that crap – bad guys steal cars, and you aren’t allowed to play games where you are the bad guy. Once in a blue moon they win – like when my son got hooked on a friends game and assured me that he was only killing imaginary characters like Cyclops and Gorgon’s etc… well, I listened to that game for awhile and the sound effects were rather gushy and slicey and sounded like true massacre and I said ‘no more – regardless if you are killing imaginary stuff, listening to all that killing is disgusting’. And, they do obviously play these games at their friends houses, but… since they don’t live there, they can’t play them constantly – so I let that go a little, with of course the “if you shouldn’t be doing it at home, then don’t do it there speech” – knowing damn well I can’t control what they do other places, merely ask that they not do it, and go from there.

Will any of this help my friend – oh hell no, her kids will say that her friend is mean and twisted and wrong also. Will keeping our children from playing games where they slice and dice human beings for amusement help them in the long run – I hope so. I would like to think that I am doing my part to instill in my children a respect for life and a sensitivity to the senselessness that is violence. Will it work, who knows – but they will someday recognize that I tried, and maybe that will be enough.

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