Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Video Games Are Bad For You

There, I’ve lied to you.  This statement you hear that video games are bad for you and/or bad for your children is ludicrous.

Oh but there is guns and shooting and beating hookers for your money back and stealing cars and killing cops and swearing and sex.  Yeah there is also ratings on every game sold that acts as a guideline for what age the game you are buying is appropriate for. And they keep children inside and on the couch and not doing anything.

First let’s settle keeping children inside and glued to the TV. Four words “Go outside and play”. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that as a child, both at home and at friends houses. We simply were not allowed to be in all day playing games because our parents told us so, the end. In fact one time I was at my friend Dan’s house, we were playing Super Mario Bros. 3 we had been playing for a while and Dan’s mom had be telling us to go outside for quite some time. We of course wanted to play this game and eventually made it to the big finally, Bowser was about to fall (and miss us) (funny that I say us even though only one of use was actually playing at the time this happened) and we were about to win the game when Dan’s mom turned the power to the house off to prove her point and get us outside! Parenting job done, we had no choice but to go outside because without electricity to the house, outside was far more interesting.

But sitting on the couch is only part of the argument people who say games are bad for you have, the other half is content.  Think about movies, there are loads of movies with one or more of all of those things I listed earlier, some of the are only rated PG, which indicates said movie is fine for anyone to watch as long as an adult is around.  Then there is PG-13, then R, not a huge breakdown for the rating system.  How many times as a child did I hear ‘You can’t see that movie"’ simply due to the rating on the box.  But I also did get to see movies with a higher than my age rating if my parents deemed it ok, like Ghostbusters when I was only in grade 2.  They watched, the judged, and made an informed choice as to weather I could see a certain movie.

It should work exactly the same way with games, especially these days. (games even had a more detailed rating breakdown, with reasons for the rating listed! Check the ESRB.  When I was a kid most games were about highscores, or how long you could survive.  We Had an Atari 2600 in our house when I was 7, it was the height of gaming technology, and we had loads of games, Lock ‘n’ Chase, E.T., Asteroids, Missile Command, Defender and Air Raiders are what come to mind.  Out of those games, one was a pac-man rip off, one sucked, and the others involved some type of shooting, mostly at dots.  The graphical prowess of the machine didn’t allow for any real amount of realism.

I think growing along with the industry allows for people my age to be aware that kids playing games is not the issue, I’ve owned every Nintendo home system there is and now an Xbox 360 as well.  There used to be a kid in my house and not even once did she play, or see for that matter a game that was inappropriate to her being played.  That is why it’s astonishing to me when I hear a 6 year old tell me they play Call of Duty or Grand theft Auto at home.

Would you let a kindergartener watch Schindler’s List? Kick-Ass? Late night almost-Porn?

Your answer of course should be no.  Any reasonable person is going to say no, so why are you letting your six year old, or ten year old for that matter play games that have just as much violence and sex in them?  Check the ratings on games, rent them and play them yourself, watch reviews, and make a real decision.  Children without jobs do not have the $60-70 dollars required to buy games, parents do.

Children do not have the ability or the resources necessary to go out willy-nilly buying games, and if store clerks are doing their jobs they won’t even sell and M rated game to someone under 18. 

Video games are not bad for children, uninformed choices by parents are. 

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