Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kids and gaming

   I hadn't planned on writing about this just yet, since I have yet to finish my other post but a phone call from my mom made me want to write.

   Growing up I wasn't much into video games. Sure my dad bought me a Colecovision and an Atari 2600 and later on he bought me a Nintendo and a Sega Master System but I never really cared much.
     Back then I do remember my parents staying up til 2-3 in the morning playing Donkey Kong and Pepper 2 on the Colecovision. I was more into Barbie Dolls, Books and TV.
      Now I'm 32 and have my own kids and Gaming is a huge part of my life. Rarely does a day go by that I don't play something, even if its just a quick sudoku puzzle on my DS. My parents on the other hand never cared for anything after the Colecovision and eventually they stopped playing that too, in the late 80's.
      One day however my mom came over to visit and I was playing Soul Calibur 2 with my oldest daughter who was 5 at the time and somehow we convinced my mom to try it. It wasn't long before she was talkin' smack with the best of them. Later still when Soul Calibur 3 came out I showed it to her and showed her Character Creation. Her first character was a Ninja she named Jackie Chan, lol. So it went, when my mom would come to visit, I'd convince her to play a few rounds of Soul Calibur.
      I tried to expand her repertoire with Gauntlet Dark Legacy and Champions of Norrath but while she thought they were pretty cool she kept losing her character and walking into walls, so we went back to Soul Calibur. When I got a Wii I had her try out Wii Sports. Once she got the hang of it hilarity ensued as she beat up everyone in the family in Boxing. She also discovered that she loves Bowling (she's never bowled in her life).
      My dad is a huge boxing fan, so my husband and I thought that maybe the Wii would bring him into gaming. Though he pulled off the awesomest uppercut, laying my husband's Mii flat, he shook his head, twisted his mouth in disgust and put down the wii-mote.
       A while back my parents were financially in a bad place and I offered to sell my game collection to help them out and my mom told me not to, she said that it wsa my collection and important to me and I shouldn't sell it for such a silly reason. (right, like my parents not having money for groceries is a silly reason!!!) I ended up giving her a little cash and keeping my games.
        It did make me feel really good though that my mom took my gaming and game collection seriously. That didn't last long.
         On one ofher more recent visits I was telling her about some of the different games I play, showing her how much games have evolved since Donkey Kong on the Coleco. Showing her that they are just as involved and deep as any movie, sometimes more so. She made some off hand comments about the violence and my husband piped in and said "did you see Saw? Do you watch Horror movies?" My mom said she did but it wasn't the same thing, however, she was at a loss to explain why it was different. I decided to drop the subject, different generations after all.
      Then, right before Christmas I posted about my kids being game addicts and also emailed the Creator of Scribblenauts about how my 5 yr old son was learning how to read with the game. This was mentioned in an interview with him on Kotaku a few days later and a couple of days after that they did a podcast with him. My husband encouraged me to call in and talk bout my son and Scribblenauts. My dad was visiting  and my husband explained that I had an important call to do and gave him a quick overview of what it was about. My dad shook his head, twisted his mouth in disgust and went back to grouting my kitchen counter.
       The next day the call and the game came up in conversation as we were telling my dad what the kids got for Christmas (my son got his own DS finally instead of time sharing with me or his sisters). My dad was not impressed or amused. My husband tried to explain that Game are what I love and maybe someday I can get a job talking about them. My dad Still rolled his eyes. I got upset, got a bit defensive and then walked off.
        I called my mom later to vent, thinking she would understand since she does like playing games on the sly, but I was wrong. She thought the kids played too many games, she also felt I spend too much money buying games and also wanted to know what was the point of me writing game reviews for the Library Teen Blog and writing posts about it and calling in to the Kotaku podcast if I wasn't getting paid for any of it. I changed the subject and then hung up.
       Today I was talking to my mom and she asked about the kids and what we've been doing the past few days since its been so cold out. I told her we've just been hanging out, watching TV, keeping warm and then I mentioned "I got this new game called Bayonetta and everyone likes to come watch me play." She surprised me when she said "that game is really violent" I  was taken aback, I asked her "How do you know about the game?" She said, "I don't know, tv or something?" I said, "yes its violent but its fantasy violent, she isn't killing people, she's killing monsters." MY mom Harumphed and started talking about something else.

      It reminded me that A.) we are definitely from different generations and  B.) while A. is true, a lot of parents are against video games because of violence, because they think it makes kids lazy or fat or stupid. While I can sort of respect some of the arguments against games (very few of them really) I can't help but disagree. Games have yet  to have any negative effect on my kids beyond the fact that my son now names his Pokemon "Alien" and "Rocketship" and the like because those were his favorite words and items in Scribblenauts.
      It also makes me sad to think of all the great moments and experiences in gaming that both these parents and their children miss out on because of misconceptions.
      I know I probably let my kids play too many games for too long a period of time but, as long as they do their chores, get their homework done, eat their meals and do well in school, I feel their free time is just that, THEIR time to do what they enjoy, whether its riding their bikes, playing card games, video games, watching TV, having friends come over, whatever.
   All this leads to the thing I've threatened for a while, a repost of my kids & gaming post from December.



Josh said...

Another good post, although the post seemed to be more about how adults view video games. I agree that there is a misconception aout violence in video games and it angers me greatly when video games are blamed for the actions of children rather than blaming the parents.

I once dated a girl who's family was really into gaming. Her mom really enjoyed puzzle games and I thought she would really enjoy playing The Incredible Machines. After she played it a bit she said she couldn't play the game because it was too violent. I asked what was violent about the game and her reasoning was because you had to use sticks of dynamite to make explosions. At that point I just had to shake my head as it was the most ridiculous thing I had heard.

Sihaya said...

Part 2 is more about my kids and their video game playing.

Unfortunately when you say "kids" and "games" it equals "what parents THINK about games, whether factual or not.

James Henderson said...

I agree with you there. My parents were the ones that brought gaming into our house when they bought the Commodore 64.

My dad, he doesn't mind watching me from time to time - like when I come home from college for the weekend and have a new game (games here get released on Friday instead of Tuesday like the US), obviously I first want to see it on the shiny HD in the living room than on the much-smaller SD in my bedroom, and for the most part he's OK with it. First-person shooters would give him a bit of motion sickness though, he was a little glad when Modern Warfare 2 got the worldwide release on a Tuesday so that he wouldn't have to see me play it on the weekend, since I'd got a HDTV in my flat the same week. How he's clued in on what MW2 is is beyond me, he doesn't like computers, doesn't even have a cellphone and the most content he is with technology is the TV remote, but that's another story for another time.

Mum however, is damn near the polar opposite. While she's one of the "I don't really give a damn" school of thought, she doesn't like modern games.. that don't reside on Facebook. She could sit on there for hours on end on Mafia Wars, FarmVille (I always end up singling out Zynga games for the criticism here, but to be honest, most of them are the same game only reskinned. I have tried some of them) and whatever else. She won't go near the PlayStation 3 or DS though. And believe me I've tried. Simple games and complex games, I got nowhere. I got her Brain Training for Christmas and purposely didn't go near the DS for a good month or so afterwards, I loaded it and she'd only used it 3 times. And she's just not interested in the PS3, whether it's watching me play, or playing herself. And I have non-violent games so that's not a valid excuse. Even Flower would overwhelm her.

Now I know this really is getting a bit long winded of itself (they always seem to don't they? :D) but maybe it's best if we just try not to force it on people that gaming's a step forward and not a step back. It's not something that can be really forced upon people, and, especially in today's environment in current gaming, not an easy one for the older generations to just slide into with ease. (though I reckon my dad'd be a good hand at 1 vs 100 if I had an Xbox!), but in the end it's our hobby, much how they liked arts and crafts, carpentry, fixing at old engines and whatever else. Different strokes for different folks, and I guess it should just be left at that.