Wednesday, March 18, 2009
So many times we've all pointed our fingers at video games for our problems. People say they are addicting, make people lazy, and teach bad habits. As controversial as these topics can get it's hard to tell when to have fun or when you've played enough. Video games are all about control, they can be fun but extended playing may cause headaches, addiction, and playing the wrong games at the wrong age can lead to misunderstandings in society.
What I say as a devoted gamer is that it is not the video games who we blame or their creators but rather the people themselves. All video games are labeled for what age group it is recommended for and M games may only be purchased by 17+(believe me I have tried). So when parents start babbling about the new GTA video game with drugs, violence, and profanity just remember that it was you who allowed your children to continue playing. Never try to pull the "My kid isn't going to return the game" card. Until their old enough to get a job (which by then M games won't be bad for them) then parents are the main source of income and parents should really be more focused on learning what games are fun and safe. This does not mean educational games, that is what school is for. Almost all games have main characters with a sense of justice, or show life from a different perspective. Final fantasy IX is what gave me such a good idea of mythical creatures and introduced me to some advanced vocabulary. With it's medieval setting and abilities like insomniac (protecting the player from attacks that usually make them fall asleep in battle) it was easy to have a point of reference when I properly learned these terms in middle school.
As for lessons I again point my finger towards Metal Gear Solid which, although rated M, gives it the ability to touch on more serious matters such as nuclear weapons, passing on culture to the new generation, and learning common goals. One of the best example I have for this is during a cut scene in Metal Gear Solid 3 where the American hero(Snake) is held captive in a cell that is guarded by a Russian soldier(Johnny) during the Cold War era. After offering his jail cell food to Johnny, Johnny begins to see that "not all Americans are dogs after all". Johnny then goes on to explain how he used to live in America when the US and USSR were still good friends and that he just wants to see his wife and kid back in America but can't because of the Cold War. Although the cut scene ends with Snake trying to trick Johnny into letting him out and Johnny responding by a threat to shoot him, they were still able to establish a small friendship despite one being American and the other being Russian.
So parents please don't ban video games, just look at the ESRB rating and ask the workers at the store if the game is right for your kid (they work for the place, they should know what they're doing.)