Children & Violent Videogames

Do you ever just read something and hold your head in your hands in despair? I did when I just read some online debates among tens of parents on whether they let their children play games rated for adults. Seemingly intelligent and well educated people can be seen trying to justify allowing their children to view the most violent of content. These people know how violent the content is, they can’t even plead ignorance of that. Yet out of some misplaced pride in their child’s ability to function as an adult or perhaps a typically modern and lazy aproach to let their little darling have whatever he wants they would attempt to justify their reckless stupidity.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Many years ago – before I began a career writing about videogames – worked in a videogames store. We would often have parents walking up to the counter with a violent game intended for their child next to them. In such cases we would point out the nature of the content. In many cases – thankfully – the parent would be shocked and it would be clear the child had lied about what was in that game case. In all too many cases though – especially among the educationally bereft – the parent would reply that they didn’t give a toss (or something stronger). And in those cases we wouldn’t sell them the game either.

Some experiences are for adults, some for children. We have rules on movies, alcohol and tobacco that most intelligent adults seem to understand and respect. But why don’t they do so with videogames? Perhaps it’s still the widespread mistaken belief that videogames are meant merely for children. And that whatever their content, there is an expected child audience. So Call of Duty is for over tens, Mario for children younger than that.

I am dismayed when I walk into my local Game and see the number of what we might call “yummy mummies” buying violent games for their children. Amazing really. You might expect it of the thick and feckless, but not those who outwardly at least seem to show some respect for societ and having had an education. And amazing the shops will let this happen. As I said, back in the 90s we’d just refuse the sale if we thought the item was for a child, just as a shop would with alcohol or tobacco.

It all comes down to being lazy parents. You see folks trying to justify their stupid decisions – oh yes we had a long family talk about the second world war and little Oscar (half of middle class kids are called Oscar) knows the difference between right and wrong. But the truth is they are just giving into peer pressure and their own wish for an easy life. Those of you who are happy to let their children play games that have a VERY CLEAR age rating well above their child’s age – do you do the same with movies?

Do you ever say “no” to your little darlings? “Awww mum, Sebastian’s mum lets him take a bottle of vodka to school, why can’t I?” Since when is peer pressure on your child by other children pressure on you? Show some backbone. Say no to your child, tell them their friends’ parents are wrong if you think they are. Don’t be such a coward. You are the parent. You might think giving in gives you an easy life, but that’s short term, and you’ll end up with much harder parental work later.

Any of you that have bought Call of Duty for your 12 year olds, will you be letting them watch The Human Centipede too, or perhaps The Exorcist. Will your 12 year old be able to down a few beers while he enjoys his violent game? Perhaps you’ll allow him to smoke a few cigarettes to help cope with the pressures of the modern warfare he is embroiled in. Perhaps he could wind down with some porn.

No?

Didn’t think so. You’re all lazy, delusional idiots.

You may get the idea that I’m anti-games. I’m certainly not. I’ve worked as a professional games writer/editor for over ten years. I love a good shoot ’em up (BTW Call of Duty isn’t a good one) and have plenty of violent games in my collection. But I’m over 18 and I deemed capable of understanding the issues surrounding such content.

Your child isn’t capable of making those decisions. Unfortunately many parents don’t seem to be able or willing to make those decisions either. That’s why we have legally binding age ratings on games. The 18 rating says that a store cannot sell the item to a child – nor should it sell it to someone buying it for a child. Do you know why? Because we have laws. We have laws because some people are too stupid and selfish to make the right decision, so we have to have a judicial system to do it for them.

Yet it seems no matter how obvious, how big and bright we make these age ratings, some people will completely ignore them due to some delusional misplaced pride in your child’s ability to absorb and intellectually process the horrific violence in front of them. Oh we don’t let your darling son play violent videogames in his room – he plays them in the lounge. Well thank heavens for that, that altitude, longitude and latitude shift of ten feet really will make a huge difference to the way his immature and easily influenced brain copes with the violent images it is being forced to process. Well done many of you. Parents of the year.

I’ll say it again. You are lazy, delusional idiots.

Oh and before I go a quick plea to those of you who do let their kids play 18 rated games. At least keep the kids offline. Stupid whiny kids are ruining online gaming for those adults who would like to enjoy it with our peers. I really don’t expect to go down to the pub at 10pm and have twelve year olds running around calling everyone a “dirty jew” or a “fag” in their stupid breaking voices. But you’re quite happy to let your kids to that in online games intended for adults. Thanks a bunch for sharing your bigoted idiotic offspring with us.