daddy gamer

gears of warSo, referencing a post from 4 days ago, I have some thoughts. I wrote them all down in the heat of the moment at the time of the original posting, but it got eated by teh intarwebs. So, I’m trying again.

The guy has some valid points, and I like that it’s an article from teh point of view of an adult who plays video games, some of them violent, and has a kid. Now, granted, he also has a nanny, so that tells you something, too. ;)

Anyway, his point seems to cover two main areas: one is the type of violence that is depicted in games, and the other is how often kids should be playing videogames.

As far as violence is concerned, I agree with the author: anything that is too photorealistic, or appears movie-like in it’s graphical output, is a no-no for my kids. Gears of War, for example, is way too realistic looking and seeming, even though it’s aliens and such, to allow the kids to even watch me play it. If a game has cartoony graphics, but some violence, like Lego Star Wars, I’m ok with it, in measured doses. When anyone “dies” in Lego Star Wars, it’s as if the character’s component Lego pieces fall apart, and another reassembled person is put back in the same spot. IT’s fun, doesn’t feel scary violent, and it’s all sci-fi-ish.

THere are other games, though, where deciding where the line is is more difficult. I would say Halo 2, with it’s decidedly sci-fi and futuristic weapons, is still too violent for my 4 year old to play, but I mightlet him watch it. Similarly, ALien Hominid HD, which is as cartoony and cell shaded as any Warner Brothers cartoon, still has too many cartoony cross sections of sliced up FBI agents to be something I’d let the young kids see or play. It’s a game-by-game decision, on my part.

As far as the AMOUNT of time they play, we’ve come up with some solutions. With my kids, I have two kinds. My daughter plays videogames, likes them, but can put them down after a certain amount of time, on her own. She is similar to me, if it’s engaging and fun, she will play it, but when she gets stuck, or the gameply starts to feel repetitive, she will put it down and move on.

My son, on the other hand, plays games until he is told to stop. I don’t know what it is, but he will keep playing a game for long periods of time, moving backward to an easier level, even, in order to keep playing.

So, during the week, we limit them to 1/2 hour of tv a night. That could be a video game, or could be a tv show. ON the weekends, we loosen up, and don’t set an explicit limit, especially Saturday mornings when their parents need to sleep a bit longer then they are willing to do.

So, with a firm grasp of how much tv/games they watch/play, and what level of violence, I’m thinking we’re ok. I don’t think they’re gonna grow up overly aggressive, as long as we continue to help them define the limits of their media consumption, as well as reevaluate our own as time goes on. Being a role model is, I think, the best way to convey those values to our kids.

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