Way back in the dark ages, before the invasion, I surveyed several moms whose kids had gaming systems. I simply asked: Did they (the moms) feel like getting the systems was a positive thing, and what impact had gaming made on their kids and their family life?
Without exception - without exception - every single mom I talked to responded negatively. "I wish we had never brought these games into our house." "This has been the worst parenting decision we've made so far." "I absolutely hate these games. They have introduced so much strife and contention into our family..."
Now, I know I tend to be a bit hostile toward technology. I really was trying to be open-minded, to give the gaming idea a fair chance. It struck me odd, therefore, that not a single mom that I asked had anything positive to say about video games.
I acknowledge that I did not survey any dads. I am not a dad. I really wanted to know what to expect, as a mom, if we decided to take the plunge into gaming. After talking with several moms, I was inclined to think that my initial prejudice against the idea had been right.
But we jumped in anyway.
So now, several years later, what are my thoughts as a mom who has lived with the decision to make gaming a part of our lives?
I. Hate. Gaming.
In the spirit of so many popular games, I am now going to throw up all over this blog post, splatter it with copious amounts of intestinal gore. Here goes:
Things I Hate About Gaming:
1. I hate the violence. I hate that violence is used as a form of entertainment. Sure, you can be the "good guy" - all the while vicariously indulging an appetite for carnage and outright evil, and justifying your appetite for violence with "well, those are the bad guys...what do you expect?"
2. I hate the profanity. Wait a minute...I don't think I communicated that clearly enough: I HATE THE PROFANITY.
3. I hate the way women are portrayed. I hate the way the women are used.
4. I hate the way that gaming produces sullenness and boredom. I'm not sure how or why this happens, but I know that it does: The more time my kids spend gaming, the more likely they are to be moody or to complain of boredom when they are not gaming.
5. I hate the contention that gaming has introduced into my house. My request for someone to take out the trash is suddenly unreasonable because it interrupts a monumental mission that can't possibly be paused...at least not without some friction and tense dialogue.
6. I hate that gaming steals so much time. At first, we had fairly strict limits: no gaming except Friday afternoon and Saturday, after school and chores were done. Now, it's almost every day. And thirty minutes turns into two hours, which melts into three. Caught up in a game, my kids have absolutely no sense of time. Just as an experiment, I once told one of the kids, "I need you to help me with -----. You've got 20 minutes to wind down this game and turn the TV off." "Sure thing," the kid replied. Then, I simply waited to see exactly how long they thought "20 minutes" were. When this kid finally got off the game and came to help me, I asked, "Do you know how long it has been since I told you that I needed you to turn off the game in 20 minutes?" "Uh, no. Did I go over 20 minutes?" "It's been over an hour and a half." "Oh. Wow. I had no idea." No, I didn't think so.
7. I hate that while I was never in favor of bringing games into the house, the majority of the responsibility for policing the gaming falls to me. I hate that I have to take the flak for terminating a game. That I have to deal with the bad attitudes and sullenness. I hate the helpless feeling that, as much as I dislike these games, there's no going back. They seem to be here to stay.
8. I hate feeling like I'm being held hostage in my own house. We have a very open floor plan. If someone is on a game, the only way to avoid the profanity and violent imagery is to go upstairs or outside. The space I use - the kitchen, the living area, the laundry room, my bedroom - all these are part of or open into the area where the TV is located, so there is no escaping the screen or the volume.
In spite of all this ranting, I have to admit that there are one or two games in our collection that are not offensive. One is actually clever and witty. Still, they are time thieves, and poor substitutes for really living.
Yep, those moms I polled way back in the day were on to something. Me, I'm older now, and wiser, and so sorry we ever opened the door.
4 weeks ago