Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Don't Buy M-Rated Games for Your 12-Year Old 

Speaking as a 19-year old college video gamer, one of the greatest plagues the community faces is the prepubescent.

I'll use the Xbox Live and the recent (and really, really good) release Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as my examples, though this problem is pervasive. There are several very good reasons to take the advice in the title of this post to heart.

The first reason that people usually come to is that the images, language and themes in Mature-rated games are too graphic and desensitizing to the young. While that's true to an extent, it is also true that most of them take a morbid glee in it. Few of them are, err, mature enough to deal with what they see with the proper weight it merits, so instead of being traumatized forever, a lot of them embrace it, and that's far worse. For example, in Modern Warfare 2, there is a stage (which got a lot of controversy and free publicity for the game) where you are an undercover CIA agent who has infiltrated a (Russian, Ultra-Nationalist) terrorist group that's trying to start a hot war between Russia and the US by going into Moscow International Airport and killing everyone in sight, nevermind the fact that you're secretly American, and you're not actually required to kill anybody. Now, because I grew up a tad since I was 12 (hard to believe as it may seem), I dealt with it in a fairly mature manner, realizing the game was trying to make a powerful moral statement. But the kids I talked to about it with on Xbox Live said it was their favorite level.

Now, the practical, less moral and preachy reasons. The prepubescent are extraordinarily annoying, by and large. They have high-pitched, squeaky voices, they whine when they lose, and they're extremely creative when they curse. (I'm really tempted to post some of these for humor's sake alone, but I won't.) They also are in the greatest demographic for cheaters, using techniques like shield-boosting and simply hacking the game to unlock the best weapons and skills, rather than working for it like the rest of us. That's just my pet peeve, though.

Furthermore, the parents that buy these games for their pre-teens are irresponsible, or at the very least, they're rather short on integrity, because I know that the kids whine and beg for the game because all of their friends have it, and rather than sticking to their guns about a game they suspect is less than healthy, parents will give in and buy it for them. Then one day when Mom is passing by Timmy's room, she'll notice he's shooting machine gun in an airport filled with civilians with gleeful abandon, and she'll assume a) the game made him this way and b) games are the work of The Devil. (in before WLindsayWheeler jumps in agreeing with point b).

Therefore, parents, pay attention to what you're buying before you buy it, like everything else. If you educate yourself and you know your child, it'll pay off in the long run.


By Blogger Psota, at Wed Apr 14, 10:41:00 AM:

what a delightful young man  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Apr 14, 10:58:00 AM:

I have to agree with you 100%, Tigerhawk Teenager. Well said.  

By Blogger Foxfier, at Wed Apr 14, 11:02:00 AM:

Aaaw, yours got creative? Mine misspell both f-words, sometimes several times in the same run-on sentence.

Insert mandatory oh-but-some-adults-are-immature-gamers disclaimer here. True, but over used.

I don't even want to think about what these kids are going to be like in 15 or so years, when they smack up against the reality of pain. (Hey, if you form your ideas of pain from painless and overused plot points, vs from getting hurt yourself, it's gotta have an effect....)  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Wed Apr 14, 11:37:00 AM:

A nineteen year old raggin' on the 'younger generation'. Heh. That's rich.

A rant over a friggin' game? It's just a game for crying out loud. Get over it.

As for the stunted character of the participants, I would speculate the character defects were always there and not caused by video games.  

By Blogger Foxfier, at Wed Apr 14, 11:41:00 AM:

Shockingly, there is a difference between twelve year olds (or as young as 8, that I've gamed with) and a friggin' adult, however green. By what we've seen of TigerTeen, he's not one of those annoying folks stuck at 14.  

By Anonymous QuakerCat, at Wed Apr 14, 05:33:00 PM:

THT - great post! My sister and I were just talking about how unbelievably bad these games are for boys. I heard a lady on the radio citing a number of scary statistics from a recent poll of young men ages 22 - 27. In this poll roughly 55% of the respondents still lived in their parents home, they had an average of $10,000 in Credit Card debt and they still played on average over 11 hours of video games a week. Meanwhile in the same age bracket, only 25%(ish) of women still lived at home, they carried about half the credit card debt and their annual income was substantially higher and their video game usage was nil. Last year 38% of graduating seniors from College were male, while this year 62% of entering freshman were female. Based on current trends and higher male drop out rates in four years they expect that women will make up closer to 65% of College Graduates. 30 years ago these numbers were reversed and I realize there are a lot of other factors tied to this; but my bet would be that if boys played a heluva lot less computer games their motivation for other more worldly pursuits would climb precipitously..?

Fire away...  

By Blogger Foxfier, at Wed Apr 14, 06:11:00 PM:

11 hours a week? That's not a gamer.

11 hours a day on non-work days is a serious gamer. (I know some gamers who will get in six hours on work/school days, without dropping into the signs of addiction.)

Think about it-- how many "normal" people will spend two hours a day watching TV? That's 14 hours a week.

Alternative reason for the higher number of women in college is because we have more scholarships, and...well, colleges are just more friendly to women. If a man and a woman get drunk and have sex, who is going to be in jail for the next five years? Add in that women tend to me more liberal, and, well....

Side point: gamer magazines like to make a big deal about how 75% (or so) of MMO gamers are women; the way you ask a question matters a lot. I consider a "gamer" to be someone who plays a game that requires either a disk or an on-system install to play. I would guess that the survey you heard was on console gamers, and the one the gamer mags like to quote includes facebook games and pre-installed solitaire.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Apr 15, 03:12:00 PM:

I heard the same school-marm, moral majority, Jack Thompson-style tsking when I was kid, warning about how playing Mortal Kombat, Doom, and Wolfenstein would turn children into raging homicidal maniacs, or at least 'harm' them in some unspecified way. It never materialized.

It was stupid and ridiculous then, and it's stupid and ridiculous now.

What, the little boys curse creatively? So did I, when I was 8. So did all my friends. And we played games of cursing one-upmanship. It was a way to seem more grown up. And that was before there even *were* M-rated video games (except I guess that famously terrible Atari game, Custer's Revenge).

They're annoying and aggressive and don't like to lose? No shit. They're boys. Aggression and competitiveness are masculine traits, hard wired into our brains through the miracle of natural selection. Is it really a surprise to encounter that in a *shooter* game?

Next you'll tell me that they like to talk about girls and call each other 'fags.'

So you're essentially bitching about boys being boys. Which is fine I guess (join my wife...) but it has nothing to do with video games.

"Furthermore, the parents that buy these games for their pre-teens are irresponsible, or at the very least, they're rather short on integrity, because I know that the kids whine and beg for the game because all of their friends have it, and rather than sticking to their guns about a game they suspect is less than healthy, parents will give in and buy it for them."

An arrogant thing to say, especially given that it's generalized judgment based off of assumptions and speculation.

If you dislike playing online games with children, stop. Problem solved. I don't play those kinds of games online because I hate the kind of people that predominate. Getting on an online soap box at your dad's blog and rendering judgment on all and sundry because you're annoyed is not a solution to your problem.

Not to mention that you have no business criticizing other people's parenting based on minimal, highly specific exposure to unidentified kids on a video game that is *characterized* by it's realistic violence and fast-pace. If you expected to play Modern Warfare 2 online and only encounter philosophers and nice adults, you're in for some more horrific shocks about life.  

By Blogger Foxfier, at Thu Apr 15, 04:02:00 PM:

None of the 8 year olds I grew up around cursed, creatively or otherwise.

Possibly because they had the sort of parents that wouldn't buy them photo-realistic hack'n'slashers.

An arrogant thing to say, especially given that it's generalized judgment based off of assumptions and speculation.

You win the irony award.  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Thu Apr 15, 10:24:00 PM:

Dawnfire, I recall the same being said about D&D, Magic: The Gathering, AC/DC, KISS, you name it. Quaker Cat's changing the subject to other things which torques him/her off about the rising generation is an excellent example of same.

Produce the evidence that the games make kids more violent or less sensitive.
I've got 5 boys, 14-30, BTW.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Apr 15, 10:50:00 PM:

I wasn't sure whether this is self-parody or not.

The part about the squeaky voices...  

By Blogger Aegon01, at Fri Apr 16, 02:09:00 AM:

Dawn, note that I think that the Jack Thompson thing is as much crap as you think it is. That said, though, things are rated what they are for a reason, and I wouldn't want my kid to see the soldier-nuking scene in Modern Warfare 1 if he was under 10, nor would I want him to watch or read Watchmen or start getting into intense, existentialist literature. Maybe he could play a more cartoony shooter like Army Men: Sarge's Heroes, or something. It just makes sense to me, but I don't want to be hypocritical or anything.

Maybe Tigerhawk Dad and Mom kept me sheltered for longer, playing all of the Mario, Zelda, Star Fox, etc. games for a bit longer than my friends, but I remember when I was 12 having Halo push my boundaries a little. So I guess different kids are different, etc.

But yeah, I remember saying curse words was a big deal when I was 8, even without authority figures around. It remained kind of a big deal until I was like 11.

Still another thing: my beef is not even necessarily with traumatizing the kid (in b4 TTeen hates kids), it's keeping adults badly informed that I take issue with. The last paragraph in particular is warning against the creation of more annoying crusading against evil.  

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