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Vol. 2, Issue 4
I received lots of great comments from my last column. Most of them were from parents or older brothers and sisters, each with a warm story to tell about a young ´un just getting into gaming. There were a couple that were along the lines of, You monster! How could you use your computer for a babysitter! and Youll turn your little boy into a homicidal teenager if you keep that up, ignorant bastard. I replied to one of them in this weeks mailbag, but it just didnt feel like Id said enough on the subject. And then I read a few articles that suddenly came up last week on violence in video games, so I just had to throw a tirade together and unleash it on the world.As I said in my response in the mailbag, show me a homicidal kid who blames computer games for who he is, and I'll show you a kid who had problems long before he started playing the games. I dont believe video games can be held responsible for the moral or ethical attitudes that people develop. Same goes for TV. I think these people either dont have the inherent ability to distinguish the real world from the fantasy one, or they simply dont care. To a lot of people, the fantasy world is an escape. Be it video games, or TV, or a really good book, this fantasy world is a place where they can go and withdraw from the problems of real life. As problems become worse, the fantasy world has a greater draw. You escape more often. You get more into it. Its almost like a drug. At some point you start questioning what is the dream, and what is the waking world. Its this point where most people will draw themselves back. If they cant, then they get lost. The fantasy world takes on its own life. But make no mistake. The fantasy world does not conquer the individual, the individual surrenders to the fantasy. The general response to this by government and concerned parents alike, is to force a rating system on our games so that we know which games may or may not be appropriate for our children. I dislike broad sweeping rules like that, but its probably the way to go. We cant watch every child to see how his or her moral and ethical behaviors are developing, and we cant trust parents to do it. The best we can do is limit their access. One thing I will agree with, is that parents are ultimately responsible for their childs upbringing. Contrary to what some readers think, I dont let my kids play just any game. But I pay no attention to warnings on boxes. I look at each game in turn and make my own judgement. Now thats easy for me because Im really into gaming and I know whats what. For the average parent, who perhaps knows nothing about games, its probably a lot tougher. Thus the advisory warnings on boxes are a necessity. But theres something that I feel is more important for parents to do. Watch your kids. When little Tommy chases after the cat with a knife, its not a sign thats he playing too many violent computer games, or that he saw one too many episodes of Bugs Bunny, it means that hes got far more problems than you or I understand. Theres a deeper issue of ethics and morals and your kid isnt developing them properly. Thats when you need to start worrying. If you never see them showing compassion or caring or loving for something, anything, then theres a problem. Take them to a quack and be sure. As for me, I dont worry about Zachary. He can be playing a violent game on the computer and enjoying it for all its worth, then the next be very concerned over a small cut I have on my knee. Hurt, Daddy? Hurt? Kiss better? At 3 years old, he knows the difference between this computer world and his own. There are very clear lines drawn. When he gets mad, he lashes out. But he always comes back, apologetic and truly remorseful. Do I use the computer for a babysitter? Hell yeah. Well, sometimes I do. But anyone who has 3 or more kids will tell you: children can be a real handful and theyll drive you mad if you let them. We do as much with our kids as we can, but every now and then you need quiet time to recoup. Stick them on the computer or in front of the TV, because their sanity starts with yours. Get it? - Russell "RadPipe" Lauzon is currently exhausting all his free time researching Beer Goggles.
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