I’m Back and it’s the Violent Video Game Edition

in Entertaining nonsense and profound thought

We lost electricity on Wednesday and it still hasn’t been restored, which SUCKS bigtime, and you know how I hate the word sucks. I’m at a friend’s house charging all the things so I thought this might be a good time to get a blog post in.

When my kids were growing up we didn’t allow them to have toy guns. Even squirt guns were banned. We couldn’t do anything about the boys using sticks and their fingers as guns, but we made it clear that shooting people was unacceptable. Never point a weapon at a person or an animal. I know lots of you were raised in a different tradition than this, and that’s okay. We’re all just doing the best we can at the time.

When the boys were old enough to want the video games everyone other boy in their class had, we balked. And they most likely were the last of their peers to have even the least violent of the games, but one of my very best friends has sons older than mine. Nicer kids I’ve never met. Polite, helpful, responsible – the younger of them LOVES babies with a passion. These boys have been playing violent video games forever. They have paintball guns, the younger of the two hunts. They grew up in a place and with parents who were comfortable trusting their children with guns.

The better I got to know this family the more they changed my mind about violent games. The games so clearly had not influenced these boys for the worse. They were just games.

Fast forward a number of years. My boys are almost sixteen and have some violent games. They are practicing so they’ll be able to beat their older sister’s West Point Boyfriend at Call of Duty.  A few days ago one of my boys was looking for someone willing to play with him so he could get some more practice. He looked so sad when no one would play with him that I gave in and agreed. I thought I was going to HATE that game, but sometimes you make sacrifices for your children.

Let me tell you: I HAVE NEVER LAUGHED SO HARD.  Part of that is that I was useless and my son had to let me shoot him every so often so I didn’t get discouraged and quit. Also, I cheated. I’d look at his screen so I could see where I was and what I was doing. Mostly I was looking at the ground. Or the sky. My son’s avitar was often right behind me. My mantra became “run away, run away,” screeched very loudly while laughing and attempting to make my avitar run away.

I’m sorry, but I cannot see how these games make a person more violent than they naturally are. They are fun. And I never in a million years thought I’d say that. But truthfully, shooting a picture of a soldier on the TV screen is nothing like shooting a real person. I would never, ever, point a weapon at my son. But I had no problem shooting at his character on the screen. It’s just not like real life. Not at all. And soooo funny.

That’s the most fun I’ve had with that son in a long, long time. Both of us laughed until we cried. I’ve completely revised my opinion of war video games. I was wrong.  And I’m not surprised, really, my brothers and I played with toy guns. Cops and robbers, cowboys and indians. We had tunnels in the hay bales. Not one of us went on to be a violent person. We were just having fun.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Susanne September 13, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Well, there you go. Something to mull over. Thanks for this viewpoint.

(And dontcha just love it when our preconceived notions are blown out of the water?)

Susanne

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Skye September 13, 2013 at 3:24 pm

I guess it’s the same way that Dungeons and Dragons don’t make you lose touch with reality: if you already have mental issues and a tendency to be violent and/or delusional, the game may feed into it, but it doesn’t cause it.

My brother had a BB gun and was taught never to point it any people or animals. My dad was a cop and when he cleaned his guns, he sat my brother and I down with him while he did so, talking the whole time about how to respect what guns can do, why you shouldn’t play with real guns, and so on. We respected our father, so we respected what he told us.

And we had squirt guns and other toy guns and played army and cowboys and Indians and would chase each other with buckets of water if we didn’t have squirt guns. To us, it was just all part of play. But then, we were also taught to respect other people. If you aren’t taught that, then maybe you are more likely to shoot another person; that I don’t know for sure.

I think the biggest issue isn’t toy guns and violet video games: it’s respect and empathy. If you see the other person as a person like yourself, it’s much harder to commit a violent act against them. But if you see them as a thing or as less human than you, then it is so much easier to commit violence against them. Because they aren’t as important as you are. That’s when it gets dangerous.

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Deborah Blake September 13, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Kate–I’m really impressed with this blog post (and sorry you lost power..hasn’t that happened a lot this year?). I’ve always been anti-gun and anti-violent video games, but this really made me think.

And Skye–your response was great!

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Kate George September 16, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Deb, I never in a million years thought I would ever utter the words above. It took seeing my BF’s children grow to be such lovely men, and then playing the dreaded game with my own son to change my mind.

Skye – thanks for your response. It makes so much sense to me!

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