Video games…In addition to being an enormous business, they are a constant topic of conversation around the home of the Parent Imperfect. For over three years, the PI and Liz had carefully limited the conversation by not having a television in the house. Then, they started down the slippery slope by bringing a small, flat-screen TV into the house at the time of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Ms. Connie so wanted to see the women’s gymnastics, and it seemed like a good idea that the time.
Then during the holidays that same year, the PI argued past Liz’s objections and bought one of those things into the house…a PS-3, to be exact. Since the day the thing entered the house, the arguments about what games and how much time have been constant. For a long time, the parents held the line on the more violent games, but then, at the end of last year, one of Vince’s friends gave him an old copy of the military carnage game, Call of Duty. Once again, Liz objected vociferously, but she didn’t get the level of parental support that she might have. The game stayed.
Since that time, the decibel level of the conflict has almost matched that of the game. Vince likes to play this game more than almost anything else. The next opportunity to play is almost always on his mind. His time on the machine remains strictly limited and, because of some his issues with the nation’s oldest public school, he can now play for a total of three hours per week…one each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Even limited in this way, the presence of the game causes tremendous issues between Vince and his sister, who is not allowed anywhere near the scene of the grime.
More dramatically, since the PI can’t stand Vince’s attachment to the game, any argument over the use of the thing can quickly escalate in an instant to a place where it shouldn’t be. No aging father and 13-year-old son need such a spark. To complicate things further, the PI knows that he would have loved such a game at 13, and, if he could have gotten ahold of it, would have played it much more than Vince is now able to play. His parents would never have limited this sort of thing (the limitation would have been economic).
Against this backdrop, the PI tuned into The Diane Rehm Show today, just in time to hear a segment on Violent Video Games. The discussion involved people on all sides of the debate (including a lobbyist for the Association of Entertainment Game Producers) and focused on a law in California that would ban the sale of violent games to minors. The research on the impact of playing violent games on violent behavior is accumulating, although the industry hack was quick to point out that violent behavior is a relatively rare occurrence that usually requires the presence of multiple risk factors. Sound familiar?
The PI was not convinced. Compared to his father, Vince is a sensitive, laid-back young man. With or without violent video games, the older model (the PI) was much more prone to violent behavior at age 13 than Mr. V is today. Why then, can’t the parents just let Vince get this nuttiness out of his system so that he’ll be beyond all of this when he finally has the freedom to play to his heart’s content? Would that it be that simple…