June 27, 2011

In Response to the Supreme Court Ruling: A Plea to Big Brother

Today, thsound­man brought us the news that the Supreme Court has ruled that video games are pro­tect­ed by the First Amend­ment. While I per­son­al­ly feel that this is a land­mark achieve­ment for the cred­i­bil­i­ty of video games as an adult hob­by, as well as a turn for the pos­i­tive in the deci­sions of the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment, it will put a bit of pres­sure on the par­ents to more close­ly mon­i­tor their chil­dren’s video game play­ing. This got me to think­ing about the usage of online mul­ti­play­er and oth­er social media by those same chil­dren, and I came to a con­clu­sion: Social media and main­stream online gam­ing are such new things that few par­ents know enough about them to be able to accu­rate­ly mon­i­tor their child’s usage of them. How­ev­er, in many house­holds across Amer­i­ca, there is one key mem­ber of the fam­i­ly that knows more about these two things than the rest of the fam­i­ly com­bined: The old­er broth­er.
My par­ents are fair­ly young, and in-the-know enough to real­ize the inher­ent dan­gers of unreg­u­lat­ed inter­net usage. Still, with enough plead­ing and promis­ing to be respon­si­ble, at age 12 I was able to get my own email address, begin play­ing some pop­u­lar free MMO’s of the time, and have my first taste of online shoot­ers with Halo PC (a game which changed my life, def­i­nite­ly for the bet­ter). For­tu­nate­ly for me, this was before Myspace exist­ed, so I had plen­ty of time to be intro­duced to a method of com­mu­ni­ca­tion known as the online bul­letin board, or “forums” as most of you prob­a­bly know them. Over the years, I became an Inter­net ani­mal, but in a sur­pris­ing­ly good way; my “friends” (who I only knew by screen­names) taught me the val­ue of not giv­ing out cru­cial pieces of infor­ma­tion, and I wit­nessed first­hand what hap­pened to those who gave out the wrong infor­ma­tion and angered the wrong peo­ple. Hid­ing behind a num­ber of dif­fer­ent “1337” monikers and a .gif avatar of a recol­ored Final Fan­ta­sy sprite, I had an absolute adven­ture across the Inter­net which still con­tin­ues to this day. I know there are thou­sands of you out there, about my age, who share a sim­i­lar sto­ry to mine. This is my plea to you.
Many of you have a lit­tle broth­er, lit­tle sis­ter, or lit­tle cousin. Chances are this child, how­ev­er young he or she is, has a cell phone, a Face­book page, a gam­ing con­sole which he or she uses online, or any com­bi­na­tion of the three. I charge you with mak­ing sure that this child grows up right with games and social media. That child’s par­ents prob­a­bly have no idea that your char­ac­ter is able to have sex in the Fable and Mass Effect series. That child’s par­ents have no idea that with a Face­book album of a pre­teen pool par­ty and a lit­tle Pho­to­shop, peo­ple on the inter­net can and will do hor­ri­ble things. That child’s par­ents might not know what “eRP” means, what hap­pens when you delete System32, and that online mul­ti­play­er has a ten­den­cy to gen­er­ate curs­ing. But you do. I leave it to you.
On the oth­er hand, there are some par­ents (pos­si­bly the ones behind the Vio­lent Video Games case in the first place) who believe that every video game is a blood, gore, and sex spree. These are the par­ents that are con­vinced that every­one on the inter­net oth­er than their child is a pedophile. These are the peo­ple that actu­al­ly took Duke Nukem seri­ous­ly. These par­ents might not have any idea that there are plen­ty of oth­er kids that play games online all around the world, and how much cul­tur­al val­ue there is in befriend­ing them. These par­ents might not have any idea how easy it is to learn a for­eign lan­guage while inter­act­ing and play­ing games with for­eign­ers online. These par­ents might not even stop to think that the skills their chil­dren are learn­ing online whilst play­ing video games, both soft (team­work, com­mu­ni­ca­tion) and hard (serv­er man­age­ment, script­ing), can give them a tech­no­log­i­cal edge in a world where almost every career is increas­ing­ly reliant on the Inter­net. But you know. I leave it to you.
Broth­ers, Sis­ters, Cousins, Neigh­bor­hood Friends, all of you who are in your teens or ear­ly twen­ties and know one child who is in that awk­ward phase, hear me. Their par­ents might be com­plete­ly igno­rant to the dan­gers or ben­e­fits of gam­ing and the Inter­net. You are the one who knows. You’re still in your “cool phase.” That kid will drink up every­thing you say. Talk to them. You damn sure know what you’re talk­ing about.

1 comment

  1. ScrotusKilmystr - June 30, 2011 3:25 pm

    Bot­tem line any­thing inter­net relat­ed is learn-able by par­ents.… most equip­ment is very user friend­ly all it takes is for the par­ents to HAVE AN INTREST in what their kids are doing on-line.…
    buy debat­ing the pros and cons on inter­net access for your kids and ask­ing ques­tion always!!!! know what you are deal­ing with and then take the appro­pri­ate actions to gau­rd your kids against ques­tion­able sub­ject matter…simple just a lit­tle involve­ment goes miles


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