Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Worried Parent's Gaming Primer

I’ve heard it many times in many voices – “Video Games are bad for Kids.”

The irony is this – most people who say this have little or no knowledge of PC or Video gaming. Most have never played, or even watched a game for any length of time, and certainly don’t read the reams of material written (chiefly on the web) on gaming.

Then how do they know anything about its harmful effects? Answer : they don’t. They’re just repeating what they normally hear from someone else, who heard it from someone else, who read it ‘somewhere’. It’s a stupid, narrow view held by people who haven’t even attempted to understand what they criticize.

If you’re an Indian parent who is worried that games will ruin your child’s life, and you’ve got this far, hear me out before you throw the CDs out, wot?

Yes, there are lousy video games.

There are also brilliant ones.

Yes, there are extremely violent games.

There are also many that don’t contain so much as a drop of blood.

There are games that encourage quick thinking, imagination and intelligence. There are games that teach history and science (and games that teach both). I have played games where the writing actually explores concepts from philosophy, ethics and morals. No, really. Ask Vinay Nilakantan.

Is excessive gaming bad for your kids? Yes. It is. As are excessive TV, excessive water, excessive exercise and yes, even excessive reading. The operative word is ‘excessive’.

Most gamers are not wacko nerdwads. Neither are they bloodthirsty terrorists-in waiting. Most gamers are people like me. Or my friends. Writers. Salesmen. Designers. Architects. Students. Managers. Parents. The bulk of gamers worldwide fall in the age groups 18-40. Not exactly snot-nosed, impressionable children.

There are violent, grotesque movies. There are books that are sick, twisted and dirty. But parents don’t keep their kids away from reading or movies completely, do they? They help the young ones by keeping them away from the bad stuff and encouraging them to focus on the good.

Why don’t they do the same for games? Because most parents don’t know enough about games to distinguish the good from the rotten. And instead of making an effort to understand the hobby that their children seem to love so much, they depend on hearsay and rumours to provide a shortcut reason to ban it completely.

Worried parents out there, listen to me. For your children’s sake, attempt to understand. There are sites on the internet (check out the links on the sidebar) that can help. Get a sampling of the wonderful, wonderful games out there ( The Sims, Civilization, Black and White, Monkey Island, to name a few). Who knows, you may find a gamer in you as well.


  1. Well said.

    Parents - look for something called "ESRB rating" on each game. The Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a council set up purely to ensure that a rating system is available for games which would allow parents to make informed decisions about the games their children (or they themselves) may play.

    It's very similar to the rating system for movies. There are games for children and then there are games for adults. Simple.

  2. worried about runescape!!!!!!!!March 6, 2006 at 10:13 AM

    Im worried about my kids and runescape please help to shut it down.Its ruining my kids grades and i need someone to take it off the internet. my husband put up security on the computer but he knows more about them then us please help.