R.L. SAUNDERS

writer attempting real life in the middle of everybody else's vacation

Game on

on February 2, 2015

Moral panic. “That is, people who are the leaders of a society often blame things which they do not value for societal ills.”

I’m revisiting things like this: Your Moral Panic Is Not My Gamer’s Responsibility  because one of my sons is extra super interested in gaming at this point in his life. And if I’m being honest, I sometimes feel he (and we) are unfairly scrutinized based on the unfounded fears of others. While we’re not comfortable giving our six-year-old access to something like Grand Theft Auto, we are open to the conversation as he matures. It’s really hard not to let our own fears and biases (and fear of baseless judgement) equal evidence of harm.

I mean, I’m never going to play GTA, myself. It’s too gross for me. Too much gore–I wouldn’t enjoy it. I don’t like horror movies, either. And I also have zero interest in hunting. But where I’m from, it’s nothing short of a milestone worth grand commemoration and celebration when a child (the younger, the more impressive) goes into the woods with a parent, stalks and blows the brain or heart out of an actual, unsuspecting living creature with an actual deadly weapon, tears its guts out with a knife, posts and frames happy, bloody family pictures with the disemboweled carcass, then cuts its head off for display on a shiny plaque in the family room next to the baptism photos.

Hell, even peewee football involves far more real-world, very intentional violence than virtual gaming, now that I think about it. “Here, killer, let momma put a fresh pull-up on under your gear. Now get out there and grind ’em into the dirt, big boy.”

This isn’t to say I’m uniformly anti hunting or anti toddler tackle football (although I personally care for both less as I age). This is to say that I’m pro keeping perspective and pro not letting things I don’t personally value or understand turn into baseless fears that illogically dictate my parenting decisions and my judgement of other families and their kids’ fitness as playdate material.

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10 responses to “Game on

  1. Emily says:

    You make being a mom sound so cool and productively counter-culture! It’s almost enough to make me want to be one. But I like sleep too much. And being lazy. And selfish. Damn. I better stick to house plants.

  2. I just hope that when you and I get matching full-face tattoos, it won’t further hinder playdate prospects for my kids.

  3. Maureen Bramlage says:

    Hi, Rhonda,

    You impress me as a person who will have read a lot on the subject of gaming, and be able to tell me what its values, expected benefits, what learning the experts feel takes place, what skills are honed. I’m too old and lazy to do the research because gaming isn’t immediate in my life, but I’m aware of it as a phonomenon in which my 21 yr old teck, good looking, quite smart, is immersed in. I don’t want to devote the reading of a book to it, but I’ll read an article you recommend if you don’t want to just drop me a handful of lines in response.

    Maureen Bramlage

    • There’s lots of information floating around to support both “sides” of the gaming debate and so far it’s a very polarized discussion, I think. But my point with this quick piece was more to share the concept of moral panic, which fascinates me because huge leaps are made (and “evidence” is built around it) because of what a society happens to value most at particular points in history.

  4. Roberta Markow says:

    Why is it anyone’s business what activity you allow your child to partake? This falls in the same catagory of others’ morality can only work for them if they force their ideas on us. I don’t care personally for gaming, hunting and a lot of other activities others are indulging in but if it doesn’t hurt me or anyone else it is their decision and not mine. By the way gaming is a great way to teach kids math!!

    • It does help skeptics in our lives when I tell them that gaming is absolutely what inspired our son to want to learn to read, type, and research. But I don’t find that I need them to justify their children’s activities and provide evidence that their children are using their time in ways I find valuable. So, increasingly, I feel less like others’ peace of mind is something I’m responsible for.

  5. Papaneds says:

    We sure miss and love that little gamer

  6. Papa Nedz says:

    Good post

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