Gaming as a Dad

25 years of gaming now with son and daughter in tow.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Passing the torch this soon?

By Geo Trax
Who remembers that day when you beat your dad at something for the first time?  Maybe you remember being woken up late at night to hook up the Colecovision steering wheel so the adults could play Turbo.  For  me I had always been ahead of the curve with my parents and video games and figured that I would have at least a decade before I was "too old to play."  Well Yankee Candle Kid proved me wrong the other night.   I'm not a huge Minecraft player. I only really started playing when the 360 version came out but so did YCK.  Don't get me wrong the game is cool and love what YCK and his buddies can build with it.  I've even been brought to tears laughing so hard at the dynamite castles they make and blow up.  But hey I'm a gamer how much could be involved with this game.  I couldn't be more wrong.

I build the tiny house on the right.       He builds a freaking skyscraper. 

   So we are playing the other night and we start building stuff.  I make a house and he is building what looks like a whole freaking city with stairs, working doors, lights etc.  I was trying to build a fireplace when I ask YCK what block can always stay on fire?  He first looks at me like I am crazy for not knowing.  Then he tries to help me gets frustrated with me and finally says, "Dad just hand me the controller, I'll do it for you." I got the chills.  I've been gaming 3.5 times longer then he has been alive and that little snot is telling me to give him the controller.  Well looks like the gaming torch is already being passed to the next generation in this house lets hope his little sister makes it to 4 before telling me how bad of a gamer I am.

Check out the Community Voice and let us know about your passing of the torch.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kids and Online Chat: Have you had the talk?

By Geo Trax

Is it really kid safe?
Last night, while I watching some television, Yankee Candle Kid was goofing around on my laptop playing at some sort of online gaming site called Movie Star Planet.  From what I can tell the game is innocent enough mainly a kid friendly social game set in a Hollywood setting.  As the player you build and create fashion, earn pets, make art books etc. with an added social aspect to make "friends" and play online with friends from school.  This is a gaming sight he loves playing on and I like that gets to be creative while he plays.  He only gets to play while supervised so I have little concern with this and other online play, mainly Club Penguin.  Last night threw me for a loop though and it was time to have the talk. 

The question that started a conversation

     After about an hour or so of playing he turns to look at me and asks, "Dad how do you spell real?"  "What do you mean? Real as in real or Reel as in fishing or movie?"  "You know real like my real name is Will." That's when the television got pause and I hopped on to look at the chat session he was in.  I didn't find anything alarming and the conversation seamed to be from another child as the spelling was terrible and the questions were mainly about the game and tokens.  After inspecting the  conversation we turned our attention to YCK.  "We need to talk about playing online YCK and make sure you understand some rules about it."

The Rules

1. Never give your real name online to anyone even if they say you are their friend because you don't know for sure.

2. Never give out your phone number.

3. Never give out your address.

4. Never give out your password.

5. Never agree to meet anyone, ever.

6. Don't upload or take pictures of yourself with the webcam.

7. If you are asked to ever do anything like touch yourself come get dad or mom.

8. Never go get a credit card without checking with dad or mom before using it.

9. If someone is being mean or scary come get dad or mom.

The Results

  YCK took this all in stride and agreed to the rules.  He had some questions that mostly centered around why people would do this and why people can be bad.  Not the easiest conversation I have had to have with him but I have had this type of conversation with him before.   I do commend Movie Star Planet for having a parent page with safety tips but as we all know those pages are useless if we don't talk to our kids.   

Have some input? Check out the Community Voice on the right.

By Geo Trax

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Stop Blaming Video Games.

By: Geo Trax
   In wake of the tragic events of the Sandy Hook School shootings there has been a big push for new gun control laws to prevent this kind of violence.  Again there has been an out cry from the public as to what causes this kind of violence.  Once again video games are taking it on the chin as people point fingers at the video game industry.  Last Friday, Joe Biden had a meeting with the gaming industry to help them improve their image and look if they are cause of the problem.  Personally I don't feel it's an issue with the video game industry but the lack of knowledge from the older generation about video games.  

A Meeting of the Minds

Image Source.
    Christopher J. Ferguson, who attended the meeting, told , "There were no arguments, and Biden noted that he was "agnostic" about whether violent video games can actually be linked to aggressive behavior." Ferguson went on to comment, "I think on one hand the vice president was sort of interested in, I guess what you might kinda call a fact-finding kind of thing, and curious to learn about the research from the researchers who were there, and on the other hand, I think he was inviting the industry to consider basically ways that it could improve its image among non-gamers."  Biden, as a non-gamer was keeping an open mind about video games however that wasn't the case for all in attendance.  

      Cheryl Olsen, psychiatrist and professor also part of the meeting was, once again pointed fingers at the gaming industry and not parental accountability. Olsen, as part of a push for more public awareness of video game content, suggested at the meeting that game leaders work to give parents more control over violent content in games, and publicize it when they do.   Cheryl news flash who do you think buys these games?  Parents, they buy them, they watch (or should be watching) their kids play and at any point and time can pull the plug on a game.  Not sure when kids took charge in this country but it's time for parents to grow a backbone again. Recently Yankee Candle Kid earned enough to have a television in his room and asked if his Wii could be moved into his room as well.  Guess what?  As the parent I can say, "No!"  Cheryl we have control already we as parents just need to exercise that control. 

Sporting Aggression

What Video Game is this?
Image Source
      Ultimately the meeting was more fact finding but why is the fact finding always about video games?  Why not one of the most violent activities we encourage our children to play, football.  This is a game at its core is about attacking the "enemy" in a physically aggressive way.  This is actual contact by people towards other people not just a simulation.  I'm not taking away from the skill of these players on the field or the sport of it but we have all seen how angry people get over a game they are watching and not actually playing.  What about soccer?  This sport inspires so much rage in people that people actually can die at these events.  I'm not going to go down the list of each sport but it does point to a violent nature of people and not necessarily the activity.

"Do you feel lucky? Well do ya punk?"

Guns are bad -
ignore the poster
    At least this time around they are talking about the violence on television and in the movies.  Although isn't it ironic that the Hollywood elite that are calling for gun control are the biggest offenders to the on screen violence?  Violence sells in this country, it always has and always will.  Zero Dark Thirty was the top movie this past weekend and by the way it was R rated for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language - just saying. 

Playing Doesn't Mean Doing

Easy to learn.
Hard to learn.
Have you played a first person shooter? Have you shot a gun?  I have done both.  It took my friend about five minutes to "teach me" how to shoot in Battlefield 3Now the same friend, ex-military, spent a whole day teaching me how to fire a hand gun.  Here is what I know: I was a hell of a lot more accurate with a controller verses an actual gun.  Video games can't teach you to shoot any more then they can teach you how to play football.  Stephen Colbert even commented on the absurd nature of video games causing violence, "And really, who among us doesn't look back and sigh when we think back to the good old days, when we all played SimCity and then immediately joined a gang of roving urban planners? The 90's were pretty weird." Making connections that video games make kids violent are people reaching for anything to point at but bad parenting as a reason for this violence  in our society.  This country will struggle to understand video games for years to come. My hope is at some point the image of video game will change and people will finally realize that they are just that games - a form of entertainment. 

By Geo Trax