Shoot ‘Em Up Games

In this Wired article, Clive Thompson takes a look at how the new generation of parents, the first generation to have been raised on video games, will find a balance for their own children between violence, addiction, and fun. Thompson’s article weighs the difference between realistically gory games and the more cartoonish variations, where kids can work out conflicts between good-and-evil.

He also looks at the hypnotic and addictive effect of video games.

“When you go to bed after playing something even like Tetris, those shapes are dancing in front of your eyes. And that doesn’t happen if you spend the afternoon looking at, you know, paintings,” says Bret Dawson, a friend of mine who reviews games for The Toronto Star, and who plays casual games like Wii Sports with his 5-year-old daughter.

The obvious solution is to strictly limit game-time, and simply endure the whining for more. Most gamer parents told me they don’t allow more than an hour a day, and some only allow gaming only on weekends.

Ultimately, Clive believes in the positive benefits of controlled video gaming for kids, saying that it allows them to explore complex systems. Like it or not, we live in a technological society. There is no right or wrong answer to the questions Clive raises and solutions will differ from one family to another. It seems important to keep in mind the possible effects of television on developing brains (for example, consider the difference between children playing a fantasy game of their own making, where the images created are those of their own imagining, as compared to playing a fantasy game that unfolds before them on a screen) and also to closely monitor the games and not just the ratings on the box.

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