I consider myself fortunate that the video games of interest to my son are primarily Super Mario Brothers and Kirby. Games that are very clearly based in a fictional world with fictional characters. However, I know that many of his 12 year old peers are playing games like "Call of Duty" and "Halo." Even Minecraft, which J does play, has a certain level of violence what with killing animals and crafting weapons and the need to defend yourself against 'creepers' (zombie like villains). Should I be worried that J is going to go out and start slaughtering farm animals? Should I be worried that the cardboard sword he made for his Halloween costume is going to someday lead to his carrying a real one? Should I be worried that his peers who today are recreating war and video game scenarios with Nerf guns will eventually bring real ones to school?
I must respond emphatically that video games do not create violent people!!! There is no easy answer to what leads people to commit such atrocities as Columbine or Sandy Hook, but to blame violence in video games is a cop out. Mass shootings have a long history, way before video games or TV [http://news.discovery.com/history/mass-shootings-history-121220.htm]. Even Mr. Hoffmeister admits that although he did not agree with his mother, it was her opinion about video games that influenced him. Therefore, it is my humble opinion that lack of parental interest and involvement (combined with a variety of other factors) is what leads these young people to feel isolated and with the inability to know the difference between the virtual world and the real one!
I have so much more to say on this subject, so many thoughts and responses that I must take the time to organize before I can blog about them coherently. But the take away for today is a strong message to all the parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/guardians - PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR KIDS!!! Let them play video games, but be aware of what they are playing. Discuss the video games, the TV shows, the you tube videos - make sure your children understand what they are seeing and hearing. Play video games with them once in awhile. After all, that is the goal of this blog - to encourage parents to co-exist with their gamer children. This means even if you are not a gamer, suck it up and become part of that world every once in a while (like spending a day dressed as a blue Pikmin at a video game convention) - for it will make all the difference!