Sex, Secret Codes and Videogames – Newsweek Technology –

Posted by dkidwell on July 26th, 2005 — Posted in console games, parenting

Sex, Secret Codes and Videogames – Newsweek Technology –

GTA: SA is still buzzing and pundits express that we don’t know where video games sit in our ‘cultural pantheon.’ Levy’s right in saying that a kid clever enough to find the hack, install it, and access the hidden treasure in GTA: SA is going to be able to apply that to finding porn. Indeed, the kid who installs the hack has gone one step beyond googling to ogle and joined the ranks of the wizardry nerd class. Paid his subversive configuration dues and for it gets rewarded in cartoonish sex acts.

GTA:SA wouldn’t have entered my household, and this Pandora’s box has nothing to do with it. The entire theme of cop-killing and criminal activity wouldn’t have made it in the door – and it didn’t take a Adults Only rating to get there. Nope, I would have weeded this one out at the ‘morally reprehensible’ rating.

Video games, kids, and ethics

Posted by dkidwell on July 21st, 2005 — Posted in ethics, parenting

This series of posts will cover a broad spectrum of issues surrounding video games, kids, and ethics. With Hillary Clinton, the FTC, and pornography secrets lurking in the game Grand Theft Auto, San Andreas – how do parents that don’t play make informed decisions about what is going on in games?

This series will cover:

    Game ratings, what they mean, where they came from, and how should you interpret them?
    Game systems – who’s the primary market for an XBox verses a Nintendo Gamecube? Use that marketing to help make decisions about how to make smart purchases for your family.
    How can parents integrate a conversation about values and ethics into this unknown scary world of video games?
    Which games encourage ethical or virtuous behavior, or at least, provide an opportunity to ‘do the right thing?’
    What are the hidden dangers of video games? Hillary couldn’t be holding press conferences if there wasn’t something out there…but what are those dangers really? And even more important, how do parents tackle them?

Talking points – Animal Crossing

Posted by dkidwell on July 21st, 2005 — Posted in ages 4-8, console games, parenting, reviews

You don’t have to play to discuss the games with your kids, but they may not share with you the vast knowledge they’ve learned in game without some well positioned questions. Here some ideas:

1. Find anything fun for your house today?

Collecting and finding objects in Animal Crossing is a fun component of the game. You can purchase items from the store, be given them as gifts, or find them. You can find all sorts things – spaceships, musical instruments,

2. Which dinosuar bones have you found? Did you donate them to the museum?

Find a fossil, mail it off to be checked out, and donate your new found bones to the museum! The museum accepts art, fish, bugs, and bones. Go in game and check out your kid’s contributions to the museum.

3. Have you tried planting anything? Is it true that if you plant a bag of “bells’ (monetary units of the game), it may grow into a money tree?

You can plant trees that bear fruit, and yes, if you plant a bag of ‘bells’ it may just grow into a money tree.

4. You don’t have any cockroaches in the house, do you??

If you don’t play for a while, you’ll find bugs in the house. Ew! More time out of game, and more roaches. Just gross, but you can stomp them and take care of it quickly enough.

5. Did you get a chance to design any clothes? Or an umbrella?

By far my daughter’s single most well loved part of the game. Using a clever litebright/magnadoodle like interface you can create your own designs. Put them on display in the shop and you might see them on other critters in town. She LOVED creating a design that her in game friends wore!

It’s a rich game with fantastic hidden wonders….well worth spending 15 minutes of exploring with your little gamer. You’ll be astonished at how much they know!

Review – Animal Crossing

Posted by dkidwell on July 20th, 2005 — Posted in ages 12 +, ages 4-8, ages 9-11, console games, reviews

Animal Crossing the THE reason we got a Nintendo Gamecube.

Animal Crossing is the single best gift that Dubious Quality blogger Bill Harris gave us (and we are looking forward to the release of Eli 4.0!)

Animal Crossing is the game that has attracted and held the interest of my daughter – stay tuned for a series of articles regarding that!

Animal Crossing is:

    $20 at Amazon nowdays
    Only available on the Gamecube
    Rated E by the ESRB

An intelligent, and terribly cute in a Hello Kitty kind of way, persistant world game. You meet the folks in town, plant trees that bear fruit, find fossils you can send off to the museum, fish, make lovely parasols and dresses, and assemble fantastic collections for your home. It’s full of hidden surprises and clever details. It’s got a sense of time, so if you log in at nite, it’s dark, if you log in the fall, the leaves have changed color. Just brilliantly thought out and well worth it.

Stay tuned for future blogs regarding lessons learned in Animal Crossing, but for the moment, if you can find it on sale at Fry’s or Best Buy, get it!

Toddlers and MMO addictions

Posted by dkidwell on July 20th, 2005 — Posted in ages 0-3, mmo, pc games

Dark Age of Camelot was my first true MMO. Back in college I haunted MUDs, but managed to navigate around the early Ultima days in favor of Magic the Gathering and RTS and Lan games with the fellas. Maybe it’s because I live in Austin and knew too many people who worked for Origins, maybe it was because we were investing shamefully in boxes of MtG cards….either way, DAOC was the first MMO to really draw me in.

Gorgo, our youngest, was a mere babe when DAOC came out. In October of 2001 he was 2 years old. He’d been in my arms for months of Age of Empires and Diablo II – we were both used to extended nursing at the keys. He wasn’t nursing by the time DAOC launched (still strikes me as the most incredible software launch I’ve witnessed). But he was very very comfortable on the lap of a gaming parent.

He’s the 3rd of the bunch: my first had been born of the Age of Magic the Gathering, and Avalon Hill board games were the trend when my second was little. Gorgo, however, was reaching for the keys to bat randomly and coo at the masses of pygmies. He was born into a world where it was normal to have his dad emote gestures to him in game. He’d point out which mob I should go after. He’d giggle excitedly at the strange monsters and throw those piercing 2yo shrieks at me if I didn’t chase down the mob he intended me to engage. Guildies learned that if I wandered off, it was likely to appease the toddler (Lornadoone says, ‘just a sec, kid aggro’)

By 3, he was taking my mouse to adjust my camera angle (mom prefers a much closer camera focus than dad, who prefers to see more of the environment around him.)

He’s almost 6 now, and can play my characters reasonably well when the environment is set up for him. I miss the days of the little ones, and love reading the blogs of the mom’s with their newborns. One of the best I’ve seen can be found out at