My son and I had a really good chat the other nite. We worked through issues of taking reposibility for your actions and controlling your temper. We got to the bottom of a subject of great debate “If I kick my sister with a gentle push and not a full force kick, and she konks her head on something because she looses her balance, is that an accident or not?”
Not! A kick, albeit a ‘gentle push,’ still landed her head into a cabinet door.
This entire exchange is interesting, but not because of the sibling harrassment. It’s interesting because the truth didn’t come out when Dad verbally asked. It came out when Mom probed with a series of text messages inside of World of Warcraft.
Having heard the ruckus from my workstation downstairs, I sent my son an in game message:
<< Loud noises and yelling from upstairs....>>
Mom: “What was all that about?”
Kid: “Dad thinks I kicked my sister on purpose.”
Mom: “Well, did you?”
Kid: “No. I just put out my foot and she fell.”
Mom: “Um, restate that sentence so it makes more sense.”
Kid: “She’s not mad or hurt or anything.”
Mom: “That’s not restating your statement. Did you kick her?”
Kid: “Well, it was really a gentle push, not a full force kick.”
Mom: “Aha! So you kicked her?”
Kid: “Well, ya.”
Mom: “Dude, stop being a punk. Apologize to your sister and to your dad.”
Kid: “Ok. I did apologize to her. I’ll talk to dad.”
Kid: “I’m sorry mom.”
During the pause, he send an text message to his dad:
Kid:Â “I’m sorry, Dad.Â
Kid:Â Â “I was acting like a puk.”Â
Kid:Â “Gak, I mean punkÂ – I can’t spell.”Â
Something about instant messaging is clear, pointed, and doesn’t carry the emotional tension of a confrontation. No knee jerk reactions, just a real conversation. Text messaging made this conversation go very well, and in the end, we had an earnest dialogue.
If you game with your kids, don’t hesitate to talk to them in game. Oh, and save the chat logs, too.
But, Disney apparently feels it’s an effective way to advertise their new game “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Heavy TV ads during the Thanksgiving weekend featured a dramatic call for youngesters to go out to the site and download cheat codes. You can find the codes at their site – a bit of deep linking, but go to “The Game” and then check out the Cheat code link.
Disney Interactive – The Chronicles of Narnia
Now, cheat codes aren’t anything new – it’s a cultural aspect of many games to mod the game in various ways. Often the developers will hide features or elements that only a special code will unlock. Most notoriously, Grand Theft Auto – San Andreas got caught with their pants down on the Hot Coffee fiasco. ‘Easter Eggs’ are occasionally used as ingenious gaming devices (Animal Crossing used it’s continuously running calendar and clock to track the passing of real time, and would reveal seasonal goodies – snow men, ghosts, fireworks, etc. Their very existence helped create a vibrant Animal Crossing offline culture.)
So, maybe gamermom is simply nit picking on semantics here. (I am, after all, a mom.) But, I think our choice of words is important. If we are becoming a ‘gamernation’, do we want to be also a ‘cheaternation’?
To so blatantly use ‘cheating’ to market a game based on the work of one of our foremost moral thinkers just seems wrong. This should be a game taking the rich narrative of Narnia and turning it into an interactive experience for children to exercise their own courage and wisdom. That should be enough to provide a very compelling platform for a truly transformational experience.
“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”
I would argue that a brilliantly designed game might to do the same. That by drawing from a rich tapestry of mythology and cultural narative, games might in their own fasion enrich our lives.
The Escapist – When Gamers Breed
Parenting activists lobbying, marketing and supporting research for a better gaming world…hard to go wrong there.
Couldn’t come at a better time – if Miami CSI thinks that gaming provides a good backdrop:
Episode 409: Urban Hellraisers
First aired on Monday, 21st November 2005
Delko witnesses a bank robbery and the CSIs soon discover that the culprits are playing out the action from the videogame “Urban Hellraisers” on the streets of Miami. As they score points for each crime committed, the CSIs must discover what consists of getting to the next level in the game in order to stop the culprits before they strike again.
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?