Do Video Games Eat Your Kid’s Brain? (A Not So Scientific Case Study)

I remember being a little dude when Atari came out, and man, did I love it. I’d had a little experience at the time with Pong, but even as a little kid, I thought that was garbage. I know it was the first video game or whatever, but a little stick thing bouncing a dot to the other side of the screen, where your opponent used his little stick thing to bounce the dot back at you? WOOHOO! HOLD ON TO YOUR ASS, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT FUN, NOW!!! Yeah, right. Anyway, back to Atari. Those games were great! Actually, at that time, it wasn’t really “those” games, it was like one game…Combat. Combat was this game where you were a little tank that actually looked nothing like a tank, or a little airplane that looked really nothing like a little airplane. You’d drive your tank, or fly your airplane around and shoot little pellet looking things at the other tanks and airplanes, and it was a blast. It even had this really neat feature where you could make your little pellet bomb thingy turn a corner and blow somebody up that was taking cover behind a block. It was literally like a block…not huge on graphics back in the day.

As the years went on, gaming has advanced to the point that it’s totally realistic. The graphics, that is. Unless you’re one of those super cool guys that believes in wizards and trolls, and goblins, and stuff.

We have a PS3 that I, myself enjoy kicking back and blowing things up on Black Ops every once in awhile, but I’m starting to get a bit irritated how my kids are acting when it comes to video games. Now, I’m not one to think that game content is necessarily messing up children. I don’t really think that if you have a teenager who’s life revolves around playing Grand Theft Auto 5, that they’re gonna go out and steal cars, shoot people, and beat up hookers. They’re probably too lazy to get off their dead asses and stop playing the game long enough to actually go outside and do any of those things. What bothers me is the drug like pull these games have on kids, and how the little jerks act while they’re playing.

Case in point, the Daddy Anarchy household. Let me start by saying that our kids have restrictions when it comes to the games. We basically stick to the ratings on the games, and only allow them to play the games for a certain amount of time. And if they get punished? The games usually get yanked first.

That brings us to the problem. I tend to think that the word game is aligned with good sportsmanship, teamwork, learning, and fun. My kids tend to think the word game is more closely related to kicking, screaming, fighting, and various forms of torture.

My stepkid, Brandon is hooked on the Call of Duty games. He’s more of the addict in the bunch. To him, it’s not as much a game as it is a social life. He patiently waits around, pacing the house like a crackhead at a methadone clinic, waiting for his chance to play. When it’s his time, he sits on the couch, gets online with all his little Black Ops Buddies, and proceeds to become completely oblivious to everything and anyone around him, while him and his buddies run around trying to snipe each other.




(silence, not followed by Brandon coming to dinner)


(still no Brandon, but the seven-year old just ran out the door screaming)

Nothing. No reaction from the kid when he’s playing the game. There was actually one time I woke up at like 3 in the morning and stumbled out to the kitchen for some water, and found Brandon sitting on the couch playing the game with the volume turned down so he wouldn’t wake us up and yell at him. You’d think a teenager would sneak to stay up late at night to call a girl or something, right? Nope. He’d rather have his little online Army guy sit on a roof somewhere and wait to zap some other sleep deprived yahoo who has his little Army guy sitting on a different roof.

Now for the little kids. They don’t play the war games, they’re into Minecraft, which from my understanding, is this game where you live in this neat little world and essentially put things on top of each other. Oh, and there’s pigs and sheep that walk around (no idea at all, the purpose there ) and these bad guys called Creepers that can mug your little guy and make you have to respawn somewhere else in the world, where you have to start all over putting things on top of each other.

First of all, I don’t understand why I have to continually ask, beg, and plead to get the kids to clean up their rooms, or make their beds…all activities that only take a few minutes, yet they can sit for hours on Minecraft, stacking bricks! I guess I really shouldn’t complain, because it at least keeps them quiet and out of trouble. For a little while, that is.

The trouble, however, usually begins, when they all wander into each other’s little Minecraft worlds and start hitting each other in the head with their little Minecraft hammers. They each have their own Nabi kids tablets that they play on, so this happens quite often. It usually starts innocently enough, with Raylan (3) and Emma (5) playing in the same world, but getting along. Enter Tommy (7) who comes into the world like Genghis Kahn and immediately begins hitting Emma in the head with a hammer while she‘s following around a pig (most likely because it‘s pink). Emma in turn gets pissed, and knowing she’s not good enough yet to beat Tommy, she sets Raylan on fire. Tommy starts laughing hysterically at Raylan because he’s on fire, and then Emma joins in, thinking her and Tommy are on the same side now, because they’re both laughing at Raylan. Raylan begins to start screaming like he’s the one that’s actually on fire, instead of his Minecraft guy, and comes running out of the room in a full blown meltdown. Seeing that Emma’s distracted, Tommy seizes the opportunity and finishes her off with a bow and arrow, making her respawn in some other part of the world, without the pig. Not taking kindly to this (and having her mother’s temper), Emma throws the Nabi across the room (thank God, it’s padded pretty well), and charges Tommy (the actual kid this time, not the Minecraft guy). Even though Tommy’s older and bigger, he’s no match for our little Princess, who starts clobbering him with her shoe. It’s right about this time, that we have Raylan calmed down and back to stacking bricks in a different, less volatile part of the world, when my wife Donna finally snaps and goes to where Tommy and Emma are rolling around, and threatens to beat both their asses with her shoe, if they don’t knock it off this instant. All this from a game that’s supposed to teach kids to work together and socialize, and to build cool little things. Yeah. Great game, Minecraft people.

I suppose this kind of highlights the fact that maybe Donna and I need to teach the kids a little more about good sportsmanship, teamwork, and fun, instead of relying on them to pick these things up from a video game.

And Brandon? We just need to hide Black Ops for a while, throw a “Hi, My Name Is” tag on him, and drop him off in a public place where he can meet some real people.

Here’s a couple questions for ya:

* What kind of games and for how long do you let your kids play?

* Have you ever been addicted to gaming?

* What level of douchbaggery do you assign someone who spends hours upon hours on role playing games, neglecting their own “real” lives to focus on the game?

* What’s the deal with World of Warcraft, and do those people ever get laid?



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