(not up there… I’m not the baby…)
The holidays have come and gone and we are adjusting to the real world again. It’s time to get back to work in an attempt to replenish our bank accounts. We only have one year left until Christmas comes and we go broke again. Does the commercialism of the holiday annoy anyone else? Religion and beliefs aside, there is far too much attempt to appease children’s far flung desires during the Christmas season.
Before I rant too much, this isn’t about commercialism or Christmas so much. You see, I was in a Wal-Mart recently (the horror… the horror…) browsing for game related merchandise, shirts and the like, when I noticed Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare pajama pants. Then it dawned on me that I’ve been seeing merchandise for this game EVERYWHERE! Good job, Activision. I’m aware of a game I’d have never been interested in. In fact, they found a way into my head and I want to try it.
Understand, the last FPS I bought was Call of Duty: Black Ops and only to play with a friend. I’m not really into FPS. It’s not my preferred genre. Yet, somehow, it’s invaded my mind. This got me thinking, if it got to me, who else did it get to? How many children woke up on Christmas morning to find this new installment of the franchise under the tree? How many of them suffered the god-awful wait time for the game to download updates and install on their system? How many children, on Christmas morning, found themselves on the frontlines of a war strategically delivering .308 caliber rounds to unsuspecting heads?
Some of you are immediately drawing back from this post. You know what’s coming. “It’s just a game!” I can hear you screaming your justification for plopping your seven year old down in front of a TV and cheering him on as he goes on a killing spree. That’s assuming you even know or care about what you bought your child.
Now let me be clear on this, I’ve said in a previous post that violent games do not cause people to become killers. I stand by that. This particular game is rated M for mature by the ESRB. The content is violent. It is bloody. It is war. It rewards your relentless kill streak toward victory. And we are exposing young, developing minds to this. How is it that we can watch a documentary about war children in Africa forced to fight and kill and we are appalled, then we turn around and enable our children to simulate the experience? Is it because it’s not the real world?
Grand Theft Auto 5 just saw a rerelease on new consoles. How many kids do you think received it for Christmas? This game features a broken family, a cheating wife, a murderous meth addict, and so many horrible moral situations that occur in the REAL WORLD! Top that off with strip clubs, prostitution, assassinations, torture, and all out murder. It is a real world simulator that uses the vilest aspects of humanity as a story telling device, then rewards you for doing it.
I think this is where I draw the line when it comes to media for my children and what I choose to expose them to. I want them to experience and to learn as much about the world as possible, but there are things in this world that are horrible that I don’t want them to know yet. As an example, my kids know that strangers can be dangerous and that there are people in this world who would steal children away from their parents. The part I leave out is the vile and repulsive things those people may plan to do. It’s horrifying and it’s a real world problem. It’s the sort of thing that once learned can never be unlearned. It feeds fears. It strips away innocence. It ruins childhoods. It can crush dreams.
I don’t have a problem with M rated games. I am a fan of many of them. My problem lies with the parents of the child who is swearing into his microphone as he shoots up a strip club or screaming obscenities at another player because they lost their kill streak and their k/d ratio is suffering. Are they even aware of what he is playing? Do they even care? I’d have to assume they don’t and maybe that is the most horrific real world problem, parents who simply don’t care.