Sunday, 17 October 2010

Video games

Video games get put in a bad light by the media when it comes to parents and their concerns for what their children are playing. My son may be just 6 months old but I'm here to tell parents who are paranoid about what their children will learn from video games they need to calm down. Here is some helpful advice.

First of all myself and my fiancĂ© are proper gamers. Infact he told me he was falling in love with me back when he was a university student not face-to-face, he actually told me over an online computer game that we still play together. Some may find that silly but to me just makes him even cuter every time I remember that moment. But let me get to the actual issue at hand. We have a full understanding of video games, consoles and the internet. We were both brought up in the era where consoles were a must-have for every child and PCs were starting to appear in every household. I still remember the day I opened my Christmas present from Santa Clause and the joy that overwhelmed my little self when the wrapping came off to reveal my first games console - The Sega Master System. What made this beauty special was it had a built in game inside it which was Alex Kidd. I played that single game so many times even after the console was outdated and they were no longer making games for it. However I found many games very hard as a child and what really brought my dad and I closer was the battles I had with boss fights I could not get round. When my parents bought a Mega CD-Drive to connect to their Mega Drive 2 (yes you heard me, they owned a Mega Drive and I had one in my bedroom) I just had to get hold of Sonic 3D and to my surprise they already did that as it was my Christmas present from them. I was stuck on one level where the floor would rush with electricity and if you were standing on it then you'd be flung up into the air. I spent hours on that level and hated it so my dad helped me and got me to the boss fight which I finished with my dad by my side cheering me on.

Now some of you might be saying "but Sonic the Hedgehog doesn't go around spreading violence with a huge gun and there's no blood being flung around as he kills monsters" and you'd be right. The main cause of concern for parents and their children is violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto, a game both myself and my fiancé played as teens and as grown-ups.

I will use Grand Theft Auto as an example, it's a video game that has been in the media's lime light for many years now. In the UK video games now MUST have an age placed on the box, these include handhelds and PC games. Grand Theft Auto is not considered to be a game for young kids and no video game store or anywhere which has an Entertainment Department which sells games is allowed to sell such a game to anyone who is underage or may look under the age. So if your 10 year old son somehow comes out of a store with a game that has a big read 18 on the cover you should speak to the manager as this is illegal. But this isn't always the case, infact most often the problem is parents are buying for their children with no idea what games are all about. If you are one of those parents who have no clue about the video gaming world and your child wants a game then check it out first. Go to websites, go into game stores and ask them about the title and what it is about. All this will give you an idea of what your child is asking you to get them and whether it's the right game for them.

You will also be happy to hear that many consoles and online games now have Parental Controls. If you think your child shouldn't be spending every second of every day staring at the computer screen or TV and wish for video games to be considered a "special" for them then look up on Parental Controls. You can ask about these in stores or on the company's website.

Here are some helpful websites for parents wishing to find more about video games:
World of Warcraft - if your child plays this game they do have Parental Controls for you to use.
GAME - The guys at GAME tend to be the aware that parents come to them so don't be shy in asking questions!
Amazon UK - check out the customer reviews to give you an idea of what others thought of the games and console before you buy.
PlayStation UK - Offical Playstation website.
Xbox UK - Microsoft's Xbox offical website.
Nintendo UK - Offical website for Wii and The Nintendo DS.

if you are on Twitter some of these might be of interest:
@GameDigital - GAME's offical twitter account.
@Warcraft - Blizzard's World of Warcraft account.
@CPCharity - Penny Arcade's charity Child's Play.


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