January 7, 2013 in Adventures in Parenting
My three boys were the deliriously happy recipients of an X Box this Christmas. They were, quite possibly, the last three kids in our community to get one. But since they had played plenty of times at their friends’ houses, they knew exactly which games they wanted. So off we went, gift cards in hand, to the video game store to pick out their favorite games.
That’s where all of our dreams fell apart.
I’m not a gamer, by any means. I was raised on Wii with my children. I am used to Wii Sports and the entire gamut of Mario Brothers adventures. These games are innocent: bowling and tennis, driving along Rainbow Road in a peach-colored vehicle, hopping onto creatures with what looks to be turtle shells, and racking up gold coins.
I was expecting something similar in the X Box realm, but imagine my surprise when this game was featured against an entire wall:
WTF? And it’s the third version? What possible redeeming value could this game have? I have no idea because I was too scared to pick it up and read the blurb on the back. Suffice it to say I only noted that it had a “Mature” rating, meaning 17 years +, and I decided then and there that “Mature” games were off the table for our family.
Except…my 12-year-old son (soon to be a teenager) wanted Halo 4, which is rated “M”. The helpful gentleman in the store advised against it, but he also said that Halo 4 was the least violent of the overtly violent games. My son had played this game at all his friends’ houses, and he has great friends with great parents. If it was ok for them, surely it would be ok for us?
Except…our gaming system is smack dab in the family room, where we all congregate, and the images are run through our giant flat-screen TV in full color. Which means my soon-to-be 7-year-old would be watching and begging to play, and there’s no way I could keep my 9-year-old (who thinks he’s already a teenager) away.
Was I really ready to unleash the violence of Halo 4 in our home?
I couldn’t do it. In the moment, I was so overwhelmed with the game options and the “Mature” and “Teen” ratings that I told everyone that for their first X Box game, it had to be rated “E” for Everybody. Yes, I stalled. My youngest was fine with that and selected a snowboarding game. My oldest, with remarkable grace considering he couldn’t get what he wanted, went with a NBA basketball game, and my middle child chose a Lego Lord of the Rings game that looked fairly harmless until I watched him play it. He was in a great battle scene cheerfully lopping off Lego heads with his giant sword. And that was an “E” rating! Is there no escaping violence in the gaming arena?
I know it’s coming. The testosterone is brewing. Before I know it, I’ll have three teenage boys playing Call of Duty Black Ops in my family room, and by then I will have become so jaded to violence in video games that I won’t even blink an eye.
But not just yet. I’d like to hold on to the innocence of my boys for a little while longer.
I’m sure Halo 4 will still be around when we’re ready…except it might be Halo 7 by then.