Ask GD – Wargames

A parent of a 12-year old has given in and bought her son those violent 3D shooter war games. And Xbox Live too. Now she’s wondering what kind of parent she is.  GamerDad tells her honestly, forthrightly and directly!

Message: hi gamer dad, just found your website…question, my 12 year

old likes these war games, you know the ones, and i have reluctantly

allowed them, since all the friends play and he has xbox live…all

the war games, he does not own a gun, a fake or real one, i don’t

allow it at all, ever never did never will…i have started to limit

the time on these games…are they going to screw him up for life, or

is this typical boys his everyday life, he is not a dark

person or a person who is violent or a bully whatsoever, just a class

clown…help…am i doing the wrong thing here? or just letting him be

a boy! – L Garcia

The fact that you’re thinking about these things in these terms makes you a good parent. You’ve had mainstream media quoting all kinds of crackpots for years telling you video games are bad – really bad.  Well, they’re not.

I’m guessing here but I think you’re talking about Call of Duty 4, CoD: World at War, Battlefield: Bad Company – etc., Those are fairly harsh games and they do earn their M-rating – but they’re about war and some are of the opinion that if its about war it should be shocking.  The good news is that many of these games present a realistic and mature view of something often glorified and misunderstood. They show the face of war without all that being wounded, dying, and killing people part. Things get more complicated with Xbox Live (or any online service) because it’s hard to control and predict what online players will say (there’s a fair amount of racism, homophobia and general … can I say “dickery?” Because I want to.  It’s the most accurate word I can think of to say.  If he’s only playing with friends though, there’s less of a problem.  The other problem is that the multiplayer part of most of these games consists of shooting each other.  The mature story elements are lost.

You nailed it with the “boys will be boys” line (not excluding girls) in that what your son is doing isn’t much different than what your dad or male contempories played when they were boys.  They’re playing pretend, except nobody can say “Hey! You missed me!” and nobody has to pretend to die and fall on the grass. (I still heartily recommend this kind of play btw. A kid without grass stains in the Summertime is a sad thing.)

So your son is playing Army or War or Cops n’ Robbers, or the now not PC Cowboys & Indians – only with graphics, a story system, really cool maps and no exertion.  Kids know fake from real and these games aren’t really about killing. They’re about succeeding surviving and having bragging rights against their friends. It’s competition for those bad at sports. Can I get a shout out from the allergy and asthmatic kids?

The other key thing you’re doing right is keeping an eye on your kid’s character. He’s not dark, he doesn’t hurt animals for fun, he’s not strangely anti-social or depressed – he’s just competing against his friends. That’s fun.

I will add this:  I don’t recommend these games for 12-year olds but these things depend on the kid. Sometimes not having a fight over this kind of thing is preferrable (for some). I believe kids and teens should wait for these kinds of games.  But if you do play “cool mom” and allow these I recommend (with some reservation) letting him see some Iraq War coverage because he needs to know that making real war is not “cool.” Actually he already knows that but seeing the real deal can be sobering, even for a 12-year old.

No Responses to “Ask GD – Wargames”

  1. I have a feeling that this was a joke question. It reads like it was written by the average 12 year old rather than the mother of one.

  2. Sound advice, but I should also note that having real guns or toy guns does not cause violence, either. People are obviously allowed to raise their kids as they see fit, but shouldn’t delude themselves with nonsense.

  3. @ Some Guy,

    Even though they failed to use proper grammar the question was still very valid. I have been browsing this site for a few hours now and feel that GamerDad is very conservative. I believe that if you take Gamerdad’s opinion and knock 3 years off then it would be closer to my suggestion. Then again adding an age is not a good way. Children mature at very different rates. What may be suitable for one 10 year old might not be suitable for the another 13-14 year old, Depending on maturity level. It all comes down to the parent’s in my opinion it is there job, to sit down with the child and see if they approve or not. Sites like these give HUGE generalizations.

    Dont get me wrong so far i am diggin the site i think the ratings given are a good starting point to be able to get a better feel for what you are dealing with.

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