Not Ready to Play Shoot-Em-Up Games

Oct 16

Not Ready to Play Shoot-Em-Up Games

My kids accuse me of being mean fairly often.  I like to think it’s because I’m such a responsible mother.  I don’t cater to their every whim or open my wallet to every blurt that begins with “I want.”  But their accusations wear on me. 

“Just stop asking for so many things, and I won’t seem so mean,” I try to explain to them as they stomp off, rolling their eyes.  My no-reflex is most prominent when someone asks about video games.  The list of requests around this subject is always growing, my kids’ appetite for digital entertainment insatiable.  This, in turn, creates a never ending cycle of argument and compromise.  Sometimes the kids compromise.  Sometimes I compromise.  And, as I wrote earlier… It wears on me.

Today, I was bombarded with a plea that I’d never had to contend with before.  My ten-year old son has suddenly decided that he wants the game, Halo.  Since I’m not much of a video game follower, myself, I had only a few images and ideas relating to the game that floated about in my mind.  Something along the lines of violent, rated Mature, unsuitable for kids, blood.  Presumably I’d picked these ideas up through commercials, posters at stores, and the odd google ad. 

“No chance,” I responded instantly.

“But it’s so coooooool!” he pleaded, followed by a rambling of all the merits of Halo.  I realized that perhaps I was too hasty in my no-reflex and listened to his rant patiently.  Unfortunately for my kids, I’m never in the mood to buy them video games.  How many addictive games does one household really need?  And how can I get them excited about practicing piano when they have so many thrilling games to play in the basement?

I conceded to him that maybe the game isn’t that bad.  However, his friend was playing outside as we had this conversation and he was kind enough to admit that Halo is, in fact, rated Mature.  Still, my son would not give up.  “It’s not that violent, Mom.  There’s no blood.”

The more I told him that I didn’t want to talk about it anymore, the more he talked my ear off about it.  Until finally I said, “I will give you a definite answer after I research it on the internet.”

“Oh, you’re in trouble now,” his friend warned him. “She’s going to know it’s got blood!”

I started by reading reviews of Halo on Amazon.comAccording to many of the 86 comments, there is lots of blood and gore.  Alien blood and gore, that is.  One commenter says:

I played this game when I was 11 and laughed at the M rating, with green and purple blood and no real profanity also note you are not killing humans or anything resembling them. 

I suppose I should feel all right that the profanity is not real.  But I’m not sure what fake profanity is like.  And is it fair to think that killing digital aliens is more appropriate for a child than killing digital people?

Interestingly, when I looked up a family review of the game Halo Reach, Common Sense Media provided this:

Parents need to know that this adult game has been hyped by a massive advertising campaign that extends to normally kid-friendly establishments like Burger King and 7-Eleven. But the ESRB gave this first-person shooter game a “Mature” rating for violence for good reason. Throughout the game, players shoot aliens and humans using a variety of weaponry, and they’ll see vivid images with blood. And know that when the Halo games are played online, players can communicate — and curse — via headsets.

The level of violence is described as: gamers shoot aliens from a first-person perspective with the gun seen on the screen at all times (unless you’re riding in a vehicle or manning a turret). Blood that splatters can be alien or human. Weapons include shotguns, machine guns, bombs, grenades, turrets (for mowing down hordes of enemies in a flash), and special alien weaponry, including laser blasters.

Oh gosh, I’m not ready to invite shoot-em-up games into my kids’ lives at this point.  I think I would find it disturbing to observe my young boys’ exhiliration at blasting aliens with automatic weapons and cheering at exploding guts.  We’ll stick with Mario and Kirby for a while yet.  And, anyways, it turns out that Halo is only available as an Xbox game and we own a Wii.  So I’m off the hook for now.  But I’d better prepare myself for the Xbox request, because that is certain to come soon.

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