Monday, June 13, 2011

The Wrong Way to Handle Gaming "Addiction"

While I was lackadaisically browsing the interwebs today, I came across this story about a Massachusetts mother who called 911 because her kid was playing Grand Theft Auto when he was supposed to be sleeping.

“I woke up in the middle of the night and saw the light on in his bedroom,” Angeles Mejia said, explaining that he was playing the game Grand Theft Auto, a violent game in which the player assumes the role of a criminal."

Okay, that's true - GTA isn't exactly for small children. But why is this series the poster child for every anti-gaming crusader ever? What about Manhunt? Halo? Even Mortal Kombat? Could it be that most people are too lazy to do the approperiate research on the subject?

Oh well; them's the facts. Let's see what happens next.

"Laurel J. Sweet and Marie Szanislo of the Boston Herald write that Mejia is among thousands of parents struggling with today’s video game obsessed youth. The Entertainment Software Association reports that 42 percent of adults are intending to give or receive video games for Christmas."

And I'll bet that 12 percent of adults gave each other vacuums for Christmas - and no one blames them for "cleaning addiction" - and another 57 percent gave each other alcohol for Christmas. You know, alcohol? A destructive and addictive substance that people seem to think is fine, but a game of Street Fighter will destroy your psyche and turn you into a rapist?

This is poor journalism. As a reporter of FIVE YEARS FOR THREE NEWSPAPERS, I can tell you: This is poor journalism. So anyway, this is how her son reacted:

“They (police) were just like, ‘Chill out. Go to bed.’”

Sooo... that's it. Some domineering mother calls 911 because her son is playing video games after bedtime and she can't control her offspring; then this non-article appears on a website devoted to eradicating addiction to drugs and alcohol, both horribly odious afflictions with which to live.

GTA!? Noooooo! Call 911!

This just proves how some people will never understand gaming; or for that matter, are simply unable to accept what is currently popular among young people. I understand that maybe you didn't grow up with video games, paranoid helicopter parents of the 2000s, but think back to the stuff YOU did as a child. That music your parents told you was the devil's work? You either stopped caring about it or you became a rational adult regardless of its "influences." The movies your parents told you would ruin your mind? Heck, some of those are considered cinematic classics by now. Every generation has something their parents freak out about that turns into a total non-issue about 15 years later.
How about instead of calling 911, parents either learn to grow a pair and control their kids like they did when I was a child almost 30 years ago, or they just "Chill out [and] go to bed."

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