Right and Wrong

Jessica Chobot on The Nerdist Podcast:

This is not a kids (necessarily) hobby anymore. When you’re selling game consoles at like 600 bucks a pop and games at 60 bucks a piece (or AAA titles because you’ve got your indies and they’re a little cheaper, but you get my point), that’s not just a child’s hobby.

Chris Hardwick replies:

And not only that, but I think the inherent value of , just like you said with your dad, is how you guys bonded. That’s how Chloe [Dyskra] and her dad bonded.

Chobot:

Totally. But you always hear the shit stories about, “Oh, kids are shooting up because they play too much Call of Duty.” Well, what about the father and daughter relationship that grew…

Hardwick:

It all boils down to your responsibility as a parent. And video games can be amazing if you’re a responsible parent, if you’re engaged. If you’re not a responsible parent, video games are not the thing that fucked your kid up. Something was going to get that kid sooner or later; (joking) whether it was backward masking on record albums or Devil worship…

Chobot:

Elvis dancing in front of the television…

I will stick with this until the day that I die: There is no excuse for parents to complain about games giving their children bad ideas to go do awful things because there are parental controls on the consoles, there are parental controls built into your TVs now, there are warning labels on all of your games, you have to have a license to even purchase them.

Yes, if they really wanted to go out there and get it [they’ll] find it. But if they are trying that hard to get on something you’ve told them “no” to multiple times and you have no idea what the hell is going on, then that lies in your lap, nobody else’s.

Hardwick:

I also feel like “things,” like games, “things” are inherently neutral. They don’t have any value except for the value people place on them. If someone has the right value system going into something, they’re not going to interpret that thing as, “this is what I should go do.” They need the right system in place in order to process those things.

My parents let me watch all kinds of stuff when I was a kid. The reason I became obsessed with stand-up was because my parents didn’t censor, I mean I couldn’t watch porn … but the idea that if you have good values going into something you’re probably going to take it in a better direction than if you didn’t.

But I’m talking out of the side of my face because I don’t have kids.

Chobot:

Just to play Devil’s advocate, I’ve only had one time where I’ve played a game that I walked out and the first thing I saw were targets. That would be Grand Theft Auto.

That’s when I was like, “Whoa. Now I can kind of see the angle of that argument.” But still, you have the morals in check because you were raised properly, and also the fact that I’m thirty-something-years-old and I can play a game like that and know the difference between right and wrong.

I’ve had similar feelings after long sessions with GTA. I’ve also had similarly profound feelings after watching movies, if not more so. A good adventure movie can make me want to adventure. A good motivational movie can pump me up. A good action movie can give me fantasies about speeding around traffic or doing impossibly dangerous stunts. Nevertheless, I don’t engage in dangerous or immoral behavior because I know the difference between right and wrong.

Is it possible that movies offer heightened emotive states due to their passive nature versus the participatory nature of video games? Does being able to participate in virtual acts of running, jumping, and shooting allow us to vent those fantasies rather than creating curiosity after simply watching?

On the note of parental controls, willingness to learn new technology is a huge factor in parenting. That said, tech developers also have a responsibility to provide clear and accessible controls for their audience. Not because older generations may struggle with implementation (heads up, many millennials are now parents), but because consumer UI should not be difficult to use.

Last bit: ET scared me. The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is dark. Gremlins appeared to be a children’s movie but felt creepy and disturbing. I look at movies like Super 8, Transformers, and the new TMNT reboot and have to wonder if “children’s” movies are slowly harkening back to the darker tones established in the ’80s and early ’90s.

I spent a lot of my early childhood watching movies like Alien, Predator, Fire In The Sky, Conan the Barbarian, and Mad Max. I’d like to say that I turned out to be a pretty decent human being.

Alas, I too am talking out of the side of my face.

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