OK, it’s done now: my slightly peculiar view on those nasty computer games and their effect on our kids…..
Love your patience,
I said it before: whenever I don’t mind where my next bit of inspiration comes from, it usually surfaces just like that, in a splash of A-haa! This morning was no different, with me just doing dishes after the morning update and in the process waking up my kids as well. Being the avid gamesters they are, they ran to claim the two big computers, to work together in a quick game of Shaiya during breakfast. So as I made them that, and heard them communicating with each other about this server-based web game that has them residing in the same virtual world, an idea began to bubble up in my mind like champagne…
I grew up completely in sync with computers, from even way before my very first commodore 64, right upto the present. Did my fair share of computer games too, but noticed something about them on the way. You see, I developed a non-preference for violent games first. It was not like I didn’t play them at first, but they tend to change you. Back in the early days of my career, I ran home after school or work just like the average nerd, to play the very first ‘3D’ first person shoot-em-ups like Wolfenstein 3D:
"Oehh, BAD BOY!", I hear some whispers out there, but it wasn’t like I actually enjoyed the killing as much as the winning. Wolfenstein, if anything, was a game of gaining freedom, not killing men and animals. People have termed these games bad, just because some unfortunates are said to have taken their virtual experience and shoved it in the face of the real world, but like we all know the media is only too quick to milk that cow dry. I’m quite sure the view presented here will never make it into any news paper, because it tells a way more positive story, that leaves ample space for hope.
"We’ve lost our kids to the virtual world!" is another often heard complaint. "Well DUH!", most kids would say. They experience this freedom of being able to be exactly what they want, like they’re supposed to, and the parents want them back in the restricted zone, where there are all kinds of controls? You’ve lost your kids alright, but they aren’t going down because of it! Instead you’ve lost them because they started on an equal footing with you the day they were born, and being born into the virtual world they adapt way quicker. Way quicker than me even, who got on the bus right at the first stop, and never got off! (No not that, I DO have two daughters you know?)
But I notice the progression in my own development, and reckon theirs is similar, only faster:
- I had friends on my block, they have friends everywhere. As a result they don’t look at racial differences like I did back then.
- I learnt fairness on the street, they work it out with online friends during the games. Even Shaiya, where the fighting seems like the main event, has an extensive system of barter, and many different races working together, far more widely spread than just humans.
- Violence used to have strong emotional repercussions for me at their age. They see violence as an element that belongs in games, not in the real world.
- Negative stuff that comes to me on this subject is always found in the media, but never turns up as first hand experience of me or my girls and their many friends. In fact, Laura confided in me that her new school, which she started this month is even far more civilized than her previous one (and that even didn’t sound bad)
- I eventually outgrew games, partially because I figured out that competition had been nudged out of me by life’s circumstances. Even non-competitive games ended up no longer drawing me in.
Boring character? Perhaps. But if I must give a reason for outgrowing them, it must be that all games are essentially rule systems. As long as you care to observe the rules, they are fun. Just like my ladies love to play Shaiya. That’s Laura standing, Melanie sitting in front of her:
But back in my days, you just had the rules of the games themselves. Either that, or I just never got into the cheat system in the first place. Basically, it tells the kids that rules can be bent or broken, just like the Matrix so eloquently stated. And just like it is true in the real world. My kids use cheats often, even invent their own workarounds that the designers of the games never thought of: they simply behold the rules, kick it to the next level like Einstein suggested, and work it all out there. Nobody taught them, they were simply born with it!
And in there, they switch characters just like we do out here over time. Fifteen years ago, I was Dre’ the gamer, who worked off his frustration of a day’s work at home on Wolfenstein. My ladies have several games going, with multiple personalities on each server. Shaiya even has a completely different Light World and Dark World. Only too bad there is no direct link between the two: to go from Dark to Light, one has to restart the game, and connect to a different Server. "There’s your clue, Sherlock!": In real life, we also do exactly the same here on Moorelife:
- We all connect to a server of some kind, whether we call Him or Her God, Allah, Buddha or a few thousand other names.
- Notice, that we connect to the SERVER, instead of serving the One…. (who in essence is the largest Server around).
- Depending on the server we serve, our conduct will be largely according to his or her rules. If not, we fear we’re out!
- No matter who we encounter, we cannot be sure they are connected to the same server…
- And the moment we transcend the rules of the server, we end up looking for the next higher server!
In the end, I simply see all of us transcending all rules, and ending up where we’re supposed to be: linked to the One Server, and fully trusting it will serve us as we serve it: To the best of our Abilities!
As you see, any event is neutral: If I can ‘twist’ this into a positive experience, so can any kid! And they do: they even sometimes stage fights between themselves, as this screen shot proves:
Back in the old days, we had our various sources of experience way further apart. In these games, kids are socializing with their friends both near and far, as well as total strangers from across the globe. During those sessions they make friends, trade (true, not always fair), fight for survival, and they band together in many ways for many purposes. Sure, not every experience is positive, but the one positive thing about it, is that it is a game! And as long as they haven’t learned yet that Real Life also has no end, it’s as good as any. Because believe me, their neural nets will be far more close-knit than ours ever were!
OK, open for questions,
Love your curiosity,