posted by Joe Anaya on August 4th, 2014

My kid has been bugging me for months to let him get Call of Duty for his PS3. We have had a long-standing rule against shooter games in the house. Well, really shooter games for him. (I’ll admit I like shooting Nazi’s and terrorists as much as the next guy.)

When I was a kid, the most violent video game was Frontline. You would maneuver an 8 bit solider up the screen shooting “bullets” and lobbing grenades at enemies as you clunked up the screen. No blood, no cries of pain, in fact it wasn’t completely obvious that you were a person.

Now days though, with the advance of technology and imagery, games can get pretty realistic and graphic. So, it seemed an easy decision to make. A kid in grade school doesn’t need to be exposed to that amount of violence.

At that age, only a couple of his friends even had shooter games. One was a kid whose parents didn’t care if he had the shooter games and one was a friend who had tricked his mom into buying a shooter game before she had realized what she bought. Per my request to the parents and my kid, the boys were always able to find other things to do and even other video games to play, like Lego Star Wars or Mario Kart racing games.

By the way, both games are pretty fun (except that damn rainbow track). Although I’ve noticed that I drive a little more aggressively after playing Mario Kart.

But as the boys got older, more and more of them started owning shooter games. I agreed not to embarrass my son anymore and allowed him to play shooter games at his friends’ house. But there were still no killings at our house; I even got rid of my copy of COD, Black Ops just to not be a complete hypocrite. And that worked through middle school.

But now my kid’s heading into high school and is constantly pushing for Call Of Duty. I was starting to buckle under the pressure. I didn’t want my kid to be the only house that didn’t have a game “everyone else” plays. I would explain how exposure to violence desensitized him, blah, blah, blah. He countered with he “know’s it’s a game and not people.”

Finally, I had had enough. I decided to call an expert, Matt W.s wife. I’m not exactly sure what she does, but I know she has a PhD in human development or family psychology or some combination or variation. But what was important was that she would have irrefutable facts based on peer reviewed scientific data about the effects of violent video games. My kid agreed to take her word as gospel “as long as she’s on speaker phone. I don’t want you interpreting her words.” Fair enough.

She starts off pretty strong. “There’s clear evidence that exposure to violent games creates more aggression.” She kept going with other negative effects. She commented on how it also affected girls despite the lower sample size. And then she dropped, “it negatively affects everyone, including adults.”

“Whoa, let’s stick to the topic,” I interrupted. Well, after some reluctance, we still don’t have shooter games in the house, and apparently I’m not allowed to play Mario Kart anymore.



File Under Mr. Cool