Earlier today, a British TV show invited a mother on to talk about the effects Fortnite: Battle Royale had on her son. She spoke about how her son was active in sports and social activities until Fortnite came along and seemingly changed her son’s behavior.
The mother in the video blamed Fortnite: Battle Royale, but that’s not right. First, he’s ten-years-old playing a video game meant for ages 12 and up. Secondly, she says that his social interaction is being hindered. If that’s the case, just take the game away. That’s what the mother ended up doing, but the game should not be taking the heat for her child being addicted. Video games, just like television and films should be monitored by parents. Know your children, understand what they can handle, and act appropriately. Taking out your frustrations on a specific game is not going to solve anything.
As someone who has been playing video games since I was two years old (Super Mario Bros on NES was my first game), I’ve always seen the positivity that the hobby brings. As an only child who lived nowhere near other kids, and had friends who went away often, video games were often a haven for me. I spent hours playing Mario Kart 64 with my parents, and I would often play single-player games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Xenogears when my family didn’t sit down to play with me. Have I seen first-hand how addicting video games can be?
Yes. There were two times in my life when video games became very addicting. In 2004, when Halo 2 launched on the original Xbox, my friends and I all signed up for Xbox Live and spent months playing every weekend. The competition was intense, but the experience was thrilling. The second game that hooked me in for a long time was Destiny in 2013. I had major surgery a few days after the game launched and couldn’t leave the house for almost a month. During that period, I played the game a lot with my closest friends since I was confined to my house. My friends would come to visit, but we found it to be more enjoyable spending hours talking to each other and playing Destiny.
When I played Halo 2 in High School, my parents made sure that I took breaks, did all my homework, did my chores, ate with the family, and didn’t neglect my responsibilities. They wanted to make sure that a didn’t forget about the important things I needed to do. The only time that the Xbox was “off-limits” was when I needed to study for a test or if I didn’t do well on my report card. Even before high school, my parents had a set of rules for video games when I was growing up. During elementary school, I was able to play from Friday after classes until Sunday nights. I thank them for that because it helped me not to slack off. I was able to find hobbies, get fresh air, and walk around town. I lived in New York City, a place full of culture. I’m very appreciative that my parents wanted me to get out and experience what my neighborhood had to offer.
My parents cared and just wanted to make sure video games didn’t take over. They also made sure I only played “age appropriate” video games. Those ESRB ratings you see on boxes, well, my mom enforced that. I couldn’t play most M rated video games until 17 with a few exceptions. She let me play the Halo series because it wasn’t too gory and all of my friends had the game as well. I was allowed to play Mortal Kombat with the blood turned off or on very minimal. There was a shooter named XIII that was only rated for Violence that she let me play. My mother knew what I was mature enough to handle and that’s what she let me play. Games like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Ninja Gaiden, and God Of War weren’t allowed when they came out. Having played Vice City when I was 19, I completely understand and respect why certain games were restricted.
I’m upset that parents are quick to blame the video game for social and behavioral issues that their children are having. If I disrespected my parents when they told me to stop playing, you better believe they would shut it off right then and there. Parents need to take responsibility for what their children play and how they react. My biggest gripe is when I go to Gamestop, and I see a parent buying their young child an extremely explicit mature-rated video game. Luckily, Gamestop employees tell parents what these games contain, but it’s disheartening to see them not care and buy them anyway. When Gears of War 2 launched, I was on the line with a friend, and there was a long line of mothers buying the game for their kids in middle school. Why would they buy their kids such a dark, gritty, and violent video game? It’s not my place to tell them not to buy it, but I can disagree with their decision.
Parents should be held accountable for what their children are playing. If a child plays Grand Theft Auto V and then learns different expletives, that should be on the parents and not the title. There are ratings for a reason that should be enforced. It blows my mind that many parents don’t seem to care what content their children are being exposed to. Any Xbox Live member can tell you how many times they played a violent video game where a young person shouted expletives, racially, or sexually charged insults at them. It’s quite shocking at times. Where are the parents when children are interacting on Xbox Live? To make matters worse, Xbox Live is for people age 13 and up. It always sounds like the people yelling at me are way younger. There’s something wrong going on here.
I have the utmost respect for parents. I know plenty of people who are excellent parents (including fellow Enthusiasts) that monitor what their kids play, limit their game time, and would step in if something was negative for their child. My parents helped shape me while growing up, and I’m thankful for their guidance. As video games are taking the spotlight again when it comes to violence and social aspects, we’ll probably be seeing more reports on how video games affect people. I honestly don’t believe violent video games will lead someone to commit horrendous crimes, but I think that parents should be held accountable for how their children interact with the medium.
Video games provide fun, enhance critical thinking skills, strengthen the brain and you know what, games also help improve social interactions with others. Playing online has helped me grow closer to my friends, and they also helped to learn how to work as a team. Video games have so many positive impacts on people, and that’s what we should be focusing on. I think parents can still see the positive aspects that video games provide, but they need to be educated. It should be the jobs of writers and video game companies to be transparent and help parents understand how games can help their children. This isn’t a topic that will be ending anytime soon, but you know what, I think it’s time to help change the conversation. Video games are not and should not be controversial. As gamers, we need to help shape the narrative and get people to understand that video games aren’t the problem at all.
Andrew Gonzalez is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of Xbox Enthusiast. When not writing about Xbox, he’s usually reading comics, talking about Taylor Swift, and dreaming of the perfect Jet Force Gemini Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter. @AJGVulture89