Best of 2010 – Family Values

First Published: May 27 2010
Voted By: Lee
Reasons for Vote:
Few reasons why this is one of my favourites: it went up not long after I started looking after the Twitter and Facebook accounts for the site and one of my friends Gem (she also left left a comment on the article) had shared it on her Facebook wall. This sparked up a conversation between her and one of her friends, her friend was basically being like the mum from the start of the article and just flat out refused to listen to Gem’s reasoning. It was the first time I’d ever seen some debate between two readers of the site. I also love this article because Ben dosent go on about how you shouldn’t let your kids Play GTA and if you do your a bad parent blah blah blah. Instead he explains that its a great way for kids to learn and a fun way to spend time together. It’s ultimately my favourite article of the last year though because it’s heartfelt, written with love and it really comes through.


Parents beware... these kids may grow up to prefer wearing vile clothing like the disgusting pyjamas you forced them to wear as children!

They say that for a male the hardest job you can have is that of being a father whereas, in my opinion, it’s more of a job of keeping your nerve when people are judgemental because you are a father. It’s bad enough these days just taking a child into nursery – if you haven’t got two breasts and a set of ovaries then, straight off the bat, you’re the enemy. It’s even harder when the subject of games drops into the conversation.

“I’m not really a fan of computer games” she says,

“Really? Well me and Jnr enjoy them together quite a bit” I reply,

“It’s not good for their health, all those guns and killing people” is her retort,

“It’s not all that bad, it’s only like that if you don’t pay attention to age ratings on games, similar to the ones films have” as the tone of my voice starts to flicker from normal to ‘get me the hell out of here’,

“I just don’t trust them, you never know what they’ll be playing” … her final phrase before she trots off, probably to discuss how Victoria Beckham lost 0.75 inches off her left buttock with the new Radish and Cauliflower diet, exclusively covered in OK magazine.

There's no reason that parents can't spend time gaming with their kids, if handled responsibly, and it may also aid in their teaching. Such as dragon slaying.

Usually I’d have made no attempt to even spark up a conversation with the person, let alone one about games, but when Junior makes mention that he wants to go home and play “Daddy’s car game” an explanation had to follow, although the alternative of going out boosting cars every night probably would have gone down better.

It’s surprising because if there’s one thing the latest generation of consoles has tried to establish, it’s that gaming is very much a family orientated pastime, just look at Ant and Dec – how many families have they crashed in on so far? Being a dad is one of those things that nothing prepares you for. There are toys on your desk, no spare batteries for your 360 controller and router cables being unplugged during the last round on Team Fortress 2 – there should be a handbook for this kind of thing, but then it’d probably be taken away in an effort to save paper and the world.

Growing up in a gaming orientated household, you’re bound to get drawn to the pretty colours and strange sounds emerging from various types of screen, but is it a bad thing? Contrary to what the Daily Mail will have you think, I’d say not at all. By all means do I not take Junior for a stroll around Liberty City or Jacinto, but there are ways that gaming can be good for those younglings growing up, and indeed in an educational capacity as well. I happen to have a son who loves cars or, for that matter, anything with a set of wheels. These seem to get him all excited and full of boyish squeals that, for most of us, the only way to replicate would be with a firmly placed kick to the crotch.

Burnout Paradise looks good enough for even the most hardened graphical whore, so you can imagine what Burnout Paradise looks like to a toddler. In Star Wars style fashion when Obi Wan first gave Luke a lightsaber so too did I pass down the controller to his miniature hands and, as I did, a new gamer was born. There was no glowing light or angelic chorus, but I’d like to think that deep down a Mario coin collecting sound effect spontaneously played. Once we got over the whole “how to hold a controller” issue, it didn’t take him long to start driving around Paradise City… usually backwards… but driving none the less, yet it was the educational things unknown to him that he was soaking in, the first being colours.

“What car would you like to drive today” I’d ask,

“That red one” he’d reply excitedly.

The red car and the blue car had a race... all red wants to do is stuff his face. And barrel roll. And flat spin.

Sure enough, it was indeed a red car. Soon after, his faithful Spot the Dog ‘Teach Yourself’ series of books found themselves waiting on the sidelines as, more and more, he sampled the tastes that gaming had to offer, picking up valuable knowledge far quicker than any book had managed to date. Forza, Fuel and Burnout Paradise had become virtual class rooms, colours were quickly lodged in memory and, within the space of just a couple of weeks, he had picked up all primary and secondary colours as well as a good deal of the tertiary ones too. It was learning, but it was fun at the same time, something which I believe is of great importance to anyone’s educational experience, be those preschool children or young adults venturing to University.

It didn’t stop there however, with focus now on learning his left and right, which was quickly picked up especially when the result of failure was usually a rather broken car which then had to be driven by daddy to the garage to fix it, probably a bit too early for map reading skills after all – besides, it was now one of the few occasions that I’d actually get to play myself. There was a whole host of educational values that he picked up; accompanying colours from Forza and Burnout was currency from World of Warcraft – where he’d sit and watch as I auctioned off my latest breastplate of ancient dragon nipples that I had found the night before.

How is it possible that a freaky, rendered, Lego representation of Major Arnold Toht is actually LESS creepy than the real character?

It just goes to show that, in this day and age when people are far too quick while reaching for the tar brush, they forget that gaming does have another side. Sure the gun toting, murdering, prostitute hiring filth is still there, but the same can be said about film and TV. You reach a certain time of day and TV begins to change, you wave goodbye to seemingly mundane programs only for things to start getting a bit more risky as we hit the 9pm mark. The same goes for games, and I have a walking talking miniature version of myself that is proof of that. He’s three and a half years old now and gaming is a big part of not only his hobbies, but also for his father and son bonding time if you will.

While I am rather observant to what he can and can’t play, it’s great to see him finding his gaming feet. We started off simple but now titles like Lego Indiana Jones are being disc twitched (Copyright Lee Williams©) along with Kung Fu Panda and the Viva Pinata series – it’s like an evolutionary tree of a gamer. He has access to the household Nintendo DS which, with Brain Training and other similar games, has helped his numeracy skills as well as writing… not to mention Nintendogs which, while we’re not able to have a living breathing dog at the moment, is a great way for him to learn how to be with our four legged friends, as after his evening meal, he’d often chime up:

“Time to feed Bruno and Daisy” referring to his Dalmatian and Beagle.

Long before Rare got the inspiration, and long before the graphic chip was invented, parents thought nothing of letting their children smack the shit out of an animal effigy with a stick until the insides fell out. Something that's conveniently forgotten.

That’s not to say his life revolves solely around gaming. Far from it. He still does all the things any young person should be doing, catching spiders, playing in the park, basically all the stuff a lot of people would class as ‘normal’, it’s just that I’ve added a bit of technology to the mix. It’s brought a whole new love of music for him, as he sits trying to play Guitar Hero or belting out tunes to Lips. A love of music that has carried over from gaming to everyday life as he’ll randomly stop and bust a groove at totally random intervals such as at the checkout in Gamestation. He’s also now a guitar addict and can regularly be found rocking out with his air guitar to the radio or TV.

As we sit side by side on the floor, controllers equipped, playing our way through our latest adventure I sit back and take note: I have a Co Op partner for life and, as I watch him gradually gain more concept of what is happening, his hands slowly becoming more instinctive to not only Xbox 360 controller but mouse and keyboard as well I just sit back… watch, and smile. As the age old saying goes, note to myself “That’s my boy”.

So yeah, all this talk of how games are bad for you, how they’ll corrupt you… sorry, I don’t buy it.

Last five articles by Ben


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  1. [...] you want to read more of it then you can find the republished version over at Gaming Lives.Tripple Ones0.0/60votesVoting statistics:RatePercentageVotes60%050%040%030%020%010%0 Tags: [...]

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