Video games have changed dramatically since Mario saved the princess. Jay Snook talks to some parents about keeping their kids safe in the new world of gaming.
The amount of violence and adult themes nowadays is something that parents really have to keep an eye on when their kids go to play a video game on the Wii U, Xbox One and the PS4.
But it wasn’t always this way. There was a time in the 1980s and early 1990s when video games were fun, enjoyable for adults and kids alike and didn’t have all the gore, nudity and blood that they have now. Video games were out like Super Mario Bros, Legend of Zelda and Metroid, as well as Sonic the Hedgehog. These games were made mainly for kids, and had tough puzzles and bosses, but no violence.
Then there was the release of a video game called Mortal Kombat in 1992. This game had fatalities, lots of gruesome fight scenes and female characters in tight clothing. It set a trend that still exists today, where it was not only okay to have violence in video games, but it was fun and accepted by gamers young and old. It also started the trend of video games needing a rating on them, which all video games now have.
Paul Aguilar, 47, says, “I have three kids whose ages are 3, 6 and 8 years old. All three of them play video games. My son likes to play Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty Black Ops; my daughters prefer to play Nintendo Wii racing games. I don’t think it is appropriate to have violence in video games; there is no good reason for it. How many parents want their kids stealing cars, beating up hookers and killing cops?”
After Mortal Kombat, games got released like God of War, Grand Theft Auto 3 and Call of Duty, and these games were not made for kids. They have gratuitous violence, and God of War actually has nudity and adult themes in it. Not only does God of War have this, but the way Kratos the main character kills people is extremely violent. He rips off people’s arms, heads and is not a game kids should ever play.
Stephanie Macon, 33, says, “I have three kids whose ages are 7, 4 and 1 years old. My 7 and 4 year old play games on the Xbox, mainly the Lego games. I think violent video games are okay for the appropriate ages, but I do view war games in a more positive light than something like Grand Theft Auto, I don’t really like those games. There are a number of contributing factors, but the important thing is moderation and make sure it is age appropriate.”
Even Nintendo is starting to come out with violent video games like Wii U Zombies, Aliens vs. Colonial Marines and Batman Arkham City.
But some of the worst violent video games have to be arcade games like The House of the Dead. In this game you kill a lot of zombies by blowing off their heads, and get bonus points by firing quickly and blow their whole upper torso off. You also see many people get eaten alive or killed in this game.
“I have two boys whose ages are 11 and 5 years old.,” says father Ben Cox. “My 11 year-old play Minecraft on the PC and Skyrim on the PS3 and also play first person shooters on the Xbox 360. My 5 year-old plays mainly the Lego games, and World of Warcraft on the PC. It’s up to the parent to determine what type of video games their children play. It’s also the responsibility of the parent to teach right and wrong to their kids. If you can sit down with them and they understand the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior, than you’re doing right as a parent.”
So when it comes to violence and adult themes in video games, it is a trend that doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. The truth is it is getting worse. The amount of adult themes and violence is getting more graphic and now has themes of drugs and alcohol usage in them. In the new Grand Theft Auto the player can drink and get drunk, or do drugs and watch their vision get blurry.
The important thing to do as a parent is watch what your children play, and sit them down and explain to them the themes of the games and decide for yourself if they are ready to play them or not. If you do that, it will help them later in life and may even make you closer to them.