My son is only a bit over two years old, but already my wife and I have discussed (i.e. argued) about one of the most important aspects of raising a child. I’m talking about the one thing that will most completely affect the quality of my son’s childhood experience: how much and what kind of video games he gets to play.
To give you an idea of how seriously I take this issue… when my wife was pregnant, like a lot of expectant parents I went through a “nesting” phase, where I was compelled to make sure that everything in my home would be perfect for my new son. However, in my deranged mind, “nesting” meant compulsively downloading ROMs and buying old games off eBay, to make sure that my child would be able to play any classic game he desired.
I’m convinced that raising a child in a house with video games is—like most aspects of parenting—a delicate balance. If I don’t allow enough gaming, I run the risk that we might lose a great common interest. Some day I’ll ask him to join dear old dad in a quick Deathmatch, and he’ll say he’d rather watch tennis, or some other thing I find equally offensive. If I allow too much, then I run the risk of my slacker son still living in my house at age 35.
|I want to make sure my son reads the classics.|
So, I realize my best bet is to have a plan. Actually… what I really need is a curriculum, a way to give my son the essentials of a classic gaming education, without ruining the experience for him. I thought I would propose a few strategies, and see what people thought:
- Make sure that he has a variety of games available to him, but let him play whatever he wants. This seems like a bad idea, if only because I couldn’t bear the embarrassment of raising a son who never played the original Metroid and doesn’t know why “the princess is in another castle”. Besides, we’re not running a Montessori school here, so we’ll laugh this one off and speak no more about it.
- Let him play through the games by generation. I could choose a “required reading” list of 10-20 games for each major console. He wouldn’t be able to graduate to the next console (e.g. NES to SNES) until he’d completed (or at least played a bit) each game on the list.
- Alternatively, he could play through the games by franchise. For example, if he wanted the newest Zelda game, I could ask him to start at the first one and work his way up to the present.
- A more laid-back approach might be to just have “retro gaming sessions” where once a week or so we make sure that we go back and play some old favorites.
- Do any of the above, but make sure I avoid raising a sociopath by saving the most violent video games (like most FPS’s) until he’s old enough. As a bonus to not raising a serial killer, I also get to wait as long as possible before my son is able to kick my ass at Call of Duty.
Like I said, I need a plan… any comments/suggestions?
PS – If you’re from DSS, I have no son and this is just satire.