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rebuttal: Aaron McKenna: Parents need to get game

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November 12, 2005 6:37:28 PM

Being a parent, gamer and politically aware, I don't think Mr. McKenna has done any actual research before writing this article. Has he spoken with any parents, politicians or game designers prior to making gross generalizations like "The problem that many parents face is the simple fact that they know little or nothing about videogaming" or "The dilemma faced by most parents is that they can't tell the difference between Grand Theft Auto and Civilization IV"?

The undefined "antivideogame lobby" he has referred to does not exist as a monolithic entity but is a loose connection of religious groups, parent groups and self-serving politicians who don't have a coherent message. And in most cases, none of these groups is opposed to or expects to "ban" all videogames. They are opposed in most cases to the objectionable games like the GTA series (which deserve their reputation).

While many parents may not recognize "Civilization", many are old enough to have played the original and to have encouraged their children to play it as well (which mine do). While I understand that this was an "opinion" piece, please have facts or at least considered opinions prior to blathering that "By highlighting the GTA's of this world specifically and demonising the industry many parents are being moved to throw out the baby with the bathwater in totally banning videogames in their homes ".

While not religious myself, I live in what others have generalized as the "Bible Belt" and I cannot point to one family that has "banned" video games from the home.

Mr. McKenna, by lumping parents or the "antivideogame lobby" into pigeonholes like this, you are doing exactly what you are excoriating them for doing; judging all by one example.

Games like GTA and the like should be kept in back rooms along with "adult videos". The problem is not that parents don't understand, it's that it's sometimes very difficult to control what children do when you try to balance giving them freedom to explore and trusting them to make good decisions with a parents desire to protect and defend their children from both physical and mental harm. It's not just a matter of "looking over their shoulder" either, sometimes they aren't in your house! Before you place blame, talk to your parents, your friends' parents, etc.

Just as I wouldn't expose my children to "nude mud-wrestling" or "midget tossing" or "fight-club like events" or even bullfighting, as these are crude, exploitative and morally and personaly degrading, I don't want them to "enjoy" the gratuitous virtual violence in GTA which sends all the wrong signals to a group of impressionable young minds. Will it lead them to violent behavior as adults? Most likely not, but why encourage enjoyment of hate and violence? What parents want, I think, is more help and understanding from a video game industry that is focused strictly on "sales at all costs" with no thought of what may be "inappropriate" for young children or even teenagers and young adults (older adults are too far gone to worry about!).

Always remember, there's a bigger picture outside your personal "space".

btw: I assume you meant "indicative" as opposed to "vindictive"?

More about : rebuttal aaron mckenna parents game

November 13, 2005 9:47:45 AM

It's nice to see even with the new forum some stranger logs on and posts a complete disagreement with the latest "gaming" article that no one cares about.

One of these days I'll be surprised and the stranger will completely agree!!! Now that would be different.
November 14, 2005 8:46:27 AM

Hello

Because your piece is coherent and well written I think it's worthwhile to respond.

First of all, the debate what is a right age certification for a product like GTA, is rather difficult. I agree with you a 12 year old should not be exposed to stuf like that (other parents may disagree though), but what about a 16 year old? I can agree with a certification identical to the typical explicit violent action movie, out there.

I do have a problem with the way a certain part of the population looks at explicit nudity and/or sex. Anything containing the slightest explicit sex reference is labeled mature (18+) and major retailers (online and offline) don't even want to sell such games in their line up, which greatly reduces the accessibility to such games. This I find wrong, and seriously, I think the easy available violence on television, movies and in games is more of a threat to our youth than the occasional glimpse of a woman's breast.

So while I can live with limited availability of games like GTA because of their mature content, in terms of violence, I do hope your attitude is not based on the hype around the hot coffee mod or anything. Limiting access of adults to GTA because of bad influence to youth is dubious if you compare it to other material out there that they can readily get their hands on, and so just picking on GTA is unfair. A more general debate on what is good and what is bad for youth is required, covering violence, sex, use of mind altering substances, etc and their presence in leisure products like tv, movies, games, and books.

In the end, final responsibility is with the parents as it is highly unlikely we will ever come to an agreement on the issue that everybody feels 100% comfortable with all of the time.

The least that can be done is getting some serious (broad) scientific studies done on how these materials are influencing people, children in particular, when they're exposed to them. I am not aware of any such studies published so far, possibly because it is fairly hard to set up such a study but that's not an excuse not to do it.
November 14, 2005 9:19:28 AM

Man, don't be encouraging this sort of debate.
November 14, 2005 11:20:16 AM

why not?

If he's trolling, then at least it was well executed and deserved a response. I'm not even convinced he's trolling.
November 14, 2005 12:16:38 PM

BigMac:

Wolfy's "head-in-the-sand" fear of a debate aside, that's not what prompted my post. Mr. McKenna's rash generalizations and unsupported assumptions required a response. The unfortunate fact of the matter is there are too many people like Wolfy on one side (the type who hopes the matter will just go away if he closes his eyes) and the fanatics who want to regulate everyday life.

Your point is well taken regarding "sex vs violence" and the other media's influence. I couldn't agree more. It's not the fact games like GTA or even Call of Duty are violent and or "racy" (not COD, of course), but the context in which the violence or sex is portrayed. GTA is gratuitous, it revels in bad behavior and rewards anti-social attitudes. Call of Duty and the like are violent, to be sure, but in a historical context. A fine line, but a distinct one!

There have been a lot of studies done on violence on TV, etc. and a few have been started on video games, but common sense should tell parents what to do, if indeed they have the opportunity to make that decision for their children. That was my other point, the ready availability of GTA and other games of the kind in many cases takes that decision away from the parents.

By the way, just because I haven't posted before, doesn't mean I don't follow the forums. I just choose to post when the issue is worthy of a response or I have something to offer other than Wolfy's flip and dismissive posts that add nothing and show a decided disrespect for others. That's closer to the definition of trolling than my initial post.

Wolfy needs to take to heart what Mr. Lincoln once said: "It's better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt".

Now THAT'S inflammatory!
November 14, 2005 1:01:23 PM

Have you realized that every time someone writes a gaming article, immediately following it someone gets in here and writes up the exact same type of 'review' on the article? They're never in agreement with the article.
It's always a new account, it's always written in the exact same style as all the previous ones.

I'm almost sure it's 1 person who keeps making new accounts to post this crap so THG keeps buying or paying for their articles.

It's getting old and annoying.. and yet I keep glancing at the stupid things because I hate knowing I might have missed something worthwhile.
November 14, 2005 1:29:58 PM

Quote:
Mr. McKenna's rash generalizations and unsupported assumptions required a response. The unfortunate fact of the matter is there are too many people ... on one side (the type who hopes the matter will just go away if he closes his eyes) and the fanatics who want to regulate everyday life.


Frankly I'm not sure exactly what your problem with McKenna's column is. The fact that it does not apply to you, does not mean it does not apply to many others. In fact I know of quite a number of parents personally that let their young pre teen kids play GTA and have no idea what it is about. When I talk to these parents about it, they're not even aware that there is such a thing as ratings for games. They still think that videogames are pacman or similar and as such they're really way behind what's common ground in gaming nowadays. In that setting I completely agree with Aaron. Many things are available in shops, and it is parents responsibility that their kids don't buy the wrong stuf. Where I live btw, most shops do not sell rated games to children below the rated age. Most kids get these games from their parents (by vast majority)! Not from an older friend, or game pushers (in analogy to drug pushers). And no, I have not done an extensive study of the parental population, but neither did you. Like you, I only have my own experiences to go on, but mine are not limited to my personal situation either.

Quote:

Your point is well taken regarding "sex vs violence" and the other media's influence. I couldn't agree more.

This position we share with Aaron, then, as he has professed it previously as well.

Quote:

It's not the fact games like GTA or even Call of Duty are violent and or "racy" (not COD, of course), but the context in which the violence or sex is portrayed. GTA is gratuitous, it revels in bad behavior and rewards anti-social attitudes. Call of Duty and the like are violent, to be sure, but in a historical context. A fine line, but a distinct one!


GTA should be restricted to those who can make a proper distinction between fantasy and reality. Being a bad boy in virtual reality can be fun but should not have any real world consequence. Note that an aged rating system really does not help here because there will be even adults who are not capable of making that distinction. Should that be enough to ban the game or the genre alltogether? Not in my opinion.

Secondly, I find the glorifying of war violence far from innocent as you seem to imply with your historical context. Although the use of force may be necessary in such a context, it is by far not as clean as these games seem to picture it (although they do show dismemberments aptly). War is ugly business, and so this should be known to those allowed to play such games. Again age rating probably will not help but then again, I do not have a valid alternative available other than individual parental judgement.

Quote:

There have been a lot of studies done on violence on TV, etc. and a few have been started on video games, but common sense should tell parents what to do, if indeed they have the opportunity to make that decision for their children. That was my other point, the ready availability of GTA and other games of the kind in many cases takes that decision away from the parents.

With regard to tv and movies, there aren't that many (that I know of) and most of them are rather inconclusive or contradictionary. Common sense and a good judgement on where your child stands in his development certainly helps, but Aaron is addressing those that have NO clue as to what gaming is about and he urges them to pay attention to the issue. Personally I could not agree more. Once more, I have no real idea of what your pet peave is with this message, other than that it does not seem to apply to you personally. Do you really think that most parents do know everything about gaming?

I do not agree with you that GTA is too readily available as it is/was. I can agree with a mature rating for GTA (accepting the imperfections of the current rating system to boot), but having a mature rating is a serious issue for availability in the US and this is wrong and a retailer induced/enforced infringement on the first amendment of free expression. This is where my issue with sex comes from (but in this case we seem to have agreement). I really think the rating system is abused in the sex specific case. This is much less of an issue in (large parts of) Europe where mature material is made readily available to adults by large retailers.

As with your personal business with Wolfy, I don't want to be in the middle of that, you guys sort it out, yourselves.
November 14, 2005 1:32:06 PM

Quote:
Have you realized that every time someone writes a gaming article, immediately following it someone gets in here and writes up the exact same type of 'review' on the article? They're never in agreement with the article.
It's always a new account, it's always written in the exact same style as all the previous ones.

I'm almost sure it's 1 person who keeps making new accounts to post this crap so THG keeps buying or paying for their articles.

It's getting old and annoying.. and yet I keep glancing at the stupid things because I hate knowing I might have missed something worthwhile.


Actually I noticed that, although there was a difference in this post as opposed to the previous ones (in my opinion), and it does not warrant a boycot of a good debate if there is an opportunity to do so.
November 14, 2005 1:38:09 PM

Riser more or less answers why I feel jaded when I see a post like yours. While I don't deny you might be making decent points (I've only speed read the pointless main article and your pointless rebuttal) I'm fed up seeing a "gaming" article being posted only to have a new account sign onto the forum and post a rebuttal of the points made in said article.

Also, while somewhat hypocritical in of itself:

The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.
- W. Somerset Maugham

Stick that up your *** and inflame it.
November 14, 2005 2:26:33 PM

I agree with BigMac and Wolfy, nothing wrong with a good debate but I can remember the days when 'Tom's Hardware Guide' reviewed hardware and I kinda miss them.
November 14, 2005 2:37:48 PM

Actually you will find it was Bigmac who was happy to debate. I personally hate those "gaming" articles.

THG used to have lots of cool stuff on their site. Like massive explanations of what RAID is etc. Their CPU and even more so their GPU tables are invaluable as far as I'm concerned nevermind the quirky articles like using liquid nitrogen to O/C a cpu. It's just lately a new article focusing on some aspect of gaming seems to be posted every second day and to be quite frank I'm bored of them.

As a direct side effect some new account signs up because they feel so strongly about it and posts a thread in the games section about it.

Dammit we need more threads about actual sodding games not bloody half assed "rebuttals" on what's a fairly simplistic premise.

That battlefield2 thread was motoring along nicely until the forums got switched over.

I need to go out and buy some games and make some threads, try to bring some life back in here.
November 14, 2005 3:10:03 PM

Quote:

Frankly I'm not sure exactly what your problem with McKenna's column is.


1- Mr. McKenna makes unsupported claims regarding groups he apparently knows nothing about.
2- As an "Op-Ed" piece, it deserves a response. Is his the last word on the subject?
3- Parents, (not sure if you are any), are not, on the whole, oblivious. In some cases they choose to be, in others they choose poorly, but in many cases, the choice is made for them by third parties who have different agenda (game designers, governmental or religious institutions, etc).

As for the appropriateness of posting this here or the necessity of the debate itself, that needs to be taken up with THG, not me. They post opinion, they provide the "forum" for response. If anybody is bored with it, find another thread! Why annoy everyone with negativity and an "Oh, I'm so bored and we shouldn't talk about this or that" attitude?

I fully support THG's effort to expand the audience and their offerings. I've been visiting here for years and STILL find the site amazingly informative and helpful, now more so than ever!

You all sound a bit too young to be "stuck in the mud".
November 14, 2005 4:20:51 PM

You know, it pissed me when I saw that BF2: Special Forces is already out.. it's been what? 4-5 months and they already have a new one out they want you to buy? Where the hell are the add-ons for it? I know people who are still out buying the game.

It seems like they put BF2 out and now they're trying to turn a dollar selling what should be an add-on, not an expansion.
November 14, 2005 6:59:37 PM

Is it actually out?

Does that mean ppl are gonna slowly move towards that or will there still be loads of servers for plain BF2? I only got BF2 a few weeks back, I have no interest in getting an exp atm
November 14, 2005 7:24:19 PM

It's pre-order, pre install thing.. I still can't understand this preorder BS too.

It's coming out before the end of the year.. sometime soon I think. I just logged into BF2 yesterday for the first time in a week or two and I saw it as the little news thing.
November 14, 2005 9:20:04 PM

Quote:

Being a parent, gamer and politically aware, I don't think Mr. McKenna has done any actual research before writing this article. Has he spoken with any parents, politicians or game designers prior to making gross generalizations like "The problem that many parents face is the simple fact that they know little or nothing about videogaming" or "The dilemma faced by most parents is that they can't tell the difference between Grand Theft Auto and Civilization IV"?


Quote:

Frankly I'm not sure exactly what your problem with McKenna's column is.


1- Mr. McKenna makes unsupported claims regarding groups he apparently knows nothing about.

I think he knows something about parents, politicians and game designers. If your only problem is that he is talking about the anti video game lobby as an entity then I think you're grossly overreacting. The issue at hand is how to handle the access of children to violent (or sexy, but I added that aspect in this discussion this time) games.

Quote:

2- As an "Op-Ed" piece, it deserves a response. Is his the last word on the subject?

No, and I do not think he intended it to be the last word. However if you want to debate the issue lets debate the issue and not the way it is packaged.

Quote:
3- Parents, (not sure if you are any), are not, on the whole, oblivious. In some cases they choose to be, in others they choose poorly, but in many cases, the choice is made for them by third parties who have different agenda (game designers, governmental or religious institutions, etc).

I am a parent and I am a gamer. I dont think it was ever said that parents are all oblivious, however many of them are, and to deny that is silly. I see it all around me anyways, maybe I'm unlucky but I doubt it.

I disagree wholeheartedly with your statement that the choice is made for parents by third parties. That is just plain silly, and you have not given any proof or circumstancial evidence that this might be the case.

I would appreciate it if you could react to some of the points I made in my previous post, instead of repeating your two points without adding additional information or proof.


Quote:
You all sound a bit too young to be "stuck in the mud".
I hope that applies to me as well :)  I'm already that old, that I like it when someone calls me young.
November 14, 2005 11:49:52 PM

I'll agree that the article was very "politically correct" and all that, but the basic idea behind it (that most parents honestly don't have much of a clue, and that regardless of your opinion on the GTA games, they are causing problems for the industry as a whole) was okay.

But the politically correctness of it all did make it inaccurate.
November 16, 2005 9:32:49 AM

BigMac seems to have done a pretty good job of fighting my corner in this one, so thank you very much and I'm glad we agree.

For the record, debate is a good thing, and to Wolfy specifically (along with anyone thinking along the same lines) I would point out that Tom's Hardware Guide has expanded into TG Publishing, and whilst THG remains the flagship publication, TwitchGuru is part of the overall company. It's not a direct part of Tom's Hardware Guide, more a branch that came off of it. Generally speaking the two can be seen as separate entities… for example I'm not complaining that Future Publishing writes PC Gamer UK and a magazine on fast bikes.

This being the web allows for crossover and for links to be posted to TwitchGuru, but if you don't like 'em then you don't have to read 'em, and THG and the hardware related spin off sites are still outputting as many creative and insightful technology articles as before.

As for someone creating a new account to review games articles with, it's certainly an interesting aside… though don't look at me, I'm on staff so whether I write one article or ten articles they still give me the same number of jelly babies. Man I wish I'd asked for money…


Aaron
November 16, 2005 12:14:14 PM

Quote:
Man I wish I'd asked for money…


I asked my company to pay me in willing females. They wouldn't :( 


By the way, fair enough with the links explanation. One tends to forget one is reading a web page.

But I reserve the right to be an asshole to those people who make new accounts to post about the articles. That drives me insane.
November 16, 2005 12:37:32 PM

Quote:

But I reserve the right to be an asshole to those people who make new accounts to post about the articles. That drives me insane.

I don't mind :wink:
November 17, 2005 10:54:50 AM

Quote:
Man I wish I'd asked for money…


But I reserve the right to be an asshole to those people who make new accounts to post about the articles. That drives me insane.

I was not aware you're restricting yourself such :roll:
November 17, 2005 2:01:48 PM

Well you're an exception as well ya big gobshite. :) 
!