Gaming from a Mother’s Perspective

Hey all! This is definitely not going to be one of those blog posts where I try and prove a point or debunk a theory, just trying to better understand the viewpoint of the person watching the person playing video games. In short, I’d like to know what my mom thought about when she saw me playing various games on various consoles throughout the years. However, to begin to grasp what my mother (and potentially yours?) felt, I have to share a bit about my own history with gaming.

As is the case for some of you, I’m sure, it all started with a Gameboy Color, fully loaded up with Pokemon Yellow. It so happened that I wasn’t even supposed to get the system in the first place, it having been an impromptu birthday gift from my babysitter. My parents had already gone though one child obsessed with gaming (an obsession that plagues my older brother to this day, his 28th birthday!), and they were loathe to go through another. Yet, by the moment I first told Professor Oak I was, in fact, a boy, it was already too late. I’d gotten my first taste of video games and I wasn’t going back.

Time passed and so did the progression of my gaming systems. The classic Playstation, the Playstation 2, the Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, 3DS, PSP, PC of course, etc. all informing different aspects of my gaming career at different points in my life. One constant throughout was the supervision of my mother. When I settled down to play Kingdom Hearts as a ~10 year-old kid, what was my mom thinking? I’m sure the usual gambit of “is this game violent,” “will this have some type of adverse effect on Zander,” etc. etc. crossed her mind, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she seriously wondered how the games I played could shape my identity as a child and later the adult I could become.

Because my mom didn’t play the games herself, she could only rely on the snippets she saw walking past whatever screen I was playing on. As one might expect, this circumstance led to several times where I had to explain myself. “The guys don’t actually die, mom, they just get knocked unconscious” was a common one, and I could think of a thousand more if prompted. One particularly bad incident occurred around December 23rd, when my mom walked in just as I got a pretty impressive headshot in Counter Strike. I was then informed I would have a “very sad Christmas” were I to continue playing the game.

Of course I was simply annoyed at the time, but looking back on these incidents, I actually err more on the side of my mother. A growing child has a malleable mind, and she was doing the best she could to try and both encourage the positives of gaming while shielding me from the negatives. Maybe I could just be missing the mark entirely here, but I think I’m pretty close.

What do you guys think?

0 thoughts on “Gaming from a Mother’s Perspective

  1. I had similar experiences with my mother and video games. She once made me throw out a copy of Star Wars: Battlefront 2 because I was playing from a first-person perspective. On the other hand, she had no issue with me playing Age of Empires 2, where the mortality rate is technically much higher.

    The concern I see most commonly with parenting and video games is exposing a child to explicit content at too young an age. The ESRB ratings help with this, but I would claim that it’s the parents responsibility to teach children how to deal with media portrayals of violence. Blood and brutality are an inherent part of films, TV, and video games. I believe parents’ time is better spent teaching children how to reconcile between engaging with violent media and living a respectful life. I consider this to be a more beneficial approach then attempting to act as an all encompassing censor.

  2. Growing up, I had a somewhat similar experience to yours, but instead of limiting my video game choice, my parents limited the time spent playing video games. First of all, during the weekdays I was absolutely prohibited from playing any video games. This didn’t mean I didn’t, however. I would wake up extremely early to play my gameboy under my covers before anyone else was awake. This method was actually extremely effective, as I was only caught once. Even though I was technically allowed to play video games on weekends, they would keep a strict time log of how long I spent playing, making sure I kept under an hour and a half per day.
    I’m not entirely sure why their rules concerning video games were so strict(they barely regulated my computer or television use at all) but I think it has to do with the fact that they could not see any educational value in my playing video games. Of course, I would disagree with them, as many of the games I wanted to play were puzzle-oriented. I definitely believe that some parental regulation of video game use is beneficial, but not to the point where one is completely depriving his or her child of something enjoyable. Personally, in retrospect I’m thankful for my parents’ regulations, as I think they forced me to get my priorities straight early in life.

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