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Games people play — but not the guys

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published July 18, 2007, thehive.modbee.com

What is it about video games that makes them kiddy crack cocaine?

We don’t have one in our house and, after our experience with Big Guy the other night, we never will.

Dad and I were visiting a neighbor, chatting with her in her kitchen as her teen-age daughter played The Simpsons Road Rage in the adjoining living room. Big Guy sat down with the daughter, and that was the last we saw of him for a good half hour.

Oh, we heard plenty: “Hey! I’m winning the race! Oooooohhh! I crashed again!”

We practically had to pry the controller out of his steely grip to get him away. Maybe he’d like to play her guitar instead? No dice. How about her sister’s drum set – something we ordinarily avoid at all costs. No go. Even the allure of a dog in the back yard wasn’t enough to get him to go outside willingly.

Luckily, my friend is much craftier about these things than I am. Her daughters are teenagers, after all, so she’s had longer to learn the tricks of the trade. She snuck around the corner, toward the electrical outlet.

The game suddenly quit working. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, she told Big Guy sadly.

But I want to crash the cars!

It was a revelation for my husband, who was quite a gamer in younger days. He still can drive me nuts in Santa Cruz, because I know if he heads to the vintage Frogger console, he’s not going to come up for air for a while. He was eager for the guys to get old enough so he could play at home with them. Honestly, I think it was just his excuse to someday buy an Xbox.

But I already had seen too many parents fight the battle to even want to go there. One of my sisters had to ban her younger boys from video games when their grades took a tumble. One semester off the sauce and they were on the honor roll. That earned them their games back, but only on weekends.

Until the other day, Dad hadn’t realized the differences between the Pac-Mans and Froggers of his youth and the gee-whiz technology of today. In his younger days, gaming mainly took place in arcades. Now, it can be on your television and computer, ready to suck you in for days.

And in mere minutes, a game had turned an active, talkative little boy into someone happy to stare goggle-eyed at a screen. Dad was stunned at the transition.

There’s been much debate lately about whether excessive gaming is a true addiction, in the psychiatric-medical sense.

I’ll let the experts battle that one out. I’m just happy Dad and I are in agreement on this one:

There will be no games, and, therefore, no battles, in our house.

Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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