This is an open comment thread if anyone wishes to discuss the subject of the June newsletter.

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12 thoughts on “Discussion: Parents vs Children

  1. I’m not a parent and don’t plan on becoming one, so this whole subject is something I often totally forget. If I write a four-letter word on the internet a six-year-old might see it? That’d never even occurred to me, to be honest.

    It bothers me that even Minecraft – the loveliest, most child-friendly of games – can become unsuitable for children through online play. I guess the solution is make sure they only play with friends?

    Also very interested in the idea that it’s not just about you and your kid: that actually you’re part of a game/meme/media/parental ecosystem, and that exposing your child to something could potentially expose the whole school.

    I would have *loved* for my parents to let me play an 18 game when I was, say, 12, and I would have vehemently defended them against the police if anyone claimed it was neglectful. But, yeah, I was 12, so not the best judge. 😛

  2. I really went a little pale at the idea of people calling the police just because a kid had access to 18+ media. I guess my parents would’ve been jailed many times over.

    Of course I am also not a parent but I think the problem is that people are too sensitive. People say I’d feel differently if I had my own. I think if that does happen, I’ll be the mommy all the other mommies are mad at because I let my kids watch horror movies if they want to. When I was a kid, I was pretty scared of them, but I remember it was something that adults actually kept trying with me so I’d stop being scared. I remember being scared of the Thriller video, and Nightmare on Elm Street, and Poltergeist… But then again I was basically a baby.

    I’ve written articles about this before though, how I think parents should just play this stuff with their kids and everything will be fine. It seems like you take that approach, with Black Mesa etc. However, when I say that stuff, most people don’t read it, because moral outrage is so much more fun!

  3. James

    The Minecraft example felt like hype to me – we only ever play locally – but you can’t “lock” functions out, so once your children start becoming more autonomous, you really have to advise on that sort of stuff. Plus everyone goes online one day so you have to figure out when you introduce them to the Internet of Other People. There are children sandboxes of various forms and those might be a start I guess. Some of the things we have to advise children to do is not give out name, address or school in online environments.

    It’s the point at which you relinquish control – or they take it away – is where the problems start. You can’t control them forever. Parental locks only go so far.


    The newsletter was written somewhat for you in light of our brief comment discussion against TV Games Are For Boys. I wanted to expand on some of the issues that that post wasn’t really about.

    I used to have nightmares when I watched certain films and I was often to scared to go to bed. One of the reasons this is more of a problem today is that tech is freely available vs Ye Olde Times when you only got a TV when you got to a certain age. We’ve made the living room a gaming centre and the children do not have access to games or the Internet at whim, for now. This won’t last forever, of course.

    I worry I tend to underestimate the ages I was exposed to more challenging TV and films. It was a surprise to realise that I didn’t have home access to games until 8. My children started around 3 so my experience does not map properly. I’m technically minded, but I don’t have a comparable history. You can see how this can go wrong.

    So the two problems which we are not equipped for are (a) technology is more freely available and more open than it was when we grew up and (b) it starts at an earlier age.

    Of course, I live in a middle class neighbourhood which is far more attentive to aberrations of this kind. It’s often said the middle class parent is over sensitive and there’s some truth in that. It also ends up quite close knit so, of course, you can go your own way… but your children will wonder why they’re never invited over to play with their friends. Always consequences.

  4. True! The technology is so different. I’m talking about scary movies… because games weren’t at that fidelity yet. My first “scary game” was probably DooM and I was at least 12 by then.

    I wish I was closer (I mean in proximity, we’re out of state) to my nieces and nephews so I would be able to have more insight on this stuff. I really want them to come over and play games, is that so wrong? I do tend to recommend the most kid-friendly and safe games for their parents to get them.

  5. “I really went a little pale at the idea of people calling the police just because a kid had access to 18+ media.”

    I know, right? My kid just played some Knytt Underground this morning (while I wasn’t looking, even)!

  6. The “report you to the police” caused proper upset over here; sample comments under a Guardian article have phrases like “It shows just how out of touch Head teachers are” and “Absolute tosh. The parents are not in the know?” There were supportive comments also, of course.

    The Eurogamer piece was good at teasing out the heart of the matter behind the hyperbolic rhetoric.

  7. So I was going to joke about how I went to clean up a mess caused by Child 2’s unrestricted access to the sink, to find Child 1 playing “Where Is My Heart?”, and then I took a shower and came back to find both Children playing “Knock, Knock.” I told them they couldn’t play it because it was too scary and Child 1 said “Why?” and I couldn’t answer.

    Anyway I think pretty soon we have to have the conversation about not messing up other people’s saved games.

    I have a thought about “Where Is My Heart?” that is related to children (and to the current Starseed Pilgrim discussion) and one that isn’t (and to the old discussion about spoiling the player, I guess?). The thought that’s related to children is that that the current unobtrusive tutorial style so popular in indie games, where you pop up a “D” over someone’s head to mean “press D to switch to this character” and you pop up two space bars to mean “now you can double jump!” and you pop up an “A” and an “S” to mean “try the A and S keys now!”–that style, I say, is totally opaque to someone like a little kid who is not familiar with the conventions of what that stuff means.

    The not-related-to-kids thought is, you probably shouldn’t do something where dying reduces your score for the level, at least not in a game design like this, but if you do you definitely shouldn’t do something where you can’t restart the level without going back to the level select screen. God damn. Maybe this is an attempt to encourage the player to play more cautiously, watch how the ambient elements cross the panel boundaries instead of just charging off and getting killed, but “Make restarts consequence-free but annoying to perform” isn’t the right way to do that.

  8. Oh Matt, the whole accessibility thing is another world of hurt. I used to struggle with Proteus because 3D movement is impossible for small hands (joypad or mouse). Now Proteus is not a problem and both children are pretty good at Minecraft – but sometimes complex prompting and the like is completely useless for children.

    I got stuck in Where Is My Heart? somewhere pretty deep. I had some difficulty trying to “read” the game because I know it’s a deeply personal game for the developer. (I knowwww what you mean about dying reducing your score. I find that kind of obnoxious!)

  9. Was the level you got stuck on “The Old Forest” by any chance? I’m skipping that one for now–the game doesn’t do strictly linear unlocks which I appreciate.

    It looks like score is just score, if you know what I mean, so I guess I should just pull through and not be such a baby about preserving my score. I do wish it’d keep separate track of pink hearts and gray hearts, though, because I’m much more the kind of player that wants to get the collectables than the one that wants to do a perfect run. I find it hard to read mostly because it’s hard to read, too. And I’m not sure that I’d figure out the personal bits if I haven’t been told them. But the loading-screen text fragments are a lot shorter than in Braid, which is good.

    Gosh I’ve derailed this!

  10. I just opened up “Where Is My Heart?” to check and, yes, The Old Forest was the first to stump me. I clearly went on to explore several levels after that, but most of them were left incomplete. I just had another crack at the The Old Forest and conquered it in about 5-10 minutes. I just find it very difficult. It’s not obfuscated for the sake of it – half of the battle is figuring out how the shards fit together and visualising the space in your head.

    Don’t worry about derailing; I almost called this post “Open Mike”!

  11. I also conquered The Old Forest in about 5-10 minutes. I’d done everything but the last thing that was hard to figure out–and it was as simple as missing a jump, or maybe it was that I hadn’t put the space together enough to see that there was a makeable jump that would land me where I needed to go. Which is that half the battle.

    Earlier I’d finished the main game with my kids watching. On the Family Trees level Child 2 said, “Now he doesn’t have his mommy and daddy.” Er, I trust you’ve finished by now? Spoilers.

    Speaking of Starseed Pilgrim Child 1 is really into it now, in a way that probably fulfills Droqen’s vision of it as a game you mess around in and then maybe discover some other mechanics. He calls it the digging through blocks game. He has to get me go gather seeds for him if he wants to build in the hub though. Today I was doing that with a pretty big seed store and I got to three stars right near each other and a triple star not far from that but I brought my seeds back to the hub world the way I was supposed to. The sacrifices I make!

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