The debate of what games are appropriate for what age is an endless one, continually marred by the subjective nature of one’s culture. And culture is one word that does get thrown about a lot in this Country. Keeping that in mind, it’s very important to realize that diversity in this country throws in another dynamic.
My father for instance was an Age of Empires and a general RTS addict. He’d take the four year old me and sit me down next to the computer. I’d dribble and drool every time he took down a castle and whole cities. The violence and power was something that appealed to me as a four year old who didn’t know any better. The phrase, “’Let ‘em burn’ was also something we threw around. (Taken from the tar throwers in ‘Stronghold 2’) Now, you don’t see me going around throwing tar and lighting people on fire because of the violent nature of a game. My parents always made sure I was well conditioned to know the difference between reality and the other reality, which existed in my computer screen. Most my argument centres around subjectivity, I cannot exactly give a degree about how much control parents should hold as this differs form person to person, neither can I say what exactly makes someone a “good” child. But what I can say is this, Video Games have played an important role in my life and I believe it’s given my brother and me good role models; these role models are as credible as the ones present in the books I’ve read.
Now, that culture word I spoke of. Throughout our historical discourse, there’s one pattern, which I can notice – one that leaves us impervious to change. Now, videogames seem to be present in the realm of something new for many parents, who seem to dislike change. Video Games are something very new, even now for a generation who was conditioned by the television, VCR and cassettes as a primary mode of entertainment. Most technological and cultural changes after the 90’s have come in due to liberalization, and are from the west – making many parents uncomfortable about changes brought in due to video games.
A lot of parents would trust the Television as a reliable source of entertainment, and that’s because this was one of their alternate sources of amusement. For this reason, it isn’t hard to see why parents wouldn’t mind their children sitting for a good deal of time watching what they please. Many parents disapprove of MTV shows such as “Splitsvilla” and much other frivolous reality show that deal with actual realities. Imitation is something which many children adopt at a very young age and is acknowledged by many as a horrific morality system, one which only leads to waste. Blatant patriarchy, and constant eve teasing as well as ways to simply provoke others is dramatized and praised, which isn’t something your children wouldn’t want to see. Many people however watch it and realize that this is all to appeal to our most primal of instincts and don’t adopt this behaviour. This is something that you can’t say for sure will happen to a child. So it’s important to show this to them and make them realize that these are the sorts of people we laugh at because they’re so trivial, mundane and cheap. However, there is brilliant television and it is wrong to dismiss the entire medium because of one stupid show.
Now, I know I’m going to ruffle a lot of feathers by saying this, but the same could be said of GTA’s incessant swearing. But this was my first introduction to the harsh realities of life as well as a sort of incessant oppression. I was also introduced to rap and a lot of good music thanks to this game, but I wouldn’t let my ten year brother old play it. There’s an age limit to what content is appropriate when and that is something I am a staunch advocate of and hold closely. (mostly because my parents followed it to the letter) But I’d get my parents to buy me the occasional 18+ games by simply telling them not to worry about it. But getting people to trust in something new is always going to be difficult. And that is why it’ll take time for the conservative Indian family to embrace the gamer in their children.
I believe that parents need to give this medium a fair chance and realize that there are wonderful worlds present in this medium as well. There is a certain maturity one needs to hit in order to play the appropriate video game. But till then there’s a plethora of games he can play. I firmly believe that Video Games increase the potential for imagination and opens new worlds for people. As well as Alan Moore and Franz Kafka held mine through books. And definitely as well as Ingmar Bergman or Kubrick could. It’s new medium, and deserves a fair chance. And much like Television or any other medium, needs a good guiding hand as to what’s right and wrong.