Thursday, February 7, 2008

Knowledge is power . . . . . . I hope

This post is brought to you by the fine folks at Microsoft, who, in their brilliant marketing campaign of the "Mature" rated game Halo, have sucked in our Burger King and 7-Eleven patronizing kids. Thanks so much - your advertising so blatantly geared toward my 8-year-old has opened up avenues of communication that I was going to put off for awhile. Your ever-striving push toward that almighty dollar has removed this evil procrastination from my available options, and plunged me deep into straight talk of blood, gore, dying, first-person-shooter, and foul language with my young son. Tonight was a fun night, to say the least.

Chance has been asking for weeks if he could play the game Halo with his friend Gunnar - who is a teenager. My first question was to ask what it was rated. "M" for Mature was his answer. This is the movie equivalent of "R" in my opinion - not intended for kids under 17. So, based on the rating, my answer was no, at least until I could research the game for myself.

Life has been busy, and I haven't been in front of my computer to check into the reviews on this game. Tonight, Chance finally cornered me, and asked me to look it up. I started out on the Focus on the Family review site called Plugged In - it gives reviews beyond just the rating, so you can make a good judgement for your family. Well, I have used them for movies, but didn't realize they don't do video games, so we ended up at Common Sense Media. Another great parental tool, I am finding.

Anyway, the site gave some great insight as to why the "M" rating, and in the end stuck to the "over 17" suggestion. There was a Common Sense review, several adult reviews, and several kid reviews. It cemented my "NO" decision, at least for the near future.

Chance was understandably upset. We got to do the "just because they do it in their family, doesn't mean we do it in ours" talk, when he brought up the friend-of-a-friend's 5-year-old brother that supposedly gets to play. He tried comparing it to other games that were seemingly much worse, so we got to have the "just because it's better than something that's really bad, doesn't mean that it's good" talk.

When I went into the bathroom to check on Colton's tub progress, Chance perused the ratings site by himself. These are the "kid" ratings that he highlighted to try and further his cause:

"Don't listen to the common sense rating 17+, they obviously haven't even played any of the halo games. This game has lots of blood but it is no more than you would see in a T rated game, it's also blue, purple or a red-purple color. there is occasional swearing in the game mostly by your teamates who use them when shooting the aliens. I would still give this game an m rating although even younger kids would be able to handle it. My uncle's kids weren't allowed to play it at first and they are 7-8 years old and after i showed him what was in it, he let them play it. So if you don't let your kid play it at least get it for yourself and let them play multiplayer with you because there is no swearing and if any very minimal blood. I was reading the commonsense rating and yes you can determin someone is dead just by seeing them fall and the body disapering, but the blood and bodys just make it more realistic also making it cool."

"I'm sorry, but you parents should not worry about your kids having games from the Halo saga; they shouldn't be M! This game is M for violence and blood and gore and language. Yes, the violence is questionable, but it's stopping a cruel and evil alien race! And the language isn't even that bad. They might say "damn," "bastard," and "sh*t," a few times, but trust me, they'll hear worse at school. On the other hand, online gameplay could be offensive to some, considering there is no control of people's language during gameplay."

Anyway, as you can see, they didn't really bolster his argument. I was impressed with his well-thought points, and that he made them respectfully, without yelling, whining, and throwing a fit. So impressed that I wanted to give in (just a little) to reward him somewhat for handling the situation so well. But, I didn't. In the end, things broke down just a bit, with Chance thinking that I never listen to him, and also claiming that those people at the rating place have probably never even seen the game and just want to punish the kids. Yeah - that's it.

But, as with any situation, some good has come out:

  1. Chance is showing his ability to think through an argument, gather points, and respectfully present and agree or disagree.

  2. My babysitter, Tina, is on the same page as we are - we also had a lengthy phone conversation tonight about Chance's permissions to participate in or watch games like that. It's so great to be a united front, and know that he is getting the same instruction when he's at her house as when he's at home. Thanks, Tina!

  3. I found a new review site that I will use for games in the future.

  4. I know in my heart that we are doing the best we can to raise our boys.


Anonymous said...

It seems my Mom gave you a couple of speeches out of her old play book. At least no one got grounded, 17 weeks was a long long time! Music or blood and guts the argument is the same across generations. The result is the same too, the parents win. "This time" Chance is thinking and I thought.

I gotta wonder if God really forgets or if he just kind of sits back and lets what goes around come around. Look out for the next 15 years, here it comes! I've earned it, but your gonna suffer right along with me.

I am the only hell my Mom ever raised, so are they.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Wow, Heather. This post is really good. I appreciate the issues you addressed. I liked the part where you said, "We got to do the 'just because they do it in their family, doesn't mean we do it in ours' and the "just because it's better than something that's really bad, doesn't mean that it's good" talk.

Colton and Chance are lucky to have you and Matt.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

make that blessed.

Barb said...

Congratulations on your diligence. In my circle of friends I am the one everyone else checks in with. Am I going to let my daughter attend _____ party? Am I going to let my son go to ________ movie? Am I sending my kids to school in ________ weather? It is a lot of pressure for me.
It was refreshing for me to read about your research and consideration, not relying on what the other families on the block are doing.
(I found you through Jane)

Darla said...

You are awesome.. Where do you find these sights.. Thanks!!!

I had a brainstorm the other day after you told me about those chips made from vegies. (they are good).. Adrian turned up his knows but ate them.. Elijah liked them. You need to do a product reveiw..once a week would be cool but even one every couple weeks.. You have no idea what I will try because of what you think of it. And you know I hate going out of the box but knowing you've tried it makes all the difference in the world... You could be so much help to us in blog land :) (Really, I'm being serious)!!!

Hope you had agreat weekend!!

tina said...

i wish i could get my son to obtain the reasoning skills rather than the "world coming to an end melt down" skills. he is only 5 and is getting better, but geez! it sure is difficult when other "life isn't fair" in the kids' eyes.