Bad Parenting: The Diablo Debacle

This essay was originally posted on JohnnyBGamer, and re-posted with permission of the author.

As a dad, I struggle with trying to discern what types of video games are appropriate for my son and I to play. I have to remind myself that he is only six years old. Despite being a competent player, he isn’t one of my friends, someone who can make content decisions for himself. The little guy is my son, so I have to make media choices for him.

diablo-iii

Sometime last year, I made a bad decision–more like a ton, but this is just one example. Despite an all knowing parental voice telling me that playing Diablo 3 with my son was not a good idea, I proceeded forward. He loved the game! We found ourselves criss-crossing the map hunting down bad guys. Monsters that would burst, giving birth to electric eel-like monsters. All writhing in pixelated bloody glory. We were having fun. I wasn’t being a good dad.

I ended up having to confess to my son that I had been wrong. Diablo III was not a game that him and I needed to be playing together. I apologized. He cried. He wanted to battle monsters with his daddy. I assured him that there were plenty of other games that we could play together. He asked when he might be able to play Diablo III. I told him that he could play when he was able to understand exactly what is going on in the game.

This was one of those parental failure/redemption moments. I want to encourage other dads and moms out there to consider what types of games they are playing with their children.

  • Is the content appropriate?
  • Does the game’s worldview run contrary to beliefs one is trying to instill?
  • Are you just playing the game because you want to play it, ignoring the voice in your head telling you that you need to stop?

Being a parent that is open, honest, and willing to admit mistakes allows your child to see you as real. That is a win-win in my book. Picking age appropriate media, another win.

About Bryan Hall

Transplanted from the land of sun and surf to a place filled with pine trees and sweet tea, Bryan Hall is a man who has experienced God's grace. Wanting to influence the digital landscape with the love of Christ, Bryan writes from the junction point of faith, life, and video games. You can read more of his writing at his blog, johnnybgamer.com.
  • Andrew Johnson

    So I played this game with my 8-year old son, and wife. It was a lot of fun, and I felt that the idea of righting wrongs in the name of heaven, fighting for justice, and defending the angels was a great twist. There really wasn’t a lot of stuff I found offensive or sexualized, it really seemed like a great balance between hack and slash fun, with a purpose, and a game that wasn’t detrimental to him. He still asks to go back and play it.

    • Bryan Hall

      Andrew, thanks for the comment. Something that I am constantly struggling with, as a dad, is wanting my son to grow up faster. Diablo 3 is a fantastic game. One that I can’t wait to share with him one day, when he is ready. Just aren’t there yet. Happy to hear that you are gaming with your family. What other games do y’all play?

      • Andrew Johnson

        There aren’t too many that we play together, my son is usually pretty content with watching me play single player campaigns, as he fashions cardboard weapons and armor while acting out his own story. We do enjoy the occasional game of NHL though. He just doesn’t like losing.