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.
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.