Monday, April 29, 2013

What the What?

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The Smarty was home this weekend. It was a short visit, but just having him around for a couple of days feels like a cause for celebration. 

We miss him like crazy.

He had some bonus dollars to a local big box electronics store, so he decided he'd take the boys and buy them a new game for their XBox. The only reason they got an XBox was so they could play Minecraft with their nerds friends and talk to them at the same time. Before that, they had to play Minecraft on the computer (which they still do) and talk to their friends on the phone.

So. Very. Lame.

Anyhow... Saturday morning we went to breakfast and to buy some groceries, then ran to the electronics store to shop for XBox games. This is the XBox aisle in the store. There were tons of options to choose from.

Well. There were tons of games. And as long as you are a big fan of shooting people, there were tons of options to choose from.

People. I realize my boys are growing up, and that one of them is technically a teenager, but when I started reading the descriptions on the backs of the cases marked "T" for "Teen", all I could think was, "No."

Here's what I saw...there was a basketball game, a football game and a tennis game. Fine. No problem. My boys just aren't into basketball, football or virtual tennis.

Then there was the chainsaw massacre by a half-naked, busty woman game. And the heavily tattooed and scarred ex-military man with an AK-47 game. And the stealing cars and running drugs game. 

How about the skateboard game? Well, the advisory panel states, "Blood, drug use, crude humor, offensive language." So, no.

But there's a racing game! "Crude humor, offensive language, suggestive topics, nudity."

I don't understand what's happened. I realize that times have changed since I had my Intellivision, folks, but is this really what we've become? A bunch of crude-talking, drug-using, gratuitous-violence-wielding people? Over 100 games on the shelf, and more than 90% involved shooting up either guns or heroin. The other 10% were sports, which would be awesome, except apparently no one plays sports without suggestive overtones or foul language.

We ended up with a Lego Star Wars game (which they already have for the Wii) and an Avengers game, in which the characters fight each other, but there's evidently no blood or naked women. These were the only two games on that entire aisle that I could even consider.

And it just made me sad. 

It made me sad that our children are exposed to so much violence, at such a young age, that it isn't shocking to them. I don't believe that video games cause violence any more than I believe guns kill people. 

People cause violence. People kill people, with guns and without.

But when it's clear that we've turned a corner to a world where the graphic and realistic-looking killing of "people" has become commonplace, it makes me hurt. The world is a violent and scary enough place for kids without adding this on top of it.

I realize that I'm in the minority, and that all my kids' friends have these games and play them. I realize that those kids are most likely not going to grow up and become the kinds of people those games portray. But I just can't do it. I'm sorry, guys...I just can't.

I would rather you miss out on what all your friends are doing. I would rather you be mad at me for making you miss it. I would rather you grow up completely shocked and horrified at what people will do to people instead of blasé and jaded when a bomber sets a backpack full of explosives down at the finish line of a marathon, or when you hear a news story about a murder downtown.

I want you to be disturbed when you hear of a robbery at the local drugstore. I want you to be disgusted when women are objectified. I want you to be dismayed to see what illicit drugs really do to individuals. I want you to be devastated by the evil that people can subject upon other people.

I want you to be like your father, who agrees with me.

I want you to grow up, understanding that life is a precious gift and that there are no second chances at it.