Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Little Girls Play "Halo", Get Over It


My kids play Halo 4. One is eight and one is ten and they have a ridiculous amount of fun playing with each other and with their Dad. I don't play with them only because I am terrible at Halo. I've also been schooled by my kids enough times to know a lost cause, but they love the game. They're girls playing a first person shooter, and if I get one more "look" from another parent who disapproves, I'm going to poke their eye out with a stick.

Right now, every parent I know is debating what they'll get their kids for Christmas. There are a lot of lofty items on those lists from ponies to iPads to XBox 360s so choices have to be made before the shopping can be completed. A lot of my kids' friends have Wii consoles and they all want an Xbox 360 instead.

It's hard for most parents to understand because they see a console as a console as a console. Gamers know that's not true, and kid gamers are no exception. They hit an age when they want to play games that they can't get on the very kid-centric Wii. And one of the biggest reasons parents are citing for their interest is that everyone wants to play Halo.

And without fail, every parent who's told me this follows the statement with a cringe, an eye-roll, and something close to a look of horror.  It's at this point that I tell them my girls have been playing for ages and it's no big deal.


They look at me, smile, and kind of agree, but within minutes their body language tells me they clearly think my girls should be turned over to the state. As politely as possible, they'll tell me that Halo is not for kids even though their boys want to play and they're shocked that I let my girls play. This is the poke their eyes out with a stick moment.

Now, to be clear, my girls don't play online. They team-up for Forge and play against each other in Deathmatch and it's hilarious to watch. They're happy, healthy, well-rounded girls. Gaming is a part of their life, not their whole life, and I know exactly what they're playing. It's a game with sci-fi soldiers and guns. So. What.

As I watch parents that struggle with the decision to let their boys play and only consider it because all the other boys at school play (isn't that the way with everything a kid wants) I wish they'd just check the game out for themselves. See what it's about and make the choice that's right for their kids.

Even more, though, I'd like to see them not look absolutely horrified that I let my girls play. The fact that they're girls does not matter, so just stop. If you haven't taken the time to play the game or to try to understand what it's about, don't judge my decision. And please, don't judge me just because they're girls.



Or, you know what, go ahead and roll your eyes and give me that sideways look. In a few more years when all the kids are old enough to play Halo or the latest hotness online, my girls will be totally pwning your boys. It will be a wonderful teachable moment for you to explain that you shouldn't stereotype or underestimate someone just because they're a girl.

10 comments:

  1. I play Halo on the PC. In fact, I kick it old school, because I'm playing original Halo (for the fifth or sixth time; I get good value from my games!). My boys, 9 and 6, are fascinated, but my wife won't even let them watch me play - I have to sit in another room.

    Could you explain what play value you think Halo possesses?

    In my wife's defence, my boys complained that Monsters Inc was too scary and the older one complained of nightmares for a week afterwards.

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  2. I think i just might leave this: http://www.ted.com/talks/daphne_bavelier_your_brain_on_video_games.html here.

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  3. i thought readers might apreciate if i left this: http://www.ted.com/talks/daphne_bavelier_your_brain_on_video_games.html here.

    Found it quite interesting myself and it might give people light precinct omega some arguments ;)

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  4. Nicole, I think it's awesome that you let your girls play Halo. There aren't enough girl gamers as it is, so kudos to you for letting them play!

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  5. No criticisms here.

    My wife and I do plenty of gaming and it was inevitable that my daughter followed suit. She's ten, so I appreciate your "they're not online" distinction. We've made it pretty clear that we severely limit her time online until she's at least 13 so she's covered by COPA and other such laws.

    Maybe you remember me saying that gender roles and segregation is strong, at least as far as toys for kids. The parents judging you probably haven't had enough kids in their life firmly breaking those stereotypes. Again my daughter is sweet, cute, but very tough. She's the girl that bumped her head, got a shiner, then took a picture of it herself. Or fell off her bike, got a gash requiring four stitches, and then showed all her family and friends. Those that know us understand that's just how she is and I'm just flat ignoring any parent that would dare give me grief for it. With all kind and very due respect, those parents judging you would judge my wife and I all the more. Whatever. We do our best.

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  6. My daughter has been playing video games since she was small. As a teen she played World of Warcraft, and played pen and paper role playing games as well. She is now 25 and a well rounded person, with a daughter of her own. I can't say if video gaming helped her but as far as I can see it didn't hurt her.

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  7. Having 9 year old and 5 year old boys, I'd file this decision with those on movies, books, and playing outside without supervision. It depends on the exact nuances of the activity, and the exact nature of the child as to whether it's suitable. It should always be your choice as a parent and therefore the person who knows the child best of anyone.

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  8. I play Halo and other video games with my girls 10 & 12 coop all the time. It gives us time together and we talk and they get to learn about working together for a common goal. I like that they are interested in something I am. Its not just video games we also play music together, cook and many other things. The online community is them bad part so I keep them away until they are ready for it and then hopefully they have the tools and skills to not only be good but to deal with the immaturity of those people

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  9. I like a web-series called red vs blue, which uses halo, and I have posters of it on my wall, so baisicaly I have halo posters on my wall. i don't lay the game, though I would like to, anyway after putting them um in my room my mum orders me to tear them down since it's 'boys stuff' and she is ashamed other family members might see it. She also compared it to her getting a 'male hairstyle and masculine clothes'
    I think this is an unfair all I am doing is supporting a show I love, and since when was it wrong for a girl to like halo to the point where their parents are ashamed.

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  10. There are some studies that say because children cannot sufficiently differentiate between virtual and real-life experiences, FPS should be avoided because it can lead to dulling of moral and phyiscal sensitivity to violence. If I remember correctly, there is a direct link between the level of abstraction and the effect, i.e. there is a continuum from Tetris on the one hand (no problem at all) to BF:Black Ops 2 or similar on the other (pretty nasty).

    Funnily enough the effect seems to be stronger with early teens (12-15) then for kids. Puberty messes with the brain a lot...

    Other than that, I can only speak for myself: from the age of 12 until roughly 4 years ago (20years in other words), I played every shooter there is, from C64 to PC & PS3, and I am a perfectly sane person. (well, my wife might object. But then she isn't here, is she?)
    I never got into a fight, never hurt anyone physically, never felt the urge to kill someone.

    So if you think your kids are doing fine, and - more important - you talk about their experiences with them, I think there are bigger issues to solve than kids playing video games.

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