Gaming To Blame?

Yeah? So’s your face!

The success of PUBG has in turn spawned an even larger success in Fortnite. Following a mediocre financial reception to their survival-craft-zombie-horde-defence-cooperative-action-shooter (actual genre. Fact), Epic games saw it fit to add a Battle Royale mode. Since then the game has crushed all expectations and sports one of the largest fan bases ever achieved in gaming, catering to the casual and core markets alike.

But here is where things turn a little sour. All successful games come under criticism at some point and end up with a large target strapped to the back. Mainstream media and day-time shows love to stir up some of that brown stuff that usually hits the proverbial fan.

The difference this time, it’s not the typical rehash of old arguments. It’s not Gran Theft Auto or Call of Duty being scrutinised for its depiction of real-life aggression/violence or crime, no no. This time it’s the addictiveness of gaming in general and Fortnite is “apparently” the culprit. Using the greatly popular title as a scapegoat for antisocial behaviour in our children.

Fortnite‘s battle royale mode launched on a free to play model last year, in fact I would argue that this is responsible for around 80% of its player base. Now when you have a multi-platform internationally successful title thats free to play you can expect a large amount of youngsters enjoying in the fun. And this is exactly the problem …”supposedly”.

So I’m gonna throw an image your way, an image grabbed from the social media account of a prominent morning tv show here in the UK. Which has been a staple of getting ready for the day for decades …and I mean decades.

I apologise, I truly mean no offence …but, just look at it. No doubt the most offensive item you’ll see today. I’ve come across this argument twice before and both times I’ve failed to coalesce or articulate my own counter argument. Not because I couldn’t think of any reasoning but because these arguments got a little heated if I’m being honest. No matter what would say, all I would receive is blind rhetoric or refusal, statements based on a shallow understanding of Fortnite and a dismissive view of video games in general.

So my initial spat would be “they’re children stop them playing” or at least something like it. Only to be verbally slapped with the greatest answer known to man. Oh it’s brilliant, stupendous. Ends all arguments and works in so many situations …ahem, “You don’t have kids” they say.

Well, “So’s your face!.” Right? When someone says something daft to me I cannot help but reply with a brain fart of equal magnitude. Me not having kids has no relevance, the fact that your child has anger issues when not getting his/her own way or withdrawal symptoms when not playing games is the problem here.

Yet once again the media turns it’s attention to video games in attempt to shade them in negativity. Children of the world are not the problem here. Games of any genre or platform are not the problem here. Even the media are not the problem with their half cut news, purely created to incite misdirection away from the real issue. Parents. Parents that fail to understand the art form and the restrictions in place to protect our youth.

Let’s make something 100% clear, it’s not Fortnite’s fault – or any other game for that matter – if a child plays it too much. It is not a child’s fault if their behaviour changes when they aren’t able to play. Just like most things in life we like, gaming can be addictive and moderation or boundaries must be put in place for a healthy balance.

Would you blame food for the reason your child started gaining weight? Of course not, you would educate yourself and then your children and set restrictions to protect their health. Sweets, chocolate and fizzy drinks are addictive but we don’t let our children indulge on them all day. So why do we do it to games?

The Xbox 360 was the first console on the scene to introduce parental controls. To many this just seemed like a pointless addition …”it’s just a few games, my kids will be fine.” But the reality that’s slapping us in the face now demands you look at these controls much more seriously.

There is a ratings board out there for games, just like the movie industry and it’s no less serious. Using parental controls built into consoles as standard these days you can stipulate which rating is appropriate for your children – as a whole or individually. You can set which movies and TV shows can be seen, how long your children can use the console on a daily or weekly basis and whether or not they can access Xbox Live at all.

I’m an adult (honest), I love video games, it is my passion and hobby. A career in the industry would be a dream come true. Often I wish I could play games when I can’t, wether it’s just life getting in the way or I’ve decided I cannot play right now, it doesn’t matter. The point is that moderation comes naturally to me because I was taught how.

Don’t paint gaming in a negative light for faults elsewhere. Stop this ill-thought crusade, attacking something many either refuse to take seriously as an art-form or refuse to admit fault. Educate yourself on what your children are playing. Educate yourself on how you can guide your children’s gaming sessions for the better.

There are a few problems in games and just as widespread, such as underage gambling in the form of loot-boxes paid with real world cash, games made by white supremacists and other hate groups. These problems lay with the distribution platforms and publishers in both cases. I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to let a game about shooting kids at a school release via Steam but it arrived there none the less.

Rather than tackle the real problems, mainstream media and politicians will always look for the answer that suits them.

Nobody wants to admit the fact that bad parenting is at the root of the “Fortnite Addiction,” nobody likes to admit their own failings. As anyone familiar with any addiction rehab program would tell you, there are 12 steps …one of the first of those, is admitting you have a problem.

Written by Michael Jones

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