The games children play could have lasting effects
By E. Effendi
JAKARTA (JP): The children's toy that my parents gave me when I was a child was the 'Lego'. Remember those hundreds of tiny blocks that you were supposed to attach to each other to make figures like houses, or cars, or dogs? Of course you don't remember. You threw them away three minutes after you failed to transform them into any recognizable shape. Your parents, trying to be supportive, would try to guess what you made. "It's a plane? The Eiffel tower? A dog under a piano?" They would desperately shout.
"No! It is a laser gun with 2-band radio and karaoke device," you would reply, not believing how ignorant they were.
However, your parents never stopped buying you those kinds of toys, the toys that have been lauded by many child psychology experts because -- pay attention, these are the words the experts use when they like something -- the toys can stimulate children's creativity.
Lego, Monopoly, clay, and chess are some of the games that the psychologists told our parents to give us children, while in our minds we were more interested in games like "watch the effect of a magnifying glass under the sun on some ants"
Then a new era of games was born with the introduction of home video games. This time, however, parents did not care about any experts' opinions, because they were too busy handling the joysticks. Yes, this time, not only did parents agree with this toy, they also loved to play it.
That is why the development of this home entertainment was really fast. The first popular home video game device that I knew was the Atari. This early video game had graphic capability worse than a 3-year-old's drawing, but it could provide children with wonderful quality time with their fathers, especially when the father was beaten senselessly 28-0 at any game. The system came with many game titles, all having no other plot than an abstract image (irregular triangle perhaps) that we assumed was our hero's ship (or our hero's loose nose), that shot laser beams (or snot) at other abstract images that we assumed was the enemy from planet Gwoobon (or the White House).
Atari was followed by other home video game devices with more game titles and better graphic capability, such as Nintendo, Sega, Super Nintendo, Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn, and now, currently released in Japan, the Sony Playstation2.
Unlike its predecessors, the birth of Playstation2 has been awaited and expected by the world, months before its premiere. Some people didn't mind spending several nights queuing in front of the store just to be one of the first owners.
The world celebrates the birth of this new game. We can hear joyful 'welcomes' everywhere, in form of children shrieking in their parents' ear, asking, no sorry, demanding their parents buy them one. In fact, I am sure that the most popular children's activity in Japan right now is putting a sad, innocent look on their faces to make their parents believe that they are the only child in the world not in possession of Playstation2 gear. Proving that children throughout the world do share an universal language when tormenting their parents.
In the mean time, all the child experts in the world are simultaneously expounding to the newspapers, radio, and TV stations about how badly this new trend will affect children's minds, and -- these are the words that they always use when they hate something -- it can stimulate violent behavior.
However, as a child expert that has proved his expertise by wetting his bed more than most children, I want to argue some of their complaints.
1. The children become more antisocial.
I must admit that we can see that many children would rather spend the day alone in front of their TV than go play in group games with their friends. But that does not mean that they do not communicate with each other anymore.
An elementary school student can strengthen his relationship with other students by engaging in a long scientific discussion about the cheat code for "Parasite Eve", even with students he never knew before, and at the same time forget the definition of cosine and tangent.
2. The children are addicted to this game.
That is absolutely not true. Children can not play the game all the time, not when their parents are hogging it. However, many adults are addicted to this game. I have some adult friends who can spend more than five hours in front of their TV sets. One of them said to me, with red eyes and messy hair, "I just can not stop playing it, and neither can you, because you know you must beat King Karztan."
Another one of my friends, a respectable banker, claims that he can play a game for the whole weekend without sleeping, "I must...have to...play ....get...find the Sonar Beam .... Must.. kill ...... Leviath monster .... THUD! (sound of his head falling to the coffee table)."
3. It increases violent behavior.
Let's examine two examples. Child A spends his days playing with neighbor children, exposing him to the possibility of becoming a member of a street gang with a testosterone level of 20 full grown men. This gang, with today's crime rate, will eventually own guns and use them to fight another street gang or some nefarious drug dealers.
Child B, meanwhile, spends his days at home, safely, and with his parents' supervision, playing some Playstation2 games. So, if someone asked "which of these two children will grow to be a more violent person, you will already know the answer. It was child B, who will sell his Playstation2 gear to buy a gun and rob a bank to get some money to buy drugs, just like his character did in the game.
However, there have been steps taken to deal with this violent game. For instance, the government now has put "parental guidance advisory" stickers on many games to inform the parents that those games are filled with blood and loose body parts, therefore indicating that those games are going to hit no.1 in the video game box office.