Parents Need to Understand Online Video Games Rather than Hate Them

In today's day and age, the Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) is the hottest trend in computer entertainment and they are only getting more interactive. Parents don't understand the extent of these games and instead of getting involved; they trash the whole idea and say that they ruining a child's life. As a gaming parent, I'm here to dismiss that myth.

I'm a 37 year old mother of a 7, 9 and 10 year old. I play computer games, but not just single player games, I am an MMORPG fanatic. I got involved with the MMORPG (Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Game) community through my husband, even though I had played the pen & paper before, it was my husband who introduced me to Everquest, literally the first graphically enhanced online role playing game (RPG). I wasn't as bad as some of the other wives when Everquest was released because I had gamed RPGs with my husband since we were 19 and I knew that all relationships needed to give and receive, so instead of throwing a fit about his "addiction", I joined him. It wasn't until Dark Age of Camelot that I really became a serious MMORPG fan, and at the time, I had given birth to my first child. As time drew on and I had 2 more children, my balancing act between parenthood and gaming fanatic became almost a second nature. I learned to organize and compromise my time. Then one day, my 5 year old wanted to play and as he began to fascinate himself with the online surroundings, I knew my parenthood teachings did not stop in game, there was a lot of guidance I had to give to him online as much as I gave to him offline, guidance and advice that most parent who didn't game would never have known.

There was a recording I heard the other day with a kid on headset ready to group up with his guild mates in an MMORPG when his mother walked in and told him to get off the computer. There was a tremendous fuss and then the father intervened starting more of an argument. If you haven't heard it yet, you can hear it at: [] I could literally picture the entire scenario in my mind since I am a parent myself, but as I listened to the parents voice their concerns, I became a little agitated with the reasoning behind their argument.

Son: Mom, please I want to finish this soooo bad.
Mom: You do not understand how much this computer is running the family!
Son: It's not the computer, it's your reaction!
Dad: You're crying about a game!
Son: No, please I want to finish this pleeeeeeeease!
Dad: Don't you get it at all? All you're doing is damaging yourself.
Son: I just got the group together, pleeeeeeeeeeeease!
Dad: I'm sick of this game

There is a lot more to this conversation, but this is why I think parents need to know what MMORPGs are and to GAME a bit with their children or watch a while. Computer games DO NOT ruin children's lives; in fact WIRED Magazine had an article about MMORPGs and how they are actually enhancing children's awareness in certain areas:

  • Problem Solving
  • Teamwork
  • Critical Thinking
  • Patience
  • Hand-Eye Coordination
  • Communication when vocals cannot be attributed

When I showed a video of my 5yr old playing World of Warcraft, I got more positive responses than negative, but there were some negative feedbacks that I should 'get my son out more' or that I was a 'terrible mother to allow my child to play those games'. How people can judge that from a 3 minute video is beyond me, but these are the parents who do not get involved with their children. I was also told by a Korean friend that in America, when a child is good in sports, everyone praises them, but in other countries, it is computers that a child is praised for when they are good at games. He also commented that Sports do not work as much with the intelligence than computer games do and that you have more of a chance at getting a successfully high paying career doing computer games than you do with sports. So why do parents still see computers as 'evil' and 'ruining a child's life?'. The answer is simple: THE LACK OF KNOWLEDGE! If parents KNOW and perhaps participate, or maybe just watch a bit, then there will be a wonderful communication between that child and the parent.

I have taught my son the good and bad parts of MMORPGs. For example, when you get done with your quest and you are in a group, it is polite to assist your group in finishing their quest and not just leave, not to jump in and kill something that someone else is fighting unless they ask for help, and that those are REAL people playing their characters too so we have to treat them as if they were standing right next to you in real life. These are things that help evolve a child to become more polite online and offline because parents who do not game, do not KNOW a lot of times that these are REAL people that you are on the headset with or that you grouped with. As a gaming parent, I set examples by making a FAMILY day without computers and getting out of the house together, getting my duties done BEFORE gaming, and setting limits for myself and my kids.

When my husband and I DO sit down and game, my kids love to watch, or if we aren't doing a big raid, our children join us on some quests and they love spending time with us. When my husband is deployed (he is military), it is a great opportunity to be able to spend time with him as well. This opportunity also leads us to spend time together in other games as well, like the Wii, the XBOX 360, card games, board games, soccer, karate, ballet, and bowling. We have a closer family relationship with each other that only thrives as they get older. We have something in common, something to talk about, something only WE (as a family) love to do together.

My whole point is that if parents were to understand and get involved with computer games their children play, there would be a better parent-child relationship, respect, and less arguing. Technology is not going to go away, it is the way of the future, from cell phones, ipods, laptops, and internet, it is in our lives to stay and parents need to encourage computer and gaming hobbies more than withdrawal from it.

As one unknown Philosopher once stated:

"We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing"

I take that saying to heart and will forever be a gaming parent supporting my child if s/he wants to go to those gaming tournaments! More power to them!

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