|How do you handle this disappointment?|
This is the first post in a new series I am starting called “As A Gamer” . These articles will be written from my perspective as a gamer, not a parent. My goal is to help you better understand your gamer’s worldview.
Imagine you have been invited to a big party. The invitations go out 6 months before the big day. All your friends were invited.
As the day draws closer, more information starts to come out about it. It turns out there are some major celebrities on the guest list! And there is going to be live music, your favorite band! You’re totally pumped, wishing it was tonight!
You start to get ready. This party is a big deal so you buy a new outfit. You make plans with your friends, deciding who is driving, when and where you will meet, what you are going to do when it is over. It is going to be a blast!
Finally, the big day is here! Instead of getting out of bed and starting to get ready, though, you promptly run to the bathroom to get sick. Somehow, you have caught the flu. No party for you. All that planning, all that anticipation, for nothing.
Your friends feel bad for you. You tell them to go enjoy themselves, to not let your sickness ruin their fun. And they do. They have a great time. You listen to their stories, wishing you could have been there too. But there is one overarching feeling you just cannot shake.
That disappointment is exactly what I felt about Watch Dogs.
One of our main jobs as parents is to set healthy boundaries for our children. There will be times when those boundaries lead to disappointment for our gamers. They will want to play a game of which we do not approve. It is important to understand their disappointment while still standing firm.
While I have boundaries for my kids, I also have boundaries for myself. I understand that, even at 36, there is some content I just need to avoid.
The main boundary I have set for myself is with nudity and sexual content. This boundary applies whether I am talking about a video game, a movie, or a TV show. If it has nudity or strong sexual content in it, I avoid it.
Watch Dogs is a game I was anticipating. It is an open-world game like Grand Theft Auto, which I did not play because of the above mentioned boundary. It has a futuristic tone that seemed interesting. I was really hopeful it would be good.
As I do with any game that I’m anticipating buying, I looked up its rating. I went to the ESRB and found this:
- Intense Violence
- Strong Language
- Strong Sexual Content
- Use of Drugs and Alcohol
Bah! Apparently Watch Dogs has several scenes of topless women and sexual acts. So this is a game I will not be playing.
I know I should not be surprised by this. And honestly, I’m not. This is the direction this genre is headed. I mean, when Grand Theft Auto 5 makes $1 billion in 3 days, people are going to copy.
However, I was extremely disappointed. My first thought when I saw it was, “Ugh! Why do they do that?”
Where does that disappointment come from? I have stressed the abundance of options in the video game industry. Heck, right now I have a slew of games in my Steam library. I have plenty other games to play. Missing out on one should not be that big a deal, should it?
It is a big deal for 2 reasons.
- As I said, I had been anticipating this game. This was not just a case of knowing about a game. I have been interested in it, rooting for it to be good since it was announced 2 years ago.
- I want to be part of the conversation. A big release like this dominates the gamer conversation for several weeks. All the major gaming sites have reviews up. All the podcast are talking about it. I want to participate, even if it is just by sharing the experience.
The thing I want you as a parent to understand is this disappointment is very real. Yes, you are the parent and you have to draw hard boundaries for your gamer. And yes, there are times when you have to be firm even under pressure from them. But it is important to understand where that pressure originates.
It might be defiance. It might be a misunderstanding of the boundaries, which should lead to a conversation about what they are and why they exist. It might be a reaction to the peer-pressure they are feeling.
Or it might be genuine disappointment that a game they were so excited about is off-limits.
This disappointment is an opportunity for you to connect with your gamer’s heart. Talk to them about it. Let them express why they are so disappointed. Acknowledge that their feelings are real and valid. Tell them a story about when you felt similar disappointment.