After the events of April 1999 at Columbine High School, I stopped playing Doom. It was partly because of its association with the killers Eric and Dylan. It was also because, as a new father, I had a hard time imagining that I could sit my little boy up on my lap in front of my computer while I stomped through dark corridors with various weapons weighing me down. The splattering gore and the rattle of gunfire didn't seem like a good way to introduce my son to the wonders of technology. When it came time for my son to decide how he might spend his screen time, his mother and I had lengthy discussions that periodically involved him about how we wanted him wandering around cyberspace first-person-shootering.
Like so many parents, we began to worry about the video games that were becoming part of his world. We liked the ones that gave him skills like typing and a working knowledge of the steam locomotive. We didn't like the ones that involved killing. There was a moment when we were asked to decide if he could play the new Star Wars game. If he was flying around in an X-Wing fighter, okay. Wielding a light saber, alright. Carrying a blaster? Even a Jedi can be turned to the dark side. Even though I felt like the chances of a video game turning our baby into a killer were slim to none, I couldn't shake that little voice that whispered, "maybe."
Now that the barn doors have closed behind the years that we could have an impact on such matters, I hear that our "President" would like to have video game makers come to the White House to discuss how their products are "shaping our young people's thoughts." And now I remember exactly what those convictions were that allowed me to let my son slide down that slippery slope into playing video games. Was I willing to give up my place in forming his world view and surrender to pop culture? Not when I could act as his tour guide and concierge in that voyage. Marilyn Manson? Check. All that rock and roll? You bet. Video games? Not more important than all the other words and visions and humanness that came through our house for all those year. What are the reasons I would choose to explain how my son became the person he is today? Video games.
Sounds pretty silly, doesn't it?