Gamers with children are a pretty common phenomenon, especially in this day and age of fast computers, smart phones, and other technology. Log into World of Warcraft and you are likely to find more people with children than without. Entire guilds are created with members only of the parent class.
However, despite the massive amounts of parents who game, many of us would rather not reveal that fact. Not because we are ashamed of our children or our hobby of choice, but because of the way parents who game are portrayed. Especially those that play games like World of Warcraft.
Gamer Parents = Bad Parents
You see it everyday in the news, parents who leave their kids wallow in squalor while they play video games. Sometimes the children are saved, others are not so lucky and pay the ultimate price for their parents negligence. Take for example the recent story of the Korean couple who went to play WoW at an internet cafe, leaving their four month old home alone. When returning home, the couple found their child dead due to suffocation.
What a tragedy. However, the media sends the wrong message, marking the game as the problem. Headlines like these pop up all the time and the press and general public eats it up. The finger is firmly pointed at the video game being the responsible party, instead of the real culprits; the parents. Titles proclaim that the game caused the child's neglect or even death in bold print. It seems clear that, according to the media, if you play games you are automatically a terrible, awful, no good, probably going to be on the news for neglect, parent.
Good Parents Play Games Too
The sensationalism is overwhelming and very scary for those of us who play games and have children. Who wants to be instantly marked as a “bad” parent? I know I don't. However, that is exactly what seems to be happening thanks to the poor media coverage and the public's ignorance on the subject.
The truth is, most of us gamers are great parents. We love our children, play with them, nurture them, and watch mind-numbing children shows with them 9 billion times. Most of us won't end up on the news and the majority of our children will never know neglect. There are of course, those few that will end up on the news because of horrible circumstances, but for the most part, we are just regular people.
When it comes to gaming, most people forget it is just another hobby. We aren't any more weird, crazy, outlandish or downright strange than someone who likes to knit, watch TV, or scrapbook. Most of us do this for fun, to unwind, to escape reality for just a little while. With that being said, we are also very aware of our responsibilities in the real world. If you took a poll you would find our children are probably well adjusted, well loved, and pretty normal. A far cry from the neglected waifs trapped in the basement the news portrays.
Blame the Player, Not the Game
The news (and perhaps others) would have us believe that games are to blame for the parents negligence. They are choosing to focus on this point as the culprit behind these tragedies, when games are far from at fault. These parents, who choose to game over taking care of their children, have real problems. Something inside of them is not right, they are not normal. Let's face it, normal people do not let their four months old at home alone and expect everything to turn out A-OK.
Whether it be an addictive personality or some other mental illness, the parents you see on the news have issues that go beyond gaming. Games are the innocent bystander, perhaps even the victim here. In an era where there has to be something to blame and no one wants to take responsibility for their own actions, games have become an easy target.
I think it is time that we, parents that game, stand up and say enough is enough. The games we love should not be trashed because people do terrible things. They are the minority and did these things because of their own personal issues, not because of a game. Gaming is a perfectly healthy past time that we should be able to rejoice in. Our society needs to start pinpointing the real problem here; the player, not the game itself.
Have you ever had someone question your parenting skills because you game? Are you tired of seeing the media paint games as the bad guy? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below!