Monday, April 9, 2012

Rough Play

I like to playfully kick, punch, and spar around with my brothers. Never hard enough or rough enough that we could conceivably be hurt (My mother would say differently.) but enough that we get that male urge to hone our fierce combat techniques out of us. I also like to shoot at my male friends and they like to shoot back... with Nerf guns. Young men like to fight playfully. We like lightsabre duels, grand Nerf battles, and bokkens. If you give a little boy a palm branch it becomes a sword. Give him a barbie doll and it becomes a gun. (Straws and wrappers at restaurants? Can you say "Blowguns and poison darts?")

Young men and boys want ways that they can fight without killing one another. If they are not allowed to fight playfully while trying not to hurt each other, where will these little combative impulses be released? They can't hit each other in play, they want to hit though, be they 11 or 31. Really, think of men who like to shoot paper targets and hunt squirrels.

I, like most of my peers, like video games. I mainly prefer RPGs (Role Playing Games) and strategy games. While I like FPSs (First person shooters) but they aren't my preference. FPSs are definitely the most popular. The most common complaint I've heard against video games is that they desensitize children to killing, that they produce murderers. There is a little bit to that. When I was 9 I was a very bloodthirsty little lad and, looking back, I was probably where people get proof for video games producing murderous children.

Parents and children must always exercise discretion, both in their permitting and in their playing of video games, although this is true of all entertainment, media, and rough play. By "children" I mean "people capable of rational thought still living as dependents... like me."

Now there is always the question, why play video games when you could go shooting or fight with bokkens and Nerf guns? I would answer with the question, "Why read, watch movies, or watch TV shows?" All pleasures, whether they be books, Psych, House, Harry Potter, sports, hunting, hiking, food, coffee, music, or rough play, should be taken in moderation. You could spend your whole life exercising and only eating and drinking that which helps your body but wine was given to make glad the hearts of men so we take a moment for pleasure. (It should be noted that my heart is yet to be made glad by the fruit of the vine.) So also we do not spend the whole of our days feasting and drinking. We like it but it is not healthy.

I think video games can be a good way of telling a story. Perhaps not as good as books but I think they are comparable to movies and TV shows.

Please stop reading this if you are going to say "Grand Theft Auto." There will always be tripe in any medium, and as HBO is to television and as harlequin romances are to literature, GTA is to games. Tripe like this will always find an eager market, but it is not the norm. The most anticipated and second most played game of last year, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, is a well told story based in a world with a detailed history, which is told in books and dialogue in the game. It has a good music score, fun gameplay, and good concept art, which carries into the world of the game.

There also games like the Age of Empires or Sid Meier's . These are strategy games. Some are good for historical lessons, and some are good and difficult brain exercises. They are the video game equivalents of Catan or Risk. There are FPS like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which was the most played game of last year, that are good for blowing off steam after a hard day of work or study. They are also good for when you have large groups of teenaged guys staying the night.

With this post I do not hope to make you like video games. I hope only that you would see how I view my games and that you would not complain about them as an a complete waste of my time or a bad influence on my self. They are simply my rough play when I'm tired. They are my story when I do not want to read or watch Inception again. They are my artificially created world, like a novel.

Sadly my Xbox's disc reader isn't working so I can't play anyway.

Happy Easter!

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