Fightin' zombies anytime, anywhere.
Fightin' zombies anytime, anywhere.

Zombie Genocidest: How my preschooler became a Left 4 Dead pro

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16 Responses

  1. Kris says:

    Excellent post. As a father of two, I thank you for sharing your own reflections on gaming with your children.

    Thinking about Jack’s trepidation with the controller, I recalled how my boys seemed to favor mouse and keyboard controls over gaming controllers. This might be because of my own preferences but it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    There have been times, admittedly, where I’ve allowed our boys to play a game before they were ready. Half Life 2 gave my oldest nightmares of spiders for weeks afterwards. After a few rounds of Tekken 2 on the original PS, my youngest was prone to knocking his big brother around.

    These occasions aside, it’s hysterical to watch them parkour around the house after a little Mirror’s Edge. Although I get wearied by their Minecraft obsessions at times, I love the creativity it promotes. Most interestingly, this particular game has prompted them to seek out other Minecraft builders and resources online to further their own creations! I wish most adults would demonstrate such research prowess (“LMGTFY”)!

    Most impressively, however, is that my boys know to come to me if anything objectionable comes up. If it’s something my wife and I feel is innocent (there was a nude statue in the background of one title) we talk about a bit and help them understand what “that” means. If it’s too violent or demeaning, they know that demonstrating personal responsibility will be rewarded with another title download.

    Recently, my oldest (spider nightmares) asked to play Half Life 2 again and he offered the stipulation that, if it became too intense, he would turn it off. Considering he polished of Bioshock: Infinite without wincing or pretending to skyhook his brother, I think he’ll be okay.

    Thanks again!

    • Alisha Karabinus says:

      Oh! My son has attempted the Half Life eps on the Portal disc a little. He can’t resist trying, but he has a hard time with it. We help with that one, but he hasn’t done much with it.

      Funny that you prefer keyboard and mouse and that was easier for them. I definitely prefer console/controllers myself, but I think that just feels natural to me because I’ve done more of it.

      As for your sons coming to you when they encounter something objectionable, I think that’s great. That’s what I’m shooting for here. I want Jack to feel comfortable talking about everything, and to know that I’ll be here for him, supporting his interests and his questions.

  2. dr. b. says:

    Ok, so everyone knows that I am a huge proponent of age appropriate games. That being said I can see your point…to an extent. I am not one to tell other people how to raise their children (at least to their faces) so I can only talk about this in terms of my own child.

    We are not too far away from each other in terms of rationale. I want Pea to be able to explore all of the things that interest her, but it is also my job to protect her from things that can be harmful. It is for that reason that she didn’t have her first weapon until she was a hair shy of 5 and then it was a sword that she used only for cutting down imaginary jungle foliage (and for whacking Lisa that one time, but…) and NEVER guns. I have seen and lost too many folks to gun violence to allow her to play with guns.

    Pea doesn’t like death so we don’t play games that deal with death (or I narratively edit it out). We break the Lego bad guys (violent, yes) but we see the heroes rebuild and fight on with no loss of blood, the heartbroken and bad animals in Ni No Kuni don’t die but go to a better place and if they are narratively important enough come back at the end (ok, so I flat out lied to her about what happened to the mother at the beginning), and Animal Crossing and Mario games are just that…Animal Crossing and the Mario games.

    It’s the same reason that I haven’t allowed Pea to watch Disney movies…I find the messages damaging. I have also told her that when I think that she is old enough to talk about why I think the princesses make bad choices and have her be able to engage rather than just smile and nod that we will watch the movies together. She is getting there, but says that she doesn’t want to watch them. But, she’s not much on movies. They are too long and she still asks to leave a theater half way through a movie.

    What I guess I’m saying in the end is that folks are free to make their own choices about their kids…even if they’re wrong 😉

    • dr. b. says:

      And I’m kidding about the wrong part, of course.

    • Alexander B. says:

      I think it’s fantastic the level of interaction both of you have with your kids, I had to many friends growing up that had parents that wanted them to stay out of there hair all the time. So kudos. 😛

    • Alisha Karabinus says:

      Oh, you. 😛

      I wonder if some of our choices don’t come from our being in different situations. As I understand it, you all are pretty well in control of raising Pea, as in you have firm, final say in everything. I’ve never really had that. Before we moved, Jack spent a lot of time with other family members while I was in class, and people would give him things, tell him things, let him watch things (someone let him watch train derailment videos–actual, horrifying tragedy here!). People have been giving him weapons they see as innocent since he was a baby. What’s the difference between a toy light saber or a water gun and a zombie game, really? It’s all entertainment; it’s the way we treat it and interact with it that changes. I decided early on to just roll with it instead of trying to control every aspect of our interaction with family, which rarely works from what I’ve witnessed. Of course, once his father and I split up, things got even more complicated. Trying to be really open with him has seemed the best course in our situation. I’m not saying what I’ve done here is best for everyone, but I think it’s been good for us. In a different situation? I might have been different. Who knows. But I’m glad we can talk about it.

      • dr. b. says:

        I didn’t give light sabers or water guns either. I mean NO weapons of any kind. Not even slingshots or arrows. I was a real hard ass about that stuff. Hell, I returned Barbie/Disney gifts for non- Barbie/Disney versions of the same toys before she even saw them. So you may be right about the amount of control that we had over what we are exposed to.

        That being said, I know you and I know Jack. He’s a great kid and you are one hell of a mom. :-) Zombies aside….j/k, but I couldn’t let that chance slip by!

        • Alisha Karabinus says:

          Well, thanks. :) I think we have a couple of great kids on our hands.

          I think I will take the risk angering people/Pickle if she gets gifted with Disney Princess nonsense unless, somehow, SHE discovers it and wants it. But this time I also knew enough to say NO in advance. I didn’t know anything about kids when Jack was born! We’re probably lucky we all survived, much less turned out okay.

  3. Alexander B. says:

    I think that’s awesome! I’m lucky enough to have a mother who always talked to me about everything and got me to think no matter what the subject. While kids may not have all the understanding they’re not stupid by any means and pick up allot of things even when we try to keep that stuff away from them, so from being the child, point of view, I’m happy my mom didn’t shy away from talking about stuff. Made it easier to come to her with things when I got older too. Your kid is very lucky. :)

    • Alisha Karabinus says:

      That’s what I want for his future. I mean, I say that now. The first time he comes at me with a relationship problem I might run and hide my head in the sand.

    • dr. b. says:

      That’s what I want for my future with Pea too. That’s why we have the “you never get in trouble if you tell the truth” rule. The rule is that we might do some things differently but there is no trouble for being honest with me about what she has done. Good lord, I hope that I can stick to that one!

  4. No says:

    I completely disagree with letting a preschooling play video games meant for adults. I think you need some help with your parenting.

    • alexlayne says:

      Interesting! Any facts/reasons to back that up?

      • Alisha Karabinus says:

        Probably not any interaction with my actual child, because he’s a pretty great kid. And it can’t be the studies that back it up, because there’s no conclusive evidence that indicates violent games have a negative effect longterm effect on anyone, regardless of age, and cooperative gaming, per the research I was reading this week, mitigates the in-the-moment increase in aggression.

        So I’m guessing it comes down to one of two things: either this poster thinks that no adult-oriented media is appropriate for children, which is a position I can understand, but it’s a child-by-child approach, I think, or the second, which is that this poster thinks it’s a problem with video games in particular, which I will have to counter with the question: why are violent video games so bad, when children’s shows and games are often equally violent?

  1. July 15, 2013

    […] On Not Your Mama’s Gamer, Alisha Karabinus recently introduced her young son to Left 4 Dead 2, and muses on the tough balancing act between engaging one’s children with games and avoiding […]