I’ve gone into my son’s school to teach cartooning since he was in Kindergarten. He’s in second grade now and it’s still something I look forward to every year. I really love working with kids and teaching art. It usually ends up making for some good Penny Arcade comics too.
Aside from me calling some dude on the phone, today’s comic strip is completely true. It really shocked me that this little girl who could not have been more than 7 or 8 was asking me to draw the fucking Slender Man. It got me thinking about these kid’s parents and just how much they know about the games their kids are playing. I don’t think that we need less sex and violence in games. What I think we need are parents who are better educated about games and pay closer attention to what their kids are playing.
My first reaction when I see something like the Katie Couric special or the NRA rant against games is to get pissed off. When I hear stories about a kid playing a game for 72 hours straight I don’t want to ban violent games, I want to ban parents who don’t give a shit what their kid is doing for three fucking days. I want to scream at parents who let their eight year olds play Gears of War and Call of Duty on XBOX Live. That’s not especially productive though and so I started trying to figure out what I can actually do to solve the problem. As a parent and someone who is extremely plugged into the video game scene how can I help? What I decided to do was send an email to the PTA at my son’s school and ask if I could set up a parent education night.
What I proposed is a hour long session in which I would teach parents about the ESRB rating system but that’s just the beginning. I would also talk about the games I know their kids are playing and the games they want to play. I’d talk about Minecraft and what sorts of things playing on a public server might expose them to. Hell I bet lots of them don’t even understand the concept of a public server. I can tell them How Xbox live works and what their kids might be hearing when they have that headset on. I’d talk about games that are great to play WITH your kids and maybe even give some ideas for games that they as adults might enjoy. Listen I understand that being a parent is hard. Sometimes you just don’t have all the info and maybe you don’t know how to find it. Well in this one specific instance I can help.
So I decided that my way of doing something is to educate. The PTA got back to me and they like the idea. We’re working out the details now and I’m really excited. Maybe I can help some parents understand games better and possibly even connect with their kids in a new way.