In May 2005 I got this by e-mail:
Hey, I am doing a health report on the benefits of video games for Health 1 at my high school and wanted to tell you that your web page is a valuable resource. Thanks for giving games a chance and realizing the truth behind the fastest growing entertainment market today. You rule!I shared it with unschoolers and some responded:
PostScript: If you ever get any complaints about the validity of your site or some modern-day VG Nazi insults you, remember this letter and know that there are thousands of us supporting you!
That [the P.S.] brought tears to my eyes. It just hit me how MANY kids there are out there who are made to feel guilty and shamed for loving to play video games.
That is exactly what I was thinking Pam....on TechTV they have a commercial for a college where you can become a video game designer or something. They say something in it like "...and my mom said my video games would never amount to anything". My son looked at me and said "poor kid". That felt great -- to know I am a mom who doesn't say that to her son -- to know my son isn't treated the way so many are when it comes to video games. My son does dream of designing video games, but even if he didn't, all his game playing is a-okay with me.
We do this Tuesday/Thursday thingee (it was started to be a type of "freeschool", but is working more like a co-op but with free choice, on my blog I use the term perpetual recess) and one of my son's first questions was "can we play video games?" My response was "of course, the whole idea is for the community members to choose what they want to do there. That includes video and just hanging out." My idea was that a structured activity has just as much value as playing VGs and hanging out as long as it is the child's choice.
What a can of worms.
My whole focus this year has been to preserve the rights of the gamer kids to make their choices free of interference from some of the other moms while staying sane and not saying things to ruin long friendships. With some folks being tolerant only seems to go one way when it has to do with electronic media. Now these moms have no problem if the kids are playing Magic or Heroscape, they just wish that the kids had never chosen to play video games there (some of the issues have to do with the controls they place on their children and the fact that their kids at times would prefer to be in the gamer room then go to another activity) and are quite vocal about it and have made my son, at times, feel like he had done something wrong by even starting the gamers group.
Of course I have noticed that kids like my son will move from thing to thing (like an ethnic cooking lesson or boffer swords — as long as it is something he is interested in doing) because he is already aware that the video games will always be there, he can play whenever he wants to and he'll be able to play at home. Some of the other boys have had a hard time because their moms will control the amount of time they can play and they either are not allowed at home OR their VG time is limited at home. It has gotten better for these guys as they see that every time we get together the VG will be available, but some of the moms are so focused on those evil video games that the have a hard time seeing that the kids do choose to leave the games and go do something else when it strikes their interest.
I feel for those other kids — they are kids I've seen grow up and I really like. What they want to do, what they think is important is not valued by the adults most important to them.
On the video game thing — DS and DH get together with another family of hsers (3 boys around DS' age) once a week, the kids run around and play, DH and the mom play long games of SCrabble or Rummikub or whatever. It was originally intended to alternate houses each week. Then they came over to our house and the boys played video games all afternoon and didn't want to leave (they're very limited on VG at their house). The mom has since made sure that the kids meet at their house, not our house. Of course,that means we don't have to tidy or anything which is okay by us but we think it's pretty silly.
Choices * Respect * Principles vs. Rules
Other Kinds of Games * Unschooling