It’s a bit unnerving to hear my ten year old describe in detail how he headshotted someone with a sniper rifle in Fortnite.
Or how he spawns “Evokers” in Minecraft for the sole purpose of dropping them into a campfire.
Or when he asks me what my favorite shotgun is, mostly just so he can explain the particulars of his favorite shotgun.
Point is, my son talks about/creates/relishes a lot of videogame violence. It’s something I’ve been a bit more lax about during the pandemic since, as I’ve said previously, online games are the main way he can connect with friends.
Does this make me a bad dad?
I really don’t know.
At the risk of sounding all Boomer-y, the videogames I played at his age involved a lot of shooting things (River Raid, Chopper Command, Yar’s Revenge), but those were jagged blocks on a screen that looked nothing like their real life counterparts. I mean, you had to suspend a lot of disbelief to see those eight contiguous squares were “Superman” flying around on your Atari.
Games today though, are super realistic. People (and monsters) look, talk and move mostly as humans (and monsters) do. My son will go on at great length about how he no-scope one-shotted some n00b with a pistol while jumping out of a moving vehicle.
Sh-t. That does sound cool.
Look, I just want to raise a good son, and not, you know, The Good Son.
The good news for me, and perhaps you, comes courtesy of The Wall Street Journal this week:
Violent Videogames Aren’t Ruining Your Kids—but It’s Good to Discuss Them
Long-term study addresses the nuanced effects of playing shooter-style videogames on children’s mental health
The article (subscription required, sorry!) talks about spotting the difference between frustration and aggression, how videogames aren’t the only thing that will determine a child’s outcome, and that kids are capable of learning a lot of different things at once.
But perhaps the best bit of news from that article comes courtesy of Dr. Sarah Coyne, who researches videogame violence and kids, when she said:
We predicted that violent-videogame playing would have a long-term negative effect on empathy and pro-social behavior, and we didn’t find that.
Phew! I am absolved.
Guess that means it’s time to introduce him to Mortal Kombat.
The Super Bowl is old news at this point, and for the most part, the commercials were unforgettable.
But the one spot I did enjoy was the one for Paramount+ featuring Beavis and Butthead saying “She said giant crack” over and over. It was dumb, and it was the only commercial that literally made me laugh out loud.
Maybe it was nostalgia for my college days, sitting on the couch and watching the duo lace into dumb music videos. (I may be mis-remembering this, but was Wilco’s “Box Full of Letters” the only song Beavis and Butthead didn’t make fun of? I dunno. It’s not important.)
That commercial also brought me back to seeing that first animated Beavis and Butthead “Frog Baseball” short at Spike & Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of animation, back when that was an annual thing. (Sidenote: One of the most gag-inducing cartoons I ever saw at that festival was one of a giant piece of paper slicing into the webbing between two animated fingers. I still wince thinking about it.)
Anyway. What does that have to do with videogames? Well, in a bit of cosmic synchronicity (part I, not part II) or savvy promotion, Kotaku posted a story this week about a mashup of 80s The Legend of Zelda cartoon and Beavis and Butthead. It works… surprisingly well? This might be The Grey Album of cartoon mashups.
You don’t need to watch the whole thing, but it’s worth skipping around, if only because it turns out Beavis and Butthead hold up as well as Tom Brady (interpret that as you will).
Epic Games’ New MetaHuman Creator Helps Devs Create Characters – Cool. Creepy.
How fmcg brands are taking gaming to another level – how soon until your favorite game character eats M&Ms or drinks Starbucks in the game?
Beat this new ‘Star Trek’ game and get a subscription to CBS All Access for free for life – It’s https://www.kobayashimaru.com/, will you need to cheat? Or will you even bother once you see you need to login with Facebook?
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!
Stay cool. Have a great summer. Class of ’90 rulez.
-Chris @ 40 Bit