Call of Duty and Teens
January 26, 2010 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Teens playing "Call of Duty"--is it really that harmful?

OK, so my daughter wanted the new Call of Duty video game for Christmas. I didn't buy it because of various "stuff' that I read about violent video games influencing teens' behavior blah blah blah. Also, I just don't see anything redeeming about playing war and shooting and killing and etc. However, she got enough money and gift cards to buy the game herself and begged me like crazy to let her buy it. She's a "good" 17 year old--grades, behavior, friends--we have had no problems. We have tried to raise her with humanitarian values and stressed the difference between reality and what's on TV and videos, making good choices, etc. So....will playing a super-violent video game undo 17 years of careful, loving and attentive parenting? I don't think so--what say you guys?
posted by sandra194 to Human Relations (100 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think at 17 she's old enough to handle it. If she enjoys fast paced twitch games already, there's nothing really different and alarming about this one vs. others.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:44 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

In my exceedingly humble opinion, I think a seventeen year old is capable of making a decision like this on her own. There are bigger decisions that she needs mom and dad and other responsible adults in her life to help her make, but a video game is not one of them. I HATE the video games that my son plays, but he is old enough to make the choice to play them. (Son is eighteen, but was playing Halo at sixteen).
posted by msali at 9:44 AM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

It's just like, my opinion, man, but you're asking:

Resounding no.

Every single other moment in your child's life leading up until now has had vastly more imprint on the person they are and will be (both good and bad).
posted by wrok at 9:45 AM on January 26, 2010 [6 favorites]

Oh man.

A person with no violent tendencies already, who's empathetic and "nice", is not going to be turned into a monster by a videogame. The only people really at risk of having their behavior modified by a videogame are already monsters (or crazy).

I feel bad when I kill a rat. My wife cried when she ran over a squirrel on accident. I can't watch footage of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan because it makes me sad. I change channels when that new PETA commercial comes on, because it's damn sad. I turned off an interview about the new movie Beautiful Bones, because it was about a little girl being murdered.

We both love the hell out of ultraviolent videogames. I review them, in fact. If your daughter can read a book, she can play a videogame. If she can watch a movie, she can play a videogame. It's a narrative artform.
posted by Netzapper at 9:47 AM on January 26, 2010 [33 favorites]

I doubt you'll find anyone here who thinks that playing CoD will turn your otherwise good daughter (at 17, no less) into some sort of juvenile delinquent without a moral compass. It's just a game (though see the FPP on Dungeons & Dragons for a laugh).

It's just a game, not a real-world descent into a bacchanal of violence. And if your 17 year old is so obedient as to continue to ask your permission to buy a game with her own disposable income, I think you've probably got it easier than 99% of the parents out there.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:48 AM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

She is 17? In Canada that is 1-year away from being a legal adult. I am pretty sure that for both the US and Canada the minimum draft age is 18...

I think you are pretty much at the end of the being able to be "influential" portion of your daughters' teenage years. Playing a violent video game is not going to erase 17 years of parenting.

Their is a quote from HG Wells who authored what could be the first tabletop wargame, and it goes something like this: "if more time was spent playing games, less time would be spent on war".
posted by jkaczor at 9:49 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I started playing violent video games back in 1995 with DooM and haven't stopped since. I'm 24 now and those games certainly didn't undermine any lessons or values that my parents taught me. My mom wasn't thrilled when I brought home GTA 3 but she rolled her eyes and didn't say anything.

Your daughter will be just fine.
posted by Diskeater at 9:49 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Unless your daughter used to shoot you in the face with a shotgun in an effort to get your nose or mouth to spin around to the back of your head after she watched Looney Tunes, you're safe.

If playing in "violent" ways made you dangerous, the world never would have survived all the little boys who played Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians or just War.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:51 AM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

sandra194 asked: So....will playing a super-violent video game undo 17 years of careful, loving and attentive parenting?

It would be very, very unlikely. Before video games, the question was about violence in movies or violence in comic books. None of those created a society of psychopaths. Sure, the Columbine killers played the violent video game Doom but it wasn't the cause of their later actions, it was just another random detail like the fact that they brushed their teeth.

Call of Duty and many other games are primarily social experiences and as such can be used for simple fun. Players can do something as innocuous as playing CTF (Capture the Flag) with others online. Above all, I would not characterize Call of Duty as "super-violent".
posted by JJ86 at 9:52 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Disclaimer: I love video games

The fact that you're worried enough about this is a good sign. Video games don't make kids messed up, messed up kids just like violent video games. The problem with stressing the difference between what's reality and what's on TV is that it creates a rift in your child's mind. You are telling them that these two things are different, and they understand that, so why won't you let them buy the game? If you've been teaching them that it's not reality and trust that they got the message, then there should be no problem.

When it comes down to it, Modern Warfare 2 (the newest Call of Duty game,) is more about playing multiplayer online with other kids. It's an incredibly fast game that requires careful use of skill and tactical thinking to play really, really well. This is why people enjoy it. No one is buying it so they can shoot people in the head. Shooting enemies in the head is difficult because it's a small target, they're moving quickly, and they're shooting back at you. Add this all up and it's rewarding to do because it shows you are skillful. It's up to you, but she's of the age to buy it herself according to the ESRB. I would let her get the game.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:54 AM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

If she plays online, it may be worth considering not just the violence within the game but also the sexist, racist and homophobic language routinely used by other players.
posted by box at 9:55 AM on January 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

As far as "super-violent," no, Call of Duty is not exceedingly graphic. There is no gore, no blood spray. Body parts do not come off. In fact, when you kill someone they cover their face as if to sneeze. I maintain this is because they didn't want to program a facial animation for "OHSHITTHATHURTIMDEADURK."
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:58 AM on January 26, 2010

Also, I just don't see anything redeeming about playing war and shooting and killing and etc.

It's a video game. There's not much inherently redeeming about it, but that goes for books and films and music and art as well. What your daughter does or does not get out of it is pretty much up to her as a consumer of creative media, and at 17 she's more than old enough to engage with that stuff on her own judgement and decide whether she's getting value of some sort out of it.

If you have specific concerns or objections about the game—not just Stuff You Heard but specific, actual stuff based on familiarity with the details—discuss that with her on those terms. I'd recommend you leave it at discussing your concerns and leave the actual decision to her, though; as a young adult, she'll have a lot more respect for that sort of freedom-with-responsibility approach than she will for a flat prohibition.

I had a conversation with my mom when I was ten or eleven about whether I should really get the video game Contra for the NES. We established that (a) the game was not about Oliver North et al, (b) I understood that violence is bad, and (c) the game was just a video game, was not real, did not represent to me something I wanted to be doing in the real world. Establishing that kind of understanding was really useful as I grew up, video game nerd that I was, and violent games (and Stephen King books and horror films and Bosch paintings) did no damage to me in the process.

It's not just okay to let your kids make their own decisions about their media consumption, it's good for them. Especially in their burgeoning adulthood. Stay engaged with them about those decisions, and converse with them about the stuff they're consuming, and you'll be in fantastic shape as a parent.
posted by cortex at 9:58 AM on January 26, 2010 [8 favorites]

If she plays online, it may be worth considering not just the violence within the game but also the sexist, racist and homophobic language routinely used by other players.

If her daughter has any sense at all she has her microphone set to auto-mute anyone not on her friends list. But yeah, internet + anonymity = asshole behavior.

It's not anything she doesn't hear at school, anyways.
posted by InsanePenguin at 10:00 AM on January 26, 2010

OMG! (as my daughter would say), @box response has given me even more to worry about!
posted by sandra194 at 10:01 AM on January 26, 2010

It might be a useful data point but since I bought COD: MW2 on Saturday there has been a significant uptick in angry outbursts and strong language in my household, and I am strongly minded to see it as causal.
posted by biffa at 10:01 AM on January 26, 2010

ESRB Ratings Guide. M-rated videogames are, roughly speaking, equivalent to R-rated movies. The equivalencies get rougher because there's some things that fly in R-rated movies (primarily sexual content) and vice versa (arguably more "intense" depictions of violence in a videogame due to interaction and agency). But they're close enough for parental decisions right there; a reasonably-adjusted and socialized 17 year old will be fine with the majority of M-rated games. Frankly, many younger kids would be to, but involving of course more and more judgment calls based on individual and individual game.

Individual game-wise, the latest Call of Duty is roughly equivalent to a middling R-rated action movie. In a naked grab for controversy sales, there's a skippable chapter that involves the player character acting in a ludicrous setup as an undercover agent in a terrorist cell and shooting up a crowdful of innocent civillians (to maintain cover, you see), which is the sort of thing a parent should probably be prepared to chat briefly with kid about. (More about the role of uglier story elements, how to include them well, and how to include them badly, than a "you do know that mowing down innocent people with machineguns is wrong, right?" which will make any functional 17 year old roll their eyes so hard at you that they may strain eye muscles.) The rest is mostly over-the-top action movie harmless nonsense about shooting bad guys, with collateral damage to scenery only. "Redeeming" applies to games just as well as it applies to those kinds of movies--doesn't apply.

Short answer: it'll be fine.
posted by Drastic at 10:02 AM on January 26, 2010

Unless your daughter used to shoot you in the face with a shotgun in an effort to get your nose or mouth to spin around to the back of your head after she watched Looney Tunes, you're safe.

Yeah, but the U.S. Army doesn't use Bugs Bunny to train soldiers.

"The technology in games has facilitated a revolution in the art of warfare," says David Bartlett, the former chief of operations at the Defense Modeling and Simulation Office, a high-level office within the Defense Department and the focal point for computer-generated training at the Pentagon. "When the time came for him" -- meaning Swales -- "to fire his weapon, he was ready to do that. And capable of doing that. His experience leading up to that time, through on-the-ground training and playing 'Halo' and whatever else, enabled him to execute. His situation awareness was up. He knew what he had to do. He had done it before -- or something like it up to that point."

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
posted by three blind mice at 10:03 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I was a kid playing D+D in the basement, people used to say it was "harmful" to kids. Here's what was actually happening:

1) I was in the house where my mom knew exactly where I was, rather than out doing who-knows-what.
2) I was using my imagination.
3) I was learning about mythology, and lots of new vocabulary words.

Really, it was like a parent's dream of what a kid would do. "Call of Duty" may not teach your kid a whole lot, but it's sooooo harmless compared to things she could be doing.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:05 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I agree with others that video games are more likely to do harm to adolescents that are already having problems.

Also agreeing that I would be much more worried about the large numbers of horrible people she'll be playing with. Imagine what "4chan radio" would be like, but with less of a conscience.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:05 AM on January 26, 2010

You're really sweet to be concerned, but she's 17.

There are more violent images on TV ever day, and that's not even counting movies or (shiver) the internet.

She can handle it.
posted by rokusan at 10:06 AM on January 26, 2010

OMG! (as my daughter would say), @box response has given me even more to worry about!

OP, I am sure you mean well (and I honestly can't tell how glib that last comment was) but at age 17, I'm pretty confident that your attempts to shelter your daughter from bad language and dumb people are neither welcome nor effective.

It's probably time to start letting her grow up.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:07 AM on January 26, 2010 [16 favorites]

Have you wrapped your daughter in bubble wrap and protected her from TV and the interwebs? Probably not. She's seen violence (real war stuff) and heard hateful speech like box cites. At 17, she's on the cusp of adulthood and needs to be given opportunities to make decisions. A video game is not going to undo years of parenting. However, over-protectiveness and over-parenting can undo her willingness to talk to you. A year from now she'll be heading off to college where you won't be able to control which video games she plays.

Show a little faith and a little trust.
posted by 26.2 at 10:08 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

She's asking you permission, at 17, to go buy a game that she can legally buy on her own. I can virtually guarantee she's played many violent games in the past.

If there's any problem here, it's putting a little too much trust in sensational news stories that demonize video games in a desperate attempt for ratings.
posted by jjb at 10:09 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think someone here compared CoD to an R rated movie--oh that makes me feel much better ::rolling eyes with sarcastic face:::

I have issues about movie ratings for teens anyway--the way that Hollywood or the "movie ratings group" rates movies is a joke! I say if it's rated "R" by Hollywood standards, it should be rated X according to moi (just MHO)
posted by sandra194 at 10:12 AM on January 26, 2010

BTW -- I had to take the bubble wrap off of her at age 15 --her doctor said it probably was causing her to miss out on a lot of fun stuff ;)
posted by sandra194 at 10:17 AM on January 26, 2010

the way that Hollywood or the "movie ratings group" rates movies is a joke! I say if it's rated "R" by Hollywood standards, it should be rated X according to moi

Even if it was rated "X" (NC-17) she'd still be old enough to watch/play/read/hear it in a few months anyhow.
posted by French Fry at 10:19 AM on January 26, 2010

I think someone here compared CoD to an R rated movie--oh that makes me feel much better ::rolling eyes with sarcastic face:::

Then it's safe to say that you handle your own family's standards very differently than the majority of mefi (no judgement intended). Therefore, you probably won't be comfortable with the game in your own household - although CoD is really sub R-rated in my opinion. You are allowed to dictate what your daughter does and doesn't do in your own home, but please remember that there is are huge parts of your daughter's life that you do and do not have influence over - I would suggest picking a different battle when the time comes.
posted by Think_Long at 10:20 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


We had a computer in our house since I was born. Started playing Frogger on an Apple IIe when I was about three. My younger brother and I have played video games more or less all our lives.

I was seventeen in... 2001, I guess. This was the age of Half Life/Counter Strike, Quake, Unreal Tournament. Played Grand Theft Auto and the piece of trash that Postal was (which, I believe, is still one of the games most reviled by the anti-gaming crowd).

I was valedictorian, went to a highly competitive engineering school, and generally consider myself pretty successful and well-adjusted. My brother also has a well-paying job, a wife, and bought a house recently. Neither of us has a criminal record or any history violence.

Your daughter will be fine, and in my teenage experience any effort by my parents to curb my "dangerous" activities only made me seek them out more. If you're worried about harassment by random strangers, I'd be more concerned with her internet usage than the video games. Many games have ways of allowing you to silence annoying "griefers" anyway (although, not having played CoD, I don't know if it does).
posted by backseatpilot at 10:22 AM on January 26, 2010

In light of this: I have issues about movie ratings for teens anyway--the way that Hollywood or the "movie ratings group" rates movies is a joke! I say if it's rated "R" by Hollywood standards, it should be rated X according to moi (just MHO)

I'd say you're going to be displeased with the videogame. It will horrify you, no doubt. But then, there's plenty of media that horrifies people--my wife has a whole bookshelf of books that literally disgust me.

On the other hand, it's not at all going to influence your daughter's moral compass. Not in the slightest. She knows what's right and wrong. And a few hours of electronic mayhem aren't going to change that.
posted by Netzapper at 10:25 AM on January 26, 2010

Assuming you're talking about CoD: Modern Warfare 2, it may be worth noting that you can turn off the in-game swearing and blood. If you turn off the blood, it'll also skip the "No Russian" mission which has been a bit controversial (Destructoid article about the level). Obviously turning off the blood doesn't change the core of the game, which is military-based first person shooter. Your goal is to kill the bad guys.

IANYD, but as a 28-year-old gamer who's been playing first-person-shooters since the early '90s, I don't have violent tendencies. I've fired weapons in real life in a range, but never had any urge or desire to harm someone. I know that the games aren't real and "solutions" in games aren't applicable in real life. Afterall, I'm not a plumber smashing my head into brick walls looking for coins, or a blue hedgehog collecting gold rings. I'd trust that she can separate reality from the games as well.

As for @box's comment about language from other online players, I THINK you can mute the other players. I can't say for certain, as I haven't looked for the option in CoD:MW2, but every other multiplayer game with chat I've played (Uncharted 2, Team Fortress 2, CounterStrike: Source, etc.) has provided the ability to mute select players or all players.

(@backseatpilot gave me a mini-heart attack ... I thought you were talking trash on PORTAL, not POSTAL. Carry-on with bashing Postal.)
posted by steeb2er at 10:26 AM on January 26, 2010

Call of Duty and many other games are primarily social experiences and as such can be used for simple fun. Players can do something as innocuous as playing CTF (Capture the Flag) with others online. Above all, I would not characterize Call of Duty as "super-violent".

Some might say that this makes the violence in a game as otherwise realistic as CoD worse because it doesn't show the negative repercussions.

I do think that 17 is old enough to make these decisions for herself. However, if you're really a pacifist, I might have a discussion with her about how the US Army uses video games as recruitment tools, something that's been mentioned previously upthread. I have a friend who gets paid big bucks to work for the America's Army game and there's a strong relationship between the userbase of their game and other military games, at least in terms of how they try to advertise. Of course, if you've raised an intelligent girl (and it sounds like you have), she should be able to see the difference--but I think talking about it would be a pretty good idea for peace of mind for yourself.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:27 AM on January 26, 2010

17 sounds perfectly fine to play this type of game. I disagree with one of my neighbors, who let their 10 year old play Modern Warfare 2 unattended. My son is also 10, very mature, but there is no way I would set him loose on MW2. A different FPS, perhaps, but not that one.

You will be shocked by the level of racist and sexual terms thrown about in the online play (not in the game itself) by other players. Even by the 10 year olds.
posted by shinynewnick at 10:33 AM on January 26, 2010

OMG! (as my daughter would say), @box response has given me even more to worry about!

If you're really worried about this, you should consider pulling your daughter from school and cutting off all access to the internet.

What Three Blind Mice said is ridiculous. Soldiers are ready to fire their weapons because rifles are pretty simple when it comes down to it and because it's not real to you until you really shoot and kill someone. All of the hesitancy comes after the first time you've killed in combat, not the first time you pick up an assault rifle. The first time is the hardest. And Halo training you for combat? As if. I wish I could jump 15 feet in the air, soak up bullets and kill enemy soldiers with a single blow to the head with the stock of the weapon.

Judging by your responses to movie ratings, you will not like Call of Duty. But you know what? People make better parents when they teach their children how to understand and deal with bad things in life, and not teach them to avoid them. She doesn't have to play CoD, but if you continue not letting her do things that the law says she is allowed to do, you're only going to create a rift between yourself and her. This is why I no longer speak to my mother or step-father.

My dad, OTOH, is a Buddhist who has trouble watching movies like Saving Private Ryan (infinitely more gruesome than CoD, FWIW,) and he doesn't like me playing Call of Duty and the like. But you know what? He knows that I am an adult, and even when I was16 and 17 he let me make those decisions myself; he trusted that his parenting had taught me to not hurt people. And it has.
posted by InsanePenguin at 10:34 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

If she were 13, I would say, "depending on the 13 year old." If she were 15, I'd say "she'll be fine." If she was 16, I'd say, "She's really old enough for Call of Duty series and most M-rated games."

She's 17? Going off to college in a year? Please give her the green light and -since she's already 17- just let her play it without you judging or condemning the medium. You are going to absolutely hate this game if you don't like R-rated movies, but preventing her from playing is doing more harm than good. You've raised a good kid, Mom, but she's not much of a kid any more.

My parents were fairly strict and looked absolutely ridiculous in what they tried to prevent me from seeing in my later teen years. My dad called American Beauty "smutty trash" because he walked in on the risque teenage girl fantasy scene. He pulled the movie out of the VCR then and there and stormed off with it. My eyes still roll uncontrollably when I think of that moment.

If you insist on watching over her shoulder, she might have to sit down with you and have a discussion on fictional violence... so that you doesn't confuse the two and go shoot up the nearest Gamestop.
posted by yeti at 10:37 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I THINK you can mute the other players. - steeber

Yes. If she has an Xbox 360 (I don't know about PS3,) ask her if she's turned on the setting that auto-mutes everyone she doesn't know.

And us gamers really hate those idiots in multiplayer games yelling slurs. Voice-communication in-game is supposed to be for speaking tactically with your teammates, damn it!
posted by InsanePenguin at 10:37 AM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I play the hell out of this game and love it, and seriously doubt that the actual content of the game will turn her into a monster or in any way lessen her character.


The online community is actually pretty vile. If she plays with a headset and listens to other players, she will be subjected to a near-endless stream of f****t, n****r, b***h, and a truly dizzying array of combinations of these words. And honestly, being a girl, she is going to hear a ton of "Why aren't you in the kitchen?", "Have you had your period yet?" "Show us your tits", and things that make the previous three sentences seem G-rated. I wish it wasn't true, but it is. I'm a 26 year old male who has logged dozens of hours on this game already, and these are incontrovertible facts. Sad, depressing facts, but facts nonetheless.

With that said, if she has friends who own the game whom she plans to play with, she won't have to listen to that garbage. And you CAN (and should!) mute everybody else. In fact, if she doesn't have friends that she expressly wants to communicate with while playing, using a headset/microphone is pretty much worthless.

So long story short, I second InsanePenguin's idea: set her system of choice (xbox 360? PS3? You should be able to figure out how to set this up with minimal googling) to auto-mute anyone not already on her friends list. The game itself should be fine, it's no worse than an episode of 24.
posted by gettingpaidforthis at 10:38 AM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

@box response has given me even more to worry about!

I find it hard to imagine any causal mechanism by which the small addition to the number of times your daughter hears racist, sexist, and homophobic language in a day because she plays an online video game will have any detectable psychological effect on her.

Not unless she's already teetering on the edge of joining the Klan or a militia group, anyway.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:40 AM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think violent games(movies, lyrics, teevee shows, etc.) contribute to our culture of violence. I thinks it's okay to say you don't want it in your home. However, she'll be 18 quite soon, and your ability to enforce limitations is nearly gone. Talking to her about why you abhor violence is more likely to have a positive effect.
posted by theora55 at 10:41 AM on January 26, 2010

Yeah, but the U.S. Army doesn't use Bugs Bunny to train soldiers.

Master Sergeant Bugs did his bit for WWII:

Any Bonds Today?
Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips
Herr Meets Hare
posted by zamboni at 10:44 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

At 17, i played similar games, and i can remember watching my dad playing FPS/action games since ive been very small.

It hasnt affected or changed my personality at all. Articles that try to claim videogames affect people on some kind of deep level are inaccurate, or focusing on such a small sample group as to be insignificant. I think people like to have something to blame.

Im sure your daughter will be absolutely fine.
posted by stillnocturnal at 10:44 AM on January 26, 2010

sandra194: "I think someone here compared CoD to an R rated movie--oh that makes me feel much better ::rolling eyes with sarcastic face:::"

There's no call for that.

The ESRB ratings on videogames and MPAA ratings on movies are roughly equivalent for a first-pass parental judgment on what entertainment's more or less likely to be suitable for their underage kids. If you feel that most R-rated movies are inappropriate even for older teens, well then, you'll feel that most M-rated videogames are inappropriate for older teens. You'll not be comfortable with Call of Duty.

But the question isn't "am I personally comfortable with this?" The question is, will it undo those years of parenting before it? And the answer to that is: no. It will not. It'll make you uncomfortable, but it won't do her any harm. You can put your foot down about it, just don't have any illusions that it'll be a decision about anything other than you. Given that's the case, you also need to take into account whether or not making a battle out of it is worth it overall--again, to you. Whether she plays a specific videogame now, or as many as she likes a year or two from now when you're not overseeing it, won't do her any harm either way.
posted by Drastic at 10:47 AM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

I play, and have played, some really violent video games since I was very young -- about nine years old or so -- and routinely seen movies that were even worse and read some really crazy books. I have never for a moment wished that any of that stuff was real, and I feel awful if I so much as hurt someone's feelings, much less do physical harm. Many of my friends have the same history, and are some of the most empathetic and kind people I have ever met. Your daughter will be fine.
posted by Nattie at 10:52 AM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

She's a good SEVENTEEN year old who gets good grades, has similarly good friends, and has never caused you any problems? Let her have the game. And then apologize to her for treating her like a toddler. Your dismissive and slightly paranoid attitude toward your daughter's decision making capabilities, in the absence of any stated reason why her capabilities should not be trusted, is by far the most dangerous thing I read in your question.

Dismissing your nearly adult daughter's intellectual independence over something so relatively trivial can be seen as a demeaning rejection of her emotional growth as a adult.
posted by applemeat at 11:02 AM on January 26, 2010 [16 favorites]

This is not a game that will negatively affect your daughter in any way (except perhaps taking up a lot of her time.) Do not worry about your daughter having to listen to racism and swears and the like, they are quite common IF you leave anyone unmuted, which I and everyone I know who plays the game, never do. We mute everyone not on our friends list and therefore never interact with them. Real life situations that your daughter grapples with on a daily basis when you aren't around are far more dangerous than any videogame. You surely will not like the violence of the game but it will not in any way hurt or damage your daughter. Not letting her get the game is more likely to cause damage in your relationship and a want to rebel against you.
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:06 AM on January 26, 2010

Did listening to rock music in the 70s make you a slave of satan?

Did Elvis' pelvis ruin your innocence?

Has any movie you've seen that has had a murder made you morally bankrupt?

Being a caring mother is one thing, but being naive and overly restrictive to someone who is able to make responsible decisions on her own is another. As for online play, you can always mute people you don't like hearing (which is what I do). The game is popular because it is well made and exercises your hand eye coordination abilities as well as allows you to plan strategies to achieve your goals set before you.
posted by Large Marge at 11:26 AM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

So....will playing a super-violent video game undo 17 years of careful, loving and attentive parenting? I don't think so--what say you guys?

No. I agree with you. But it will take up a lot of her time.

A 17 yr old girl playing COD??? You may want to keep the nerdboys away...its the quiet ones you gotta worry about...
posted by hal_c_on at 11:39 AM on January 26, 2010

I would let my seventeen-year-old play Modern Warfare, but not where I have to see it (the Wii is in the study we share), and not in front of his thirteen-year-old brother.

Not being able to play it in our house should provide a badly-needed incentive for him to move out to go to college. It doesn't seem to be enough of one, however, as he's planning to stay with us when he starts college this fall.
posted by Ery at 11:41 AM on January 26, 2010

To answer your question, no playing this game will not do anything to undermine the parenting you have done for 17 years.

But to be honest it doesn't really seem like anyone will be able to convince you that playing Call of Duty is not a bad idea over the ideas you already have.

About the online language, unless your daughter has led an incredibly sheltered life there should really be nothing to make a 17 year old truly upset or hurt. There are people who go around saying nasty things, but it's not something you should expect every time she were to play the game.

I would also urge you to consider that she is 1 year away from being an adult. You can't keep the world all sunshine and rainbows for her forever and in the grand scheme of things this is really not a big deal.

I hope this helped you, which is really what I was trying to do.
posted by DoublePlus at 11:42 AM on January 26, 2010

BTW -- I had to take the bubble wrap off of her at age 15 --her doctor said it probably was causing her to miss out on a lot of fun stuff ;)

I'm glad you're at least somewhat aware of what you're doing here. Really, you come off as extremely, extremely overprotective. As in, I have a hard time putting into words how overprotective you seem.

You mentioned how you thought rated R should be rated X. Have you considered the fact that, under the current movie rating systems, your daughter is already old enough to watch rated X movies? (The highest they go is NC-17.)

Your daughter is seventeen. She will within a year be considered a legal adult, able to make her own decisions whether you like them or not. For all intents and purposes, she's pretty much a young adult already. You need to let her begin making some of her own choices. She's saved up her own money, and she wants to buy a legal product she is old enough to buy. You should let her do it. Not even because you think it won't hurt her (though it won't, and the fact you have to ask the question is surprising to me to say the least), but because she's old enough to make this decision on her own.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 11:52 AM on January 26, 2010 [8 favorites]

If all you have done for her and taught to her over the past 17 years can be undone by a few hours in a $60 videogame, your system sucks and is destined to fail anyway. You have had plenty of prep time - it is about time to field-test your daughter in the world.

Remember - unless you are keeping her in the basement until marriage, the people, events, and situations she will likely be exposed to in the next few years will make you DREAM that you could have her want to stay at home and pretend to shoot at a bunch of pixels shaped like people.
posted by Moonster at 12:03 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

She's a 17-year-old young woman. If you don't trust her to make smart choices when you're watching her every move, how are you going to trust her when she's out on her own soon?

You've raised her as you've raised her, please have enough respect for her to let her do the rest.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:05 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Please listen to me when I say that MW2 makes me an asshole. Perhaps deep down I am and the game is bringing it out, but generally I'm a nice guy until I start playing that game, and then I become very aggravated. I can't even play it when my girlfriend is home anymore because I get so frustrated, make loud outbursts, and then start arguments with her when she gets tired of my behavior.

I don't know that it's necessarily the level of violence in the game, but more that you're playing against other players. There's something psychological to me for at least wanting to be an above average player. The game keeps track of wins and losses, and for some reason I've placed a great importance on being above .500 (which I no longer am). When things are going well, or at least ok, then I'm fine, but as soon as I lose more than 1 or 2 in a row, I start to get angry at the guy on the team who did badly, or with the guy who succeeded in knifing me when I was trying to shoot him, or the sniper who kills me while I'm trying to get back to where I died so I can kill the guy who knifed me, etc, etc.

The game is also frustrating because of the matchmaking system. It tries to put people in the same match who have similar W/L and kill/death records. It sounds fair, but the downside is that if you get better, the opponents you get paired up with will as well.

Also, (at the risk of getting into too much detail) the game has a maddening way of dealing with the latency associated with everyone's connections. The game has to relay your movements to the other person's XBOX and vice versa, so it compensates by allowing people to shoot at where they visualize the other person to be, not where the other person thinks they've gotten to. It leads to a lot of situations where you can die despite having moved to safety behind cover, or die to a person who has come around the corner but you haven't had a chance to see yet (or you see them, but can't react fast enough). Long story short, it adds to the frustration level.

What it comes down to for me is that no, I don't think the content necessarily is inappropriate for a 17 year old, but that the game is capable of seriously winding someone up, depending on the person and how seriously they take it. My advice would be to talk to your daughter while she is playing, or right after, and see if she is snappish. If so, it might be something to take action about.
posted by cali59 at 12:10 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

What it comes down to for me is that no, I don't think the content necessarily is inappropriate for a 17 year old, but that the game is capable of seriously winding someone up, depending on the person and how seriously they take it. My advice would be to talk to your daughter while she is playing, or right after, and see if she is snappish. If so, it might be something to take action about.

If you do this, you had better monitor her board-game usage as well. I get just as riled up at monopoly as I do with any game.

The point is, your daughter is 17 and is allowed to do all of these things - she's even free to be frustrated and snappish.
posted by Think_Long at 12:16 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

The game is fine.

But the absolute scum of the earth is on xbox live. Follow the advice to mute all but friends. And for god's sake, don't ever let her check out the UNO card rooms.
posted by anti social order at 12:18 PM on January 26, 2010

As a girl who grew up on video games, who, as a teenager, not only loved violent games but played and practiced in clans, you're making her more angry by not doing legitimate research about this than she'll ever get playing.

I haven't read the 50+ responses, but I'm sure someone else up there has mentioned that video games help hand/eye coordination and have been found to drastically improve people's driving and surgeons' small movements among other things. Most of these games are about teamwork, reading comprehension and a good portion of them are helping kids understand far more about history, the military and tactical strategies than they ever would in school.

My brother has a social impairment. I was always concerned that his utter fascination with the violent games that I played would negatively impact him and/or he would get the wrong idea. He could not be more of a total sweetheart in real life, and he loves watching some team deathmatch. It's just an exciting, fast-paced stimulant. He prefers playing slower, puzzle-solving games himself, but gets a lot of joy out of watching me play and even helps me if I don't see someone.

I think even in situations where the kid isn't a straight-A student and has had his run-ins in the past, it is far too early in this debate to try to say one way or another that video games are the problem. People have been burning each other at the stake for hundreds of thousands of years before this technology came along.

The only thing I can truly say, though, regarding all of this is the possibility of negative feedback she'll get from other players based on her gender. I'm a fairly avid player myself, so I don't really have to worry about getting my feelings hurt a whole lot because I've heard every insult in the book and put it behind me -- but when the boys find out that you're a girl and you're not having the best of days, they will say some terrible things. If she's going to be playing online over the Playstation Network (PSN) or XBOX Live! (XBL), just make sure she understands guys are going to be jerks, even if she is playing well.

They'll call her fat, tell her she must be ugly to be playing a video game, tell her that her parents obviously don't care about her or that she should go play dolls or go clubbing. Naturally you'll only hear these types of comments from 12-year-olds that sound like girls themselves, so it's laughable, but still a very real and sad truth.

These are the types of situations that will damage her, not the game. I have faith in my fellow gamer chicks that we love what we do because of what it is, and we have enough balls to get over these types of things. In the long run, if she plays online, she'll meet some really great people that acknowledge her passion for the hobby and therefore create friends for life. There are hundreds of online communities for women gamers, and XBL even has GamerChix game nights where they'll have a game a week that is nothing but girls. It's a really great way to meet like-minded, like-gendered folk.
posted by june made him a gemini at 12:18 PM on January 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

Consider that a year from now, she won't have to approach you for guidance regarding, well, anything. Controlling what she does right now is not the same as teaching her to make her own choices thoughtfully for the rest of her life.

Perhaps you could use this as an opportunity to let her make her own decisions about what type of entertainment to consume, how to spend her time, etc. Let her make the decision, but encourage her to think critically it both before she makes the purchase and while she plays the game.
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:21 PM on January 26, 2010

As far as "super-violent," no, Call of Duty is not exceedingly graphic. There is no gore, no blood spray.

Uh, I have Call of Duty: World at War for the XBox 360 and there is most certainly graphic violence and gore. In fact, one of the official rankings challenges is to kill an opponent with such force as to cause body parts to fly. I'm not kidding. Both legs often come right off when hit by artillery. Arms get shot off.

Having said that, you can turn it off it you want. I still cringe when my bony avatar stumps hit the ground. I don't like bone stuff.

I'm in agreement that there's no reason for a rational person to link the game with anything in reality. I'm an exceedingly non-violent person and I simply love CoD in all its variants.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:27 PM on January 26, 2010

I had no idea about the online players smutty language and name calling!!! ARRRRRRRRRGH You're killin' me! people!--no pun intended ;)

BTW, my daughter is a techie whiz--anything that I could possible figure out how to mute or alter the game--she can over-ride in seconds.
posted by sandra194 at 12:58 PM on January 26, 2010

By 17, you know whether or not your daughter is a good person. Her morals will be largely fixed. Something like a video game isn't going to make a mess out of that. And, she's probably in a good enough position mentally to use it to blow off steam redirected from things that could *actually* get her into hot water (like, slapping her b/f for being a jerk, etc.).

I say, it's AOK. Keep in mind, also, that she'll play through the game and get tired of it in a few months, and maybe her next gaming urge will be the next Super Mario Whatever, which is guaranteed to be cute and family-friendly. It's never about the subject matter of the game, it's about whether the game core is really good. The rest is just just decoration, and 99.44% of semi-serious to serious gamers get that.

Your instincts are correct. Since she's not, like, pulling the wings off flies, she's well-adjusted enough to handle CoD:MW2.

As a small caveat, keep an eye out as to the online-chat portion of online play. I suspect that she probably wants to play mostly with her (real-life) friends. But, like with any internet chat, you never know who's on other end of the pipe. I'm not saying to forbid, just keep an ear out and ask her about who she's playing with/against. The risk here is low, and it drops to practically nil if you're actively involved.
posted by Citrus at 12:59 PM on January 26, 2010

anything that I could possible figure out how to mute or alter the game--she can over-ride in seconds.

Actually, I think most people here were suggesting that if she were uncomfortable with the language of other players, then she could disable voice chatting. This is not like a V-Chip on your TV.

This is sounding more to me like you should discuss the aspects of this purchase with your daughter and actually listen to what she has to say.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:06 PM on January 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

BTW, my daughter is a techie whiz--anything that I could possible figure out how to mute or alter the game--she can over-ride in seconds.

Muting random foul-mouthed kids online is not something you should need to force on your daughter; the idea is that if she finds that stuff obnoxious, she can do so. Most gamers do this of their own volition because they don't enjoy listening to the lowest-common-denominators hollering dumb stuff at each other.

Again: this is not something you have the power to effectively police if your daughter disagrees with you; it seems like on some level at least you understand that already. If your question is, in fact, "will this game cause harm", the answer is a flat and simple no. No, it will not damage your daughter. The overwhelming response in this thread has been to say just that.
posted by cortex at 1:06 PM on January 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

Your daughter is, at most, a year away from being a full-fledged adult (ignoring the US's ridiculous drinking laws). Are you really this uncomfortable with her making adult decisions like whether to play a "violent" video game at this age?

Don't get me wrong, I am not in support of the kind of behavior that you're very likely to find when playing something like CoD online, but you don't really believe she hasn't heard or seen it all at school or with friends or similar, right?

It is my belief (admittedly IANAPsychologist) that at 17 it is pretty unlikely your otherwise well-adjusted daughter is going to play a violent video game and walk away from it with some newly developed violent tendencies or even an idea that war/killing is fun in real life.

I don't mean to sound rude (truly), but your daughter is nearly an adult. This is the kind of question I might expect to see from a 13 year old's parent... tell me you haven't let the media wind you up so much about video games or movies or television that you honestly think "playing a super-violent video game [might] undo 17 years of careful, loving and attentive parenting".
posted by asciident at 1:23 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you do this, you had better monitor her board-game usage as well. I get just as riled up at monopoly as I do with any game.

UNO is the worst. We played one time where if you made someone Draw 2 (or 4), then that person instead of drawing could also play a Draw 2 (or 4) and the person after them would have to draw 4 (or 8). I don't think I've ever seen a group of people so enraged in my life.

Monopoly sucks too.
posted by cali59 at 1:27 PM on January 26, 2010

all you can do is raise your kids the way you see fit and hope they take those lessons to heart. it seems scary and crazy making to let the girl you've been protecting and pouring all of yourself into just take the reins. however, think about it like teaching her to drive - did you wait until her 16th birthday, hand her the keys, point towards the car and just let her take it for a drive? of course not - that would be insane. instead you probably talked about car safety, pointed things out when you drove, and then sat beside her while she figured out where reverse was. the same principles are at work here - you could either hold her tight and shelter her until she turns 18 and moves out - or you could allow her to start making independent choices and learning what that's all about while she's still close enough for you to say "ok, what have we learned here". the reason there is a stereotype for church kids to go crazy in college is because they're sheltered too much at home and when they finally get freedom, they go balls out. by giving her bits of freedom while still at home, you're creating the foundation for her to make good choices once you don't have ultimate control any longer.

i think you were totally within your rights to say "i don't find that game acceptable, and i'm not going to pay for it" - and i think she made the right choice by saying "i know you don't approve, but i really want it, so i'm going to use my money". she's learning a very important lesson about how you won't provide everything she wants, now let her follow through and get the game.
posted by nadawi at 1:28 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

My husband (24 years old) has been playing violent video games since he was 15 and loves blasting the living daylights out of other players on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

He is also a pacifist who would claim conscientious objector status in the event of a military draft. He is adamant about never having a gun in our home. His one fight was when he was 13. He's respectful to women and doesn't like it when people say "bitch" or "whore." Why is he like this? Because this is how his parents raised him to be.

Do some online players use insulting or foul language? Yes. But because his parents raised him to be a good, honorable man, he just ignores it and mutes it of his own free will, because he doesn't like to hear that stuff. His mom doesn't have to come over to mute it for him. He does it himself. Again, it's how he was raised.

This is the ultimate goal of parenting: to make sure your kids can filter information and make decisions and do things on their own, not require Mom and Dad to stand behind them with the Mute button at the ready.

Give her some credit. Give your parenting some credit. She's 17 and she'll be fine.
posted by castlebravo at 1:29 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

my daughter is a techie whiz--anything that I could possible figure out how to mute or alter the game--she can over-ride in seconds.

Your daughter is also nearly an adult. The time for you to be muting her videogames for her has passed. The question is, as she transitions into adulthood, do you let her practice making decisions like whether to mute or un-mute the videogame under your supervision or do you treat her like a child right up until she leaves for college?
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:36 PM on January 26, 2010

oh - and about the cursing mouth breathers online...

i'm a girl gamer. i've been playing videogames since i had big bird on the commodore 64. this stuff isn't new to xbox live. it happens at D&D tables and Magic games and comic stores. first time i heard the "shouldn't you be in the kitchen" was when i was about 9 and i had just schooled my brother's friend on super mario brothers. i think it has actually made me better able to deal with assholes. i've gotten a lot of experience with knowing how to blow these types of guys off, so by the time idiots were approaching me in bars with lame sexist pick up lines, i had an arsenal of stuff to respond with.

i'll reiterate, sheltering her isn't the same as preparing her for the world. she'll be better prepared if she can start dipping her toes in the shallow waters (your living room) before it's time for her to dive in (living on her own).
posted by nadawi at 1:38 PM on January 26, 2010

17 is old enough for anything. It's time to let go.

You know the old poker adage, "if you can't spot the sucker in the room, it's you"? Take a look at your daughter's friends' parents--can you spot the crazy overprotective one, the one that inspires pity for their children even in other concerned parents?
posted by equalpants at 1:39 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have multiple friends who grew up with parents as controlling as you seem to be. They all resent their parents for this to some degree.

That said, I'm not sure how honest this question really is. You've entirely ignored the huge consensus of answers.
posted by ripley_ at 1:44 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

You might want to take a look at the (UK government commissioned) Bryon review on the effect of video game violence/the internet on children and teens
posted by Erberus at 1:45 PM on January 26, 2010

So....will playing a super-violent video game undo 17 years of careful, loving and attentive parenting? I don't think so--what say you guys?

Of course it won't.

Also: COD: MW2 is pretty dang awesome multiplayer, at least on the PC. Tell her to get it on PC. There are somewhat fewer racist, homophobic, undersexed teenage boys. They are still present but it's a lot easier to deal with.

Besides, first person shooters are a PC bastion.
posted by Justinian at 1:52 PM on January 26, 2010

If you haven't tried it: maybe you should try playing video games with your daughter.

I'm not saying you should play Call of Duty (don't knock it before you've tried it, though!). But there are any number of games on Xbox/PS3/Wii/PC that might be more your speed, games that you and your daughter could enjoy together. Playing games with your daughter would have two beneficial effects: first, you'd get to spend quality time with her while she's doing something that she is (evidently) passionate about; and second, it will help you to understand better how video games work, what part they play in your daughter's life, and how they affect her.

(Also, you'll probably have fun.)
posted by aparrish at 1:55 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've felt it was my responsibility to raise my children to a point where they could make decisions for themselves, and so that they could function as productive, ethical adults. Therefore, they have had a lot of freedom and resultant responsibility for a long time. For example, they were allowed to swear if they chose (I knew they would anyway) but if they offended someone (teacher, neighbour) I would not protect them from the consequences.

We often had conversations about ethical matters - a memorable one was when my son, at age 12 used 'gay' as a synonym for pathetic. After that conversation, which must have made an impact, I learned that he was trying to convince his friends not to use the word 'gay' in that way. Of course, he was unsuccessful, but my point is, it's not external influences that are the big deal because you can not protect your kids from them. If you don't let your daughter play the game at home where she can discuss the situation, then she will play it elsewhere. She's making her own decisions now, she's deciding "is my parent justified in preventing me from doing this when it's not illegal or immoral?" and if she decides you're not justified, she will do it anyway and hide it from you.

By the way, my children have had access to computers, and computer games from a very young age - at 6, my son came into the kitchen and told me that "the sanctity of this place has been fouled" (Diablo, I believe). They've both got internet access. Both kids help out around the house, both have done well in school (my daughter graduated 3rd in her grade), both have ethical standards that I am proud of, social consciences, political awareness. Neither of them choose to drink (though their parents do), or do drugs. So playing computer games has not corrupted them. I doubt that it will corrupt your daughter.
posted by b33j at 1:58 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

On top of the comments saying she can easily mute the offending players, other players will be hearing them spewing as well, and likely defend her. In any event, in the case of XBOX Live anyway, is that you can go to that player's profile and not only report them for Verbal Harassment, but then tell XBL that this is a non-preferred player, and it will never put you in a game with them again.

If the person is incredibly nasty, entire teams will gang up on them and report them, usually resulting in permanent banning of their accounts. I'm sure there are similar things on the Playstation Network, too.

I know you're just trying to be a good father, but she's at 17 she can not only buy these games herself, but she is by and far mature enough to deal with the nuisances that will come her way. :)
posted by june made him a gemini at 1:59 PM on January 26, 2010

BTW, my daughter is a techie whiz--anything that I could possible figure out how to mute or alter the game--she can over-ride in seconds.

There's really no point. Let her have the headset and within a half-hour she'll mute them herself. You really need to trust her.
posted by yeti at 2:04 PM on January 26, 2010

this stuff isn't new to xbox live. it happens at D&D tables and Magic games and comic stores.
nadawi, I agree re: consoles & PC games, but if you've heard these comments in real life at tabletop games, I'm quite surprised. I have never felt just the opposite when it comes to these types of games - the players are excited to teach someone new or find a new opponent. It's unfortunate that wasn't the case for you.

Justinian, I disagree. PC gamers are scum too. I've heard far worse from them than the idiots on XBL. That said, while I agree that shooters are better played with mouse and keyboard, the girl is only 17 and I'm sure her dad isn't about to run out and get her all of the latest hardware in order to even compete with a lot of the other players. It's a lot more fun and a lot less frustrating to know that everyone's hardware is exactly the same, even if that means picking up a bulky controller instead.
posted by june made him a gemini at 2:06 PM on January 26, 2010

You've entirely ignored the huge consensus of answers.

Oh countraire! I am not ignoring you guys--I think that everyone here has pretty much backed up what I was thinking. Sure I may not like CoDMW2/3/4/5/ --but I do plan to play it --at least once :)

I let my daughter try many things and she does see R rated movies now. I just remind her (constantly!) "remember how you were raised". I am always walking the thin line between being over-protective and being an awake and aware parent.

posted by sandra194 at 2:08 PM on January 26, 2010

I had no idea about the online players smutty language and name calling!!! ARRRRRRRRRGH You're killin' me! people!--no pun intended ;)

I have no idea if this is a joke or not. If it isn't, you're going to ridiculous lengths to find a reason not to allow your daughter to play this game. You started out expressing concern that a game based around endless war might not be the best influence for a 17 year old. The concern's overblown, but I can see how you got there. Now you profess to be shocked...shocked that a community populated by huge numbers of adolescent boys has high levels of "smutty language" and "name calling"? Please.

If you just can't abide the idea of having the game in your house then you just can't abide it, but don't go telling your daughter that you don't want to expose her to "name calling." My grandma would roll her eyes at that.

If that was a joke, feel free to call me a name. I played video games so I can take it.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 2:12 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Playing a video game will not undo 17 years of moral parenting, but being an overprotective ever-present annoyance will undo 17 years of communication with your daughter. Ease up or you will lose her when she moves out.
posted by WeekendJen at 2:13 PM on January 26, 2010

but if you've heard these comments in real life at tabletop games, I'm quite surprised.

when a girl wants to game, there's usually at least one sexist asshole who doesn't like that for whatever reason. it's been getting better over the last few years as more girls game - but i've heard that stuff over multiple groups of friends in differing areas, like i said, starting when i was about 9.
posted by nadawi at 2:32 PM on January 26, 2010

Let her buy the game. But if she's absorbed your (extremely conservative) standards over her life, she may not like it. I quit playing Wii Boxing because I couldn't deal with punching my friends in the face. Someone as sheltered as your daughter sounds may have a learning experience when she starts to play.
posted by amber_dale at 2:40 PM on January 26, 2010

Uh, I have Call of Duty: World at War for the XBox 360 and there is most certainly graphic violence and gore

World at War was the one I skipped, haha. In any case, I don't recall seeing gore and blood splatter in MW2. I could be wrong.
posted by InsanePenguin at 2:48 PM on January 26, 2010

Also I'd like to point out that the only way the online gaming community gets better is if cool mature people dilute the moron pool. To that end, it would be nice for the rest of us if you'd let her play.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 2:58 PM on January 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

There isn't really gore in MW2, but there is blood spatter. Not by the gallon, though.
posted by Giggilituffin at 3:05 PM on January 26, 2010

(Just to be perfectly clear--despite raising the question of offensive language in online gameplay, I still say let the kid play.)
posted by box at 3:09 PM on January 26, 2010

I had no idea about the online players smutty language and name calling!!! ARRRRRRRRRGH

She has been on the internet, right? She went to middle school, didn't she? She has friends? She has interacted with people of the opposite gender? She has been outside?

She'll be okay.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:03 PM on January 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

You should know that there is a controversial scene in the game involving civilians being killed in an airport.

But I agree with others. In one year she'll be old enough to enlist and actually shoot guns at people in real life. She's old enough to handle the game.
posted by kenliu at 5:15 PM on January 26, 2010

On the PS3 as well you can turn down the volume of people chatting. I don't know about selective muting, but I don't usually play online with friends, more the random team stuff. Yes, there are slurs, there is obnoxiousness. Other than that, multi-player is fine (the "last kill of the match" slow motion with bloodspray is a bit excessive for my tastes, though).

The story-mode, though, is more than just that one airport scene. The way the game proceeds, where you're playing the "good guys," but you're killing other "good guys" by the hundreds, I'm not that crazy about. I don't think a thinking person would be able to say that the final scene involved any kind of "goodness" and there is a pretty fair amount of gore.

But, really, she's seventeen. Think of this as a triage thing: She'll be in college soon. Maybe you want the last year of her living at home to be a positive one, something she'll remember fondly while she's away. A mother that says "no playing that videogame under my house, even though you're pretty much an adult" isn't going to provide that. If anything, it will nudge her towards the "thank god I got out of that house" side of the tracks, where the upbringing you gave her will seem like shackles she's just broken out of.

A seventeen year old? No problem. 14 or younger? I don't think so. Not unless they played it through with me first, and they told me what they thought of it (not me interogating them, instead, them telling me about their opinions on the story and the choices presented).
posted by Ghidorah at 7:53 PM on January 26, 2010

For the record, you can absolutely mute people on the PS3 version.

This is an invaluable feature. Because, as so many have mentioned so far, muting about 90% of the players is necessary.
posted by Netzapper at 7:57 PM on January 26, 2010


I'm going to flip this on its head for a moment.

You've done a lot more to raise a well behaved daughter than just keep her away from certain sorts of media. Now, suppose somebody who wasn't you did everything normal -- but copied just that one aspect. Would their daughter turn out as well as yours?

No. Oh god no. There is so much more to raising a sane kid than what you kept away from her.
posted by effugas at 4:03 AM on January 27, 2010

I love you guys :::sniffling::: Thanks so much for the kind words, opinions and the knock in the head.

Yes she is off to college next year::::sniffling again:::
posted by sandra194 at 5:01 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

"An above all --let go of the idea that you can be in control at all times with kids and families. It never works. Good Luck"

This is a quote from You, earlier this year in a great answer to another parent in need.

Follow your own good advice.

Let her get the game and should she need you; you'll be there.
posted by French Fry at 8:29 AM on January 27, 2010

French Fry, thanks for the reminder quote (you did a Jon Stewart on me?) it just goes to show that we can give advice better than we can take it.
posted by sandra194 at 8:44 AM on January 27, 2010

sandra194, I think that was a really graceful response to the strength of reply you got in this thread. (Not that I really disagree with anyone's points, but AskMeFi is often good at giving that "knock in the head".)

I just wanted to add that discussing the sexist online chat she might hear could actually be a sort of learning moment together, too. I was mostly thrown into online gaming with no preparation (although with fantastic friends), and I still don't feel very confident communicating with other players. Some of this is due to a bit of shyness on my part, but some is due to the fact that I never learned good coping mechanisms; i.e., how to handle the sexism in a brief, forceful way that doesn't ruin my day. Learning how to handle sexism in a confident and assertive way is a great lesson to learn.
posted by lillygog at 9:37 AM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

sandra194, I think that was a really graceful response to the strength of reply you got in this thread.

Sandra194, I second lillygog's compliment.
posted by applemeat at 11:09 AM on January 27, 2010

At 17, your daughter is probably familiar with the type of language used in online gaming, although perhaps she's lucky and hasn't been a target of it yet. You are not doing her any favors by shielding her from bigotry at this age, especially bigotry directed against her (misogyny). The sooner she learns how to deal with it, the better prepared she will be for the occasional jerk we all inevitably encounter in college, at work, or on the street. If anything, the garbage she hears online will reinforce the values you've taught her at home.

I don't mean to be harsh, because you are obviously doing a lot of things right if your daughter is still open with you, but your overprotectiveness sounds so stifling that I'm surprised your daughter even asked you for permission to buy the game. I was much younger than her when I quit talking to my parents about my life altogether and started going behind their backs to enjoy whatever media I wanted. In the end, I was exposed to all the same influences as kids with less protective parents! Their lack of faith in me was really insulting, and I doubt I will ever confide in them or have the warm, trusting relationship that some people have with their parents. Your daughter doesn't sound as if she's cut you off emotionally, but please be aware that your lack of trust in her now could affect your relationship in the future.
posted by Drop Daedalus at 11:59 AM on January 27, 2010

I think this has been answered pretty well, but for another data point - I'm in my 30s and I've been gaming since elementary school. I was a scholarship student to a good school and I have a great job. I am, if anything, TOO nice in real life - my husband calls me "the good cop." I have strong morals and ethics.

And I ALSO have a wonderful time playing Fallout 3, picking off supermutants with one head shot from my sniper rifle.

The biggest favor my parents did was teach me to examine my beliefs and be an independent thinker.

She will be fine. Just please don't do the "I hope YOU would never consider shooting anyone with a machine gun! You know that's wrong, right??" thing. The poster above is SO RIGHT on the eye-rolling.
posted by oblique red at 2:14 PM on January 27, 2010

If you're looking for a female-friendly videogaming group, you could have a look at MeFightClub. We're mostly into PC gaming, rather than X-Box 360/PS3, but almost every night we're online playing games like Left 4 Dead 2 and Team Fortress 2. These games are violent, but it's a silly over-the-top violence rather than anything sickening.

As on MeFi, we don't tolerate sexist/racist/homophobic behavior, and no one makes fun of new players for not knowing how to play.
posted by JDHarper at 8:04 PM on January 31, 2010 [3 favorites]

No one is buying it so they can shoot people in the head.

They are buying it so they can call in the tactical nuclear strike, which is the coolest thing ever.

At least, that is what my thirteen-year-old tells me.

His mom thinks that he is spending hours learning to kill. I tell him to not advertise that he is playing MW2. Perhaps not healthy to see a division in the parents, but she gets so frantic that we can't even talk about it, and my experience has been that it's like the matrix--you start seeing situations and contexts after you play for a while, not individuals getting head shots so much.
posted by mecran01 at 1:21 PM on March 17, 2010

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