Video Games and Attitude

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We have a rule in Hall household that goes something like this:

When you start to get angry or frustrated at a video game, you need to turn it off and take a break.

This rule applies to myself and to my son. Years of playing video games has taught me that taking a break, when angry or frustrated, is beneficial. Even when you are so frustrated that all you want to do is keep pushing through, I’ve found that it is best to stop. There is something taking a break does to the brain. As a kid, I remember pausing a game overnight and then being able to destroy a boss, that was previously impossible, the next day.

But what about when a game causes attitude? Anger that one can’t play longer or even has to quit? I remember a period when I was playing Mass Effect 2 a few years ago. I’d play the game late into the night, ignoring my bride, who would end up giving up and going to bed. I felt a pull while playing that game, a drive to see where the story went. Mass Effect 2 had it’s hooks in me just as World of Warcraft did years before.

I know that I can have issues with some games. Even though I haven’t been hooked on a game in awhile, I know that the right combination of design elements can take me down.

The same is true with my son. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild pushed all the right buttons for him. It was all that he and the kids at church were talking about. I’d constantly hear about the Divine Powers:

  • Revali’s Gale
  • Daruk’s Protection
  • Mipha’s Grace
  • Urbosa’s Fury

I’d hear so much about Breath of the Wild that I thought I was going to go nuts. And the attitude that came with the game, whenever he had to quit, was frustrating.

Tabitha and I find ourselves at the same attitude point again with Fortnite. But this time it’s a little different due to gaming elements Fortnite embraces (your child is being manipulated):

  1. The Store with Artificial Demand – When you log into the game, you can easily tab over to the Fortnite store. Here you can look/obsess/covet the latest in Fortnite cosmetics. Some of these cosmetics are available for a limited time, playing into an artificial demand where kids think they have to purchase something before it is gone.
  2. The Subscription with a Shady Pay-to-Win-with-Time Formula – Once you buy the $10 Battle Pass, Fortnite is all about unlocking tiers, which then unlock different cosmetics/skins/cool looking things. Fortnite developers Epic Games boasts on their website that the Battle Pass equals: 100 tiers, 100 rewards. One marketing bullet point states that it takes 75-150 hours worth of gameplay to unlock everything in the Battle Pass. Fortnite encourages players to dump as much time as they can into the game through their shady tier/unlock scheme. A pay-to-win-with-time formula, aimed at children.
  3. The Feedback Loop – A typical match takes 20 minutes to play. Unless you are knocked out of the match, in which case you can just jump into another match… and another match… and another match. This creates a feel good feedback loop for your brain. Just one more match, mom.

What is a parent to do? Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • On the Nintendo Switch, you can set a screen time timer to help manage your child’s play. There are several options to choose from when the timer runs out, including shutting down the console (if you are feeling evil; Do not provoke your children… – Ephesians 6:4). Each console has different parental settings, read up on them, empower yourself.
  • Parent. Talk to your child about their attitude. Be ready to follow through with consequences (don’t offer empty threats). Also don’t be afraid to have your child take a day off a game.

Gaming attitude is something our parents did not have to deal with as much as we have to–although I say that while clearly remembering my Mom taking away the NES controllers–. So set some boundaries/consequences and read up/educate yourself on the tools you have at your disposal. Learn about the game your child is playing, the one you are growing to hate because of their attitude. You never know, you might learn something about your child and be able to help them set healthy boundaries to use later on in their adult lives.

You are the parent. You do not deal nor negotiate with emotional terrorism.

Gaming is a privilege, not a right. (I can’t believe I just wrote that as a dad who games.)

How are you working through your child’s attitude when it comes to games?

World of Warcraft Isn’t Cheers Anymore

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A few weeks ago, I decided to stir the gaming pot and ask some of my close friends a simple question:

What would it take to get you back to playing World of Warcraft?

The following are their responses, starting with my own:

For me, right now, the only thing that could get me back into that game would be friends playing it again. That and knowing that I’d be able to play with them regardless of the time difference. Will admit though that playing this game again would feel like taking two steps back for some reason.

A friend from college replied:

I honestly don’t think I could go back. I’ve peg holed it with such negative feelings that I would first need a reason to make it beneficial to my real life. Right now, I just don’t see how it could be. I know my schedule now. I’ll never have hours per week to sit down and play it and so even with friends on there it would have to be something we do once a month maybe, and I can’t even really see pulling that off. Combine that with the monthly fee and there’s no way I’m paying 100 bucks over the next three months to hang out with some friends for 3 or 4 hours.

My friend Lord Andrew said:

For me to play WoW again?  It would take the promise that my group of friends would all commit to playing it together again.  That’s where the enjoyment is, playing with friends.

Combat Chuck replied:

I agree with Lord Andrew, plus I at this point I’d need to add time and money to the equation 🙂 but more than that, video game interest has waned for me and I don’t have a big pull or drive toward many games other than a couple on my phone 🙂

Finally, my friend Scotto finished with some great thoughts:

There might come a day when one of you guys will announce you are playing WoW again…and I will feel that familiar pull to play…but I think something else will finally come along that will be much better. Diablo 3 perhaps?

I’m always up for some Left 4 Dead 2 🙂  Nothing like immediate zombie-killing gratification with friends.

World of Warcraft burnout seems to run deep amongst my friend pool. Quite simply, all of our lives have changed since the game launched back in 2004. Many of us are now married, have moved onto other games, and have been overwhelmed with life responsibilities. As good of a time I had in Azeroth, I just don’t see myself going back. Why visit a place where your friends no longer reside? Why return to a world where everyone doesn’t know your name?

RIFT Impressions 1.2

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Often times I feel like I’ll mention a game on this site and then never talk about it again. I promise you that this is not some small part of a larger conspiracy theory. I truthfully just quickly get bored with games that fail to grab hold of me. Case in point:

Closing Thoughts:

MMO’s are time-sucking-vortexes that I simply do not have time for anymore. While I still enjoy reading about them, I feel that the genre as a whole has not advanced forward. World of Warcraft is the pinnacle of modern MMO gaming. Games like RIFT, though polished, offer me nothing compelling to forget about World of Warcraft and move forward. I do hope that Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2 do something to shake up this genre funk. I miss playing a good MMO. Until that day, MMO’s like RIFT have been banished from my computer. Case closed.