CALL OF (Parental) DUTY: Part II “Freedom To Game Is Important”

This is the second in my series of CALL OF (Parental) DUTY posts about the discussion we are having in our house about violent video games. Today is my 13 year-old son Sevrin’s chance to share his point of view.  Below is a letter that he wrote to us (his parents) about his frustrations with not be able to get Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

I’m proud of you, Sev, for expressing your feelings so eloquently and – especially – for putting the time and effort into writing them down for us. When I read this, I remember precisely how frustrating it is to feel that you are no longer a child but yet are not allowed to make many choices for yourself. Thank you for writing this and allowing me to share it with others. 

Freedom To Game Is Important

I want you to imagine, for a minute, that you are in a library. Or maybe a book store. There are rows and rows of books. Each book holds a story, unique and special in its own way. In this library filled with books you have the Fantasy row, the Action row, the Poetry row and then you come across the Childrens section. The library lady (or man) says that you are only allowed  to check out books from the Childrens row because she (or he) doesn’t think that you are “ready” for the big boy books. Now I ask you, how would you feel? You have rows and rows of books and yet you are restricted to the small corner and you’ve just been told to deal with it. If you were me, you’d probably feel sad, maybe a little frustrated, and a little bit confused on why you have to read Elmo and Barbie when you could be reading Shakespeare and anything you could possibly dream of. Alas, this brings me to my point. Of course I am exaggerating when I say all I can do is read Elmo but I’m trying to make my point clear. Why is gaming any different from reading in terms of age restrictions?

If it’s because M games are too gorey then I wonder why I’m allowed to read A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. The true horrors of war seep from that book. Kids get kidnapped, hopped up on drugs, and told to kill anybody who opposes their “Dad” (The General of the RUF). In the book, the character sees people get stabbed and shot all the time. He sees people with their fingers chopped off and the letters RUF scorched into their backs. He’s seen women running from the fight with babies on their backs, not knowing that their kin had just taken a bullet and saved their parent’s life. So now I’ve seen it too. And I know what war is like in real life. I know what war does to people and I understand how terrible it is. But I don’t see a problem with shooting a blob in the form of a human that is really just something on the screen. I’m not hurting anybody by playing an M game. That’s like saying that I can’t shoot a target at a shooting range because I might hurt the wooden carving of a person. Besides, do you really think that I’ll become some sort of stone cold killer if a kill something in a digital world?!

If you are concerned about exposing me to bad language then you’re going to have to do a lot more than not allowing me to play M games. Say we are to watch a movie like umm… let’s just go with Band of Brothers. Swearing in that series is important in the plot. It gives the viewer a really good sense of WWII and war in general. But it’s not just from movies and books, it’s also from people around me. Take you/Dad for example. If you/Dad get angry, really angry, you tend to have a fairly large potty mouth. But sometimes swearing is required to get it into my head that “Yeah, I do need to stop complaining about bedtime.”  Plus, there is no doubt that there is swearing in T games, too. On top of all of that, I don’t think that just because I hear people swearing in a video game means I’m going to repeat the words I hear to other people say or mouth off at you/Dad. Like I said, I hear swearing all around me.Now, if the problem is that I’m just not old enough to be able to have the freedom to choose any game I want well, I disagree. I’m turning 13. That means I’m a teenager. I am both physically mature and mentally mature.  I am shaving and my voice is dropping, no, plummeting like a giant rock. I am also taller than Mom (Mocky!) and catching you, Dad. As for mentally, I’ve been trying to keep all A’s in part because of this. I am smart and know I can handle M games but have not been given a chance for three years. I made the mistake of asking for Deus Ex. But once again, I was ten and had a squeaky voice. I need freedom and choice instead of getting advice (although, sometimes the advice is helpful). I’m asking for a chance to try it again.

The bottom line is, I think that I can take it. If I don’t get to play M games now, I will probably have to wait two or three more years! We have no solid date or age in which I can play M games and I think that 13 is the perfect time to start. I want the ability to choose what games I should and shouldn’t play. And believe me, I know what games I want to get and don’t want. I sit here and search and search and search. I research games all the time and the reason I chose Black Ops II is because I honestly think that it would be fun. I didn’t choose this game just to be with the Kewl Kids. I’m not, as you may well know, a “hop on the bandwagon” kind of guy. Maybe one of the reasons the Call of Duty franchise got so big is because people had a really good time playing them. One other thing about Call of Duty is that Treyarch is the company making BLOPS II and they are known for making a much better story than Infinity Ward and with the futuristic setting, they have opened the floodgates to creative ideas and lots of options. I hope you at least consider what I’m asking for and thank you for reading.

Read the introduction to the CALL OF (Parental) DUTY series here.
For more of the Weekly Writing Challenge: Just Do It!, click here.

18 thoughts on “CALL OF (Parental) DUTY: Part II “Freedom To Game Is Important”

  1. Piper George

    Well written. And interesting to read the teenage point of view. I feel there is a large difference in reading a book and thereby creating your own image in your mind to having an image inserted there by the mind of a games creator. Personally I think that when you feel a child is old enough to handle a shooting game is up to the parent, but that there should be restrictions. I would not allow my child to go from not being allowed a game to full access. Game play would come with rules – ie you can play for one hour, but you have to play an outside non violent game for one hour too. Get some air, refresh those brain cells.


    1. True! I agree. I think he raises some good points and it did make me think. Why are books different from visual stimuli? It prompted me to do more research out of respect and fairness to his point of view. More posts to come on that. Thanks so much for your comment!


  2. Pingback: CALL OF (Parental) DUTY: Part I « The Human Rights Warrior

  3. Jan

    Wow! Just wow! I’m hooked…can’t wait for more. Love reading your posts. As a mom of girls, I look forward to seeing how your posts/topics evolve as your daughter ages. Thank you for sharing and keep ’em coming.


  4. Great discussion. One comment I would add is that in books and movies others are doing the shooting or committing the violent acts. In video games, you are. I, too, would worry about the de-sensitizing impact of putting yourself in the position of killer. Sevrin, you nevertheless make excellent points. You are an impressive young man and your intelligence and independence will get you far.


  5. Pingback: CALL OF (Parental) DUTY: Part III This Is Your Brain On Video Games « The Human Rights Warrior

  6. Arianne Z.

    I wish more parents would take the time to do what you do. Also, I wish more kids these days would appreciate it when their parents try reach out to them.


    1. I have to admit, it would be easier to just cave on this. Oh, the challenges of parenting! But I’m thankful that we can have a discussion about it and that my son is not just shutting me out. Thanks so much for your comment!


  7. A well argued piece that raised many points for consideration. I guess what I got most out of what your son was saying is that as a parent (or the one in the parenting role), there is another element that the governing adult may overlook in our considerations: and that is in considering the specific child in relation to the game being discussed. He asks that we consider what impact the game will have on THIS child? Do we trust THIS child to understand what the game engages them in? And if not, then there are further discussions to be had with the child so that we both have a shared understanding of the gaming experience. I know that I am guilty of overlooking this point and I am thankful that your son allowed you to share his thoughts in this way.


    1. Thanks for your comment. Yes, I agree that he makes an important point that we have to consider him as an individual. Ultimately, we told him that he can’t have the game right now but that we will continue to discuss and reconsider next year (rather than saying absolutely no until you are out of the house). Not a very satisfying answer for him, as you can probably guess. But we are allowing him to play at friends’ houses if their parents allow it. I appreciate your insight!


  8. Heidi

    Very interesting, and Sev, your writing and arguments are impressive. Jennifer, when I started going to Belgium to visit Bruce’s sister and her family the boys were playing CoD, which I initially found disturbing. (Caveat: Stefan was at least 15.) The thing that won me over – a bit- was that it was the two brothers against the bad guys; they were working as a team.
    Look forward to reading part 3.


  9. Pingback: CALL OF (Parental) DUTY: Part IV Gaming for A Good Cause | The Human Rights Warrior

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