BOSTON — Computer gaming thrives on competition and combat. There's no escaping that. And as animated computer graphics and audio become ever more realistic, there is a tendency for the mayhem not just to overwhelm the game, but to become the game.
I have real problems with this.
Helping me out a bit is Johnny Wilson. He left his Kentucky pulpit to edit a computer-game magazine in San Francisco. He made the move from pastor of a Southern Baptist church to publishing more than 13 years ago because he was convinced it would allow him greater involvement in the spiritual development of youngsters.
Reading Sheila Riley's interview with him (page 17), three things leapt out at me:
First, computer games represent a locus of intense, value-shaping experiences, both positive and negative, that many of us have underestimated.
Second, when viewed the way Mr. Wilson views them, computer games can readily be selected so that the experience of playing them cumulatively expresses a set of wholesome, character-building values. Many of the games are a far cry from the stab 'em, shoot 'em, kick 'em ads one sees on TV.
Third, there's still a lot of rotten stuff pawned off on kids to fantasize about.
Just as we wouldn't let a child go off to the movies without knowing the film to be seen and the friends he or she is going with, we shouldn't let any game be booted up simply because there's a computer in the house. Parents need to know who develops a game and how software and hardware companies are marketing them to children.
Wilson's magazine helps do that even though it reviews a lot of games I wish weren't out there.
*Send e-mail to Ideas@csps.com