There Are Responsible Parents Out There

I've often criticised parents for not taking enough responsibility for the gaming habits of their children, but an experience I had over the weekend gives me hope that there are indeed responsible parents out there.

I was at a GameStop off of Dallas Highway in Marietta, Georgia on New Year's Day, looking through the used bins for rare gems, when a rare gem of a parent went up to the counter. The dark-haired older woman was in the market for a Nintendo Wii, but was concerned that her 14-year-old son might meet undesirable people using the system's online capabilities.

This is the point where those of us familiar with the online capabilities of the various consoles laugh, but for a parent unaware that the Nintendo Wii has the most frustratingly secure online gaming experience of the big three, the question is an important one.

"What I want to know is can strangers get to my son online using the Wii," the woman asked the GameStop clerk, who began stumbling through an answer. The clerk obvious wasn't very familiar with the Wii, so I chimed in. I explained that the Wii was probably the most secure of the three consoles, and for the most part any online interactions not governed by the use of friend codes were completely anonymous.

"I just want to make sure perverts can't get to my child," she explained, indicating a thoroughly embarrassed teenage boy standing behind her, trying hard not to be seen. Parents only embarrass us because they care.

"What about voice chat?" she continued, perhaps not content with the reassurances of a scruffy game writer with facial piercings and a used copy of Rumble Roses for the PlayStation 2 in his hand. A salt-and-pepper-haired older gentleman waiting in line answered, explaining that unless she purchased the optional microphone attachment her son was safe from communicating with strangers.

"I monitor every game my sons play," the man offered. "When they are playing a game, I'm there with them, making sure they aren't being bothered by strangers."

The two paired off and began talking quietly, and I paid for my purchases and left the store, pondering what I had just witnessed. It was the sort of parental display I thought only occurred in the minds of ESRB employees trying to spread the word about the importance of ratings. Sure, the woman's concern bordered on paranoia, and a young person might think the father's attention too overbearing, but they're both parents whose children aren't likely to be lured away by strangers on the internet, and that's a good thing.

It was heartwarming to know that I was wrong, at least about two parents shopping in a Marietta GameStop on Christmas Day.


    Most parents are probably something like this, we only hear from retards in the news.

    because retards make news.

    nice article!

    I certainly play every game with my son :) (but that's cause they are fun!)

    We only play Afrika and Little Big Planet though.

    Although he is keen for Go Deigo Go on the wii :)

    But LBP is awesome We chill together solving puzzles, there is a real sense of pride watching your 4 year old solve a push pull puzzle in LBP that's for sure :)

    Thats fantastic to hear that there are some people out there that actually care. Hopefully more parents become like this and also realise that there is no R18+ rating for games...

    Makes me wonder how much of a responsible parent Michael Atkinson is if he needs a flawed rating systems to protect his almost-adult children.

    The other day, I was at an EB when this kid, who wouldn't have been older than 12, wanted his parents to but him Assasin's creed. I have to fucking hand it to the EB clerk, the parents asked about it and he said:
    'Basically, the objective of the game is to go around murdering people. It's not a very nice game'

    They promptly put the game back down on the counter and dragged screaming/crying spoiled brat out of the store

      Good on the guy for saying it how it is, not just trying to make the sale, or keep the kid happy.

    I was impressed by a young Video Ezy clerk who asked a young couple renting GTA IV if it was for them or for their kid, and explained that the content was really far too over the top for a child.
    I play any game pretty much through before letting my daughter (nine) play it, also watch any movies first that aren't PG. The PC is in the loungeroom for internet use so I can monitor it. Makes me sound crazy, but there is stuff that would seriously mess up a nine yr old, and it is the parent's responsibility to keep it away.
    I'd like to see an over18 category for games that were parental locked on the consoles. I enjoy games that I wouldn't let my kids hear, let alone watch or play, but it doesn't mean that the games should be banned.

    It's good to know that not everyone today is ignorant. One other thing I hope parents do though is put stuff into perspective for kids.

    I used to watch robocop and some other extremely violent movies as a little kid but my parents were quick to point out reality and right and wrong. Hope parents today will do that too.

    Positive news?



    Do those words even GO together? I've not heard this kind of madness in decades! Games are evil, TV says so!

    Way to ruin that gamestop clerk's day. I mean, yes, he was meant to be smarter and clued into all this stuff, and it does make me sad that they hire these dummmys instead of people like me, BUUUT.... as salesperson I know that one of the most irritating things is someone who is not an employee butting in and giving advice in my place.

    On the parents thing though, parents should CONTROL their children. Not like on a leash, if you teach them right they will respect and obey. You shouldn't need to say, "I watch my children play games" or, "which one will stop them from talking to strangers," if you have taught them the differences of reality and fiction and that no means no and "you better do as I say boy" means business.

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but it's not all about the salesperson, it's all about the customer, and I'm sure most would prefer a fellow customer to graciously take the initiative to help them out if the salesperson doesn't know what they're talking about (especially when it's blatantly obvious).

      What irritates me more than a salesperson who doesn't know about their products (they may be new and deserve a break), is a salesperson who tries to bluff their way through generally giving you unreliable information. I've the utmost respect for sales staff who will readily admit they don't know something but will make the effort to find out for me.

    I work at Kmart and try to help out with this type thing. I refuse to sell games to parents buying (many) M15+ games for their children or discuss the content with their parents and, 9/10 times, convince them not to buy the game.

    Glad to see I am not the only one doing this.

    (I am a 15 year old, some of us are responsible as well.)

    wish we had more parents like that lol

    I hate the Wiis online friend code system

    I think my parents would have been like this if I grew up in the online world. Mine were always very conscious of games ratings, only let me play M/MA rated games after I was 15/after they'd seen ab it and made a jusgement call about whether I could handle it.

    "Parents only embarrass us because they care".

    Parents embarrass us as kids to make up for the years of living HELL we'll put them through.

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