Some people would tell you we’re in a golden age of video gaming. Between unbelievable advances in graphics, a booming indie incident, and virtual reality simply over the horizon, I am almost inclined to believe them. But while video games might be improving , nobody seems to be paying attention to what lessons the most impressionable gamers are learning from them. Like it or not, modern video games are presenting kids totally unrealistic standards for how many swords they can carry at one time.
I make it my business as a father to pay attention to the media my kids eat, and I don’t like what I’ve been visualizing. I’ve watched them play video games where they can get 10, 15, even 20 swords, and carry them around without the slightest annoyance. As young adults, I know that’s unrealistic, but children who haven’t even carried one sword yet can’t help but unconsciously internalize it as an impossible standard, one that’s specifying them up for disappointment and thwarting when carrying swords later in life. What kind of parent would I be if I just let that travel unaddressed?
Of course, I’ve sat down with my children and explained that, realistically, a person can only hope to carry three swords at once, at most five, if they’re carrying one in each hand, too. The reality is, though, that video games are far more visceral and engrossing than any lecture can hope to be. They’ve experienced picking up longsword after broadsword after shortsword in full HD, complete with agitating sound influences and controller growls, and that’s going to leave lane more of an impression than my unglamorous terms of careful. Up against the thrill of a big-budget video game, a parent only can’t realistically hope to compete.
But out in the real world, I’m worried that they’ll be in for a rude waken. I shudder to think of my children grown up and floundering around with half a dozen swords strapped to their back and several on each hip, or worse, armfuls of unsheathed blades. How will they open doors? How can they maybe go up or down stairs? How many childhood gamers need to throw out their backs before we finally tackle this issue head-on?
When a generation that grew up seeing it can strap on nearly limitless katanas, claymores, falchions, and gladiuses finally comes face to face with reality, it’s going to be ugly.
I’d love to be able to write these games off as harmless wish fulfillment, but what’s “harmless” about literally rewiring children’s psyches to realise effortlessly toting five swords, two axes, a dozen potions, and a hundred hobgoblin skulls as normal? Good-for-nothing.
I don’t belief the developers behind games like Skyrim or the brand-new Legend Of Zelda are bad people, but I do believe they’re shirking their responsibility to our children. By establishing thrilling, consequence-free sword-hauling simulators, they’re unwittingly teaching kids lessons about knapsacks and weight limits that are going to be a lot harder to unlearn. In some suits, gamers are even being taught they can increase how many swords they can carry simply by trading in sorcery seeds or power gems, as if their promises weren’t unrealistic enough already.
When a generation that grew up guessing it can strap on nearly limitless katanas, claymores, falchions, and gladiuses eventually comes face to face with actuality, it’s going to get ugly. People are going to get hurt, likely by tripping. When that day comes, if I were a designer who made players dozens of inventory slots, I’d take a long, hard look in the reflect and ask myself what I could have done differently. And if I were one today, I’d ask myself what I could do right now to prevent some poor gamer from inadvertently burying herself under a hillock of blades.
It’s not too late to become part of the solution.
Video plays have so much better to present, from provoking kids’ imaginations to telling immersive tales to fostering social bonding. But as long as their founders preserve slipping in irresponsible messaging about the ability of a canvas rucksack, they’ll never reach their full potential. It’s long past period we changed that.