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My Mysticon 2020 schedule! Located at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke, VA it is this upcoming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (Feb 28, 29, Mar 1, 2020).

I have a pretty busy schedule as a guest!

Friday 3pm: Audio Podcasting and Internet Radio 101
Friday 5pm: Video Games as Research Tools
Friday 10pm: Collecting Retro Video Games

Saturday 11am: Making Videos & Streaming Games
Saturday 7pm: A TikTok Meetup

Sunday 12pm: Social Media Tools & How to Avoid Being One

It’s going to be a BUSY con! I will definitely be recording as many panels as I can for uploading later (and maybe streaming one too!).

What suggestions does everyone have for stuff to cover in my panels?

“I would like to purchase the game for my son, please.”

“Sure, Ma’am.” <goes to look at the rating on the game>”Ma’am, are you sure you want this game for them? It is rated Mature, 17+.”

“Oh my, well little Johnny is only 11. Why is it rated Mature?”

“Well that’s because of intense violence, blood and gore, and foul language.”

“Is there any sex in it?”

“Well, no, ma’am, but there is all the rest of it.”

“That’s quite ok. As long as there is no sex in it, it’s fine!”

Now repeat that situation every day for your entire retail career, and you can see a disturbing trend start to appear. Go onto your favorite online game with voice or text chat, and you will see Little Johnny on there, cursing up a storm and not even knowing what he is really saying other than it is inappropriate. Terms like “faggot” and “asshole” and other even more foul expletives fill your headphones from these pre-teens, and it is enough to make you want to give up online gaming. You will also note, as you listen, that these are all AMERICAN children that are spewing the profanities and not our European cousins. Why is that?

Now this is all supposition on my part, but I am quite willing to guess that it’s due to the violence inherent in our culture as Americans. Honestly, who does not like the “action flick” genre of movies or a good Tom Clancy novel where violence is the norm? That’s the issue, that the violence is the norm and not the exception. Let it not be said that violence is a bad thing in and of itself, but only when one is mature enough to understand that it is fictional. It is a similar proposition with language–that the user of the language understands social mores enough to know when the language used in that media is appropriate or inappropriate.

Europeans on the other hand seem to have a much more relaxed attitude to sex, as evidenced by their TV commercials and the shows that air in the EU. Violence, given how much violence has taken place in recent history in Europe, is much more toned down there. Germany, for instance, has a very hard limit on what violence and imagery is allowed in video games released in the country.

Prior to the advent of gaming consoles, the only way to access violence and language at the level where it could influence children was through the strictly controlled entertainment channels at home, such as the TV. These were under much tighter usage restrictions and often the parent was watching TV with their progeny. Now, more often than not, the progeny has their own TV set and, even if they do not have cable hooked up to it, they have a gaming system of some kind. With the ubiquity of high speed internet now, that console is also hooked up online so the children can play with their friends.

This means that parental control and interaction with the child is gone from the equation. No more is the parent monitoring what the child plays and restricting that access to the mature content. Often times, because of the older generation of parents who did not grow up with access to the consoles and their gaming brethren, they assume that the violence and language associated with gaming are on par or less than that on the TV. They do not realize that gaming consoles are not intended just for children any longer, nor that the target demographic for video games is the 16-34 age group.

Thus you end up with kids online who seem to think that having the most creative insults in the world “makes you cool.” These children assume profanity is the norm and that everyone wants to hear it. This is why games thankfully have a private match option and a mute option so that you can stem the tide of the childish/unwanted behavior. It is also why many people avoid playing multiplayer on an otherwise perfectly good game when they do not have these options.

What do we need here? We need more parents who actually investigate what is in a game and not just dismiss gaming as mere child’s play. We need a gaming industry that includes ways for parents to tone down the language and violence in games that Little Johnny just has to have. Several games have allowed you to turn off blood, or turn off language with Brutal Legend being an excellent example of what to do. There needs to be better ways to mute/remove offensive players in multiplayer games; no hiding it in multiple menus or making it available after the game. There is not just one solution to this particular problem.

As the current generation grows up and has kids of their own, hopefully at least the part about parental interaction will increase. There are so many ways to play games with your children that it is entirely possible that the gaming console will dominate the living room like the TV does in its current heyday. You will see it as something that the whole family can enjoy and maybe, just maybe, we can get some civility back into online gaming.

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