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Are Computer Games Good for Kids?

14 July 2013, 18:55

Once upon a time, in an article entitled “The Internet: Pure Filth”, I poked fun at people who, because of their obsession with the internet and extreme social awkwardness, had evolved into a sub-species of nocturnal mole people for whom interaction with the outside world had become a fearful nightmare that consumed their conscious being.

My advice was administered in an extended and possibly obscure metaphor. The message was: Escape! Pull the plug! Get outside and meet women who aren’t Russian supermodels who are, by some strange emerging Eastern European fetish sweeping eastwards, looking for bespectacled, balding, pot-bellied men. My message was: this is the internet. It is not real.

Now in an act of blatant hypocrisy, I attack a very different population. On the other side of the scale is the tannie who proclaims, “They should keep children away from electronics! It gives them ADT!” To this I say, firstly, ADT is a pesticide, and, secondly, hush your face and go back to watching Noot vir Noot and 7de Laan!

The world is changing, ladies and gentlemen, and I intend to get on the good side of the evil machines while I still can. If you’d rather let your brain veg out with Afrikaans soapies, that’s okay with me, but rest assured when the time-travelling SkyNet creations, as imagined in the classic Terminator movies, descend upon us intent on wiping out the human race in favor of super-intelligent machines, the first to go will be the technophobic, the technologically illiterate and, with any luck, the EFF.

While the TV generation will be helpless to accept their fate from their armchairs, the brains of the younger generation, conditioned by years of Zombie vs Plants as children and a teenagehood of interactive virtual violence, will quickly adapt to the sudden chaos engulfing the planet. Around the world The Gamer, suddenly given a real life scenario to test his/her years of preparation and training, will rise up against this new foe and engage the enemy with gunfire and the occasional multi-coloured block-stacking challenge.

“But computer games encourage violence!” News flash: before your kids were shooting zombies on their iPads, they were shooting at birds with katties. Little boys are hard-wired to be amused by the gory and the squishy. Now they are channeling that destructive energy into less dangerous outlets. Is it good for kids? I don’t know. Is playing chess good ? Is playing marbles good? Mancala in the streets? Rugby? Cricket? Certainly they won’t snap their little necks playing Angry Birds, not under normal circumstances anyway. But whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it’s just a game, a past-time, entertainment.

So next time you and your cronies are gathered around blowing an afternoon on beer and rugby, or drinking Ricoffy and watching second-rate soap operas,  criticizing how the younger generation spends their free-time, remember who’s going to be saving your mooshy arse from the ever-encroaching anarchy of the future.

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