I have lots of happy memories playing computer games when I was younger. I was quite fortunate that my dad used these for work so could bring some home when I was quite young. I remember frogger on an early IBM model PC but the most memorable for me was probably the Apple II. The Apple II had 5 inch floppy disks (which were actually floppy) and there was one game that sticks out for me… Super Bunny
Super Bunny was probably the thing that caused the most rivalry between my sister and I when we were still both quite young. She was (I hate to admit) slightly better at me on this game – something that frustrated me until I realised that I could pull out the floppy disk whilst it was loading and completely wipe the high scores – which led to her running and screaming about me to mum and dad. You’ll be pleased to know that my sister has since forgiven me but likes to raise this story when we talk about our childhood years. If you want to try and beat the high score you can go and play the game at VirtualApple.org.
Other computer memories include networking two PC’s together to play Doom 2 with my friends (which always broke after a while) and playing the original GTA (Grand Theft Auto) when it was realised (age 16).
These days it’s a lot harder to be a parent as far as computer games go. They are a lot more graphic and any choices that you try and make seem to be undermined by when they go over to their mates house. We have previously said that our 14 year old is not allowed to play GTA (one of the only games which he is banned from) but find out that he’s played it when he slept over at his friends. Should we stop him from going over there if his parents have different views? It’s even got to the point where a group of schools sent home a letter threatening parents they could get reported to the police or social services for neglect.
And then there is the research. A number of schools mention a piece of research from 2003 (Gentile & Anderson) which states that playing violent games can lead to the child becoming more violent themselves but the latest study I could find 11 years later by Oxford University suggests otherwise.
My case probably isn’t helped by the fact that I play GTA, Call of Duty, Titanfall, Battlefield and other 16/18+ games all the time so they are always sitting on the shelf teasing my children! More recently I’ve compromised on the GTA thing – my oldest can play some of the online races but not the normal gameplay. With other games I’ll normally play them a bit myself first and make my own decisions on the level of violence and what is or isn’t acceptable.
Some parents might actually say it’s better to not let them near a computer to play games at all – but scientists have now proved that children who play computer games actually make you smarter… which is obviously what’s helped me so much.