Even before I bought my nine year old son a PS4, I had decided that he was not going to play any violent games on any game console, iPad, iPhone app, internet … nope, not on any electronic device or PC. Yup, I was very firm on that too and so when he finally got a PS4 in December last year as a reward for a good report card, he only played the FIFA and NBA games on it. The PS4 console that was being sold came with the Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End game but I specifically bought the other sports games so he wouldn’t get the chance to play that inappropriate game. Fast forward to just about a week ago, my husband decides he was going to play it. I mean it was sitting right there beside the PS4 and no one had decided to just pop it in and give it a try. Well it’s not like anyone else besides our son or him would be interested in it anyhow. Our daughters are only seven and five so they haven’t even been exposed to video games all that much. I’ve been so occupied with life’s essential tasks that I haven’t even had time to tackle other pending work, therefore a game for fun sounded quite ridiculous. Besides I’ve never done gaming before. Ok, well I did have an Atari as a child and I loved playing Pac-Man on the PC. My husband’s playing now and I’m telling him, “Look, there’s violence in this game … guns and all, the kids are all here and they are gonna see”. The kids all sit around him and I started to watch him play too. The popcorn’s done popping on the stove and I hand it out to all of them.
The intensity is building up and I can see it on the kids faces. They’re eyes are glued on the screen as they stuff their mouths with popcorn. My son goes, “No daddy you have to grab onto the window thing at the bottom”, and then the character in the game falls. There’s a creepy soundtrack as the character now lays dead on the ground, and our seven year old daughter screams, “You killed Nathan daddy … Why did you do that”. But the character’s alive again and we are back to playing the game. Yes we are all playing the game, cause we are all engaged and we are all in this together. As we continue to pass the levels in the game, the character’s story moves forward. Sometimes my son takes the controller and at times one of our daughters gets a turn. We even pass the baby around between each other. Yes, we have an eight month old too and at this point he’s totally enthralled by everyone’s facial expressions. I take the controller too and take a jab at solving a puzzle in the game. But mostly we enjoy watching the daddy play the very rugged and adventurous Nathan. At one point the character’s wife is on her laptop writing an article and my husband looks at me while I’m on my laptop. I can tell what he’s thinking, that the game is mirroring his life and I say, “Well they’re missing the four kids and currently I’m writing a lab report not an article”. Yup, at this moment he’s totally living vicariously through this very interesting character. Side note, why is he called a thief? Isn’t he a treasure hunter? I guess treasure hunter wouldn’t sound as intriguing in the name of a game.
This continued over several days whenever we had some free time. It was perfect timing too, because of March break and the fact that it was still uncomfortably cold out. I was trying to think of the last time we all enjoyed an indoor activity this much. Sure there’s been a gazillion bedtime stories, indoor camping underneath bed sheets, painting where the paint ends up more on the hardwood than on the canvas and baking during which, the kitchen floor receives more flour than the recipe itself. But none of these pastimes included us all. In the midst of converting our family onto a more natural way of living, which included using less electronic devices … we’ve fallen in love with gaming. Should I feel bad? Nah, I don’t and we’ve got a handle on our priorities first and it’s certainly not like we’re binge playing. Currently we have an error on the PS4 and it wants to be updated. Hopefully tomorrow the console will be back up and running so we can continue to play as a family. Because believe it or not playing Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has given our whole family one of the best pastimes at home. I’ll continue aiming for a more closer to nature way of life but now I will allow the admittance of a few more video games we can play together as well. Any suggestions for our next game?
A bit of a disclaimer, we played the story part of the game, which was fine apart from a few scenes we had to censor. I would not allow children under the age of 12 playing this game on their own without adult supervision or playing this game as a shooter. Also, I would discuss with the children how a game is for entertainment and should not influence real life. My children will be exposed to violent gaming at some point in their life unless they were living in a bubble (I do live in one for the most part but I have to step out of it for my kids sake), therefore, it’s better that I introduce it to them and join them in the fun part of it. Of course, this does not go for everything, if an activity or content is going to harm their well-being or thinking, then I wouldn’t go near it or allow it for their consumption.