Video games have always been a source of contention between parents and kids. Parents want to provide their children with entertainment outlets, but they struggle with the negative messages they perceive violent games send. Kids don't see it that way. They see their parent's restrictive actions as infringing on their right to have a good time. Perhaps there is a middle ground. One way to get to a middle ground is to analyze why kids love certain games that parents wish were never made.
Mortal Kombat may very well be the first video game that caused parents to worry at the violent messages that video games seem to deliver. The first Mortal Kombat game was available in 1992. The game is a bloodbath that makes parents cringe every time their child decapitates an enemy. Kids love Mortal Combat because it is a classic martial arts game where brutality is celebrated and rewarded. The game's legendary chant "Finish him" does not exactly espouse virtues parents generally want in their children.
Parents understand that the world is fragile and dangerous. They want to provide their children with love and comfort, shielding them from the terrors of the real world. With a game like Call of Duty, that can be difficult when the goal of the game is to shoot and kill as many people as possible. That is a simplistic explanation of a complicated game that is as much about the storyline as the action, but it drives home the point. From a kid perspective, however, Call of Duty has an amazing soundtrack, great multi-player features, and intense gameplay.
Grand Theft Auto may have been the next video game after Mortal Combat to create controversy. While the effects may have been less gruesome, the mature subject matter turned parents off. No parent wants to walk into the living room to find their 11 year-old son playing a video game where he is paying a prostitute to have sex with his character and then mowing down a civilian in the street. Grand Theft Auto was marketed to adults, which makes the thrill of playing this game even greater for pre-teens and teens.
Resident Evil is a survivor horror game that became popular in North America. Survivor horror games are as much about the blood and gore as they are about disturbing imagery and unsettling moments of psychological terror. It's obvious why parents hate these games, but kids love the fear factor that is part of playing games like Resident Evil.
You may be surprised to find the Sims Series on this list. It is a game that is about creating and manipulating computerized characters to fall in love, go to the store, and raise a family. While there isn't any blood or gore in the game (although you can kill your characters by refusing to feed them or let them out of the closet), some parents are disturbed by the ever growing suggestive themes that the Sims Series offers. Kids love these games because it provides a creative outlet for them to explore relationship themes like falling in love. Parents who have kids interested in reality-based, relationship building video games may want to consider the earlier Sim versions that were less sensationalized and suggestive in nature.
This may be an unfair assessment because Angry Birds is not nearly as bad when compared to survival horror games or special op games that encourage brutally. These are just Angry Birds afterall. However, many parents hate this addictive little game for the mere fact that their kids waste so much time on it. Kids play games like Angry Birds, which have little or no educational or developmental value rather than being active outside or brushing up on their math skills.
Video games are only going to get bloodier and more realistic. And, although manufacturers may not market directly to children, children find a way to play them. As parents, you have the final say in what your kids play while they are in your home. If you do not want your child to play a certain game in your house, keep it under lock and key or don't buy it at all.