Ron Luce, a writer for the Christian Post and president and founder of Teen Mania Ministries, begins his article with a straightforward, (thankfully) hypothetical situation. Suppose a man whom you recognized from television as a sex offender and thief knocks on your door one night and requests the company of your teenage children, with whom he would like to hang out with without your supervision. Luce plays on the side of common sense in assuming that you, being a reasonable and intelligent person, would say no to such a request. So far so good. Luce, unfortunately, then proceeds to lose his mind.
His hypothetical situation degrades into a sort of comedic farce, with the sexual offender, realizing that he would not get to spend alone time with you or your kids, instead opts to spend time with all of you, enjoying a bizarre and somewhat disturbing family time.
Luce’s sex offender, of course, stands for something more. If we, under any circumstances, he asks, “wouldn’t let that man into the rooms of our kids (whether male of female) why would we let a TV or computer reside in our kids’ bedrooms?”
So, it seems that, to Luce, television and computers, two inherently neutral and benign technological devices, are on equal footing with known sex offenders, or, as Luce notes, terrorists. “Every time we let unsupervised media into our homes and into our kids’ minds,” he says,”we have invited a terrorist into our home”
This, of course, is where videogames come in. In fact, this is where all entertainment comes in. See, for Luce, entertainment is invariably bad news. “Although we consider them entertainment,” he says, “they are actually infotainment. They impart values and information about the world, maybe information about life, that your kids are not ready to process and absorb.” So, not only are videogames terrorists, but they teach kids things as well?
The most glaring issue with Luce’s argument is its complete lack of understanding of the gaming atmosphere, or that of popular culture as a whole, for that matter. Not all videogames are violent or capable of channeling our “depraved culture.” Moreover, as consoles like the Wii have shown, families can, and have, enjoyed plenty of quality family time playing Wii Sports and Mario Party. It’s hard to argue with the notion that allowing kids to sit in front of a computer all day will have a detrimental effect on them, but there are certainly countless ways to participate in that culture without demonizing it.
Luce does make a recommendation: “Instead of family movie night,” he says, “have family game night.” One can hardly argue with that.
I, of course, propose an addendum: Make it a videogame night.