The world is a very judgemental place, and when you bring children into it, it becomes even more judgemental than you originally thought. Even more so when you throw video games into the mix, with both parents and non-parents scowling at the idea of your child playing “toxic video games”. #LetsPlayMay seems to be wanting to change that mindset.
The slight mentioning that a child plays video games is usually enough these days to have people attack the parents of said child. Online users calling the parents lazy, or accusing the parents of neglect are just a few examples I’ve seen. I have also experienced this attitude.
There’s also the current political situation which I’m not going to go into, but it keeps the long running “belief” that children playing video games with violence lead to violent human beings. People will either be supporting the statement, spouting things such as, “Lazy!” or, “They shouldn’t be allowed to breed!”. Or they’ll attack the statement by saying that there’s no link, and that a violent person will be birthed from absent parents, or bad parenting; not video games, ect.
The other day I was asked to discuss #LetsPlayMay. This campaign aims to bring families together by playing video games. Companies such as Ubisoft, PlayStation, Warner Bros Games, GAME, and Smyth’s Toys are right behind the campaign. After reading the press release I was glad to see something being done by larger corporations to try and bring video games into a more positive light.
In fact, according to a study run by the #LetsPlayMay campaign, over half (53%) of British parents say that video games are a great way to bond with their children. 70% of UK parents say that video games are good fun for children of any age, ability, and interests. And apparently 50% of Fathers enjoy the chance of winning against their offspring…I might be part of that stat.
I spent my childhood playing video games to my heart’s content. I raced the streets in Need for Speed: Underground, I shot up mob bosses in The Getaway before I was 18, and I whacked Mr. Quark with a ratchet in Ratchet and Clank. While I spent more time playing games on my own, I would occasionally play titles such as Nethack, or N64’s Donkey Kong titles with my Father. I also played Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance on the PS2 with my Mother, and then I’d play the original Stuntman game with my Grandad.
These moments in my life always led to laughter, memories, and a stronger bond between us all. Now I aim to do the same thing with my kids. My youngest is two, so she can’t really play video games yet, but my eldest is eight, and she’s a huge gamer. I’ve occasionally found myself jumping onto ROBLOX with her, and more recently we’ve sailed the ocean together in Sea of Thieves.
I actually enjoyed playing with my Daughter on Sea of Thieves that much that I wrote an article on it hoping to highlight the fun we had bonding and working together to sail. This was of course met with an array of controversy, mainly focusing on the fact the game is a PEGI 12, and taking the rating as gospel without thinking about how the game actually plays.
I spoke with video game expert, Andy Robertson who freelances at outlets such as The Mirror, Guardian, and Forbes. He also runs a Patreon to support his FamilyGamer brand in which he offers advice for parents who aren’t that well versed in video games.
We discussed how games are misunderstood usually by those who aren’t familiar with them, and how looking to the PEGI ratings can help,
“It can be difficult for a parent to understand the content in a game and how the PEGI rating is applied. That’s why my Patreon has been popular. It provides weekly videos to parents to help them make informed choices.” – Andy Robertson
It is sad that video games seem to be a haunting concept for most, and a way to easily judge families with bigger screen times than others. But the study run by #LetsPlayMay found that when looking at family activities, playing video games came in at 61%, with cinema trips hitting 46%. Eight million households (Which equates to 41%) also game together.
#LetsPlayMay seems to be a wonderful idea, encouraging families to game together. If you’re already a gamer parent you’re probably like me and allow your children to game. Probably because you know the games communities and the content within just as well as you know your child.
If you’re not a gamer parent, then you’d be pleased to know that 44% of parents research up on skills in video games in a bid to impress their children. That 44% also say that their kids think they’re cool because of it. And to be honest, my Daughter thinks I’m cool because I know all about those dank memes and gaming tricks.
An example of how games can bring families closer together is, Parental Gamer, a website in which Father, Jason and his son play games together and pop up a post on their website.
There’s was also a competition where Joe Swash, #LetsPlayMay’s Ambassador wanted to get families involved by having one family stand the chance at winning a visit from him to play games with them. This is actually still live until midnight tonight (15/05/2018) so if you’re interested, go check Joe Swash on Instagram.
“I’ve found video gaming was the perfect way to impress my son and complete challenges together, or against each other. What’s better than having a little friendly competition between generations!” – Joe Swash, #LetsPlayMay Ambassador
Throughout the month, a certain number of games are helping support the campaign by offering savings on big titles both Online, and in-store. Amazon, Argos, Asda, Game, Game Centre, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Smyths, and Tesco are all taking part. Here’s a list of games that are part of the campaign.
- Grand Theft Auto V
- WWE 2K18
- Ghost Recon Wildlands
- Rainbow Six Siege
- Assassins Creed Origins
- Call of Duty WWII
- Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
- Overwatch Game of the Year Edition
- Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition
- Shadow of the Colossus
- LEGO Ninjago
- LEGO Worlds
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2
- Middle Earth Shadow of War
- Injustice 2
- Rocket League
- Destiny 2
To further bring a positive note to the family gaming debate, the hashtag is to be used to share positive stories, and to encourage players of all ages and abilities to give them a go. A wonderful idea to spread a positive gaming vibe.
Hopefully video games will soon become more globally accepted and less judged, because at the end of the day, the news shows more scary, violent stories than most games offer. Video games offer escapism, they offer educational means. They can be used for team building skills, and to bond with families and friends. They’re a beautiful interactive media and help inspire creativity.