Please excuse the squiggles which I could not get rid of when I did the cut and paste from Hotmail.
I am so glad you sent me this as I need an inside perspective, and I know you have played this. I would like to understand better what the whole appeal of this is. Am I being too negative and harsh about this? I ask because I got a call from FOX today to come on national TV and talk about this--- so I need a crash course from you about all this--- can you help? Can we talk tonight after you get home? I would like to post what you said with your permission on my blog. It will help.
Fox wants your input? Well we all know how much they love overreactions ;)
1. Adult Content: Definitely overblown!
About that M rating (The R rating of the ESRB)...usually they're given to shooters like Halo on merit of "violent conflict." It cannot be legally sold to minors in software stores. Playing is
Another matter.From our perspective (any any kid of ANY AGE paying attention to games, namely most of them), aliens being blown up with purple blood is pretty average fare--remember
Independence Day? That's PG-13 and I would call it more graphic in terms of realism. I don't know anyone who thinks Halo has "adult content" other than the theme of war. Swearing? I think I
heard "damn" once or twice--which slips into PG fare. A typical unsheltered kid's life has far more "adult" content than this. But obviously not this much shooting. Nobody thinks much about violence in movies much...
2. Violence vs the Church: Should God's children be playing violent games in church? OR at all??
I can't answer this, but considering how popular this game is...Check out a few comments on gaming blogs here:
While I wont presume to be a definitive voice of gamerdom, I know most gamers find it humorous and dismaying when media hype finds a game--usually a shooter.
Don't forget this is more popular than comic books ever were. And the players are no small segment of our culture. The next generation is already immersed in it.
So what do we do? None of us see the games themselves to be an inherant problem--but when it or any other piece of our culture being used as a political or religious tool?
Not so good.
Personally, I don't think youth pastors should be TAKING THEMES FROM THE HALO STORY and trying to apply them to matters of Heaven and Earth.
Then again, popular culture is used all the time for ministry... Should we play them at all in church? The truth is, we've all been playing racing, sporting, fighting, shooting games around
youth groups for some time now. No less than table tennis, air hockey, gymnasium activities. 10 years ago we were all playing Goldeneye (the Nintendo 64 game based on the Bond movie), which pitted Bond against, well, the usual people to shoot. And then we shot up each other in multiplayer matches. Why? It's a social glue. I will say it's been a majority male activity, but girls are starting to join up too. We treat these games as the same fantasy thrill of any other type of game--Halo 3 just happens to be a lot prettier.
4. Overarching relevance:
Here's an interesting tidbit: The supersoldiers of Halo are code-named SPARTANS. Not an accident: What I see is an ingrained attraction to "conflict and glory" dating back to antiquity. And
I say our Master Chief is our next Odysseus. His stories are definitely not PG-13
5. Most importantly, you will want to educate yourself on the game, and heres the wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_3
DAD: My biggest concern, besides the effect of acted out pseudo-violence, is really the way this sucks a person into a virtual reality that becomes all consuming in terms of one's time, money, interests--- its absolutely addictive for those who are already OCD. Meanwhile the real world suffers, and people do not learn more skills for dealing with the real world. Of course it is more than a form of escape, but it certainly is that as well.
DAVID:There are cases of internet, gaming, and online gaming addiction. I think the medical view is they are the same as any other addiction. I would argue gambling addiction is more destructive just with its quicker spending potential. Then you have online gambling games...you get the point. There's the hardcore crowd and the casual crowd. I actually have more casual games on the xbox than hard-hitting epics like halo, as it gets pretty intensive. I'm currently checking out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carcassonne_%28board_game%29 , adapted for the xbox. I'm also working on a respectable score in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pac_Man_Championship_Edition .
You seem to be concerned about the question: "What are we learning from all this?"
Well.... I've learned that when you play with random, anonymous guys online, there's no shortage of foul-mouthed jerks and jocks. So I prefer to play only with those I know. Not much different from real life. I've also discovered that for the same reason, loyalty, teamwork and generosity are highly sought after in organized gaming clans. Brothers in arms indeed.
So are you saying gaming is preventing the progression of human society, like opium destroyed China?
Can't really argue that people should be out looking for the cure for cancer instead of thrill seeking, or that games are a time and money sink. Idle hands and all that.
Well, let's discuss the time factor for a minute. On average, how long does it take to play a full Halo game in the Versus mode (or is there no limit to how long it could go on?).
The average say, "team slayer" (usually 4 on 4) match lasts 5-10 minutes, depending on variables. Then you start another match. And another. Gotta warm up first of course.
There's also the option of playing the single-player campaign cooperatively with 3 other people, which you can play for several hours on end if you're trying to make progress and finish it together.
O.K.... Best guess scenario--- how long do these games go on when people get together to do this-- one hour, two hours, more--- all night??? What seems normal?
I guess it depends how serious a gamer you are. You can get together with the guys and make it an all night or all weekend LAN or online type deal, just like with the PC. Or jump in and play a match online and quit...a couple hours or more a day seems average for serious players, who are very competitive.
Halo3 isn't necessarily "all consuming" of time. That behaviour is considered to be reserved for MMO (massively multi online) games like World of Warcraft, which is a persistent world and doesn't really have an "end," you just quest and quest and quest alone or with a guild to build up your character for days, months on end. That certainly has potential for destructive behavior physically and socially. The community is well aware of it.
An interesting note: There are actually "healthy gaming" initiatives at Microsoft and Nintendo... for example: http://www.xbox.com/en-US/support/familysettings/healthygamingguide.html
O.K.. that gives me a pretty clear picture of things. How much of a game like Halo requires actual thinking, or is it more a matter of manual dexterity and quick reaction time....rather like being defensive back in football, not sure of what's coming?
Hmm... There are several modes that require more strategic teamplay, and planning out moves, like in capture the flag mode with defense and offence. Not as popular as run-and-gun slayer to be sure. However, good teams have to think about several things, at least before the game starts: knowing the multiplayer levels (referred to as maps) for navigation, paths of approach, and where items are placed. Locations of teammates and opponents on the radar, using defensive and offensive items to assist yourself and the team. Underlying all of this is your skill in tracking the opponents and aiming in fairly chaotic battle. So the core of the game is reactive, but in any other mode than basic free-for-all slayer, you will fail as a teammate without thinking strategically like one.
One thing I am trying to assess to what degree this really is like 'real' physical games which involve both team play, preparation in advance, practice, and also read and react skills.
That's a good question for the Pro Gaming League or Cyberathlete Pro League or the other "major league" gamer groups. They play for cash, have coaches, and even drug tests.
I can say there are plenty of people who treat this like real sports, such as this guy in the CPL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnathan_Wendel I would say that in your mind, you really can apply "real world" team skills, if you are a team player. These games--especailly shooters--are very, very intensive as I've said. Heck, in South Korea, Starcraft (a strategy game) is practially the national sport. It's HUGE! Their Pros are media celebrities, and the winnings go to the $100,000s. The pro gamers practice hours every day as if its the "real deal" for percision and teamwork. That all said, pro gamers are not a large group of people, but there sure are a lot of wannabes!
O.K.--- I am on information overload now, so I will have to process all this. Thanks so much for the education, your a fine son :)