How my Wii column drove gamers crazy

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Boy, is that an understatement.

I have been learning that lesson all week since we published my story Monday on  “Why we didn’t get a Wii for Christmas.” The story, which I figured was a pretty innocent tale of my family’s decision, has sent some members of the gaming community off the deep end.

To recap: My wife and I had planned to get a Wii video gaming console for Christmas. Like a fool, I didn’t do my research beforehand and didn’t realize all the extra accessories I’d have to buy when I got to the store. But as parents, we also weren’t really sure, in the end, that we were ready for a video game console in our house since we’re still trying to figure out how to achieve the right balance with our kids.

That challenge there brought home to me with a Kaiser study that was released this week indicating that kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 53 hours a week in front of screens of some kind. From the L.A. Times:

“Young people now devote an average of seven hours and 38 minutes to daily media use, or about 53 hours a week — more than a full-time job — according to Kaiser Family Foundation findings released today.

A few years ago, the same researchers thought that teens and tweens were consuming about as much media as humanly possible in the hours available. But somehow, young people have found a way to pack in even more.

But in the last five years, the time that America’s 8- to 18-year-olds spend watching TV, playing video games and using a computer for entertainment has risen by one hour, 17 minutes a day, the Kaiser study found.

“What surprised me the most is the sheer amount of media content coming into their lives each day,” said Kaiser’s Vicky Rideout, who directed the study. “When you step back and look at the big picture, it’s a little overwhelming.”

Yep. That’s an understatement. It’s not that I condemn any of the activities on their own. It’s the total lack of balance and moderation that results that causes me concern.

Beyond this issue, though, my kids had plenty of free video games to play online. So we figured: Let’s wait a year. We’ll consider how we want to have a Wii in our house, figure out a budget for it, and make some reasoned, careful decisions.

That sounded perfectly legit to me. But to those in the gaming community, well, let’s just say that it’s nothing short of pure heresy.

My first taste of the vitriol came on the comments on the column at MercuryNews.com:

Sharky wrote: “I’m sure you can get the console, two controllers and a good game for under $300. grinch!”

Angel37 wrote: “You didn’t have the stomach for the long term cost of the device.  Don’t make it about raising your children the “right” way.  Do you need your cell phone or blackberry?  Not really, they make your life easier, but not really better.  We still got by 20 years ago with a land line and basic pc with word processing.  Why don’t you give up your cell phones and save $1200 a year.”

Champ Kind wrote: “If you’re not willing to spend $300 on a gift for your children, that is nothing to be ashamed of. Just don’t go writing a newspaper article to make it seem like this is about protecting your children from the evil technology monster.”

Debbie Downer wrote: “I agree. A cheap parent, who throws out excuses on why he didnt deem it appropriate to spend his hard earned money on his kid.”

Fortunately, as the thread wore on, and I responded to some of the comments, the tone shifted and an interesting conversation emerged about the legitimate issues about how much exposure to video games and media is healthy. As just one example:

Cynical critic writes:  “I have built hardware/software for video game  consoles,  PC Multimedia cards and in the process played many video games for testing them.  In fact I can easily build my own box if needed.  My observation (both personal and kids) is the kids who play even moderate amount of video games (30 min day)  have shorter attention span and do poorly in standardized tests.”

No such luck, however, at a gaming site called Kotaku, where a blogger posted an excerpt of the column that touched off a fire-breathing frenzy of anger. As of the writing of this, the post has attracted 881 comments, which seems on the high end for the site. The post basically summarized the column like this: I went to buy the Wii. Discovered the “hidden” costs. And took it back. End of story:

“The father of two bought his kids a Wii for Christmas, but returned it. Too many hidden costs.

The San Jose Mercury News columnist recently explained the sticker shock that had him returning his $199 Wii and all the stuff he felt he had to buy along with it.”

The tone of the post is pretty neutral. The comments are not, most of which are from folks who naturally didn’t bother to read the column itself (surprise!).

JazzNeurotic writes: “This is a useless article by a moron, not to put too fine a point on it. There is no reason at all to make this sort of complaint unless one has been living away from all sorts of technology with the Amish, or in a coma, for the past 25 years.”

RockyRan writes: “If you read the column you’ll see that his problem was beyond the hidden costs. He didn’t know how to establish “rules” for the Wii, and that the other gifts would be “overshadowed” by the Wii. In short, it was going to require regulation and parenting, and rather than let the kids have a fantastic Christmas with an awesome Wii they returned the whole thing to save themselves the trouble. Laziness is what I’m reading between the lines here.”

So to recap: I’m a cheap, lazy, stupid parent because I won’t fork over $300 for a present and because I don’t let the kids do whatever they want, when they want. Okay.

I was outed by Blore07, who discovered my “hidden agenda”: “I think a lot of people are ignoring the fact that this guy probably knows nothing nor cares about videogames, he just wrote the story to stirr up and divide the masses and get some attention.”

Yes, I was hoping to start an online riot. Exactly.

Fortunately, there were some voices of sanity:

Lionkitten writes: “Wow. The anger of the commenters in this thread is mind-numbing.How dare this guy not know/anticipate every detail about video gaming, seeing as how he hasn’t had a system or followed the industry closely in over 20 years. How dare he. Because no one in this thread was EVER surprised by the exclusion of an item in a purchase before. Never. Gamers forget just how much they actually know about their hobby – - how many years it took to acquire all that knowledge.

Well said.

Oddly enough, there is debate within the comments about the fact the many consoles do have hidden costs, and whether that’s to be expected or whether it’s a sneaky, price-gouging stunt.

In the column, I acknowledged that I blew it by not doing my research beforehand. That was picked up by some commenters, but not many. As far as expense, at the end of the day, let’s have a reality check: A video game console is a luxury, not a necessity. If my kids are happy playing free games online, well, that’s still cheaper than any money I’d pay for a game console.

But beyond that, it’s clear most of these commenters can’t seem to conceive of a world where everyone doesn’t play video games all day long. Or that there might be any consequences to that lifestyle. Like I said in the column, I’m not anti-video games. We let our kids play them (though apparently we’re torturing them by limiting that to 30 minutes a week!). And we will probably get a Wii next year. I’m especially excited about the recent deal with Netflix to stream movies on the Wii, since I’m a big fan of Netflix.

Happily, I also got dozens of emails (and some comments) from readers who were sympathetic, from parents who took time to describe their own challenges in striking that balance. I even got a couple emails from parents who bought the Wii for Christmas and have been regretting it do the fights and stress it’s caused. One of my favorites:

“My husband and I also decided not to get a Wii this year. Our reasons closely matched yours, though my husband also had to add his own concern that he’d get a bit too competitive on the games with our children.
Now, our 2 girls are a little older than your children, so we had a bit more pressure from that side. In fact, our second grader wrote an essay for school, “Why I want a Wii”!
Well, we hung in, despite many hints and letters to Santa and did not get a Wii. However, as I write, my second grader is in our living room playing “Bash Party” on the Wii that grandma sent home with the girls this weekend, “just to try out…”. You see, in this valley, sometimes grandma works for a game company and really wants to use her employee discount to get the grandchildren some fun Wii games! This challenge to our Wii-free life is, I believe, not something we can stop.
Someone else sent me a lovely essay their son had written for his college application about how his parents would not buy him video games and why he loves them now.

One final note: This column is getting picked up around the world. The latest was the Taiwan News. You’ll be happy to know this international celebrity has not gone to the kids’ heads.

 

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  • http://www.siliconbeat.com Chris OBrien

    Hey all: Thanks for the comments (seriously). I’m catching up and will try to respond in full tonight.

  • Daniel

    Also is it really that hard for other parents to say get off the game and go play outside. I have two straight A students and I have all of the gaming systems (I am a collector) And yet my daughter loves to read books and play outside and my Son who is a teenager hangs out with his friends outside and lives a normal life with out the games being a central part of it. It seems to me that in your article you were trying to make the hidden costs of gaming a central statement of the article. When that should not have been in the article at all. The reason that you returned the Wii (at least the way your article read in the second half) had to do with your family lifestyle. So to write another article seems that you really were trying to get some attention with the way you were trying to blame hidden costs in your first article.

  • Amir

    It also seems that people saw it as a disrespect to them and their favourite hobby, and I’d argue you really did the opposite.

    The article does acknowledge that videogames are a very enticing gift, one that would overshadow all other gifts. If anything, it is too good of a gift.

    Because of that, it puts extra pressure and responsibility on the parent, as they can’t expect children to show the sort of self-control and restraint that adults have.

    Though I do think it’s possible that you and your wife may have missed on important consideration.

    The Wii console in comparison to others has many games that the whole family can play together.

    There are very few mediums that allow for this. Your kids may be too young for Scrabble or Monopoly, and you may be too old to watch Dora the Explorer with them, but Wii games like Wii Sports can bridge interests and mean time spent with the children in a constructive, positive and memorable manner.

    Some people by a Wii to be a babysitter for their children, but many parents are buying it to be a part of their children’s lives. Choosing the right software can mean the difference between kids fighting each other to play and a family playing together. Choosing the right software can be the difference between “coming home from school to play videogames all night” to “playing as a family on the weekends”.

    It’s harder for parents to be involved with their children as they grow older, with tastes in movies and music diverging as the years go by. I’ve seen the Wii bridge this gap, even with parents who’s children have left town to go to college and have returned for the Christmas break.

    With this in consideration, $300 (assuming you get all sorts of extras for it) isn’t a whole lot of money. Having worked in youth community groups I realize that sometimes a little investment can go a long way.

    Consider getting the Wii only for family fun, and getting LEGO and Groovy Girls for their own playtime. If you buy the right games, your kids won’t want to play by themselves but with you and your wife.

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  • Jay DV

    Chris, you should have just done your research in advance before doing the previous Wii-related article. That would have garnered you a bit of points from the gaming crowd. They like knowing that the uninitiated can at least go through the effort of becoming knowledgeable with their beloved video games before typing up your condemnation of the Wii console, ostensibly.

    This new article doesn’t really help matters at all. I think it’s unprofessional to single out specific commentors, especially if you’re going to reply to them in a sarcastic tone.

  • Kester

    I know I shouldn’t hope for a personal reply, but I would really love it if it happened. I am a commenter on your aforementioned and seemingly devilish Kotaku. You have picked some of the most narrow-minded and unfair replies, naturally, to support your stance, but I think most people were offended by the genuinely offensive tone of certain parts of your original article. Let me give you some quotes:

    “My wife and I, like many parents, have been trying to strike a balance between letting them explore computers, and keeping them from becoming techno-obsessed shut-ins who spend all day online and have no friends.”

    This is the kind of annoyingly narrow-minded comment that annoys many gamers. The idea that once you enjoy gaming you are a friendless waste is unfair and untrue and bound to upset a community of gamers. Unfortunately it seems that this kind of sweeping generalisation is acceptable nowadays.

    “before a geek lynch mob hunts me down”

    And in this article : “But beyond that, it’s clear most of these commenters can’t seem to conceive of a world where everyone doesn’t play video games all day long.”

    Your article was in the most part fair – I agree with your decision to maintain your childrens childhood innocence and enjoyment of small things – but then you let yourself down with oddly bigotted comments like these. Unfortuneately society works so that if an idea is widely held it is acceptable whether it is true or not. We all fall foul of this, but as a journalist you should be avoiding spreading such ideas. It is people like you that cause this to be ‘the norm’. You admitted to having little experience of gaming in your first article, but then continued to make judgements as if you did.

    In short I am sorry for the personally offensive and childish replies you received, but you received many comments in kind to those you (maybe unwittingly) made about the gaming community.

  • Andy “The Penguin”

    Good Day,

    I followed this story over from Kotaku and while I also agree that a lot of those comments that were posted were very inappropriate, you have to understand a few things about the gaming community. Every time that there is a violent crime that happens in the country now a days there are a ton of media people out there that start to try and correlate that violent act to the video games he played and say that they were responsible, because of this members of the gaming become very sensitive to anti-gaming comments in the media. While I agree that your comments in general were not anti gaming, someone who has been hit with a stick several times will tend to flinch when someone grabs a broom to sweep the floor.

    When I was younger the same thing happened to the Role Playing community as certain elements of the media tried to make connections to D&D and Satan Cults. It was so bad that my parents burned my gaming books and forbid me from playing.

    I guess that the main thing that I’m trying to say is that you tapped into a vein of anger in the gaming community that wasn’t really directed at you, more at the people who are trying to work against the community as a whole, it doesn’t make what they said right, but it does make it more understandable.

  • Sean

    The biggest reason you see such strong reactions is to your comments is simple. As a gamer, we are used to being bashed in the media. Even if it is a legitimate complaint, it gets old really fast when only negative things are said about a hobby that you enjoy.

    As a parent and a gamer I understand that sometimes that this hobby is not one that most parents approve. Like all activities, one has to do things in moderation. To be scared of potentially turning your children into mindless zombies because they play some Wii once in a while is just plain overreacting.

    Think about how you would feel if the thing you liked to do in your spare time was seen by the major media as the cause of children being dumbed down, kids going on murde sprees, and a large waste of time.

  • Clifton

    I have the same issue as most with both articles. The condecending tone directed at the gaming community (which I am a member of, but fully aknowledge that some gamers can be, um, passionate.)

    The “techo obsessed shut ins who spend all day online and have no friends” comment was pretty broad and short sighted. I’m 30 years old with a full time job and a wife, who’s quite the looker by any standard. I spend a lot of time playing video games, but I also play in a band, work out, maintain a blog, and spend a lot of time with numerous friends and family among other personal endeavors. I don’t think my situation is at all unique, there are far more people today in the my situation than in the one you described, although it does still somewhat exist.

    I also take issue with the generalizing statements in the second article about the gaming community. That one does’t have one specific statement to me, but the tone of it is very condecending. I agree with the notion that you painted the kotaku article’s comment section to be far more extreme than it is. I’m sure there are a lot of comments out there like that, but being a frequent reader and commenter of that site, I can safely say there were more than enough comments like the one I’m writing now.

    I get that you were probably highly annoyed and offended by some of the really foul attitudes on that site, but I’d have thought a professional journalist (which I am on the road to becoming) would have taken the high road here.

  • RoycEugene

    It wasn’t just your lack of research that got you in trouble. It seemed as if you went out of his way to inflate the cost of a Wii. You complained about batteries! I can’t even remember the last time my family had a Christmas without a product that needed those.

    You also had a holier than thou tone throughout the article. You made it seem as if he was a better parent for not giving them a Wii. You specifically stated part of his reasoning against it was “keeping (your kids) from becoming techno-obsessed shut-ins who spend all day online and have no friends.”

    Thats a very negative stereotype in the gaming world and you essentially said most of us are that way. If we weren’t why would you worry about that happening?

    Your response is even worse. You responds to sarcastic and derisive comments in the exact same way. Tossing in some random fool who claims games kill peoples attention spans? Then you have the audacity to imply there were only a few sane responses oiut of over 800 on Kotaku meaning the rest of us are insane. Plsu we can’t imagine the day without games b/c we thought your article was poorly written? Yea, you didn’t come off as having a biased opinion or anything.

    You rightly deserved his flaming and should get even more for your weak kneed response.

    To close, you know you wrote a crappy article when you have the hardcore people defending the Wii from bashing.

  • Chris

    Im sorry, but you should have done basic research about what you would need before you ran out to purchase.

    Ya know, research… that thing that “reporters” like you are supposed to be good at.

  • Sighing one

    I’m glad you didn’t buy a BluRay player with it’s hidden cost of discs. Or an iPod with it’s hidden cost of Mp3s. What are you going to do when they want a car? Return it because of the hidden costs of gas?

    Please before you write an article investigate a little more. There is nothing wrong with how the Wii is sold. It operates on the same principle as the computer you praised. However, there is something wrong with an ignorant customer complaining because they didn’t do any research into the product they are buying.

    And a panic attack? As someone who suffers from panic attacks, I can say you seriously need some help. There are many medicines you can take for it. For your children’s sake please get help before you have an attack about them going to school, going our for a sports team, DATE, the prom, and leave for college.

  • Alex

    The response in the gaming community is clearly disproportionate and needlessly vitriolic. But perhaps it’s worth looking at this at a higher level: why is there so much built up rage for the traditional mainstream media amongst the niche gaming community?

    On some levels I think the gaming community is annoyed from a regular sequence of stories claiming a direct causality between games and horror: After the serious car crash, a copy of “Need for Speed” was found in the driver’s car!, etc. This kind of overly simplistic post hoc ergo propter hoc logic really drives gamers nuts (as it should any fan of rational thought).

    However, I think the issue runs even deeper than that. In most major newspapers games are relegated to the technology section, instead of the arts section. We see articles of the form “Millions stand in line for new Halo game, we don’t know why.” And even in the article above, Chris O’Brien writes: “I’m not anti-video games. We let our kids play them (though apparently we’re torturing them by limiting that to 30 minutes a week!)” immediately followed by “I’m especially excited about the recent deal with Netflix to stream movies on the Wii, since I’m a big fan of Netflix.” Ok, so all of the very legitimate and reasonable parenting decisions aside, in that quote games are framed as a type of media best consumed in fun sized packets of time, while movies (covered in the paper’s arts section) deserve the full two hours. Limiting a movie to 30 minute chunks would really destroy the narrative, but that’s ok, because it is assumed for the game that there there is no narrative, it’s just a mindless toy.

    While I really didn’t like the initial article, it has very little to do with the author’s parenting decisions (after all at ages 7 and 4 Lego is probably a better angle into a kid’s creativity and imagination). But the story does give a lot of insight into the author’s own view and understanding of the medium. This isn’t surprising as the story opens with memories of Pacman (circa 1980). However, after 30 years of evolution, many epic and popular games are less akin to movies as they are to books, with 40-60 hours of dramatic narrative, long and complex story lines, deeply engaging characters, and immersive fictional environments. And for the best games, like the best books, you completely forget you are playing or reading them, and you are consumed by the story.

    Chris, you obviously don’t deserve the online riot the article created, but I do hope you pick up an Xbox for yourself, along with an award winning game in your favorite fictional genre. You can play it long after the kids have gone to bed, and before long you might find that just using the Netflix streaming on the console is like doing a crossword puzzle at the opera.

  • http://wiinintendo.net mazer

    wait, now, you say that video games cause children to have a lower attention span? if you bothered to do some research you would see that video games actually have positive effects on attention spans, and even help children with ADD.
    As to the lower test scores: This only happens when parents DO NOT know that video games aren’t baby sitters. This is mainly just a lack of parenting and the children have lower test scores to start with.
    which leads into your complaining about moderation. why are you complaining about it when YOU are the person in control of how long your children play?
    The wii now only costs $200. You could easily stop there, and have a game you can take turns with and actually get some physical activity. If you wanted to play multi-player, you could spend another 40-120 dollars for three more controllers. You could even go with a 3rd party solution and buy three more controllers for about 90 dollars. You have now spent about 300 dollars and have a system your whole family can enjoy together, for a very very long time. That sounds better than sitting on the couch watching tv together right? I know that for a family of four, it costs about $40 to go to the movies. Thats not including popcorn or anything. A wii game will get you more than 90 minutes of entertainment with your family, and most wii games that you could enjoy with your family are now about $30. In the long run, don’t you think that the wii would end up being cheaper?

    now, video games are not for every family. But, your reasons are not credible at all.
    You have done very little research and you complain about things you have complete control over.
    Now comes to the big question:
    Why did you decide to share something so opinionated and uneducated with the world? It truly makes no sense to me, as your job is to do research and write columns, not pull some BS out of your ***. You are only contributing to the lies and false that video games have received over the years.

  • Vain Ziler

    You sir have a rebuttal awaiting for you: http://www.freezecracker.com/forum/index.php?topic=4878.msg50974#msg50974

    And to the poster known as Lisa, you need to read it as well.

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  • Jason

    this article could be about an ipod, tv, dvd, computer or even a refrigerator (you have to pay to put stuff in there as well, consumption by your children needs to be monitored and can cause obesity, etc). Content costs money to develop. No new knowledge was created by the author and the article was just a restating of the obvious.

  • kj

    We got a wii for our teens this Christmas..the whole family really enjoyed some quality time playing games together…here is a good site with reviews for different video game consoles and awesomw gifts for teens. http://GiftsForTeens.info

  • blake

    its pretty clear “wii dad” just had a panic attack because he didnt know what he was doing and returned the wii out of that emotion. trying to retroactively pretend logic led to his decision is why he is being sweated. he uses the word “panic’ to describe his repsonses several times. panic is the inability to apply logic to a situation due to duress.

    he panicked because the wii scared him. no huge shame in that. and people called him out on that, though many did too harshly. so he wants to pretend he wrote a different article for different reasons. fine, but it might not work on everyone.

    and im confused how batteries are a hidden cost. this guy has a tv remote, right?
    im also confused how a game where you play rock band instruments wouldnt pretty clearly need you to get said instruments.

    lastly, he either did not realize that he would need to set usage rules with his kids (strange, since he already understands that other multimedia require them), or he did realize that, but used that as an after-the-fact excuse to justify sending the system back. probably because saying the wii scared him was too embarassing to admit.

    oh and to some of the “think of the children” posters in these replies; videogames are just as evil and just as corrupting of youth as Socrates, dancing, “talkies”, rock’n’roll (especially the beatles and elvis!), comic books, dungeons and dragons, television, and the internet. notice the irony? probably not…
    but this time its different!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anon

    you, sir, have been trolled

    LOL

  • Jonathan Delahaye

    The internet could be used for evil purposes, let’s not teach people to use it responsibly but ban it.
    There are books like “Mein kampf” out there, let’s not teach our children to read.

    Same vein… Instead of using this to teach his kids about responsibility and moderation, because it COULD be addictive when not doing that… let’s ban it.

    Oh… and do not feed the trolls!

  • Erich K.

    Mr. O’brian needs to know the truth people. This is not about reducing attention spans, improving “hand-eye co-oridination” (*ack, the WORST example to ever defend video games) or gamer rage at the Mainstream Media.

    This is about the Wii, the redonkulously selling, most family friendly video game system on the market. So many parents are exactly in this same boat. A 4- 7 year old has no idea why they want to play video games other than everybody else they know is doing it, and they want it. It’s not about “deep narrative” or anything of the sort. Parents don’t know these things generally, and plenty just plunk down the cash and get on with it. Thanks, Mr. O’brian, for taking a moment and maybe giving another parent pause. This is far more about marketing and product saturation than about parenting. The Wii stands alone as the family console. It targets families and little children.

    The Wii is a veritible junk peripheral wasteland. You (Kotaku Readers) know it. You bitch about it every chance you get, the lack of meaningful innovative titles available for the Wii, the endless stream of shovelware (crummy, Make-A-Buck throw-away games). Amazing that none of you congratulated Mr. O’brian on his restraint from the rope-a-dope that the Wii has rodeo’ed. Aside from the initial innovation of the motion control, and the its ability to worm its way into every household and nursing home, the Wii is an over-priced, under-performing, gimmicky Nintendo marketing ploy. But boy, don’t you dare say it ruined my life, because that would be just too pathetic.

  • Alex

    “Good for you! These gamers websites shouldn’t be allowed on the internet. All they do is take up even more of the time kids should be learning or getting exercise. This is just more proof of how Video Gamers are controlling the minds of our kids.”

    I can’t believe I actually read this. Now we shouldn’t allow freedom of speech on the internet?

    And you think that kids are the ones who are always at these video game sites? Adults play too, and adults are generally the ones in the industry looking at game news and posting it.

    “Controlling the minds of our kids?” Please, the fear and paranoia is way too much

  • http://freezecracker.com Deth

    http://www.freezecracker.com/forum/index.php?topic=4878.0

    You have a pretty big ego, my friend.

  • http://www.funkyj.com Funky J

    OK, so you decided not to get a Wii. Good for you. I strongly recommend people don’t buy one, because they’re a huge POS not only for the reasons you mention, but their terrible design and hardware.

    But why bother writing about it?

    You claim you didn’t think it would be a big issue, so why did you bother to write 1500 words on the issue?

    I’m sure your kids didn’t get snow mobiles or dirt bikes, or more realistically given your perceived frugality, baseball sets or golf clubs, or bikes. Why didn’t you write about any of these?

    The answer is you’re a journalist, and you’re lying.

    You knew precisely you’d get a reaction. You may not have expected so large a reaction, but you definitely expected one otherwise you wouldn’t have written the story and your editor wouldn’t have published it.

    The fact that so many commentators have defended you shows an appalling lack of knowledge of media manipulation perpetrated by you and other authors on the American public.

    By all means write whatever you want about whatever you want, but don’t act all mock surprise when people choose to pick up on those topics you choose to deliberately write about with a sense you’d get a reaction.

  • brian577

    “The Wii is a veritible junk peripheral wasteland”

    Yes of course, the Wii has NO good games, well I must living in an alternate reality because I know plenty of good Wii games for the hardcore gamer.
    Perhaps you are too picky, and care more about whether a game has an M rating
    then if it is actually fun.

  • brian577

    but their terrible design and hardware.

    Funny because that’s exactly what I would say about the 360, I’m pretty sure
    a hardware failure rate of over 20% qualifies means product has a “poor design”

  • Robert

    The gaming community as a whole, as many have pointed out, is extremely defensive, and for good reason. Mainstream media regards them as “kids”, despite the average age of gamers has risen to 22. The vast majority of them hold jobs, and many of them are beginning to start their own families. Yet their hobby is still regarded by people like you, who admittedly haven’t ever tried them medium (or in your case, haven’t for 20 years), deride it as childish, and irrationally violent, somehow moreso then the equally violent if not more violent content that is in our movies, and even our books.

    The average demographic of Kotaku, according to Alexa.com, is comprised of people in their early 20′s, around 24 years of age. You referred to them as “kids”. You imply that you have to “spend all day” playing video games in order to know about basic facts that reading “consumer report” would have educated you on. Not only do video games decrease attention spans, they are a scientifically effective treatment for ADHD.

    http://www.smartbraintech.com/

    Nobody hates you because you were ignorant about the working of the wii. They hate you because you perpetuate the same stereotypes they have dealt with for most of their adult life. Their have been far more inflammatory articles about video games then yours, but yours has received so much hate because its main focus is about your woes with the wiis pricing, but these common stereotypes are literally laced throughout your article, as if it were a commonly regarded fact.

    While you may think your articles are valid, your essentially engaging in yellow journalism, at least within the perspective of the gaming community.

    And seriously, if your going to spend your time watching movies in front of the television using the wii, you might as well buy a game like Okami and learn something. http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/wii/okami?q=okami.

  • HeIIRazor

    If Netflix is a new selling point for the Wii you may want to spend the rest of the year researching alternatives. The Wii is, by far, the worst option out there for Netflix streaming. It is simple unequipped and under-powered for an adequate viewing experience… unless you are as uninformed about current A/V tech standards as you are about videogames. BTW, congrats on acting like a parent.

  • Hugo Costa

    I’ve disagreed in various aspects on the original article. But people have already shout theirs minds and you must be tired of all the flaming.

    The only part that really bugged me is the word “hidden cost”.
    Man, you wrote that your children is happy playing free online games, if you’re BUYING something, don’t expect it to be free.
    The costs are not hidden, otherwise I would say that buying a car has the hidden cost of having to put fuel on it!
    Also, you don’t really need to buy every accessory ever released on earth, just buy one additional wiimote/nunchuck pair and some games and you’ll have fun for at least one year.

    Forget about, bats, rackets, gloves, trash trash trash…
    For Balance Board, Motion Plus, etc, buy it the next year or as their birthday gift.

    Regards! :-)
    Happy “NotWiing”!

  • Adam

    “though apparently we’re torturing them by limiting that to 30 minutes a week!”

    Although I can totally see where you’re coming from in returning the Wii, limiting their game playing to 30 minutes per week really does seem quite slow. Does this translate to them only being allowed to watch one television show per week and one movie per month? If not, it does suggest bias against playing games.

  • Wii Parent

    As a parent who has a Wii, I can understand your points. However, I cannot agree to your decision of buying the console, letting the kids play with it ON XMAS, then taking it back to the store. That is just plain cruel! Imagine yourself back in your childhood days, you get the best present ever, you get to play and enjoy it, then your parents decide to return it because of a reason that they fully cannot understand??? You are horrible! I hope that you didn’t do that with your wife when you proposed… “Oh honey, I love you and I want to live the rest of our lives together, but you know that diamond engagement ring that I got you? I’m gonna have to take it back, for budgetary reasons.” (Yes, I know it’s not the same context, but the emotions involved are the same – the feelings of being betrayed, hurt, anguish, resentment, hatred). If this happened to me when I was a kid and my parents returned that NES + Rob + Zapper set that they had gotten me for Christmas, I would probably still resent them till this day!

  • brian577

    The Wii is, by far, the worst option out there for Netflix streaming

    Funny, last time I checked it’s not even available for the Wii yet, do you have
    a magic crystal ball that tells you this? How about not passing judgement until we
    see it in action

  • Tim

    I still disagree with your article.You seem to be saying that playing games tends to hurt a child in the long run.Well,I must say that I personally had games when I was a child.Even so, I voluntarily went outside and spent much of my summer days playing sports all day and then when I would get home , dive into playing some games.Some children are able to regulate themselves, granted at the time I really started getting into gaming I was around 10.
    To those here that say they warp you or dumb you down, you should be ashamed.I had loads of games and never recieved a grade lower than a B on any assignment.
    I am now 25, a member of Mensa international, with an iq of 155, and as a child tested in the 98th percentile.
    I currently run a business, attend college, and I play games, sometimes in excess of 6 hours a day.In that time, I also have time to model, work on music production, and have friends. Moderation to some may mean something entirely different to another.
    I am not trying to come off as snob or have anyone think I am trying to be superior.I am simply showing that people in life may see things in different ways.I could continue on here,but I feel as though I would be wasting my time.

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  • Apolo Imagod

    I read your original article (via Kotaku), and I thought it was interesting. It was a nice read; the experiences of someone new to the medium, discovering all the nuances associated with it. As for the parenting section, I thought it was pretty reasonable too: if you are not sure about a decision that might affect your kids, it’s better going safe. Our children is the most precious thing we have.

    That being said I would like to address a couple of things. First, I feel bad for all the bad reactions you received from the gaming community. I am an avid gamer myself, and I see this all too often. I think every mainstream outlet out there should know, by now, that if you are going to talk about anything related to gaming, well, you’re likely to receive the wrath of gamers.

    But why is that? Well, the problem is that the gaming community is a marginalized community. Like all marginalized communities (like say, racial minorities), they tend overreact against anything they perceive as an attack. Because, let’s face it, pretty much every single article/TV mention of gaming in mainstream media has negative connotations. “Study finds video game players have attention span problems”, “Serial murderer arrested was an avid gamer”… There are plenty of great, good stories about gaming as well, many of them featured on the gaming blogs (like Kotaku), but they never leak to mainstream media, only the bad ones.

    What’s the effect of all this? Well it tends to build a bad reputation of gaming among the public at large. This tends to build up resentment among gamers… and well, you get things like the response to your article. Which brings me to my second point…

    What I like about your article is that it had no such prejudices in it. It seemed to me like an honest piece about a problem with this industry: the hidden costs. Mind you, this is not a problem exclusive to this industry. It’s a problem existent across all of the technology spectrum (which, frankly, causes me to be a bit surprised about your surprise). I thought it was an informative article for those not savvy about gaming costs. However, this follow up is a totally different tale…

    I understand you’re upset about the response to your article, and I feel for you on that. But, as opposed to your previous piece, this one does have the prejudicial tone in it. Which throws your credibility for the previous one out the window. Listen, I get you didn’t like the hidden costs, and that as a parent you’re concerned about your kids. It’s your house, and it’s your rules. You are entitled to make your own decisions, as it concerns to your household, and for everyone else to respect those and back off… And so, you must do the same for everyone else.

    In this article you descend to the level of the rest of mainstream media, subtlety hinting that video games are harmful, not just for kids, but for everyone in general. Now, I’m not going to scorn you, or anything, I just wanted to point this out. There are many people out there making decisions about their lifestyles, and entertainment. Just as you did when you decided not to get the console, others are inclining to get it. And both decisions should be respected.

    Good for you on taking the reins on your parenting. It must have hard not getting the reassurance you were waiting for when you wrote your article. But did you have to respond by going the old treaded way of bashing or choice of hobby and entertainment? Back off sir. Just as you, we are able to make our own decisions and parenting. And we want it to be respected!

  • Champ Kind

    My problem with this article wasn’t that the writer opted not to purchase a Wii. My problem is that this guy is a paid writer for the San Jose Mercury News (to those that don’t know, San Jose is right in the heart of the Silicon Valley) and he writes a regular column entitled Silicon Beat: The people and companies driving the innovation of Silicon Valley, yet he doesn’t appear to have any knowledge at all about the world of technology that surrounds him.

    I guess I’m the idiot for assuming this guy should have a little knowledge about the subject at hand, huh?

    I don’t claim to be an expert in the field of technology myself, but I feel like one after reading this guy’s “work”. If he wrote a regular column entitled Modern Parenting or something, I wouldn’t have had a real problem with the article, but this is not the case.

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