Both during the presidential campaign and since then, Barack Obama has urged parents to turn off video game systems. Specifically he has repeatedly hated on the XBOX 360, telling numerous audiences that parents need to “put away the XBOX.”
The Entertainment Consumers Association (which, despite its name, appears to simply be a spinoff group of the Entertainment Merchants Association) has a prewritten email form people can use to e-mail the White House about his continuing use of negative stereotypes about videogames and videogamers.
As a parent of a 7-year-old, I see no reason to “put away the XBOX.” In fact, I think our Xbox 360 plays an extremely important educational function along with the obvious entertainment and fun videogames bring.
As an aside, and I’m sure this is not the case with all children, Obama has also linked videogame playing to physical fitness problems. Children turning into couch potatos playing video games all day presumably don’t get enough exercise. I only wish I could get my kid to sit on the couch while playing a video game. Instead he seems to think the Xbox is a Wii and that the more animated and elaborate his movements with the controller are during play, the more successful he will be onscreen.
I realized the other day that I’d finally quite playing World of Warcraft (though I still haven’t canceled my subscription). Oddly, it wasn’t that I woke up one day and suddenly said “no more WoW” but rather that I just gradually stopped finding reasons to log in and just sort of stopped while I carried on with other things in my life.
Part of the reason is the Xbox. On the one hand, I have never found playing games on a console nearly as captivating or engaging as games on the PC. With PC games, you feel like you’re playing the game; on the Xbox it often feels like the games are playing you, since they tend to be far more linear and have fewer options.
But that’s not a bad thing in that it is a lot easier to hop on the Xbox and play for an hour or two, and then actually stop and go back to what I was doing. I could rarely do that with a good PC game.
The second thing that’s nice about the Xbox is precisely that it isn’t my PC. So laptop=writing/web browsing/productivity. Xbox=blowing off steam for an hour. And ne’er the twain shall meet.
Still, I can’t bring myself to actually cancel my WoW account — feels a bit like permanently putting my toon out to pasture. Maybe in a few more months I can reach some sort of closure there.