ESRB Ratings

Video games take ridiculous amounts of needless blame. You know what I’m talking about. Teen violence or bullying? Obviously it’s the fault of video games. ESRB rating labels might as well just be box art for all the stock some parents seem to put into them.

But, I’m not a parent. I’m not anti-gaming. I have no reason to believe that video games cause violence. My games are still being openly attacked.

The worst thing video games have done for TG and me is whittle down our bank account from time to time. In fact, TG even used video games as a means to help him recover after he suffered multiple head injuries back in 2003.

He started seeing a Speech Pathologist for cognitive rehabilitation who used basic games to help redevelop his executive function. Neurologists have told us that his playing EQOA that winter probably helped his recovery.

He will probably always have vertigo and a constant headache because of the damage to his brain. We’ve recently found he’s been having epileptic seizures for the last eight years that have gone untreated. They escalated this year, finally making us aware and demanding medication.

Now his family is berating him to give up gaming — the one bit of light in our time of darkness. They’re convinced that the video games are the cause of his problems. That’s easier to handle than having to accept that he may have to deal with this for the rest of his life.

We’ve talked to his neurologist about this. They’re not photosensitive seizures; they’re a symptom of his head injury, not a reaction to light patterns on a screen. Giving up gaming will not help the seizures. The neurologist even reinforced that gaming can aid rehabilitation.

Some days, the pain is so bad that the distraction of an MMO or FPS is a blessing. Those days he has a hard time just helping me prepare dinner. Even gaming can be hard on the worst days. The pain can make him snappy and quick to frustration, and people raging over battleground chat is his Kryptonite. Coincidentally, those are also the days he wants to quit or abandon his favorite character.

But, what is he supposed to do? Even playing with the dog can be exhausting for him. Staring at the TV is not mentally stimulating. I can’t figure out what his family’s alternative to gaming would be. Should he just have to lay in the dark and suffer in silence? Can he not take part in a pastime that he has always enjoyed?

This is only a problem because people see games as a scapegoat, as evil or only for children. Though, I have to say that I would never allow my children to play a “children’s game” like Dead Island or Leisure Suit Larry. Now we’ve come full circle to the ESRB ratings, haven’t we?

Would this be as much of an issue if he were involved in a weekly tabletop D & D group? What if he were reading instead of gaming? Why should he be shamed by people who care about him for doing something that brings him joy?

In trying to keep perspective and sanity, I have to remind myself that these are the same people who urge him to drink more water or eat more ginger because they read that those things can help. That may be true, but it’s very unlikely to help a headache that’s been happening for eight years now. I really hope he hasn’t been dehydrated that long, or we’ve got bigger problems than gaming.

[Photo Credit: Delaware Online]


About Amanda

Amanda is a 20-something flailing gamer. While she loves MMORPGs, the company in them often triggers flare-ups of her social anxiety. Her all-time favorite games include Everquest Online Adventures, Eternal Sonata, the Animal Crossing series, Katamari Damacy, and Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. She lives on junk food, and her favorite books are equally trashy. She doesn't believe in putting two spaces after a period, but she does strongly believe in the serial comma. Unfortunately, she has a penchant for starting sentences with "and" and "but;" hopefully you won't hold that, or her excessive use of semicolons, against her.

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