The Importance Of Growing Up Nintendo
It's always nice to have Mario to fall back on, instead of staring down the barrel of a loaded, albeit virtual, gun.
At 32 years old, you won't run into me at many midnight openings. I've long believed that standing in the cold for a video game (or some electronic device) is one huge waste of time. I see why people do it. During my college years, I could barely sleep in anticipation of Resident Evil 2.
Fact: the older you get, the more prone to passing out before midnight you become.
That said, Call of Duty is the lone exception to the rule, the one game that gets me out of the house the night before release, though I take a different approach. Instead of freezing my butt off with a bunch of teens, I head right to the bar with the rest of my 21 and over friends, where we drink and eat chicken fingers till the line outside whittles away to nothing. Then we stroll over to the store, grab the game and head home. See? Being old has its privileges.
Well, so much for that. Turns out, this particular GameStop will no longer host midnight openings for Call of Duty, or any game, for that matter, all because of a few idiots that ruined it for everyone.
First mistake: the store (located in a very small town full of police) decided to have a Monster Energy branded truck pull into the parking lot and let the hundreds of immature gamers enjoy Modern Warfare 3 on too few screens.
Second mistake: someone brought marijuana to a midnight opening.
The result? Drug use in plain sight of police, fights in plain sight of police. Arrests were made. The driver of the truck was told to get lost, and a police cruiser took its place, shining a spotlight on the huddled masses, lest they even think about doing something stupid.
Granted, I don't know who these guys were, or who started what, but the entire scene just smacked of the Call of Duty generation and the wrong types of people who play Activision's game.
Not all, and I want to be clear about that. There are plenty of upstanding citizens that treat others with respect, both in person and online.
That aside, you've probably encountered a variety of fools on Xbox Live or PlayStation Network, some of which sounded about seven years old, because they were seven years old. Some parents don't care. Hell, I saw parents standing in that line with their kids. M rated game? Blood? Violence? Anti Russian sentiment? Yeah sure.
Don't get me wrong. Call of Duty is not to blame for the thousands (perhaps millions) of brats populating the world. Parents are mostly responsible for raising their children properly in the wake of media overload. It's less about Sesame Street these days, more about Jersey Shore. Pop culture infests their minds.
The phrase, "they grow up fast" is more than just a phrase. It's the truth.
Just look at the recent Nielsen data of kids ages 6-12, the majority of which want an iPad this holiday season. An iPad? Really? What does a six year old do with a $500 piece of equipment, aside from dropping it?
This is what ultimately makes parenting such a tough job. I don't speak from the experience of the father, but as the kid. I was fortunate to have great parents, but even they couldn't stop me from watching movies like Die Hard, RoboCop and Total Recall, or listening to music with suggestive lyrics or even playing violent games, though they tried. They definitely tried, and at times succeeded.
Won some battles, didn't win the war, or did they?
That's just part of life, and it's perfectly fine, because you cannot shelter your kids, nor can you monitor their lives 24/7. That winds up doing more harm than good, but you can instill within them a great set of values to help deal with the hardships of life.
In my opinion, having Nintendo in the home is but one way to achieve this.
Critics always say the same old nonsense, that Nintendo doesn't get online gaming, or that the company doesn't create enough mature content, to which I've always asked, what for? The publisher, by and large, releases games appropriate for all ages. Why deviate from that simple plan?
More importantly, why go down that route when its games help parents do their jobs?
When Microsoft and various third parties release a kids game, Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster comes to mind, there's something off about it, as if the company just throws moms and dads a bone when the big money rests with Gears of War and Halo.
Now playing, Kinectimals, from the same company that brings you mass death and destruction.
Nintendo, on the other hand, has always represented good amidst its own corporate desire to essentially rule the world. You can give me the whole "but Mario takes mushrooms" argument, but it would do little to change my opinion that the mustachioed plumber stands for the same values parents want their kids to, well, value. Friendship, sharing, being nice to others, rescuing those in need, the importance of being yourself. Granted, the guy shed a few pounds from his NES days, but he's still an everyman, an average bodied and hard working guy in search of love. You don't pity his cause. You admire him for it.
The same can be said of other Nintendo games. Mario Kart is good-natured family fun. Zelda's much darker, but the same themes of beating the odds and combating evil are always front and center. Then there's Pokemon. A smart marketing ploy to sell millions of toys, cards, games and movies? Absolutely. I'm not calling Nintendo the saint of the business world. Still, those games teach the importance of companionship and caring for one's pets. There's a sense of unity, of family togetherness. You know, amongst the hardcore creature battling.
What about Animal Crossing? That's a whole article by itself, one that would delve into being part of a community, assisting fellow neighbors, learning the value of communicating, paying ones bills, taking responsibility for one's actions, and so on and so forth.
With this in mind, I'll refrain from identifying a factual correlation between Nintendo games and well-modeled human beings. I've known plenty of weird people that also played Nintendo games growing up.
For myself, playing Nintendo's games definitely played a role in who I am today. Perfect? Far from it, but I learned more than just the locations of warp whistles or how to defeat a particularly challenging boss. There were basic themes in each of these titles. I became a better human being in part because of these digital experiences.
You know, as opposed to former associates who only played Sega Genesis. They were jerks.
So, with proper parenting, the right school system, great friends (I know, it's a lot) and some Nintendo games, you probably have a better shot raising kids than the parents that don't care and buy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for their nine year old.
To that end, give me Bowser over Vladimir Makarov any day of the week.