I'm playing an M-rated game with my 7 year old, am I a terrible person?


I’ve told this story before, but it fits the topic…

When my son was about 8, he’d watch me play Just Cause 2. He thought the tether, cars, etc. were awesome, but he wasn’t allowed to play shooting games. Knowing the enemies won’t mess with you if you don’t hassle them, I told him he could play if he didn’t shoot anyone, figuring he could drive around and spiderman-it up tall buildings.

After he’d been playing on and off for a couple of weeks, I came into the media room and found him playing. He was at the rooftop bar on a tall building, attaching remotely detonated explosives to partygoers and throwing them off the buildings and setting them off.

I was like “Carter! I told you not to kill people!”

He said “No, you told me not to shoot people…”


hahahaha… but these are not people, these are ragdolls, they are designed to fall in hilarious ways. They (sadly) don’t interact with the player much.


I just watched this trailer and it seems much more violent than RDR to me:

Seeing it happen to actual actors… it becomes something other than cartoon, unreal action at that point.


I did not know the game would end the way it did. That was a particularly powerful scene (and aftermath) to play through with my son, and although I am not going out of my way to generally play M rated games with him, to my mind it vindicates the gut call I made to play this particular M rated game with him.

I cried a little.


Thanks for coming back and sharing that. I had been wondering how all this sat with you and if you’d continued to play how it might have made you consider things differently than before. Do you mind my asking what the effect was on your son; did he have his own questions or observations with respect to the ending or the game as a whole after it was over?


I made damn sure he knew that his primary job is to avenge my death, I’ll tell you that!

I mean, why else do we have kids?


Wait, there’s a sex scene in RDR? Either I missed it, or it was so unimportant, I immediately forgot about it.

And to answer the question - no, you’re not a terrible person. I think you’re a GOOD person, for bringing your kids into this universe. All the reasons for why you’re doing it are great, and you seem like you are good at explaining bits and stuff for them.

I don’t have kids, so who am I to talk, but just out of my own experience, and my 7 year younger sister who used to hang around me and watch whatever I was doing who doesn’t seem scarred for life =)


Granted, I don’t feel a need to share the gaming experience with her, because she’s a daughter - I don’t know how it will be if he were a son.

I know this was meant with no ill intent (and was over a year ago to boot), so it feels cruel to pick on it, but this was my post-that-makes-me-sad of the day.


Wow, this makes me sad. I can understand not wanting to show her gory games, but not wanting to share something you enjoy with your kid?
My mother bought me a GameBoy when I was like 6, and I had different types of games on my first Macintosh and later PC. She always gave me different types of toys, both dolls and cars and LEGO and railroads and detective stuff, never telling me what a girl should be like or play with, just letting me explore and decide for myself what I enjoyed.

And you know what? I grew up to love games. And you know what else? I’m still a girl.


My response to the above two poster is to read my whole paragraph for context. I was referring to her being at a younger/tender age and not the right time for me to share my admittedly mostly shooter gaming experience. And instead, there are other things to do together as father-daughter.


This I understand, it’s just the little comment about not feeling the need to share games with her because she’s a daughter that sort of sticks with me.


For folks that struggle with gaming with kids, this is why we have Nintendo. Their games are created so anyone from age 2 to 100 can play them and often enjoy them together as a family.


Absolutely. I just gave away all my unused Wii stuff, only to have my sister call me yesterday and ask if i still had it for her kids to use. Darn!


This is so true. My nephews don’t have any video games of their own, so a couple years ago at five years old the oldest was still completely new to gaming. That Thanksgiving I had the Wii U and my PS4 with me. He tried Lego Batman, and Super Mario 3D World and the difference was night and day. He wanted to like Lego Batman, but for someone just learning the basics of navigating gaming and using a controller, even a “kids” game like that was unfriendly. Tricky jumps, unclear 3D perspectives, etc. It’s still a pretty good choice for kids all things considered because of the coop and lack of penalty for mistakes, but Mario went so much better. The bright colorful designs that are still so charming as an adult are also clear and simple to grasp at any age. Plenty of jumps still gave him trouble, but it was never because he didn’t realize what he needed to do or where to go.


They really do have design down to a science of sorts. I know there are people who long for the days when their games were harder, but that stuff is often still there, it just comes later after you’ve had time to enjoy the basic mechanics and can move on to mastery. That’s a product of their iterative design throughout decades of game making.

What really warms my heart about the company is they seem to have successfully passed along this sensibility to the younger designers. All you have to do is look at a game like Splatoon to see how all those things that make Nintendo great can still be found in something that ultimately becomes a really hardcore experience in the end. That game came from some of their younger staff.

Super Mario Odyssey is another game that clearly shows off their younger teams’ understanding of what makes Nintendo great.

That’s not to say all games should be like theirs, but when it comes to gaming with children, something I spent a lot of time thinking about when we ran Gamerdad.com, Nintendo really is the best option. No one else gets it like they do.


Truth. Getting a SNES classic for Christmas for the explicit purpose of introducing my nearly 4 year old son to real gaming. Kirby and Mario, here we come!


Pretty much a terrible idea. I have twin girls, now ten years old, so I understand your conundrum. I wouldn’t play M-rated games until they were in bed – and I still don’t play games around them with adult-themed stuff (so much of it is gratuitous nudity and soft-core porn, anyway). Your kid will grow up too fast, as it is. Teaching a young mind that rage and violence are acceptable solutions to problems is a crap-shoot with his psyche. Like it or not, a child’s mind processes things much differently than an adult’s; it’s best to proceed with caution rather than jump in with both feet and hope for the best when it comes to exposing someone so young to this level of violence.

I’d also say that since you’re getting a twinge of guilt, it probably means you shouldn’t be doing it – no matter how cool the game is.


I suspect it depends upon the kid and his age.

Being exposed to play violence, while doing it with his dad, is probably the best way he can be introduced to it. And play violence is definitely segregated from real violence in a normal person’s brain.


Kids at almost any age can absolutely tell the difference between real violence and game violence. I’m not sure about fake violence against real actors, we have avoided that for the his reason. But ultimately the power button on the TV is a pretty compelling gate.

My 3 year old is a pretty decent Titanfall player. If he starts getting excited or upset at the game it is never because he thinks something bad is happening, it’s because he is into it. He is only allowed to play for 15 minutes at a time though because of a overstimulation, which is a real thing, it makes him all high energy.

I think the key is to interrupt the gaming experience frequently with other things. For instance I will have him pause it and do some light chores, or stop playing and switch to an activity. You have to have games in the rotation, not let them be an exclusive activity. You also have to participate and lead a kid with your reactions and emotions to show them appropriate play. Of course some games are right out for content. No GTA ever.

To me gaming is just like anything else, it is just way more prone to obsession, so you have to check that. You also have to monitor your kid closely, filter, participate and explain.

There is one huge positive too: Games make them curious about subjects like everything else. AC: Origins (tomb raiding and exploration, not combat and missions) have gotten us on an ancient Egypt kick now, which he is learning about for the first time!


When I was very young, my dad let me watch him play a few carefully selected parts of Leisure Suit Larry. I couldn’t really understand what was going on just by reading the text, so he explained to me what was going on. Or if he didn’t want me to know about something, I imagine he just ignored it.

Short term consequence: I learned the word “dork” and immediately went to school and called somebody that and got in trouble.

Long term consequence: I learned to never get in a car with a drunk driver.

I think exposing young kids to “mature” material like that in a carefully controlled way can be a good thing. You can teach them lessons about the adult world early on, long before they become teenagers and don’t want to listen to you anymore.