As a long time gamer, and a long time father, my worlds are colliding.
It first happened about 7 years ago playing “Sled Storm” on the original PlayStation. I was playing head-to-head with Coleman, my oldest son. I beat him, as I always did, for a few races. Then I left, but he stayed and played alone for while. About an hour later he asked me to play again. This time he won. He beat me badly. For several more races he beat me repeatedly. That was the first time I lost to him in a video game, and probably the last time I was able to beat him.
My parental and gaming worlds collided again this weekend. It happened when my youngest son Carson came running in to the den, screaming and crying – clearly devastated in the way that only 9 year olds can be devastated.
“Daddy, Coleman called me a n00b,” he sobbed.
Digging deeper, I discovered that his older brother had caught him and his friend ‘boosting’ in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2. (COD4)
You see, in COD4 you get to level-up. With each level-up you get new stuff: weapons, attachments, emblems and titles for your character. To level up, you need to get achievements – challenges like getting a certain number of kills with each weapon, and even fun stuff like falling 30 feet or dropping an airdrop on another player.
Boosting is the act of artificially getting these accomplishments. Carson had set up a private match with someone on his friends list. They were the only two people on the map. They were taking turns killing each other to get certain achievements and level-up.
Upon getting the full run down, I held my baby’s head in my hands, looked into his teary, blue eyes, and lovingly explained, “Honey, boosting is for n00bs. That’s kind of like cheating. You’re better than that.”
I guess it was my way of passing along my traditions to my kids. As gamers get older, it is our obligation to teach our kids to respect the game and to pass along a strong set of digital morals. You should teach your kids traditional stuff like not talking during a golfer’s backswing or not to celebrate a tackle when your team is down by 3 touchdowns. But as they show interest in video games, teach them the ‘digital life lessons’, too. Your kids should know not to block door ways in multi-player matches, that wall hackers suck, that aimbots will get you banned and boosting is for n00bs.
As they game, they will develop their own values for gaming—and like many other things in life sometimes their views may be in stark contrast to yours, so impress upon them what you can while you can. =For example, my oldest son says that camping is for n00bs. In contrast, I believe that sniping is skill and is perfectly acceptable. This is a highly debated topic. Since he pwns in COD4, I was forced to agree to disagree on this one.