Friday, May 23, 2014

I figured it out!

To anyone who knows me, you know I am a huge movie buff. Yes I do co-write an amateur (but fast gaining readership) sci-fi review blog called the Boxed Office. While I'm usually a general lover of cinema; from foreign films to the occasional Rom Com (Romantic Comedies) to documentaries, I enjoy my projected-light story time. And if you know that you also know that I have had it up to here with the movie-going scene. While I absolutely LIVE for the big screen experience, I absolutely LOATHE being in theaters with people who talk, text and generally act like inconsiderate butt-heads once the lights go out. 

Gone are the days when moviegoers were courteous to others and would just STFU when the movie (or trailers) began. Ushers even used to walk the isles to remind all the disorderly dimwits the show is about to begin and it's time to shut your pie-hole. What’s worse, is the reality of pulling out phones and texting, talking or (gulp!) even gaming during the film. Who the hell ARE you people?

It was about a week ago when the answer to this quandary suddenly occurred to me. 

Generally, I am NOT a violent guy. Few things are worth getting in someone’s face over but really, I paid my admission fee, so I’m entitled to enjoy the movie–preferably without having to hear the BS details of of the so-called lives of inconsiderate rubes. Yeah that’s right I said it. I’ll say it again. Rubes.

Four easy words are the solution to decades of frustration for millions of people who only want to go and watch a movie in peace—and it makes the movie-watching experience that much better to boot. Are you ready? 

Pump up the volume. 

I’ve witnessed it firsthand. When the volume goes up, the shenanigans get drowned out. When the volume is high, the ding-dongs can’t think. They don’t pull out their phones, they don’t comment or talk and I don’t have to hear them hork-down their crunchy salty over-priced buttery snacks. It’s downright magical. So, Hollywood, here’s my proposal: 

Don’t fight these fools. They have no manners and no common sense. Just drown them out. No one will complain that the volume is too loud. No one. If a few little old ladies in Tulucca Lake bitch to the manager, you can tell them about the master plan and give them a free extra-small popcorn (a $13 value!). Everyone wins. No one will get into fights, get shot or beaten up over rude behavior or have to suffer through some idiot’s critique of every trailer and major plot development. Since you won’t ask your ushers and staff to tell the troglodytes to knock it off, the least you can do is to do me the common courtesy of helping me to enjoy the film. After all, its at least the pretense to why I'm there in the first place. Better yet, it won't cost you a dime.

Make it so. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

When should kids answer the “Call Of Duty”?

When’s the perfect time to introduce kids to volatile, highly emotional gaming? When they’re ready.

[Nearly] every parent faces a question thought unimaginable with past generations. When should my child learn to slaughter other people–albeit virtually–online? Game franchises like Battlefield, Call Of Duty, Tom Clancey (RIP) and a host of others including Gears of War, Metal Gear Solid, BioShock and Halo all contain adult-themed video game experiences that are at best inappropriate to young minds,  especially under the age of 11 or 12. 

I speak from experience. 

I remember my boys were aged 6 and 8 years old when I put the controller in their hands to begin taking down alien baddies in games like Halo. What’s the harm right? They’re ugly, dog-faced savages that growl and spew blue blood (not the affluent cape cod estate kind of blue blood, but) they actually sprayed blue hemoglobin when shot between the eyes. What could be the harm be in that? 

Turns out, a lot. 

At age six, my twin boys began to show increased aggressive tendencies (should of seen that one coming) and began having minor but persistent nightmares. Even while playing the games they would get audibly loud and severely agitated at anything that would not go their way. 

So was I a bad parent for subjecting these young minds to this kind of animated violence? Probably. Make no bones about it, we went to parks, played in backyards and pools, went to (kids) movies and played board games, rode bike and the whole nine. I sincerely wanted my kids to enjoy gaming like I did, but they just weren’t ready for what I was introducing to them.

My kids are well (enough) adjusted these days but I would say this; when it comes to introducing kids to more violent video games, the later the better. A tough prospect for a gamer-dad, but a necessary one. Each parent has to decide for  themselves. Your kids will hit you with all the classics; “Dad it’ll be fine it’s just a game” or “I already played it (which IMMEDIATELY should become another conversation) and my favorite; “All my friends are all playing it already!” So what? If I was their Dad I would ban them from playing it, too. 

Technology plays such a critical role in the lives of our kids’ generation, way more so than in mine. Its a necessary evil. Just remember, you’re in control of the controller, making you the ultimate level boss.

Arthur Milano (Gamertag Arth Vader) can be found on the XBOX LIVE & Playstation Plus networks. He is a hopelessly addicted gamer, writer, designer, artist, movie reviewer and most importantly, father of four. He can be frequently found sharing thoughts on parenting, gaming, career and work-life balance on blogs like New Dadventures, writing Sci-Fi movie reviews at the Boxed Office and co-hosts a parenting video-game podcast and blog called Controller Issues