"It's clear most of these commenters can't seem to conceive of a world where everyone doesn't play video games all day long," writes Chris O'Brien, whose column about returning a Christmas-gift Wii summoned a tempest of gamer fury .
To recap: O'Brien, a columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, thought he was penning "a pretty innocent tale" of a family decision. The O'Briens were a little put off by hidden costs (namely, batteries), but more concerned they'd be introducing a games console to their children and throwing their lifestyles, attention spans and study habits out of balance.
Totilo picked it up on Wednesday with a pretty straight recap, but the more than 800 comments it provoked were not as even-handed. O'Brien was stunned by the response on Kotaku in particular, and has written a response. Its tone is a respectful reminder that there are some families out there not headed by hardcore gamers, so parenting decisions are sometimes made without that community's values foremost in mind.
The tone of the [Kotaku] post is pretty neutral. The comments are not, most of which are from folks who naturally didn't bother to read the column itself (surprise!).
JazzNeurotic writes: "This is a useless article by a moron, not to put too fine a point on it. There is no reason at all to make this sort of complaint unless one has been living away from all sorts of technology with the Amish, or in a coma, for the past 25 years."
RockyRan writes: "If you read the column you'll see that his problem was beyond the hidden costs. He didn't know how to establish "rules" for the Wii, and that the other gifts would be "overshadowed" by the Wii. In short, it was going to require regulation and parenting, and rather than let the kids have a fantastic Christmas with an awesome Wii they returned the whole thing to save themselves the trouble. Laziness is what I'm reading between the lines here."
So to recap: I'm a cheap, lazy, stupid parent because I won't fork over $300 for a present and because I don't let the kids do whatever they want, when they want. Okay.
I was outed by Blore07, who discovered my "hidden agenda": "I think a lot of people are ignoring the fact that this guy probably knows nothing nor cares about videogames, he just wrote the story to stirr up and divide the masses and get some attention."
Yes, I was hoping to start an online riot. Exactly.
My reaction? I'm with O'Brien. I'm also a little curious about the response here. We post no shortage of articles about gamer kids gone off the rails, and the reaction to those also is swift and uncompromising - and usually sanctions unilateral heavy-handed parenting to get unruly children in line. I've seen scads of knee-jerk "just unplug the console" remarks when a child's gaming habit becomes disproportionate and unhealthy. How is this father's rational, if pre-emptive, decision really any different? Game consoles are in fact a luxury. And it's his house, his kids, his rules.
Crecente earlier this week mentioned his son is only permitted to play games on the weekends, and then in limited amounts. If he wasn't the editor-in-chief of this site, and was instead a newspaper reporter or a columnist (as he has been in real life) writing about that decision, would he have faced the same kind of outrage?
How My Wii Column Drove Gamers Crazy [San Jose Mercury News]