I am pretty sure that B.K. (before kids), I made some rash vow about how I was never going to have video games in my home when I had children. I bet I used phrases like “time wasters” and “brain cell killers”. I seem to recall thinking that any free time would be spent productively and educationally and have a strong resemblance to something out of Little House on the Prairie. Things change.
They might be time wasters. I know there are those who think that “entertainment” is a waste of time. I’m not in that camp, but I know it’s out there. I don’t know about the brain cells. That one’s tough to measure, especially when there are children who routinely continue to put their shirts on backwards. One thing I do know: they can be great motivators.
One of our greatest challenges in home schooling has been to get started on the day in what I would consider a “prompt” manner. There is a magical time, of which the children are perfectly aware, by which I would like everyone to be in their seats, morning chores done, bright and shiny faces ready to begin the day’s educational adventures. Starting school later than this time makes it so the bulk of our work has to be done after lunch, and as many home school families will verify, morning school time is more efficiently spent than afternoon school time. Contrary to rumors that I am the next Viola Swamp (remember Miss Nelson is Missing?), I do like for the children to have time to play and read, and that just doesn’t happen much when school work doesn’t start until late morning and doesn’t end until right before supper.
So…a solution was needed. I decided to try the following: in order to be eligible to play video games of any variety, a child must have 2 consecutive days of being in their seat with chores done by the appropriate time. The results have been fantastic. Alarms have been set in the morning. I’ve found one child in his seat an hour before start time. This is a good thing.
So what are they doing with their video game privileges? Taking over the world.
Their hairs are not wet from perspiration due to excitement or great effort. I made them go out and play basketball before they played video games, and they came in smelling exactly as you would expect boys to smell who had just won the NCAA Finals. Showers were called for.
This game is pretty cool. It’s called Age of Empires. You choose the civilization you’d like to be (I think they were Franks and Teutons, but I’m not sure on that), and you bring them from the Dark Age to the Imperial Age. You create villagers and assign them duties like hunting or farming (for food), gathering wood (for buildings and troops), mining for gold and stone (for research, buildings, military, etc), or constructing buildings. You build up your camp, defend it from invaders, and then put rival civilizations in their place.
I am certain that my cultural anthropology professor at K-State would have loathed this game. There’s no “appreciating and furthering the differences of equally valid cultures”. There’s no “buying the world a Coke and teaching it to sing in perfect harmony”. It’s all about world domination, baby.
The boys are still new enough at this that they play as allies on the same team. I’m sure that’ll change soon.
Honestly, when it comes to taking over the world, she’s the one to be afraid of.