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Friday, June 21, 2013


I can hear my son talking to his friend on the Xbox.  

He is on the couch in his school uniform, controller in hands and one of those officious bouncer headsets on his head. The half of the conversation I can hear goes like this;

“Yeah. I finished it ages ago. Did you not? Did your Mum not make you?”
“Oh my God I just died!”
“No I said I just died.”
“No. That I died.”
“Hugo are you still there?”
“No, I said that I died on the game I’m playing.”
“That I died on the..

I sit in the kitchen clenching and unclenching my fists. Surely I couldn’t be the only person who has to restrain themselves from chewing on the edge of the kitchen table at this point? For his own safety I bark:

“Time up! Turn it off! Now!”
“I have to go. “
“Hugo? I have to go.”
“No I..”

Dear God, when his dad discovered the headset a few weeks ago I thought it was a good thing. Or at least that it made the Xbox less a bad thing, introducing a little conversation (of a sort) to the painful sight of him sitting on the couch, leaning towards the screen and prepping his hands for years of repetitive strain injury. 

When we bought it I hadn’t realised the console we chose was the one with least parent approval. 

Our eldest reached eight and we thought it was reasonable enough to have a games console in the house. I think I based my choice of the Xbox on a memory of staying in a cousin’s house and helping my kids get started on their Wii. Finding the sensor or waiting for the controller to synch up with the screen seemed random, irritating and near impossible and convinced me that I never wanted to deal with a Wii on a daily basis.

Of course once we owned the Xbox it became clear(to his great pleasure) that almost every game available was of the shoot-em-up variety. And so, the shelves beside his bed now display, alongside The Wind In the Willows, Let’s Make Great Art and Nicholas And Friends, Hellboy, Dragons Dogma and Armoured Core.

And I have grown accustomed to hearing, when I mention the Xbox in mothery circles,  that I am the only one. All their children are quite happy with the Wii. And it is great! It gets them moving! It really is exercise!

Come on? Really? Actual exercise?  The games do look like they were designed for children though. I’ll give them that. Mario and his pals are inane, but they don’t look like they would haunt your nightmares. Hellboy, on the other hand is more or less guaranteed to.

He’s been asking for more games recently, of course.
Games, when I checked some online forums that are “fine for kids. Apart from the busty but skinny prostitute who stands in the bar that the hero races through and offers him “a special.””

No, I'm not quite sure what the special consists of. (Yes, I was curious too.) I'd have to buy the game to find out and that's not going to happen any time soon.

Unless, I could do a trade and get him to give up the headset for it? Oh my goodness. Did I just think that thought? Bad, bad mother.

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