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Video gaming’s bad parenting lessons - Reader’s Feature
The Last Of Us – is Joel a good dad?

A reader explains why you shouldn’t expect good parental advice from video games, with a tongue-in-cheek look at Resident Evil and Tomb Raider.

Video games can teach us a lot about life. That is, if the question was whether or not you should shoot something in the face instantly (SPOILER: the answer is yes). But what about other less shooty questions? What wisdom could we mine from video games? As an example, I thought I would look at parenting advice. How to look after a child, teach it, and bring it up. So let us use many years of gaming knowledge to shine a light on this problem, a problem as old as time itself…

Resident Evil and babysitting

Resident Evil is a great resource for teaching folk about the subtle art of child rearing. Of the many great examples I’m going to focus on Sherry Birkin from Resident Evil 2, and her stellar parents William and Annette Birkin. So, Bill and Annie are busy people, way too busy to look after their vulnerable 12-year-old highly impressionable daughter. What was their noble task, you may ask? Well, it was the noble endeavour of bioengineering a deadly weaponised virus which threatens the very existence of mankind itself.

And how did they keep this potential catastrophe safe? Why by fashioning it into a snazzy pendant and giving it to their 12-year-old daughter! They did give her a good shot at survival by teaching Sherry remarkable vent climbing and running away skills, as it is a struggle for two experienced law enforcement professionals to keep a hold of her.

One final parenting tip, as a mum don’t stand under badly balanced pipes in an earthquake situation, or as a dad do not mutate into an amorphous blob and pursue your daughter in a mindless act of destruction and death. I can’t stress that last point enough.

Tomb Raider and teaching

Tomb Raider has taught me that good dads instil in their children an insatiable hunger for knowledge, which drives your precious daughter onto greater and higher heights. Even if that does seem sort of pushy parenting. What you don’t want to do is leave your mansion strewn with half-discovered secrets of unfinished adventures and then go missing.

This will leave your daughter with more daddy issues than Batman, and more driven ambition to solve all your mysteries than Sherlock Holmes on steroids. So teaching good, but going missing bad.

Healthcare and The Last Of Us (spoilers)

The Last Of Us teaches a lot about fatherhood, after a wobbly start of course. Joel’s second surrogate daughter Elle has a longer innings but in a hostile world inhabited by walking fungi with attitude problems. Joel does an admirable job showing Elle how to survive, and she demonstrates it on two occasions with massive aplomb. One occasion in a bar, which had me out of my chair, literally punching the air with her diplomatic solution to a difficult situation, and the second when she is left to fend for herself. Elle shows her inherited mettle by procuring food and maintaining shelter while Joel has a wee nap.

However, it’s not a cornucopia of good parenting examples, there is that one time when Elle is in the middle of an operation that Joel has some concerns around the procedure and applies a rather more ‘industrial’ solution towards a group of healthcare ‘professionals’. So good survival training, bad dealing with healthcare. (Though I might have done the same thing.)

This is probably what the hysterical tabloids think gamers think as they’re playing a game, ‘I must go out and imitate as quickly as possible!’ Well, that’s not the case, and we are usually bright enough to look at games for what they are: pieces of interactive fiction with no more life advice than Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein or Fight Club.

That’s not to say there’s no wisdom to be gleaned though and hopefully I’ve managed to open the door a crack to let some of that light flood in, you’re very welcome world.

By reader Dieflemmy (gamertag/PSN ID/NN ID)

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email [email protected] and follow us on Twitter.

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