YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

Buried Treasures


July 05, 2001|By JASON ZARA, Special to this newspaper

Every now and then parents are concerned about the games their children play — Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons.

Are they evil? Do they glorify fighting? Didn't somebody once get killed playing Dungeons & Dragons? The answer is simple — the games are nothing more than another item of interest in someone's life. Another form of entertainment.

Pokemon is sometimes the source of the most concern because it draws the youngest audience of the three games. And the game is a series of battles — the pocket monsters fight one another until the loser is knocked out and the winner gets a prize. Some parents don't like this and prohibit their kids from playing or collecting Pokemon.

Frankly, I'd rather see a parent prohibit the game than not take any interest in it at all, but Pokemon is hardly a threatening pastime. I've seen 2-year-olds performing Power Ranger karate chops and heard 5-year-olds yelling, "Oh no, they killed Kenny, those bastards!" But while I know dozens of kids who can tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the evolution of a Pikachu, I've never seen any of these kids yelling "Thundershock!" and hurting their friends.


Magic the Gathering is another collectible card game, and while it targets a slightly older audience it is even more prone to drawing parental ire. The artwork depicted on some of the cards, especially those representing the darker magics of the game, are called demonic.

Yes, there are spells. Yes, there are fiends. Yes, there are pentagrams in some of the older art. Again, it is better for the parents to know all this up front than to ignore it. But ultimately, Magic is a game.

Kids spend hours and hours playing Magic — they summon their creatures, blast their opponents and then get back on their bikes and ride away. They don't go off to try summoning a real demon, they don't start carrying swords and hacking off limbs if they get in a tiff after school. They simply enjoy a game that makes them think, puts them together in a group of friends and keeps them pleasantly occupied for hours on end.

Dungeons & Dragons has perhaps the worst reputation of all. Yes, someone once died in an incident that could be connected to Dungeons & Dragons. It also could be connected to his existing mental condition and a lack of proper

supervision, and it happened decades ago but that seems to be secondary to the fact that someone once died.

In Dungeons & Dragons you assume the role of a hero — a dwarf, an elf, a fighter, a wizard — whatever you want. You play your fantasy character in a fantasy world — fighting, gathering treasures, learning. Are there sometimes demons summoned in the game? Yes. Usually the players fight against them, but they are there. Are they real? No, of course not.

Ultimately, my answer to all of the questions is that the games are nothing more than games. Kids lay down in front of cars because they saw it in a movie; they jump off of balconies because they want to fly like Superman; is it possible that they could do something violent because of a game? Sure.

But statistically I would say they are in more danger of being hit by a falling airplane, spontaneously combusting or being eaten by a great white shark than they are of going off the edge because of a game.

Mentally unstable people do mentally unstable things. Meanwhile, the vast majority of people live their lives and enjoy their hobbies. So please, be aware of what your children are doing, know the people they are with — but

don't blame Pikachu for violence in schools or on the streets.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles