Anyone who knows me personally will know that I've always had an objection to computer games. It's not because of the violence or anything like that, but because of the addiction that is inherit with computers and electronic games.
I've lost count of the number of times when I've gotten up at all godly hours in the morning to discover my husband not in bed, because he was playing a stupid computer game (the same game he was playing when I went to bed six hours before). When our son was first born, my husband's addiction to computer games got so bad that we had to put in rules: he wasn't allowed to play any computer games except on a Friday or Saturday night, when he didn't have work the next day. Now that our son is in his late teens, my husband can see the dangers of our son going down the same road, and my husband has been helping me teach our son to manage this special breed of addiction.
However, lately I've noticed that the nature of the advertised games on certain apps has changed. For the first time ever, it's the nature of the games that has me seriously disturbed.
I'll confess that I've taken to playing Capitol Adventurist on my iPhone while eating my breakfast or lunch, but NEVER at dinner. (House rules: no electronics at the dinner table; it's family time, and time for discussion.) Playing Capitol Adventurist in my moments of solitude gives my hands something to do that doesn't require my brain. Just hit the odd button here and there, tap the screen a few times, and off it goes. Take a few bites, pour that cup of latte, then carry on tapping the screen. However, to get the boosts, you have to watch ads for other games.
For the most part, I don't have a problem with that. I'll set the ads going and ignore the phone for 30 seconds. Even though I ignore the phone, I can't help but take note of the types of games being advertised. Most of them are logic puzzles: line games, Sudoku, or Candy Crush knock-offs. However, there is a series of "Choose Your Own Adventure" that has cropped up that has led to this post.
The game: Choices. Logical name for a "Choose Your Own Adventure" game. The subject: dating, sexual exploits, cheating, adultery, pregnancy luring, and rage when it doesn't go your way.
The first time the game came across my screen, I was able to ignore it with a "Whatever." It was a woman, twenty something, trying to decide if she would have a drink with a guy or tell him to buzz off. Then it progressed to a woman coming home to find another woman's panties in her lounge; the choices: destroy the apartment or storm into the bed room. The next installment had the upset woman seeking help from a friend, who just happened to be the one who her boyfriend was cheating with. The choices: tell the truth or lie.
But it's the next one that made my skin crawl. Sister is excited that she's pregnant. Choice: "I'm happy for you." or "That's good... I guess." Followed by character sees the sister's boyfriend. "He's hot, so I'll seduce him so he can get me pregnant too." WHAT?! Excuse me! WTF!?! I was seriously gobsmacked. This is a game that is portrayed as innocent fun. Are you kidding?
Then the variant that came across my phone yesterday morning. Woman being interviewed for a job. Man says, "I'm going to hire you as my assistant." Choices: Be Professional or Seduce Him. This is followed by a bodyguard-type character entering the picture and the question "What secrets is he hiding?"
*blink blink* I did not just read that. Someone please tell me that this game is not encouraging office affairs that turn into nightmares with a control freak.
I know these sorts of stories happen in real life, and I know novels written based on these topics sell well. (*cough cough* 50 Shades of Gray) But this is a game being advertised within another game that is rated G. I don't know about anyone else, but I have a serious issue with this.
To make matters worse, the developers behind Capitol Adventurist aren't the ones who dictate which ads get shown. It's some random algorithm that works much like the Google Ads and the Facebook Ads.
Regardless of how that ad came to be on my smartphone, I'm actually more concerned about the game itself. I don't see how anyone could think that this is an acceptable subject for a "Choose Your Own Adventure" game. Whatever happened to the Knight's Quest, or the search for hidden treasure? Has our concepts of reality been skewed that much that we have to make crappy lives in computer worlds too?
As a mother of a teenage daughter, I'm seriously disturbed that these games are even out there. It's hard enough to deal with the negative impressions that she gets about herself because of TV and movies. This is complicated by the fact that she's a dancer, one with my genetics: tall and well endowed. Add these sorts of games to the mix...
At the moment, I feel confident in saying that she doesn't have these games on her phone; she seems to have taken a liking to those maze games timed to music. But that doesn't mean she's not exposed to these games and these topics.
I suppose all I can do is continue to have open conversations with her, reminding her that she is worth something, helping her to develop a healthy attitude toward relationships and self worth.