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Aug 18, 2005



I think this is funny, great and all. And of course I'd play games with any kids of mine.

But I recall Henry Jenkins' insight into the nature of videogames as playspaces: perhaps the last place where chidren can engage in unsupervised, unstructured (in comparison with team sports, etc.) play. There was a time in which children could go into some space - undeveloped space, city streets, parks - and work out their own ways of forming social groups, of figuring out how to apply values, etc. At least among the middle and upper classes in the US, the anxiety about threats to children is such that most parents don't allow their children out alone any more: they have supervised "play dates" or activities determined by, structured by, controlled by, and supervised by adults.

Videogames were, and to some extent still are, a sort of surrogate play-space. When that space is no longer mono-generational, what will replace it?


Being busted for playing at 3:30AM sounds like parental supervision whether you're playing catch under the street lights or in a computer game ...


William --

You might check out these Crooked Timber threads:


While I sympathize, at some level, with complaints about the loss of safe and constructive physical third places for kids (and adults too -- see Putnam's Bowling Alone), I think this comment is getting lots of attention because it demonstrates an exception to what is presumed to be a rule of a lack of parental involvement with kids. As a social issue, that lack of parent/child interaction seems a much more significant problem.


Kudos to an involved parent. (And funny as hell)

I see little downside to more inter-generational contact, especially within families.


I don't think these are contradictory concerns. There may be little in-family intergenerational activity, relatively speaking, and still (middle-class, American) children have little access to unsupervised, self-organized social play. In fact, it may be that a cycle between the two is healthy; we are seeing less of either.

See, what I see on university campuses isn't kids isolated from their parents: I see them more dependent on their parents than ever before. I see kids calling their moms on their cell phones all the time, and a less initiative in creating interesting social activities on their own. That the college experience seems to have lost its "coming-of-age-ness", a process that seems to be getting deferred into the mid 20's or even later, I think has something to do with a childhood without the freedom to build provisional groups of play in their own spaces. It's simply a perception at this point: I'm not sure what developmental theorists say about it.


I love the very idea of the revelation, that they didn't know they were playing together... if that really what the case was. Odds are slim, but hey, I've seen a lot of strange things happen in my time. Guy's buddies must think Mom is pretty cool for being on the up!


Oh I think they clearly knew they both were playing - almost certainly they've been playing together. But the kid just slipped up, not realizing that the time stamp on his post could be valuable information to his mom.

I love her parenting in punishment too: not "I'm going on the raid but you can't come!" but "let's spend some time together off the game." As the father of gamers, to me this seems very cool.


I have no doubt it was genuine, not just from the tone (which is exactly the wry, detached tone I desperately try to keep with my 11-year-old when she's pushing my buttons) but also from the kid's reactions. They both exhibited tremendous grace under scrutiny, which really wouldn't have been expected of a set-up thread (I'd expect a set-up to involve more visible reveling in the attention) and Brion's reactions were exactly what I would expect of a well-raised kid raised to be gracious, but also exactly what I'd expect of a 15-year-old. :)

The thread's broken now, but there's another on the forum that's a much smaller, community-restricted discussion, where one of the (apparently) other server regulars comments that what made it all so classic is that the parenting actually took place via the game-centered medium, as opposed to just being talked about on it (which would have gotten exactly zero attention).

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