"I do not want to contribute to the culture of violence in America."
In the back of my closet, bags of unwrapped Christmas presents are piled high. There are sweatshirts for the boys, a game of Chinese checkers, a scarf for my mother-in-law, and two video games for my 13-year old son: Call of Duty and Halo 4.
Over the past year, my son has relentlessly lobbied for these games. He argued that they're fun and harmless. The games are more about solving puzzles than killing. He said that all of his friends have them, which is true. He said our anti-gun rules are interfering with his social life. He can't invite kids to our house because we don't have the two things that they love most: airsoft guns and violent video games. Our rules were making him into a social misfit.
My husband and I listened to our son's position and decided that he made valid points. Last Friday morning, I made a trip to Toys "R" Us and bought those games for him along with a game of Chinese Checkers and a box of Legos for his younger brother. Despite all the studies that show that certain video games increase aggression and our position that these games represent a huge departure from the cops-and-robbers guns of our youth, we also recognized the fact that our son has to operate in the world. He needs to fit in with his peer group.
In a recent video on the Daily Beast, Ta-Nehisi Coates said that football and violent video games and rap lyrics make true violence understandable and graspable. Maybe our son and his friends find catharsis in the games; perhaps it's a healthy response to a violent world.