Call of Duty

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For the Luddites who have somehow avoided the gaming universe: Call of Duty is a computer/video game that first came out in 2003, published by Activision. The game simulates infantry and arms warfare. As of this date, many versions of the game exist, available for different gaming platforms. Recently, I know Call of Duty Black Ops was hot. My students played this game all night. I think some new version with ghosts and/or zombies is out now. Billions of dollars of Call of Duty have been sold with no end to the franchise in sight.

Eduhonesty: Call of Duty is not my friend. “Barry” recently complained that he was having trouble concentrating because he had been up playing Call of Duty all night for three days in a row. That schedule would whack anybody’s concentration. It might even put a few people in the hospital. I doubt Barry ate much while playing. He’s stick-thin. Gamers don’t stop to eat in the midst of a fierce battle and I suspect Barry’s life is almost nothing but a series of fierce battles except when he is forced to go school. He gives me regular reports on his clan’s progress.

The minimal silver lining to this storm cloud is that Call of Duty can be great leverage. “David” came in for help this week in part because, he told me, if he fails any classes both parents say they will take away his Call of Duty. That incentive, combined with a strict dad and mom, has David passing all his classes.

This post is for parents: If you are raising gamers, I sympathize. I sympathize with my students, for that matter. If I were an adolescent now, I just might be fighting all those battles to get my adrenalin rush. I might be a version of Barry. I don’t want to target Call of Duty specifically, either. I might as easily have written about Grand Theft Auto or a number of other titles.

But I’d like to ask parents to do a study. Keep track of the minutes your children spend on gaming in one week. You might also sit down and watch the games for awhile. There’s a reason why all my students can spell “strip club” and it has nothing to do with the school’s curriculum. Parents used to limit TV to make certain that books were read and homework got done. TV is much less addictive than gaming in my view. We need to put more brakes on the evening gaming, using technology to find out where homework and classwork is not getting done. These kids have 13 years of free education that are intended to lead to college when possible. As it stands, I’m afraid some of my students will be unready to function in college because they were too busy firing assault weapons and stealing cars in a virtual universe when they should have been eating, sleeping or even actually reading their textbooks.