Brenda Brathwaite and I spent a lot of time together while I was growing up. She wasn't actually there and honestly I didn't know her name for a long time but the products that she helped develop taught me a great deal. They taught me how to solve complex problems, they taught me how to pay attention to details, they taught me how to think about building a team with supporting abilities and clearly defined roles and responsibilities. They didn't teach me these things all on their own but they served as instructors of sorts and they served as great laboratories for me to test out these new theories. Sound like good products right? You've probably guessed that these were games. Specifically the Wizardry series.
So when I read this article by her in The Escapist, I almost wanted to come through the article and fend off these naysayers who were responding negatively to the work done by one of my favorite designers. I also wanted to do this because I have had this same negative reaction from people myself when I tell them that I am in some way involved with the creation of videogames - oddly enough though, not from children.
Then I got to this quote from Tom Forsyth,
"'That Ug, always holding things. His front paws will develop in funny ways. Why can't he walk on all fours like normal proto-hominids?' And so, whatever the kids spend the most time doing, that's always what parents think is a waste of time, and what is corrupting their lives. It doesn't matter what that is. If all they did was homework, parents would be worrying that their kids aren't becoming well-rounded people. And, in fact, parents do this - enrolling math nerds in karate classes and the like. There is no way to win - parental paranoia ensures that kids are always doing the wrong thing."
I was struck by how dead-on similar these arguments sound to the furor that was evident in the 1950s when computers didn't exist but parents and even the U.S. Senate was convinced that comic books were corrupting an entire generation of children. The penultimate point in this fight was the 1954 publication of Dr Frederic Wertham's "Seduction of the Innocent." Wertham was a psychiatrist who saw homosexual undertones in the relationship between Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman as a lesbian and both overt and covert images of sex and violence everywhere.
So my conclusion is just to press on. There will always be objections - be it the revolutionary aspects of Mozart's compositions, the world-changing nature of radio ('classroom of the air'), the subversive nature of Sesame Street, rock-n-roll or video games...in the words of that poet/revolutionary Bob Dylan:
"Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'."