When Kids Game: The Open Letter to Parents of League of Legends Players

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Steve Anderson
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When Kids Game: The Open Letter to Parents of League of Legends Players

There's a document making the rounds of late, and it's one that's raising a noteworthy point about the youngest members of the gaming community. While it raises some good points, it also falls flat on some fronts, and to that end, I'm taking a look at the Open Letter to Parents of League of Legends Players, and some of the response it's already getting.

The Open Letter in question is currently on display out at the Miscellaneous section of the League of Legends message board, and it begins with a reasonable enough premise: League of Legends, the popular massively online battle arena (MOBA) game that has a huge following and even some professional players to its credit, requires a lot of gamers to play, and these are real people engaging in the games in question. So, if someone should happen to drop out, that leaves a team of real-world players scrambling to make up the slack. And that's where the Open Letter starts going a bit off the deep end.

The Open Letter called for parents to more forcefully police their children, which is seldom a bad thing, but it also called for some adjustments that many parents were likely unwilling to make. For instance, the open letter called for parents to adjust the child's gaming behavior to ensure that the child would be on hand for the started game, every time. For instance, if a child had, say, half an hour left until bed, the child should not be allowed to start a new game, as most games of League of Legends last close to an hour. Should a game run long, in turn, the Open Letter called for parents to postpone bedtimes and the like just to finish out the game.

On a certain level, again, this makes sense. There are other people playing, and should little Timmy start a game he can't finish because he's got to go to Nana's in 20 minutes, that leaves like nine other people hung out to dry. The kid should have known he couldn't finish the game he started, and responded accordingly. If he didn't know, conversely, then that's where the Open Letter says that the parents should step in and act accordingly in the child's place, forbidding a child to start a game when the time will not allow. And that's got some parents up in arms as well.

The Open Letter seems to ignore the fact that the child doesn't always obey the parent, and that there is this thing called “life” that often gets in the way, often unexpectedly, of video gaming. Worse, the Open Letter actually suggests that, should a child disobey and start a game just before bedtime or the like, the child should be allowed to finish the game and face punishment after the game is complete. That can sound reasonable, but by like token, a lot of behavioral psychologists will tell you that immediacy of response is important to get the most connection between behavior and response; delay can impact the value of the lesson, and sometimes adversely.

The problem here, of course, is that it's a deliberately standoffish message. We have gamers here saying “Hey, parents, don't let your kid be stupid; if he's in a game let him finish for all our sakes then get back to parenting.” Meanwhile, the parents, not incorrectly, are saying “I am the parent and my word is law and all of you random gamers out there can go hang.” It would probably be better to keep kids out of League of Legends and the like altogether, so that these kinds of things didn't happen, but if the child is sufficiently mature to accommodate other people like this, then why not?

It's a difficult dichotomy, but the better a job that can be done balancing said issues, the better off everyone will be as a result.

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