Kid Paddle – A Serious Misrepresentation of Video Games

Kid Paddle, for anyone (which is probably everyone) who doesn’t know, is a children’s cartoon based around a few boys who spend the majority of their time in video arcades, getting into adventures involving playing against players who are better than them, making new arcade games, doing research to improve their ability to play etc.

Although this concept may appear sound enough, albeit slightly contrived, it is the kind of show that would quite easily affect parent’s opinions of video games in a negative way, especially due to the tenuous climate video games currently find themselves in.

Firstly, in the show the children appear to seem like nerdy outcasts, not the kind of pseudo lovably nerdy characters such as those present in many other shows such as Saved by the Bell, but children who solely belong in a video arcade. This immediately paints a bad picture of video games in the mind of any parent as they will think their son or daughter will be incapable of social activity outside of a close knit group.

Next it portrays all the games as being extremely similar, all being mindless adventure fests, all of a similar style with a different theme. Each game generally involves the same character jumping platforms and fighting monsters in the same banal fashion every time. This again paints a bad image of video games as it feeds into the stereo type that video games are all the same and are more mindless than television. Parents will therefore see video games as an exercise that will not develop their child in any way.

Also, the program shows children being able to make video games with ease. This writes off the design of a video game (and therefore the experience of the video game itself) as simplistic. This once again heavily implies that video games are uninventive and poor for a child’s mind. It suggests that children (who in the program are not considered to be exceptionally intelligent or skilled) could design it themselves and therefore learn little to nothing from it.

Now I’m sure anyone reading this may think I’m making a few leaps but this has to be put into the context of today’s world. If you take the example of many parents who you will hear on chat shows and so on, you will notice that there is already quite a negative view of video games present. Many will say something along the lines of “I only allow my child to play those games for X minutes (or hours) a day,” not considering the game the child is playing, whether the context is grounded in him playing on his own, with his friends or with his family or, when observed how the child responds to it emotionally. This idea ripples into the minds of many parents and a show like Kid Paddle pushes them into the realm of assumption. An assumption that all video games are mindless, violent and completely counter-productive to a child’s mind.

This is the kind of mindset that, in my opinion, must be discouraged if there is ever a hope for video games to be given a position as a form of media and art alongside books, films and music — a position it quite certainly deserves.

About the Author

Kevin Beirne

I am a second year student of Video Games Development in Institute of Technology Carlow, Ireland. Being an enthusiastic programmer and avid gamer, I am most interested in the successful integration of the design of games with their actual development. I am also interested in the perception of video games in the world today and how video games affect users, young and old. I have done work on various small programming projects, mostly games and have done some modding work including some work on the most downloaded modification for the game Oblivion - Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul (Over 250,000 downloads).

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