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The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, “the only national organization devoted to limiting the impact of commercial culture on children,” has created a new award for “Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children,” or the TOADYs. And joining Mattel’s Barbie Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Doll and Fisher Price’s Power Wheels Cadillac Escalade in the list of nominees is the LEGO Batman video game:
How do you turn the ultimate creative toy into a symbol of commercialized childhood? Begin by partnering with media companies to sell that toy in branded kits designed for recreating movies like Star Wars, rather than creative construction. Then, dispense with hands-on building altogether by turning your toy into a video game so that instead of deciding what to build next, children choose which cyber weapons to use to beat up their opponent. Finally, ignore the fact it was rated suitable for ages 10 & up and partner with McDonald’s for a Happy Meal toy giveaway to simultaneously promote the video game, junk food, and the violent Dark Knight movie series to preschoolers.
I’ve only played the game about five minutes myself; my nephew has it for the Wii, and when we played he spent the whole time yelling at me because I kept getting him killed or getting myself killed or I didn’t pick up all the LEGOS pieces or put on my special Robin suit or whatever … I really don’t remember much about the game, as it’s kind of confusing to play when you have a kid screaming at you the whole time. I remember him trying to grab my controller at one point, and me threatening to hang him upside down by his ankles, and my wife reminding me that I was the adult. Which I knew, thank you very much … it isn’t like he could hang me upside down by my ankles.
So maybe video games do cause violence, just not in the way groups like this would have you believe.
(Seriously, though, never grab a man’s controller in the middle of a game …)