Saturday, 4 April 2009

Killer Zombies

It must have been sometime before last Christmas when Matty came bounding home from school announcing that he absolutely HAD to try out a new game on the computer. The game, he informed us, could be found online at a web address he'd been told about at school. EVERYONE was playing it. Cautiously we typed in the address and were reassured to find ourselves at a game featuring little stick men getting from A to B by solving little logistical problems. Harmless and mentally stimulating. Go for it, Matty, we said, knock yourself out.

A week or so later Polly entered the bedroom to find Matty gleefully cutting down zombies with a bloody chainsaw. Horrified, she yanked him from the computer and demanded to know what he thought he was doing. “I'm killing zombies, Mum,” he explained helpfully. “You have to chop their heads off or they'll eat your brains. If you don't cut them just right they just keep on coming st you. I'm nearly at the next level.” With that he went to start his decapitation rampage again.

“Oh no you don't,” said Polly. “What do you think you are doing?”

“I thought I'd explained. I'm cutting the heads off the undead.”

“No. What do you think you are doing playing a game like this? You know you are not allowed on sites that daddy and I haven't checked.”

“But you did!” exclaimed Matty indignantly. “You said I could last week.”

It turned out that the site that had featured the harmless and, indeed, stimulating stick men game, was this week featuring the slightly less wholesome Killer Zombie game. It was a kind of sample shop for new online game demo's. A collection of a wide span of different game genres. One week, Fluffy Bunnies Dig a Hole type games, the next, Slay Granny with her own Knitting Needles. Polly promptly banished him from the site and he was forbidden to revisit it. Matty sighed but, unlike his chainsaw wielding zombie slayer, knew this was a battle he was not going to win. Used to the seemingly arbitrary nature of grown up's decisions regarding the can and can't dos of life with a computer he wandered off to do something more suitable like picking a fight with his younger brother over which TV channel to watch.

Now, roll on several months.

Polly is approached by the mother of one of Matty's classmates at the school gate. She tells Polly that her son had been found the previous evening playing on the computer a game featuring a bloodfest of zombies. Apparently, she told Polly, her son had found out about this horrible game from our own sweet Matty. Were we aware of the kind of games Matt was playing? Polly assured her we would take immediate action. Summoning him to her she demanded an explanation. “You know you are not allowed to go to that website or play the zombie game, Matty.”

Matty looked puzzled and not a little hurt at this display of mistrust. “I didn't go to the site or play the game,” he said indignantly. “You told me not to.”

“Then why does [your friend] say he learned about the game from you?”

Exasperated, Matty replied, “you said I couldn't PLAY the game. You didn't say I couldn't RECOMMEND it.”