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Are alcoholic games prepping our teens for bingeing?

Let the Frat Games begin!

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Frat Party Games is a series of “college style party games for WiiWare.” The first game in the series models Beer Pong, a drinking game involving ping pong balls aimed into cups of beer. Losers guzzle. You get the picture.

Whether we viewed it in Animal House or on MTV’s A shot at Love or on our Nintendo screens, binge drinking is glorified as a rite of passage in American culture. What makes gaming so powerful, however, is the psychological ramifications of participation. Games are, in effect, teaching tools.

The brain is wired with mirror neurons which are responsible for learning new skills by imitation. Monkey see, monkey do. “Learning is helped by active involvement. If you actively involve rather than observe, it is even more effective,” say psychology and child psychiatry professor, Alan Kazdin, of Yale University.

But will the Nintendo game lead to alcoholism or engagement in Beer Pong in the future?

Let’s just say that a brain that is susceptible to being influenced … will be influenced. Scientifically, it’s hard to prove the connection between gaming and behavior because many factors lead to any one decision. Therefore, “Pong Toss” is technically off the hook.

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But I worry. As a 13 year-old, I would have tried it out and learned both the mechanics and the layout for the game. With a template, who knows what could have happened? I didn’t even thinking about the bowling – like set up until now…10 cups in a pyramid strip. Dang. Now that’s institutionalize binge drinking!

What do you think? Should “Pong Toss” be taken off the market? Are Frat Party Games appropriate for teens younger than 18? How socially responsible and accountable should game producers be?

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6 Responses to “Are alcoholic games prepping our teens for bingeing?
Matt
7:10 pm August 20th, 2008

I also worry that video games like this are creating an inappropriate modeling environment for children. And I live in a college town and can tell you that these “drinking games” are as popular as ever. I also work with a medical group that provides addiction treatment for Oakland residents, and while alcohol is just one of the many drug addictions out there, it is far too common in my opinion and being an addict is also far too socially acceptable. When you teach kids early on that “hey, it’s alright to start drinking the day you set foot on a college campus” (or sooner in many cases), you are setting up millions of future adults for a daily struggle with the bottle.

atm
7:29 pm September 18th, 2008

I think the idea that a video game like Frat Party Games is prepping our youth for binge drinking is a bit misguided. First and foremost, any parent who allows their 13 year old to purchase a video game centered around frat parties and drinking is desperately in need of Parenting 101. Young children are clearly not the intended market for this game and I’m sure its ESRB rating reflects that. It is up to parents to educate their children about the appropriate use of alcohol long before they go to college. Secondly, any one who has played Beer Pong knows that it is up to those involved how much alcohol is used in the game, binge drinking isn’t really an inherent part of the game. You can play with a single beer and wouldn’t drink it much faster than you would casually. If you want to point the finger of blame for the binge drinking epidemic at colleges, the primary culprit are the strict alcohol policies that force students to drink as much as possible in hiding to avoid being caught. Lack of exposure earlier in life is why so many kids just let loose and abuse alcohol so heavily once they get to college and it is readily available. Just look at Europe for the correct way things should be done. Their youth are exposed to alcohol early, starting with wine at dinner. That way when they reach high school and college age, it isn’t such a big deal anymore. Game producers aren’t accountable at all, it’s the parents job to educate their children.

7:46 pm October 15th, 2008

I’ve got to agree with using Europe as a more appropriate model coming of age. Legal drinking at 18. Intercourse in the teen years. No biggie, right? Early exposure and proper modeling can teach youngsters what’s appropriate and what’s not… but the flip side of that coin is that alcoholism and addiction can start at any age and in any culture. So it’s difficult to generalize.

But still, why TRAIN kids in the games played on campus? KIDS! 13! That’s my biggest qualm with the game. Just cause they removed the beer logos and player remarks doesn’t mean kids aren’t wise to what’s really going on.

Jaheim I
9:19 am January 17th, 2009

The technology is no doubt has a great effect for everybody especially to the young ones. They can easily capture by the entertainment available to the Internet, television, cell phone etc.

Mike
10:26 pm April 7th, 2009

Video Games are addictive to begin with, so placing beer drinking games with video games? well, I think it could be a reciepe for disaster. Can’t people come up new games ideas instead of mimicing older one?

Mathilde
6:04 am July 6th, 2011

This is really good for all.Thank you very much for this informative post.Now, we know how to implement some kind of prevention programs for teens and drinking.

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