If Gregory Chester's Parents are Being Played like a Video Game proves anything, it's that the hysteria over violent media has a reached a point where people will believe anything that’s connected to it. Chester is such a person, and somehow managed to get a book published on the subject. To say this is one of the worst books ever sent to Blogcritics for review would not be a statement that far off base.
Focus is only one of countless problems in Chester's book. The book claims to be a parenting assistant to counter that of the famous Dr. Spock. Chester's credentials, which include going through three divorces, being a marketing expert, and earning a degree in electrical engineering, hardly make him seem like an expert.
Chester jumps all over the place, discussing random topics in chapters that rarely follow their title. In fact, only a few pages actually discuss Dr. Spock in any length, and there's zero evidence to back up any of the claims made here. His research can barely be called that, veering off course into wild accusations (the "overly liberal Supreme Court" is a result of Dr. Spock's books according to him), hilariously off-base generalizations, and uninformed opinions.
For a book that struggles to make it to the 130-page mark (and for 20 pages he literally cuts and pastes various internet articles in their entirety), Chester makes a staggering number of grammatical errors too. Beyond the extreme overuse of italics, bold fonts, underlining, and exclamation points, there are spots where words have no spaces between them at all. Incomplete sentences and run-ons are frequent as well. He capitalizes some words and few pages later, doesn't capitalize them at all. It's a book in desperate need of a decent editor.
The only real advice Chester provides himself that aren't copied from someone else is to pay attention to your children, or as he puts it over 30 times, "be aware." That's it. He offers little else of value, and the entire concept of being aware should be common sense for anyone with a child.
This still doesn't even cover the absurd claims he makes. What follows is a brief selection of direct quotes that are either so far off-base they're entertaining for comic relief, or depressing since these have actually been published:
"I also know… divorce can have its stress causing subtleties and be just as harmful as violent video games."
"While smoking has nothing to do with video games, even though a lot of gamers do smoke…"
"There have been no definitive studies and still no definitive answer about its (violent video game playing) effect on our children until now!"
The last sentence never actually states what study has supposedly proven a link, nor is there even a mention of one anywhere in this paperback's pages. Those three sentences are incomprehensible enough, but when Chester begins linking crimes to video games, things spiral downhill even faster.
At one point, the author sincerely believes carrying an assault rifle in your car is a side effect of playing video games. As he debunks a crime spree, he claims the actions of the criminal are all side-effects of a violent video game. Yet in his infinite wisdom, he states the article used for reference never makes a single statement about ANY video game or if the suspect even played them.
More anti-gaming rants continue as he claims college grades have dropped due to the pastime of video games. He makes a wild claim that smoking marijuana can increase the effects of violent games "4 to 6 times," links various school shootings to the medium, and claims drag racing titles are the most popular amongst kids.
Why are those statements not only wrong, but also uniformed?
He has no evidence to support his college grades theory, freely admits the school shootings he mentioned were never linked to video games, and there are around three total drag racing games on the current market, none of which cracked a sales chart.
His ignorance on the topic is proven as he recommends pcgamer.com instead of the official video game ratings board (the ESRB) website to check game ratings. He claims the AO rating was added after a re-rating of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas which is entirely untrue. The rating of AO has been around as long as the current rating system. He claims Bloody Roar III is a "very violent video game" even though it's clearly rated a T for ages 13 and up.
Other oddities include a brief section on road rage, which is completely out of place in a book on parenting. He pushes a religious agenda in the final chapter (which seems like his true motive), and in one case, it seems that his entire view on society came about because of one incident.
As he explains it, Chester's roommate asked if his older daughter could stay with them. She brought some, "less than respectful" (to be kind) people along with her. As the pot-smoking, violent video game-playing, and flat-out rude gang member teens wreak havoc on his apartment, every single one of Chester's claims about gamers is brought up. This is the only logical explanation for his raving.
By the time the book is over, it's far more depressing to think people like Chester can offer parenting advice, and a few people might actually take it to heart. This is simply an awful, convoluted, and barely even comprehensible poke at what he believes are society’s ills. There's hardly a shred of evidence to be found, and once you know you should "be aware," you already know the only logical advice Parents are Being Played like a Video Game serves up.