Steven Rinella's Video Game Contract for Kids

Steven Rinella's Video Game Contract for Kids

I hate video games. My radicalization began years ago when I watched a friend of mine, who was eight months pregnant, physically struggle to make dinner and set the table while her husband sat on the couch in his living room playing a golf game. Just as the sight of a junky might lead you to hate heroin more than the addict himself, that was all I needed. Things only got worse years later when I would take my kids to my buddy Jimmy Doran’s pizza joint. They would stand and stare, slack jawed, at the Big Buck Hunter console occupying a wall between the men's and women's bathrooms. I’d warn them away, arguing that Big Buck Hunter promotes everything that is bad about hunting: shitty marksmanship, half-assed target selection, and a grotesque ambivalence toward bag limits. My complaints did me little good. Jimmy Doran would just laugh and hand them a roll of quarters.

I’ve rejected every opportunity to get MeatEater involved in video games. I refuse to lend my name or likeness to a video game and I refuse to let our company be seduced by offers promising generous returns in exchange for minimal amounts of work in the video game arena. What I’m no longer able to fend off, however, are my own 12-year-old’s constant entreaties that he be granted an Xbox. After years of brushing off his requests, things have gotten to the point where I feel like a fatherly version of one of those sadistic prison wardens that you see in the movies. I’d push things too far one day, and the inmates would rise up and burn the whole place down to the ground with me locked inside one of the cells.

Rather than just give in, I have pursued an approach similar to Nixon’s “Peace With Honor” campaign that he used to end the Vietnam War without just coming out and saying that America had lost. For me, honor comes from the fact that I secured my son’s signature on a contract that was prepared for us by MeatEater’s legal counsel. I read a few sections of this contract on a recent episode of The MeatEater Podcast, “Getting Skunked at the Navel.” We had a lot of people write in, hoping to get their hands on a copy so they could strike a similar deal with their own kids. Here’s a downloadable version, free of charge.

And if you want to learn more ways to get your kids outside and away from the scourge of the flashing screens, you have to read my new book, “Outdoor Kids in an Inside World.” It's available wherever books are sold.

Click here to download your own copy of our video gaming contract.

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