Take your ball and go home.

We don’t need it; mine’s so much cooler anyway….

I should probably be a little more clear, shouldn’t I? I’m talking about gay marriage – well, marriage, really. ‘Marriage’ being the ‘ball’, and the people bitching about the ‘sanctity’ thereof being those who need to shut the fuck up and go home.

Because I’ve got an idea. A really awesome idea – awesome because it’s mine, and I’m feeling particularly awesome right now.

Don’t worry; it’ll pass.
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Trainwreck in progress….

Since everyone else is making up wild conspiracy theories about where the swine flu came from, I’ve got one:

The swine flu was created and released by Cafepress, to divert everyone’s attention from the godawful mess they’ve made.
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No legitimate reason for adults to play Animal Crossing.

At least, not according to ‘Andy Anderson’, of the Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force.

I’m not kidding. It’s all in this article.

If your kids play interactive video games, like the Nintendo Wii, be on the lookout. The Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force is warning of predators using games like, “Animal Crossing- City Folk,” to target kids.

Really? How come the only link between Animal Crossing and pedophiles I can find on the internet is people talking about this article? Must be those devious pedophiles again.

Of course, I didn’t really look very hard.

Using the game you create a character and create your own town and house. When hooked up to the internet you can talk to anyone across the country. Kids playing the game have no control over what other players might be saying. For example, the character we ran across could be the man in California police are warning about.

I don’t believe you.

No. Really. I don’t believe you. I don’t believe that you actually got a Wii, and a copy of this game, and sat down to play it.

If you had, you’d know that you don’t so much ‘create’ your own town as ‘name it’ and answer a few questions which affect the somewhat random layout. You don’t go in and say ‘Museum goes here, store goes here, and my house goes here.’

And you don’t create your own house. You pick one of four houses already built. You can furnish your own house, but that’s something entirely else.

But that’s just me being picky. Not so picky? And the reason I don’t believe you? The fact that I doubt you found anyone willing to trade friend codes with you. You probably don’t even know what a fucking ‘friend code’ is. You probably think Agent S, Frobert, Pekoe, and Static are all actually people who just happen to be online and playing every time you turn the machine on. They’re not. And Kid Cat is not the man they identified in California.

“There is no reason an adult should have this game,” says Andy Anderson, Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force.

Anderson says adults playing “animal crossing” and similar games are likely doing it for the wrong reasons.

‘Fun’ is the wrong reason. Of course.

You probably have told your kids never to talk to strangers, but when playing, the heart of the game is building relationships with the animals in your town as well as other players. To really reach the next level, the game urges you to exchange letters, gifts, and favors.

The ‘heart’ of the game is actually completing your catalogue. Technically. And you’re not actually expected to exchange letters with ‘strangers’ — you really can’t, because of the friend code system. You’re supposed to build relationships with the townsfolk. That’s what the favours are all about. You get in good with them, send them letters and presents [and maybe get some foreign fruit back from them], do things for them — find them a fish they ask for, or give them a piece of furniture that falls into the category they express an interest in. Eventually, they’ll give you a picture of themselves. Or, they did, in Animal Crossing: Wild World. I haven’t really been playing City Folk as much as I should.

Anderson says it is going to take parents paying attention to keep this problem from exploding.

Something’s exploded. And it’s because people were paying attention….

“The equipment is real expensive and we cannot afford to buy all of the systems and do not have the resources either to examine all of the possibilities,” Anderson explains.

…and this is why you’re so painfully wrong. Please do not speak about things when you haven’t researched them even a little bit.

Right now, we only know of the three Missouri children who have been contacted. Anderson says this is not something to be paranoid about, but to be aware.

This warning includes any web-based game that allows instant messaging or voice-over IP.

And, again, I don’t believe this. I don’t think the kids were playing Animal Crossing. I think this might be as much bullshit as the ‘Scary Pedophiles on your DS’ thing. I think this is more about getting attention than warning parents.

Why? Because, out of the three current systems, the Wii is the most parental-control friendly. Now, I could be dead fucking wrong, since I don’t, in fact, own a PS3, but, compared to the Xbox 360’s online system [which, again, I have little understanding of], the Wii is locked down pretty tight.

In order to invite someone over to your town [or go over to their town], you both have to have exchanged friend codes. And, in Animal Crossing on the Wii, there’s a voice chat option, which uses the Wii Speak — a room-wide microphone that, I assume, plays the voice of the other person over the speakers of your entertainment system. Which makes it kinda obvious if your kiddies are talking to adults — unless you’re a completely fucking oblivious parent.

…and even an oblivious parent would be able to figure out the Wii Messageboard, where the times spent playing games is posted in a fairly obvious way.

And, speaking of oblivious, have we just not noticed the rating? E. For everyone. Not ‘ec’, for ‘early childhood’. We’re not talking about The Koala Brothers: Outback Adventure, or Bob the Builder Can-Do Zoo, or even Freddi Fish ABCs Under the Sea here. Or is Viva Pinata off-limits to adults, too? And the Katamari series? And the Lego Star Wars/Indy/Batman type games? When Lego Harry Potter comes out, are we going to have to create a new rating? K-Tw, Kids to Tweens Only?

Is this some sort of ploy to create a Berlin Wall of Games Ratings? Kids on one side, People Who Qualify to Play M Rated Games on the other?

Okay, that came out all wrong. I’m not calling this a conspiracy or anything, but I gotta wonder if maybe that’s what some non-gaming adults are thinking. “Well, videogames are for kids. But we’ve got these M rated ones that obviously aren’t. So maybe we need to make a distinction, and keep adults from playing the ones for kids. Because videogames are for kids.”

Here’s some news for you: You’re wrong. Videogames are not ‘just for kids’. They haven’t been in a very long time — pretty much since I was a kid. Perhaps you’d know this, if you bothered to spend more time with your own kids. My mom made time to play games with me — I’m sure you can do the same. I recommend Lego Star Wars, because you’ll at least be playing co-op when your kid pwns you.

Oh, and, in case you need me to spell it out for you? Playing Animal Crossing is not a sign of undesirable, undiscovered proclivities if you happen to be over the age of majority. Not even if you’re male.