The Game Doctor: Another Way to Make Kids Hate Their Parents

By Casey Lynn
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

game_dr_2Some of the gadget blogs were reporting on the “game doctor” before it was released in June, but now that the mainstream media has picked up the story, you can be sure that more moms will be hearing about this device and thinking, “Oh, that’s brilliant!”

This isn’t the first video game timer out there (and of course there’s even one built into the Xbox 360), but it seems to be getting a lot of attention. The 79-year-old retired businessman who invented it “figures there’s large, pent-up demand for his inexpensive and easy-to-use device.”

So what does the GameDr do besides having a confusing and rather silly name? It’s just a clamp-on lock for the power cord to a game console, equipped with at timer. It’s locked with a four-digit combination, and without that combination, the power shuts off when time is up. To its credit, it at least give a 10-minute and 1-minute beeping warning so that the kids in theory have a chance to save their game before the system goes black.

Wired Gadgets, who gave the device Gadget Lab “Fail” award, pointed out that even if the device is “tamper proof” as advertised (i.e., you’d have to break it to get the cord out without the combination), you could just buy a new cord for $20 bucks. After all, for most game systems, you could easily just replace the locked-up cord with another one and put it back when you’re done, and assuming that mom’s not around (which I guess she wouldn’t be, because why else would she need a timer as opposed to just telling the kid to stop playing games?), she’d never know. I foresee secret stashes of power cords underneath mattresses along with dirty magazines.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to make sure that a kid isn’t playing video games when they should be doing their homework, sleeping, eating, etc. After all, we don’t want kids collapsing from exhaustion. But it seems to me that a parent who cares enough to want to encourage healthy moderation wouldn’t need a device like this to do it. I suppose the exception might be for a teenage latchkey kid, though if you’re loosening the leash enough to let a kid stay home by himself, the GameDr could be a little insulting. It seems more likely to me that the GameDr will be popular among those who aren’t so much concerned about moderation, as control. “Sorry, your half hour a day of video game time is up! Don’t look at me, the game doctor says so. Now go update your color-coded wheel-of-chores.”

gamedrOf course, as noted above, for kids unlucky enough to have a visit from the GameDr, the smart ones shouldn’t have much trouble getting around it. As Wired also pointed out, if your mom set the thing up, then you could probably just try your siblings’ birthdays and be able to crack the code pretty quickly.

Though I have to say, I’m still dubious of that big smile on the kid’s face on the packaging.

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8 Responses to The Game Doctor: Another Way to Make Kids Hate Their Parents

  1. Seems like it would be handy for someone who wants to play video games less, but just can't handle the console's siren call. They sit down, say "I'm going to play for 45 minutes and then stop", and if it weren't for the GameDr, they are still in that chair 4 hours later. Just a thought.

  2. Seems like it would be handy for someone who wants to play video games less, but just can’t handle the console’s siren call. They sit down, say “I’m going to play for 45 minutes and then stop”, and if it weren’t for the GameDr, they are still in that chair 4 hours later. Just a thought.

  3. @dbutters- that's the exact reason I used the parental control settings on my *own* WoW account to only allow play time during certain times of the day. Of course, once I figured it didn't matter any more I disabled it again.

    I do agree however that this device is pretty laughably useless at keeping kids in line and from playing too long because the cord thing would be so easy to get around. If a parent's having to buy things to try and monitor their kids' video gaming because they're not around to oversee it, maybe they should be spending more time with them in the first place and it wouldn't be such an issue. Just a thought :)

  4. @dbutters- that’s the exact reason I used the parental control settings on my *own* WoW account to only allow play time during certain times of the day. Of course, once I figured it didn’t matter any more I disabled it again.

    I do agree however that this device is pretty laughably useless at keeping kids in line and from playing too long because the cord thing would be so easy to get around. If a parent’s having to buy things to try and monitor their kids’ video gaming because they’re not around to oversee it, maybe they should be spending more time with them in the first place and it wouldn’t be such an issue. Just a thought :)

  5. A recent article about video game play behavior by children supports the need for a better way that parents can help their children avoid excessive game playing. Kimberly Young, director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, advises parents who want to head off serious trouble to find ways to limit video game play without blaming or criticizing. She says, “It is better to set–and enforce–time restrictions. Games should never be a child’s main focus.” [Wagner, Jennifer Seter, Addiction to Video Games a Growing Concern, U.S. News & World Report, May 7, 2008]

    “That is precisely is what GameDr® Video Game Timer does for parents. It lets them set and enforce video game-playing limits for their children. Our timer device enables parents to establish responsible guidelines that are flexible so parents can modify them as situations change. This also helps children learn to become more responsible for their behavior. Both parents and their children win because GameDr® Video Game Timer eliminates stress and removes the cause of duress that often jeopardizes a peaceful home environment,” said Gary Masching, CEO of Digital Innovations.

  6. A recent article about video game play behavior by children supports the need for a better way that parents can help their children avoid excessive game playing. Kimberly Young, director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, advises parents who want to head off serious trouble to find ways to limit video game play without blaming or criticizing. She says, “It is better to set–and enforce–time restrictions. Games should never be a child’s main focus.” [Wagner, Jennifer Seter, Addiction to Video Games a Growing Concern, U.S. News & World Report, May 7, 2008]

    “That is precisely is what GameDr® Video Game Timer does for parents. It lets them set and enforce video game-playing limits for their children. Our timer device enables parents to establish responsible guidelines that are flexible so parents can modify them as situations change. This also helps children learn to become more responsible for their behavior. Both parents and their children win because GameDr® Video Game Timer eliminates stress and removes the cause of duress that often jeopardizes a peaceful home environment,” said Gary Masching, CEO of Digital Innovations.