Teen gamer’s routine raises a red flag
I sincerely hope that the Globe’s profile of Jordan Herzog, the video gamer from Sudbury, was written less as an example of unconventional parenting and more as a red flag (“The game of life,” Page A1, July 7). His father, Dave, comes off as a bully and manipulator, talks for and over Jordan on multiple occasions, and admits to living out his own aspirations through his son.
Dave Herzog attempts to liken the situation to parents getting their children involved in an all-consuming mastery of piano or tennis. Imagine if a child were pulled out of school, kept away from his friends and his mother, and placed in a darkened room and made to play piano for 10 hours a day. And given his meals at the piano. And pushed to play through illness, until he threw up on the piano.
This boy is a minor. The detrimental effects of this level of screen time, not to mention the effects of social isolation, are well documented. I am only a local mother, outraged and heartbroken by this article.
To this gamer, teen is a standout in a vibrant virtual world
Though it heartens me to see the medium of video gaming normalized through coverage in the paper, I couldn’t help but get the sense that the article “The game of life” laments the loss of an idyllic childhood, taken from the pages of yesteryear. I lived through that time, and I am not nostalgic.
Decades ago, in the suburban doldrums of my youth, I was trapped. But today, a graying business owner in my 30s, I can put on my headphones, log in, and engage a network of millions of (mostly) like-minded people the world over. We revel in the enjoyable work of surmounting obstacles laid by the game and by other players and in the camaraderie it instills. Though the worlds we inhabit are not tangible, they are brimming with people.
I understand that focusing, in the article, on details such as 16-year-old Jordan Herzog’s home schooling, his dad’s upbeat yet borderline oppressive demeanor, and the Maserati in the garage that his son has never driven, is intended, at the very least, to raise eyebrows. But if this story were about training a gymnastics or swimming prodigy, the optics would be different. The perceived isolation might have been viewed as a bittersweet sacrifice for a noble end.
Unfortunately, the point that gets missed is what Jordan is capable of: Fortnite currently has 250 million registered players worldwide, with as many as 8 million playing at any given time; to rank among the top tier of players is an extraordinary achievement. Instead of a tone of smug curiosity, a better-versed observer might have celebrated perseverance, and portrayed him as a desk-chair Rocky.