Games consoles, Overwatch, kids accounts and a meltdown

Recently we were exceptionally decadent and added a second PS4 to our house. We did this through the accumulation of Nectar Points which we used to get a decent discount at Argos on a bundle that was already reduced. Go me!

Although it seems silly, there were a couple of good reasons behind the purchase. Firstly we had pretty much been driven from the living room where MY PS4 lives by kids incessantly playing games on it. Secondly, the high functioning child gets very valuable secondary socialisation from using it. Secondary socialisation is important for people on the spectrum; it involves chatting and interacting with people whilst doing something else. Put kids together in a situation where the sole purpose is to interact and they’ll have trouble, give them something to do that leads to interaction as a secondary benefit of whatever they’re doing, and it works much better.

Still, this has lead to what is a real problem. We’re Playstation’ed and Xbox’ed up to the gills in our house, with an Xbox One and an Xbox One S in addition to the PS4s. Xbox allow you to change your gamertag (as long as it’s not rude and not taken already). Sony are very clear that the name you choose on registration is the name that you are stuck with for ever and ever Amen.

The boy has been playing Overwatch quite a lot. Easter saw him break the level 100 barrier. This has been great for me as he’s done it entirely on my gamertag, daddacooluk, and I’ve got all the rewards and so on that go with it. Not so great for him though, as he’s lumbered with my username. He’s added a couple of school friends to my friend list and he plays and chats with them. He’s been on at me to change my username to his preferred name for ages now but after looking in to it I realised I couldn’t. I’ve set him and his sister up with their own sub accounts that piggy back off mine (this allows them to use the digital purchases I’ve made) but I had to tell him if he wants his own account, he’ll have to start again on Overwatch.

Starting again on Overwatch didn’t go down well. There may have been threats and shouting. His little mates are all between level 80 and 120 and I’m not entirely sure I’m either good enough at FPS or have the spare time to get his profile up to level 100, which is apparently the only way he will consider using his own personal profile, but we’re exploring the options.

What it has lead me to look in to in some detail are the parental control options and I have to say, this is an area that Microsoft are all over it. You can tweak almost any aspect of a minors account, from who they can interact with, down to how long they have each day to play on the console. Xbox is streets ahead of Playstation in this regard, and consequently I would much rather the kids play Xbox than Playstation but they are constrained to a degree by what their friends have- there is little point in pushing them to play Overwatch on the Xbox One if all their mates have it on the PS4.