When you see gamers mentioned in the national media there are 2 stereotypes you usually get treated to. The slacker, virgin, loser destined to spend his adult life in his mother’s basement wearing a soiled Star Trek uniform and eating Hot-Pockets, OR, the anti-social future/current, criminal spraying schools with bullets because they played Doom, or killing each other over a PS2.
What the media and gaming critics ignore is that, depending on the period of time we live in, blame has been assigned to Rock & Roll, or just the popularity of the object…we’ve seen people act like animals over Cabbage Patch dolls, or Furbies….people used to get killed while someone was stealing their Huffy bike with a cool new Banana seat!
What is almost never blamed are PARENTS who are totally oblivious to their children’s building bombs and assembling arsenals under their own roofs, and becoming more and more mentally unbalanced.
It takes YEARS of ignoring symptoms, or worse, creating them through bad or neglectful parenting, to make children capable of killing others for attention. But the media is very careful never to blame other humans for the way young humans turn out...not when the latest popular game, music, or the length of their hair can be blamed instead.
But Columbine’s killers didn’t form in a vacuum and the vast majority of kids who have played the same games they did graduated high school, went to college, or got jobs and have never harmed anyone.
Ignored are the gaming societies…actual PEOPLE who gather in a SOCIAL setting to enjoy a past-time they all have in common. Ignored are the kids who have learned cooperative play, forged friendships, or become inspired to be the next entrepreneurs creating games they think others would enjoy.
Ignored are those in an industry that produced a system, The Wii, that has broad appeal for old and young, or the young people who have spent time teaching older people how to use this system to capture the fun of a game of bowling without worrying about physical injury, or who have helped physical therapists learn to use it to help people strengthen muscles and control their motions.
There is a REAL soft center to most Hardcore gamers, and ignoring that makes me sad.
Video games, PC games, Card & Role Playing games aren’t enemies to be stopped. They are opportunities to learn and teach in equal measure.
My boys have been playing video games since they were in single digits and Sega Genesis had them defying gravity in a race for rings in Sonic the Hedgehog. They learned that I would not tolerate crying, screaming or throwing. If it occurred, they were put in time out until they could proceed calmly. The game system wasn’t used as a babysitter. They had to cooperate or not play.
In D&D my youngest learned to listen, formulate strategies and work with adults respectfully (some of his competitors were 4 times his age), in card games my eldest became almost mathematically precise in the way he assembled decks. And at a time when his classmates were cruel and bullying, he found friends online that bolstered his self-esteem, and respected him for skills others couldn't see in him besides his father and I....like leadership, patience, and a wicked sense of humor. (please remember that all his gaming and computer time was spent in FRONT of us in our living room...we all know that some socializing on computers can be very dangerous when you don't know the folks on the other end, so always keep these things in the open, but be open minded as well)
An oft heard complaint from anti-gamers is that gaming is a waste of time and the “memories” our kids will have of childhood aren’t the quality ours are.
My response to that is, who are we to decide what memories THEY should hold as sentimental? Just because you can hark back to the ol fishin’ hole and remember you and your friends pulling in blue gill or skinny dipping doesn’t mean that memory is superior to the first time your child completed a challenging level as his friends cheered him on.
I’m sure the old folks who enjoyed carriages and their saddle mounts were rolling their eyes when they heard their grandchildren reminisce about their first automobile…after all, how can a machine take the place of the first time you saddled your own horse?
I tried not to giggle as I heard my now 20 & 17 yo sons talking about their childhoods during Thanksgiving break.
“Remember how long it took us to finish Ocarina of Time?”
“Because you were afraid of the redeads so you wouldn’t go into the ShadowTemple zone!”
“You didn’t do it either.”
“Because I was scared of them too….they were FAST. But I couldn’t say I was scared because I was having too much fun laughing at you!”
They both started laughing.
“Man, I wish I was still 12 and it was just me and you and the N64 all summer.”
These are the kids who get a tear in their eye when they hear a piece of music from a video game they played when they were 10. These ARE real, sentimental, memories for them and I refuse to negate them because they aren’t identical to mine or approved by me.
My eldest sent me a .gif that told me that they can see a loving side to gaming.
The Gif was an animated story, it involved a young man's story of buying a video game that he got his Mother, a Wheelchair bound MS sufferer, to play. She did all the quests and the game took her away from her pain even long after her sons lost interest in the game.
Then she passed away.
Months after her passing he decides to go into the video game's world. In it the grass was overgrown, and the creatures in the game wondered where she had been.
He went to his long forgotten mailbox in the game and found it full of letters from his mother. She had collected presents in the game and sent them to him....long after he had stopped playing she was still thinking of him and while she was limited by her body she still wanted to present him with these gifts in the game. The .gif story's writer reminds fellow young people to love their parents while they still can.
My son told me he thought of how much he misses us when he’s at school, and how he cried for an hour after he saw it. He is an incredible, gentle, mush of a grown man and treasurer of the Gaming Society at his college. He hopes to be president of it by his senior year.
I just wish we could see this side of Gamers in the press and in society, because it is the dominant one.
10 Things I’ve learned from my Gamer Sons…
1) Warthogs, Mongooses, Hornets, Scorpions and Pelicans ARE NOT animals.
2) That if I use words like “pwn”, “leet”, “epic failure”, “FTW”, or “woot”, that I INSTANTLY kill their coolness….but I do it anyway.
3) I have witnessed "teabagging"...and LOL.
4) That my sons can, without being judged by race, religion, appearance, or physical prowess, become the defacto captain of a team of space marines, based on their knowledge, coolness under pressure and their preternatural ability to spot the enemy and waste them from a moving vehicle.
5) I know what no-scoping is and have to hear my eldest complain that it was easier in Halo 2 then 3.
6) That I CAN play a pretty good necromancer in Everquest 2. With no backseat gaming.
7) That Bruce Willis should play the Master Chief.
8) That you can have a sleepover, or party with your closest friends without anyone coming over, especially if a couple of them are sick.
9) That custom maps are hilarious! (man-cannons facing walls)
10) That love is a real emotion that Gamers are not devoid of.
and BTW...I just learned yesterday, that you can stream Netflix movies INSTANTLY, on Xbox 360...what's not to love!?