Why Kids Should Play Video Games

Video games, they are one of the most controversial topics out there.  Parents hate them and kids love them, but what is it that gets parents so up in arms about them?  Arguments range from a waste of time to promotion of violence, but you almost never hear the positive aspects of video games.  Well, I’m here to set the record straight and shed some light on why video games are a vital part of the creative process in many peoples lives, including mine.

If you have parents like mine you’ve probably heard them say that video games are a degradation to your mind or something along those lines.  In fact, my mom even said that if there was one thing she would have done differently in raising my brothers and I it would have been to keep us away from video games.  I was astonished.  When I look back at my childhood I’m overcome with memories of playing NES with my brothers, my first time playing SNES, and Christmas day when I got Super Smash Bros. on the N64.  I’ll admit, I’ve spent thousands of hours playing video games, but that doesn’t make me any less talented of an individual.  For those people who are creative, like myself, video games can serve as inspiration in different fields of life.  For myself, that inspiration is music.  For my brother it’s drawing.  I understand what people mean when they say that video games are a waste of time, but in reality video games are just as much a hobby as anything else out there.  Some people enjoy watching TV while others enjoy interacting in a virtual world.  It’s all perspective.

If I could go back in time I wouldn’t remove video games from my life, rather I would add in music lessons alongside video games.  I am an extremely creative person musically and video games (as well as movies) have actually aided in my creative process at times.  The common misconception is that the fine arts cannot coexist with video games, but I would argue the contrary.  I believe that when you apply fine art skills, such as music or drawing, with outside content like video games, you actually end up with something new and uniquely inspired.  When I first played through the game “Heavy Rain” on the PS3 I was instantly taken aback by the darker themes in the game.  In my life I have faced many struggles and internal challenges, so I decided to draw inspiration from the game and turn it into a song on the piano (you can view my song below).  I’ve never taken any lessons on the piano and at the time I wrote my song I’d only been playing for a few weeks.  The idea of video games serving as inspiration may not apply to everyone, but for myself they have played a key role in other important areas of my life.  It’s not about removing video games from the lives of kids.  It’s about adding in lessons in other areas alongside video games to further the creative process.

Another common argument made by parents and society is that video games deprive youth of social interaction.  FALSE!  In recent years online gaming has become huge, which means that more and more people are playing video games together in online communities.  Within these communities gamers are able to communicate through headsets while playing a variety of games.  The common counterargument is that playing online isn’t the same as being in the same room together.  Well, my friends and I still play N64 together in the same room and we have a great time laughing our heads off while playing video games.  In reality, playing video games together is equivalent to playing a card game or watching a movie together.  When you find a group of people who share common interests with yourself, what you’re actually doing becomes an irrelevant factor. People enjoy different aspects of life.  For some people that aspect of life is video games.

Columbine Shooting

I didn’t initially plan on talking about video games and their ties to violence, but because it was something I personally went through with my parents I thought it would be a relevant  subject to touch on.  Growing up, my mom was extremely strict when it came to violent video games, especially Halo.  For some reason “looking down the barrel of a gun” was a sore spot for her, which meant that any first person shooters weren’t allowed in our house.  If that rule still applied today, my brothers and I would have way fewer video games in our collections.  Like many other parents, my mom fell trap to the common fallacy that violent video games are directly linked to violence in real life (i.e. the Columbine shooting).  Although it is true that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did play the video game Doom, there is not a direct correlation between playing a violent video game and committing violent acts in real life.  Instead, research has shown that suspects in school shootings are usually males who have battled depression and suicidal thoughts in the past.  When something isn’t entirely understood by an older generation of society it tends to take the blame for the darker events that take place in the world.  Decades ago it was rock ‘n’ roll music, today it is video games.

If nothing else, I hope my thoughts and insights have cleared up some common misconceptions regarding video games.  Of course, video games shouldn’t take up all of your time, but it doesn’t hurt to combine them with other parts of life such as music or art.  Ultimately, just have fun playing games with your friends and family.  Love video games and they’ll love you back.

-Ocarina of Time Nerd

About Joel

Live, love, play video games.
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6 Responses to Why Kids Should Play Video Games

  1. Great post! I agree with so much of what you said, especially the bit about how playing video games is a hobby just like anything else, and it can lead to new friendships. Also, I read about a study that found role-playing in video games can actually increase self-confidence, as we get to “try on” different personality traits to become our ideal selves, etc. I found that really interesting!

    I do think some video games are too violent for young kids — until they’re preteens or so, just imo — especially with the increased realism in some shooters, etc. When I worked as a nanny, it bothered me to see kids watching violent TV shows and imitating some of the tough language — but on the other hand, role-playing Star Wars and being Darth Vader was fine, because it was all in good fun and everyone knew it was pretend! And it certainly doesn’t mean all video games are bad or that violence in games automatically makes kids violent, so I agree with you there. I guess it’s just like keeping kids away from R rated films for a time. That being said, I think the best thing is for parents to play the games and see for themselves! A lot of the stereotypes about violent video games come from people who have never even played them.

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I agree with you. Certain shows and games are TOO violent for kids up until a certain age. You nailed it though. It’s all about understanding what’s real and what’s pretend. And as you said, many parents don’t know what their kids are playing. My mom was a huge critic of Halo, but she had never even sat down and watched my brothers and I play the game. Here knowledge came from other biased sources bent on ridding the world of violent video games. It’s all about going a bit further and doing some good research on what the game is all about.
      Love your blog btw!

      -Ocarina of Time Nerd

      • I agree it’s about knowing what’s real and what’s pretend. And like you said about art and music, I believe video games can inspire creativity if they make players interested in art, storytelling, music, programming… or any positive hobby, really.

        Thanks about my blog, I’m enjoying yours too! Your music is fantastic as well. =)

      • Thanks so much! 🙂
        And it’s so true. It’s like any hobby really. If you enjoy it, there are ways of incorporating it into other areas of life.

  2. Mike says:

    Just a thought, I’d take your assessment of video games in relation to art and music a step further and say that video games themselves are art. It’s easy to say this with games like Journey and Heavy Rain, but even looking back at games like the Final Fantasy series you can see a coalescence of graphical art, music, and story telling or narrative design. What else is there that not only contains all of these elements, but lets you interact with them in such a unique, personal way? I also see how much I learned from games and want that for my own kids. I can say for a fact I wanted to learn how to read faster so that I could play the original Final Fantasy, and I know that puzzle solving games like Tetris and Kickle Cubicle helped me learn how to problem solve better. All that to say I think you’ve made some really good points here and I totally agree, kids should definitely play video games. Also, I’m loving your blog.

    • Joel Palermo says:

      Thanks so much for your comment! I would have to agree. Video games in and of themselves are a unique and pure form of art. So much time and creativity goes into the games we love and to brush them aside as mere “games” wouldn’t do them justice. Video games have a lot to offer and I’m not only talking about kids either. Adults, teenagers, young children, each age group should take advantage of the creativity behind video games. I think for the most part video games get a bad reputation because they’re “violent” and “a waste of time,” but in moderation with other facets of life they are monumental in building upon other important areas of our lives, like you noted. So glad you enjoy my blog! There will be more soon. I’ve just been so busy with school, work, etc.

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