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.
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
- Violent video games not so bad when players cooperate (phys.org)
- Kids and violent video games | Violent video games | Violence video games | Babble (babble.com)
- Playing Violent Video Games Actually Makes You Feel Less Pain, Researchers Find [Studies] (kotaku.com)
- The benefits of video games. (bigcityproblems.wordpress.com)
- Violent Video Games May Increase Your Pain Tolerance (mentalfloss.com)
- Moral Decision-Making In Video Games And The Real World (medicalnewstoday.com)
- NCBI ROFL: Macbeth and the Joystick: Evidence for moral cleansing after playing a violent video game. (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- Video Game Heaven: Insert Coins Opens Oct. 26 (minnesota.cbslocal.com)
- Special Edition – Video Games (education.com)
- Using Video Games for Fitness | Ebuyer.com | Ebuyer HQ (ebuyer.com)