Blog Response to: “Why are those birds so angry, anyway?”

I know I’ve been away from my blog for a little while, but nothing brings me back all fired-up like a good attack on one of my favourite hobbies. Over on the Telegram, Peter Jackson (no, not that Jackson) bashes video gaming and gaming for charity events. I’m actually appalled by the nonsense he’s preaching to those unfamiliar to gaming, comparing a fun hobby to a gambling addiction.

Firstly, don’t bash Sandbox Gaming for raising money for an organization like Easter Seals. And calling the people who support gaming “fanatics” is just another step in the wrong direction.

Secondly, let’s move on to this point: “Video games are addictive, at least in the general sense.” His whole argument is based around video gaming becoming an addiction. Okay, sure. It can become an addiction. So can reading or binge watching television shows or organizing your apartment. Go watch Glee. There’s an interesting character on that show who can’t sit at a table without cleaning it. My point is anything can become an addiction, so why target gaming? Should we rise up against cleaning products, books, or movies because there’s a chance we may become addicted to them? Sigh. No.

Jackson gives us the example of Angry Birds as an addictive game and I had to hold back my laughter. If that’s the best example he can muster, I’m afraid he doesn’t know much about addicting video games. Online role-playing games are by far the most addictive games out there–not a mobile game that most people tire of after beating twenty levels. I would say Candy Crush is more addictive than Angry Birds, though most people who play Candy Crush so religiously are addicted to Facebook. Yet, like I said in the previous paragraph, anything can become addicting if you let it.

“I’ve seen young people waste hours of their lives on video games.” Fantastic. I’ve seen young people waste hours of their life texting on their phones while at the bus stop, or window shopping at the mall, or standing in line at the local Tim’s to get burnt coffee. Looking at things you can’t have and waiting for disappointing, burnt coffee sure seems like a waste of time, though I’m sure those people will tell you differently. And maybe some won’t, but everyone has a different experience, now don’t they?

“And unless you’re going into some sort of technical field — like video game development — video  games serve very little purpose in terms of career development.” Did Jackson ever stop to consider that perhaps people play video games to have fun? I like eating cake. I’m not going to become a professional cake-taster someday. I mean, as awesome as that would be, I don’t see that in my future. And life isn’t all about which career you get. It’s about having fun and living the journey you want to live. If gaming is part of that journey, whether you plan on being a game designer or a chef, then game away.

Jackson goes on to comment about the game Grand Theft Auto and how it promotes bad behaviour in real life. Let’s be honest: If your kid is acting out anything from GTA, you have larger issues to deal with. You should really rethink your parenting approach and the mental state of your child. I grew up with games like these and never once thought, “Hey, I think I’ll go out and steal a car!” It just doesn’t happen unless you weren’t properly educated on what’s right and what’s wrong. Violence presents itself in violent people. Plus: Don’t buy your kids games rated for a mature audience.

“But what message does a video game marathon send, other than that it’s OK to let life and the responsibilities that go with it fleet by unnoticed as you immerse yourself in a virtual world of pointless distraction?” So Sandbox Gaming didn’t give this message. They didn’t sit the participants down and have them stay there for days on end. Rotation was put into effect so everyone could have a turn (and breaks are healthy). Jackson is assuming the charity event was some kind of brainwashing technique to cause children and adults to trade life for virtual distraction. Sorry, pointless distraction.

So how pointless are video games, really? Just compare them to television shows or social media platforms. Children watch hours of television and waste time browsing websites like Facebook. I’m speaking from experience when I say that video games really helped me as a child. Everything was text-based when I was a kid, so I had to read the entire story of a game. I developed better reading skills because of this–much more than I could have learned from a television show. It was super fun to read along with an animated story, rather than listen to a cartoon. I mean, I loved cartoons, but games were more interactive and thus more educational.

Video games can also boost confidence, allowing you to become the hero of an epic story. And let’s not forget how multiplayer games can help kids learn how to work together. If you’re a good parent, you won’t allow your child to spend “endless hours” on a PC playing games. Allowing a child to spend endless hours doing anything isn’t healthy. Children still have responsibilities and they should have multiple hobbies to engage themselves with.

I’ll end this post to say that I support Sandbox Gaming and what they’re doing to raise money and awareness for kids with disabilities, and anyone who speaks out against young people for enjoying a fun pastime to support such a charity should be ashamed. Hours of memories with friends, laughing around the latest Nintendo console, will always be the proof I need to tell people opposed to video gaming they’re wrong about games being harmful to youths.

Happy gaming,

Sandra

A Stranger in the Garden – Teaser Thursday

Welcome to Teaser Thursday! Here’s a snippet from my WIP high fantasy, The Myth of Kalvartr.

~~~

The force of another body colliding into her nearly knocked her down.

It took a moment to regain her balance, grabbing for a nearby lantern post to steady her footing, though her victim was already neatly composed when Annabelle gazed upon him. She noticed how strange his clothes looked—all the wrong colours for the Zhan Kingdom and tailored differently. His face was also unfamiliar, not at all angled in an Emperian-like way, and he was tall. Too tall.

She then realized she was openly staring and promptly burst into a string of apologies before her sense entirely left her.

“I’m so sorry! Goddess Marieas, I’m clumsy! Are you hurt, sir? Tell me you aren’t!”

The stranger raised a hand to calm her and then shook his head. “The fault is mine, my lady. I did not see you.”

He had a strange tone to his voice, this man, something unfamiliar that tried to disguise itself as the Emperian accent.

Thoughts upon Female Characters

As much as I love feminism and fighting for equal rights, some people take the concept of “independence” too far. Critics are saying the new Jurassic World is sexist because of Claire’s character development throughout the movie. She goes from cold, calculating Claire to caring, reckless Claire. In my review earlier this week, I pointed out that her character was the kind you’d want to see eaten in a Jurassic movie. My opinion completely changed halfway through the film.

Does caring for her nephews make Claire a weak character? Does caring for the death of dinosaurs or people make her a weak character? Does caring for a guy she chose to ignore because of work make her a weak character? The answer is: No, it does not.

People are so focused on females in movies or literature being strong and independent that they forget that females are people, too. They don’t always have to be cold and distant. They can be strong and independent and also have a significant other, a sensitive side, and motherly instincts. The beauty of women is that they have personalities. Go figure, right?

I saw the same problem surrounding books this week. People were making cruel comments about how this or that book featured two main characters (one female and one male) and how the book would end with the women being redeemed by a man’s love–or rescued by him. Yet if this plot was to completely flip and the man would be the one in need of redemption or rescuing, no one would bat an eyelash. It would be acceptable.

People judge females far too harshly in literature and media, and because of that I worry about my own writing. Someone reading the blurb of Sky Knight could make the assumption that Taliah falls into the above mentioned scenario (she doesn’t, if you’re wondering). Yet in the sequel Taliah will find herself in a difficult situation–a situation she can’t get out of without help. Is she now suddenly a weak character because for once in her life she has to depend upon someone else for assistance? Absolutely not, but some will judge your female MC if this happens.

So am I going to rewrite the scene to make Taliah get through the situation on her own? Nope. Scenes like these are what bond characters together and reveal character traits the characters themselves didn’t know they had. And having a character rescued by another character doesn’t make them weak or any less independent. It just shows they’re human and not some robot hybrid.

Some people are easily offended when female and male characters work together to achieve a goal, each relying upon the other for support and strength, but what is equality if it isn’t this?

Happy writing,

Sandra