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.