As a gamer and a parent, I feel we need to heavily salt the negative sensationalism about gaming. Our kids are not at risk. In fact, quite the opposite.
Like all great Empires that came before it, Fortnite is sweeping away the remnants of old. Think of the Byzantines who built great structures of wood and stone and they too participated in folkloric dances upon vanquishing their enemies and produced shotgun ammunition from a papier-mâché llama. I think.
The knock on effects from the opiate of schoolchildren has bled into the adult realm, as marriages are at stake, sexual needs are unmet, and leaning fully into the sensationalism could see the end of the human race as we know it. This is how it ends, not with a bang, but with flossing.
However, as a lifetime gamer, I feel that we should address something I’ve experienced since Conker’s Bad Fur Day was going to turn us all into killing machines. Why we actually do it. Despite the surmisals of clickbait journalists, I don’t believe that gaming addiction exists. Which is not to say that one can donate too much time to gaming, as I certainly have. I admit, chasing meaningless goals while grouped in a dark room for 18 hours with your people while your career prospects dwindle could either belong to the world of drugs or video games, but I believe it’s not worth the furious headline flap that continues to be made.
We don’t do this because we enjoy the games, they’re still just versions of Pong with some glitter on it. We do it because we’re filling a psychological need. It’s why people run in groups, or enter into affairs, or trade on the crypto market. You do it for the company as well as the experience. We use these macro communities to fill the holes that our larger community creates. This is especially true for gamers; we’re not antisocial, we’re the opposite.
Speaking as a parent, we need to dial back the paranoia of gaming. Gaming won’t turn our children into murderous sex nabobs who hate Jesus, because they didn’t do that to us.
Yes, I’m going to dox myself and reach back into the past, but the landscape of interconnected gaming isn’t a new thing. It’s just become far easier to connect the dots. Back in high school, we nerds filled the lounge rooms of wherever to get our LAN on. It was an event. But, much like any event, it was a hassle. It didn’t come every day, or weekend, it was an occasional thing. The trials we overcame—space, power, transit, network cards—made the experience memorable. Like when it rained on your wedding day. Remember?
Kids these days (and me also) are now hashtag blessed by connectivity. As someone who has kids, and someone who knows many people with kids, jumping on for a couple of hours is how we adults stay in touch. It’s no longer easy (or right) to donate much time to gaming, but when we do, it feels the same. I’m at the time of my life when I can speak as a parent. So, speaking as a parent, we need to dial back the paranoia of gaming. Gaming won’t turn our children into murderous sex nabobs who hate Jesus, because they didn’t do that to us.
Look, here’s some science. A study conducted at Oxford by Dr. Andrew Przybylski revealed playing about one hour per day enhanced psychological well-being; while when taken to an extreme, playing over three hours per day, was correlated with less well-being. He’s a doctor.
I think it goes further. Gaming has always offered us a freedom, both in being someone else but also in expressing ourselves. Glancing back at school, it was a regimented pursuit. You were told what to do, and you achieved that within the set boundaries. There’s not much chance for personal expression. Not every kid can play an instrument, nor play a sport, nor do drama. Many don’t care about those things. I didn’t.
Our generation is the same as the next, and it will remain our outlet. The archaic pursuit of playing outside is dead. I remember that time my friends and I shot a movie in a creek as fondly as I do that time when we banded together and formed that fictional guild from our lounge rooms.
Experience is experience. Be cool, dudes.