Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Microstory 988: Video Games

My parents weren’t the richest of people when I was born. I grew up having everything I needed, though, and didn’t realize all the amenities I was missing until we moved to the suburbs of Kansas City. I always had food, and a safe space to sleep, but I’ll never totally know what my parents had to sacrifice to make sure that was always the case. One thing we didn’t have that all our friends did was a video game console. Because my dad’s work needed to keep up to date with the latest technology, we were never without a computer—if only as a hand-me-down—so we used that for some gaming, but they were mostly educational, if not just Tetris. I played a little at friends’ houses over the years, but I never really got into them. Whenever anyone asks me if I play Fortnite, or whatever is the current trending game, I have to be clear on my reasoning for not participating. My family likes to spend time together watching TV, and I’m a writer, so it’s just that I have other forms of entertainment. Many other people who don’t play are like that because they think video games are dangerous, or will rot your brain, or at the very least, they’re a waste of time. I am absolutely not like that. Video games are not just okay, they can be a valuable tool for child development, and even into adulthood. Video games, especially today, teach you a number of skills in a fun and exciting way. You’ll learn problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, healthy opposition, and failure. That last one is profoundly important, never more so than now. These days, when the only achievement awards that are given out are for participation, it is vital that children learn how to persevere in the face of failure. Unrealistic Disney lessons, and overly positive parenting, are threatening the next generation’s ability to cope with the real world. You are not always going to get what you want, and you’re not going to excel at everything you try, and that’s okay. Even when I myself was a child, I hated this nonsense that anything is possible as long as you believe. Billions of people believe that God has a unique and personal interest in their well-being, and judging from all the goddamn dead children, that’s obviously completely untrue, so belief alone does nothing. You can’t do anything just because you put your mind to it. It takes opportunity, natural talent, and a hell of a lot of practice. It also takes true passion, and most people are only truly passionate for a handful of things. We need to be encouraging our children to find their strengths, and not exert so much energy on improving weaknesses; not none, but also not 100%. If everything goes well in a video game, it’s not any fun. Overcoming a challenge is so much more satisfying than simply being given something. There is little to no scientific evidence that violent games cause real world violence, so let your kids play, if you can afford it. They will grow up to be well-rounded individuals with respect for the amount of effort that is required to contribute to society. If they continue to play into adulthood, that’s great too. They’ll be okay, as long as they don’t do it too much, but isn’t that true of anything? Even water is poisonous if you drink enough of it.

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