Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mamas, let your babies grow up to be gamers

A lot of my friends have kids now and I've been trying to explain to them that gaming is a healthy and beneficial activity, a comment which is often met with some skepticism.

People seem to have three main objections to allowing their kids to game:

1 "There's too much violence in games"

Sure. The same way there's too much violence in movies. Games have an extensive ratings system that has probably been prone to less controversy over the years than the movie ratings system. As a parent, when you buy a game, if it's not clear from the packaging whether the game is suitable for kids, the store clerk should be able to help you. Or simply do some research online. Isn't it worth ten minutes of research for a game that will keep your kids happy and engaged for dozens of hours (compared to a DVD which is over in one and a half hours)? On top of all that, gaming consoles come with family settings.

2 "Isn't gaming an antisocial activity?"

Sure. The same way that reading a book is antisocial. Except that books don't have multiplayer. Many games have a co-op mode where a player plays alongside a friend, or multiplayer, where a player plays with a whole group of friends. Besides that, being a gamer means, like with any hobby, your child will be able to connect and make friends with fellow gamers at school and other places.

Always remember that video games are an evolution of sports and board games. Early video games were less social due to the constraints of technology that we have now overcome.

3 "Isn't gaming unhealthy?"

No way. Console games are extremely sophisticated and it takes time to learn how to play them well. This means that your brain is in learning mode for a lot of the gameplay. For children, this enhances the fact that learning is a pleasurable experience. (Something schools try to make them 'unlearn'.) Games teach perseverance, strategic thinking and many other positive skills.

So Mamas, please let your babies grow up to be gamers - it's good for them.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Reality is Broken

I've started on Jane McGonigal's excellent book, 'Reality is Broken', and I just wanted to share an excerpt:

"Gamers want to know: Where, in the real world, is that gamer sense of being fully alive, focused, and engaged in every moment? Where is the gamer feeling of power, heroic purpose, and community? Where are the bursts of exhilarating and creative game accomplishment? Where is the heart-expanding thrill of success and team victory? While gamers may experience these pleasures occasionally in their real lives, they experience them almost constantly when they’re playing their favorite games.
The real world just doesn’t offer these things up as easily. Reality isn’t engineered to maximize our potential. Reality wasn’t designed from the bottom up to make us happy. And so, there is a growing perception in the gaming community: Reality, compared to games, is broken."