Whims of the Father

My nine-year-old is obsessed with video games. This is the most predictable problem I will likely ever have.

It’s hard to know for sure if he would have been as enamored with video gaming had I instead, perhaps, decided to write about knitting or deep-sea fishing for a living. It seems likely he’d still end up on video games, considering his friends don’t seem to have followed their parents’ into not knowing the first relevant thing about video gaming, and they aren’t exactly walking around school obsessed with investment banking or the collapse of society, which is all their parents seem able to bang two thoughts together about.

And yet, I can’t help but feel that I have given this gift of gaming to my son in spades. After all, gaming is a big part of my life, which is why I’ve exerted so much energy justifying that idea by cloaking it in the trappings of professional work. And, don’t get me wrong. I’m over my gamer guilt. I’m going to spend some relevant number of hours a week enraptured by virtual worlds, and that’s just how it is. After all, as a functioning member of society who has found that balance between work, life, family and video gaming, I’ve earned my digital respite.

However, that doesn’t make raising a video-gaming son any easier. In fact, in some ways it’s harder, because I understand that earnest desire to lose days at a time in these pastimes. And as a responsible parent, I can’t exactly say to my kid, “Have fun playing the new Lego game until your ears bleed and your eyes burst in their sockets. I’ll see you in three weeks!”

My boy needs to be intentionally directed away from video games. Every day, to his credit, he comes home from school, dives into his homework, makes his bed and then bolts like a man named Usain to whichever game system houses his current obsession. There he is lost to the world for whatever range of time he can possibly get away with, until inevitably one of us has to say it’s time to turn it off. This happens every day, and every day he questions why this must be the way of things, and to date none of our explanations has sufficiently explained to him why he may not just continue to play until he collapses from exhaustion.

And he is as strategic as any child at deflecting these demands, employing all the strategies I did as a boy — and occasionally still do to this day — when I know I need to close my session. The most basic and effective is just pretending not to hear that we are speaking to him. He also employs the “save point” argument, the “bargaining for more time” gambit, the “gotta just finish this quest” equivocation, and the ever famous “I was just teaching my little brother how to play” deception.

The reality is that enforcing a video game curfew is sometimes challenging for me, because my motives are not always pure. The truth is sometimes the reason my son needs to evacuate the system he is playing is because he has been playing it long enough, but also because I have something I want to play now. Other times I have told him to stop playing video games literally while I am playing a video game.

I realize how hypocritical this must seem to him, and I am ready to defend with a flaccid and cliche retort like, “When you start paying the mortgage and spending all day at work, then you can spend all night playing video games, mister.” I avoid trying to say things like this too often.

I know the reality in those situations is that my son has only two data points at his disposal. One, he has been told to stop playing. Two, that instruction came from someone who looked up from his computer between levels. My son is a good boy, though, with a strong sense of self preservation, and thus never throws hard objects at my head when this happens, though I honestly wouldn’t begrudge him to an extreme level should he choose to do so.

The thing is, when my boy isn’t playing or watching some cartoon about Lego ninjas or evolving creatures that live in some kind of tiny trans-dimensional ball, he is often lost. He’s not quick to play outside in the waning warm days before autumn truly hits the American Midwest. He has no passion to date for drawing or music, and though he has a deep and complex imagination, he only grudgingly plays with his legion of toys.

So, I find myself having to be a partner in resolving an internal conflict that I’ve never genuinely mastered on my own — and I’ve had 40 years of work at it. I have to be a guide in helping to answer the question for my child that I never could for me. It’s the sort of quandary that keeps a parent up at night, though where other parents are wondering, “Does my son’s fascination with video games mean he will grow up to be a criminal?” I am worrying, “Does my son’s fascination with video games mean he will grow up to be me?”

It is nice to have this interest we share, and to sit down and spend a few hours on a lazy Saturday afternoon watching MLG Starcraft II tournaments. I deeply prize discussing the relative merits of Terran 1-1-1 builds and the beauty of a well executed mass Baneling drop. But it has fallen to me to teach another human, one who is predisposed toward obsession, the value of moderation and self-restraint, and I consider that among the universe’s crueler jokes on me to date.

Comments

Malor wrote:

'Malor, it's time to get off the computer now' is almost never a bad idea.

:solemn nod:

But you're much better than you were when you first came to GWJ.

You've got part of it, Sean, but you've got to get the rest of it. Yes, you're telling him to get off the computer between turns. But where you're stopping short is owning the fact that you have a right to a turn.

So many times parents take themselves out of the equation. For my household, the only way to make it work was for me to live it myself. I didn't just decide to do whatever. I had my turn, built into the rotation just like the gang. And I took it, sometimes even when I didn't really want to. Not just because it was one less half hour the kids spent being vidiots (though don't knock that - it was part of the whole approach ). It was because I wanted to model the behavior.

They needed to see me having to figure out something else to do when it wasn't my turn, and how to manage that turn into getting dinner made and everything else that wasn't fun and I didn't want to do either.

If you're getting your life handled, and he's showing the skills of it here, then you're both doing what you need to do.

Greatly enjoyed this article Elysium, because it hit so close to home. As I sit at my computer typing this, my 8 year old son sits 12 feet to my right on his compuer, hacking away at monsters in Torchlight. Like his old man, he is quite a gamer and I often have conflicting feelings about it.

Mainly I worry sometimes that he is missing out on a lot of the experiences I had as a child due to his ability to access such a wide range of interesting, engrossing games at all times. It's not like when I was a child and had maybe one or two Nintendo games that I could play until either the challenge proved to be too much for one sitting (Castlevania), or I had worn them out (Super Mario Brothers). Even though I did spend a lot of time playing video games as a kid, the vast majority of my childhood seems to have been spent either outside playing, or using my imagination to play with toys around the house and I can't say the same for him. We'll often limit his time playing games and encourage him to do other things, like go outside and play or play with toys, but those are minor detours in what he'd rather be doing: playing games.

At least the games that he does gravitate towards tend to encourage creativity, like Roblox and Minecraft, but still, there's a part of me that wonders what effect spending so much time in these complex game worlds will have on his development. We're kind of in unexplored territority as far as parenting in this highly accessible, digital entertainment age goes.

For now, my wife and I just try to hold fast to a rule of moderation as far as my son and playing games goes. As gamers ourselves, where our own individual gaming obsessions have caused issues in our relationship in the past, moderation seems to be essential for us as well. Aside from Roblox which doesn't really count I don't think, I have insisted on a no MMORPG rule with him. I know from my own experience there's too much of a potential for addiction. I guess that's part of what keeps me from ever really feeling like a hypocrite in limiting his screen time, I know that even I need limits with the amount of time I devote to playing games and right now he just doesn't have the maturity or experience to maintain his own.

Guess a lot of us have about the same experience with this stuff. My daughter is 8 and she will spend hours on end playing Minecraft, Guild Wars 2 or Skyrim. I hope I'm not making a mistake, but I don't shelter her too much from violence in these games. She seems pretty normal to me, and empathizes with people and animals...so I doubt I've screwed her up too much. To be honest, I'm more concerned about the messed up values she gets from iCarly and Victorious than from vanquishing undead (who would probably want to be put out of their misery if they had the rational capacity of their former selves.)

When she was little, I bought her all kinds of kid video games. She never got into them and I was worried that my plan to produce a mini-me gaming partner had failed. Sometime when she was five, this turned around. She wanted to play games constantly. She would farm gems in "jumpstart World" for hours so she could buy shampoo for her pet pig. Now she has soccer, homework and chores. Every time she has to turn off the computer, it is like I have asked her to cut off a finger. "How could you be so mean to a small child!?!"

So here is my secret long-term hope...fantasy....thing. Maybe some of y’all have a similar dream. It’s Sunday night sometime in 2023. Katy is off at a half-way decent college. I give her a call and ask her what's up. She says her Boyfriend is busy doing homework (because he is an ambitious, smart pre-med student....and captain of the lacrosse team), and she is bored. I suggest we log into Supernova II and farm space gas in the Ricktorff Meteor Belt. She reluctantly agrees and we spend the next three hours BSing about life while sucking asteroid fumes into out holding tanks. We each level and are pleasantly surprised at the current rate for space gas at the Ricktorff Prime trading post. It could happen

Honestly, they way it worked out in my house, my wife does all the regulation of my kids' VG time and they are conditioned enough to follow what she says. They get 30 minutes regularly, a hour if there is some kind of special reason, and it generally works out.

Elysium wrote:
You say he is quite imaginative, but has no interest in other art or music, and is reluctant to play outside, or even with the other toys he has. He does seem to have quite a video game fixation.

Actually, yes. We enrolled him in a summer video game making class for kids. It only lasted 2 weeks, but he loved it. Came home every day to tinker around on the online tool they were using for the class. It wasn't very deep, or particularly effective, but it may be time to step him up. Some of his favorite times in games have been with Little Big Planet and Minecraft, manipulating and playing with the environment.

Also, math is by far his favorite and best subject. He did addition and subtraction at 2. Understood fractions going into kindergarten.

Get Ye some Google Sketch Up installed.

There are a significant number of tools for porting the model in to game level tools; but that's way down the road.

My five year old likes to play around in it. He just carves up shapes, but understands the interface fairly well, with a little help.

Your game making inducted 8 year old should have a blast, and be quite capable.
Have him measure and plan his bedroom and a new furniture layout. Or heck, make a game level. Or recreate his favourite using the game as a reference. So many spatial skills at work in that.

Just some ideas. Obviously architecturally biased coming from me, but the tie in to game environment modelling is strong.

Elysia wrote:

But, I have no problem with him enjoying videogames as a hobby, none at all. Everyone needs one. Having something that you really enjoy doing, and can get lost in doing, is a good thing. The key is moderation, learning to balance your hobby with your life. For now, our job is to help him learn moderation. Hopefully, it will help him to do it for himself as he gets older.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I really need to go play Spelltower. ;)

She really is your better half. lol.

Seriously I appreciate your struggle. As a father of a 4 ranging from 17 to 7 we deal with this often in my house. We had a very strict rule for the two older boys up until they were in 8th/9th grade. No violent games. And then only loosended it slightly until the oldest hit 10th grade when all hell broke loose. Not to say I have allowed them to touch real mature content but we couldn't keep CoD out of thier hands after that.

I too believe in variety. So we have always implemented a Weekends are for gaming in my house, on top of putting the kids into activities that are more social baseball, art class, soccer, karate, etc. So on a regular basis thier weeks were pretty full of other activities from Mon - Fri, and then on Fri night we unbolted the proverbial locks and said have at it. We would allow them 4-6 hour streatches onf video game on the weekend. We would always (and stll do) get into the discussions of why they have to get off when we say, and why can't I play during the week if I get my school work done. As a parent my answer was simple. Because I say so.

The reality was it was more about teaching rules and a framework. I truely believe that if gone unchecked by someone most of us would loose ourselves alot more into video games. That is what good escapism is about. So for me my wife helps to keep me regulated by reminding me I have to engage with my family more than I play video games. I have never had a problem with this system and I actually think it fostered my kids love of video games even more. They so look forward to getting that unfettered access to the games on the weekends.

We have kept the same riggor in place for our youngest son and it seems to be working fine except that the little bugger has a habbit of sneaking the iPad away for some Pocket Minecraft.

One of them even expanded his interest in to learning how to mod and program games, and the other is teaching himself how to produce gameplay videos. Both of these activies are allowed during the week after homework and other obligations are attended too.

So far its seemed to work pretty well for us, but as my oldest transitios into adulthood and goes off to college I am curious to see if he will be able to keep a good balance. Let me rephrase. I PRAY that he will keep a good balance.

Brilliant article, thanks. As a father of three sons I share your concerns. I was the one who introduced them to the exciting world of gaming. They were sitting beside me when playing sometimes, and we talked about it. The funny thing is, that the vacant look on their faces which they put on watching TV, was gone. They were interested and active and wanted to learn how to play games with the computer. But after that I lost control when rich uncles gave them consoles for christmas without asking their parents... Still, I believe they can handle it. Freedom with responsibility, has been my motto. Thanks again for this article, I've just joined and I love the community already.

Great article. I'm at the same life stage right now also, but my situation isn't the same, it's sort of the opposite. Being a father of two girls age 8 and nearly 10 I have noticed that they are not really into console or PC games as much as they are into iPad and iPhone games. Given that they have a limit on their daily screen time, something that we are gradually increasing as they get older, I wonder if this preference for short, easy to get in and out of games is a result of the restriction on game time?

We have a Wii and a great number of games that the kids enjoy, but I've noticed that the girls don't ask to play it much. Maybe subconsciously they think it's too much trouble to start it up?

Anyway, I'm going to see if that changes with the Wii U, since you can stream the game to the GamePad, my hypothesis is they might be more likely to pick it up and play.

That's right, I'd actually like it if my kids played more games... WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!?

Great article Sean and it struck a chord. My soon to be 9 year old son sounds pretty similar and I have to say the questions I get when he is shifted off of his current device are pretty similar, just as my responses sound just as hollow. We have one critical difference that I thought I'd share and that my boy is obsessed with Australian rules football and when shifted off of a device his first response is usually to go and pick up a ball and run around the back yard until he kicks the ball over the fence. He's usually back in angling to get on to a new device but it can get him outside for a while.

Now I'll admit my own obsession with the sport has flowed through to him here but I also put it down a lot to him having played the game in a team for the past 3 years. He has developed an appreciation for at least one thing other than video games and tormenting his sisters. I feel relatively lucky here because he seems to have a natural knack for the game (something I never had with any sport) and it gives him a social grounding as well. I have to admit I've enjoyed the Friday evening training and Saturday morning games and look forward to the new season every year as much as him.

I suppose I'm just sharing that slight twist in my tale and I'm not here yelling "Put him in team sports!" like our dads probably would, but it has helped him I think, if only find in himself something that is not just gaming. I think the real challenge for me is to game with him more. I was pretty traumatised by Lego Indiana Jones coop with him 2-3 years ago and I'm not in such a hurry to go back to any of the Lego games which he prefers to play.

Elysium wrote:

This happens every day, and every day he questions why this must be the way of things, and to date none of our explanations has sufficiently explained to him why he may not just continue to play until he collapses from exhaustion.

It never will make sense. If you can make sense out of it for a nine year old, let me know. I have a legion of adults surrounding me every day who want to know why life isn't fair. No way a nine year old is going to get it in a one sentence explanation.

More important is consistency over time. He won't understand in the moment what you mean by balance, by considering other responsibilities in life, considering the importance of taking turns (as momgamer pointed out), but your example over months and years will make an impression on him. He may never accept your answers or acknowledge your towering fatherly wisdom (I know my kid hasn't figured out how brilliant I am yet), but if you're consistent, he'll grow up being aware of the need for balance. Even if he remembers the need for balance after game-binging and paying the price. It's all part of growing up

Do you feel guilt or hypocrisy in limiting to nought your child's drinking time, gambling time, time behind the wheel of a car or time with strippers in his lap?

Me neither.

In the end you have a child who needs guidance. The universe is not playing a joke on you. Your child is not some unique flower: we all have kids who get fixated on things and need to be taught limits.

Your own decision to have a child means other aspects of your life must change. If you want him off the games, you need to cut back while he is around. If you want him to have alternatives YOU need to model these alternatives.

Wanting things to be different and then doing nothing but feel guilty about it is a dead end.

Deal with it, bruvvah.

Great article, and one that mirrors my life pretty effectively.

My 6 year old son is a 3rd Generation video game addict, something which I inherited from my own father sitting on his lap playing Zork and Space Quest back in the day. To this day actually, my 62 year old father still gets more game time in than I do!

Anyways, it became apparent pretty early on that, if we let him, little Billy would do nothing but play video games. And if denied, he would become irritable and upset. Our solution was to turn it into a reward/privilege. There are no video games or TV during the school week for my kids. Beyond homework and scheduled extra-curricular activities, they need to find their own entertainment during this time, be it toys, board games with each other, playing outside, or just using their imagination. Funnily enough, Billy will often spend this time pretending to be his favorite Skylander or video game character, running around the house doing Kung Fu on imaginary bad guys.

In the time honored tradition of parental blackmail and bribery, we reward him with game time on weekends so long as he was good all week, got all his homework done, etc... We generally don't put much restriction on this time as far as an hours limit goes, but rather just try and break it up with our own weekend activities, which I think provides a nice balance. Our results have been really good so far, so I think we're going in the right direction. As with all things parenting related though, just have to take it one day at a time and see how things are going.

As to the violence issue, we try and avoid that as well. I generally won't let him play most of the T games (unless its just cartoon violence) and M is right out. That being said, there's been times where he snuck up behind me while playing Borderlands or Diablo III late at night under the clever guise of "Just getting a drink of water." I honestly wouldn't have known he was ever there, except for he just can't help that exclamation of "That was awesome!" after witnessing a perfect headshot. It was one of those moments as a father that fills you with simultaneous pride and shame.

Good story, and these comments are good food for thought, especially the easy-to-forget advice about modeling screen time moderation.

We limit screen time for my kids and with 3, the older two often get screen time as the 3rd goes to bed, but those times that they want to play a game with me invariably is the time I'm tasked with putting the 3rd to bed. Oh well.

Yeah, speaking as a parent of a 7 year old boy I'm dealing with this issue. My solution?

1) I don't play video games in front of my son. Ever.
2) The Rabbit Rule: "Eight o'clock is mothaf*ckin' bedtime."

Of course the plan is flawed and won't work for ever. One day at a time.

johnnype wrote:

Yeah, speaking as a parent of a 7 year old boy I'm dealing with this issue. My solution?

1) I don't play video games in front of my son. Ever.
2) The Rabbit Rule: "Eight o'clock is mothaf*ckin' bedtime."

Of course the plan is flawed and won't work for ever. One day at a time.

Maybe it's because you swear at him every night at bedtime

We are also creators of a currently 9 year old gamer. I blame Duckilama. It certainly couldn't be me. I hardly ever game at all. (Looks nervously at clear sky...)

We try to limit game time/media time as a unit. He has time allotments, and he can chose games or cartoons. Adventure Time beats games on the console, but nothing trumps PC games, where he's started creating his own mods for things like Minecraft and Terraria.

Duckilama and I are both in agreement that he can't play games where death caused by/ happens to the player is portrayed in any realistic manner. That has probably way more to do with my squeamishness than it does Boy's ability to handle that sort of content, but (and I know this is a controversial statement), I do not want him sensitized to violence. I also don't allow him to watch violent TV shows. We have his content pretty locked down, compared to some of his peers, but I'm comfortable with it there.

That said; nothing makes him happier than blowing stuff away in Torchlight 2, and if he can get both his parents to play with him at the same time; that's like traveling with pack mules and piggy banks...bonuses all the way down.

As a 40-year old gamer and father of two (2 and 5), I have really enjoyed this thread. I have devoted a lot of time to gaming over the years and most would consider me a productive member of society. So I am not too up tight about my kids playing games or watching TV.

At the risk of stating the obvious, there are different kinds of kids and different kinds of games. A fascination with World of Warcraft could turn into an addiction or it could turn into an interest in drawing, reading fantasy books or computer programming. Some kids will be predisposed to alcohol abuse, others will consume alcohol responsibly (usually). The best we can do as parents is set limits and try to shape their personal value systems.

At the same time, I am constantly frustrated by how non-gamers' perception of the hobby is colored by certain types of games. The fact is that there is a high proportion of non-gamers or very casual gamers among teachers and parents (my wife borders on being an anti-gamer). They have strong (and valid) opinions on the right way to raise kids/boys. Most non-gamers tend to view games as a generally harmful or wasteful indulgence. For example, they see an FPS as a game about violence and ignore the fact that it also teaches something about tactical problem solving, stress management and competition.

My own gaming has been biased mainly toward the heavy RPG/strategy end of the spectrum rather than the action/casual end of the spectrum. When I compare my hobby to the standard menu of "acceptable" activities for children (and adults), I see little reason to be insecure about it. If my kid wants to spend 2 hours creating something in Minecraft rather than playing with some crappy plastic toy, why not? If he wants to play with an iPad app to practice math or reading instead of doing drills in a workbook, great! I think it's fine for kids just to waste time and recharge too, though I will try to steer them away from too much of the solitary MMO/FPS/Facebook/platformer end of the gaming spectrum. That plan may not survive first contact with pre-pubesence, though...

I think you have to accept that if your child is a heavy gamer, he or she will become better at some things and worse at others. The same is true if your kid is the popular jock and not the geek. If I reflect on how gaming may have affected my development, I have to admit that it did inhibit certain useful social skills (the ability to make small talk, for example, which I find excruciatingly boring). I also generally have difficulty focusing on mundane things that are not mentally stimulating. At the same time, games definitely helped me to process information, absorb new technologies and understand complex systems faster. They also inspired my imagination and creativity in ways that have enriched my life and my career. These benefits are at least as valuable as learning to play the flute, for example.

Maybe it's the onset of a mid-life crisis, but having children has given me a powerful sense of nostalgia about my own childhood. I have also become aware of how many of my peers are ashamed to acknowledge their inner child and seem to be trudging dutifully into a sterile middle age. A lot of kids fall down the rabbit hole of obsessive gaming because their parents can't or won't engage them with other types of fun (boardgames and sports, for instance). It's important to spend time with your kids, and in the long run it won't really matter whether you spent it playing video games or watching football.

My discretionary "me time" is regularly sacrificed at the altar of real life. So when my son throws a fit because he can't play a video game, I sympathize with him deeply. It often turns into a point of contention with my wife, since my own craving for escapism makes me a poor disciplinarian. That phase of life where it is acceptable just to play and engage your imagination is so tragically short. If he keeps up his end of the bargain, I will "begrudge" him his childhood and try to preserve mine as well.

Lennox wrote:

At the risk of stating the obvious, there are different kinds of kids and different kinds of games. A fascination with World of Warcraft could turn into an addiction or it could turn into an interest in drawing, reading fantasy books or computer programming.

...

Most non-gamers tend to view games as a generally harmful or wasteful indulgence.

...

It's important to spend time with your kids, and in the long run it won't really matter whether you spent it playing video games or watching football.

I don't mean to pick on you, but I think there's something wrong with our (subconscious?) acceptance of the entertainment hierarchy. I'm certain that watching football should be valued lower than playing a game, and I think that most fantasy books are only marginally better than watching someone else play a sport (there's value in that social cachet, but if you want value in sports, teach the kid to play golf to schmooze their future boss and clients).

There's extra credit given to other activities, and I'm not sure I believe it's deserved. Reading is a valuable skill, and I get that, but why don't we seem to weight what kind of books are being read? It's wonderful when a kid loves to read, but mostly because we assume the kid is progressing to increasingly challenging texts.

Maybe it's the onset of a mid-life crisis, but having children has given me a powerful sense of nostalgia about my own childhood. I have also become aware of how many of my peers are ashamed to acknowledge their inner child and seem to be trudging dutifully into a sterile middle age. A lot of kids fall down the rabbit hole of obsessive gaming because their parents can't or won't engage them with other types of fun (boardgames and sports, for instance).

Jenn Frank made some great comments on this issue in a recent interview.

Seemed appropriate.

IMAGE(http://life-lenses.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Fred-Rogers.png)

He may be my favorite person.

wordsmythe wrote:

There's extra credit given to other activities, and I'm not sure I believe it's deserved. Reading is a valuable skill, and I get that, but why don't we seem to weight what kind of books are being read? It's wonderful when a kid loves to read, but mostly because we assume the kid is progressing to increasingly challenging texts.

You make some good points. As a parent, it is hard to be objective about the heirarchy of entertainment, as you put it. There is a constant temptation to weigh the practical value of anything your kids do. It's probably best just to try to regulate your kids' time between recreation and non-recreation and not worry too much about what happens during the recreation part.

It's like being on a diet and agonizing over whether the potatoes or the white bread are worse for you. As long as you get some exercise, it doesn't matter too much. Watching sports and TV in general bores me, but I understand why others enjoy them and in any case being able to talk about sports and TV are valuable social "skills". Reading lots of books certainly has positive cumulative benefits in term of language skills, but the experience is often too personal to be of use in general conversation. Playing the violin is a great hobby... until you stop playing the violin (been there). Then it's just hours of your life that you spent training muscle memory.

My original point still stands though. Most games are better for kids than non-gamers give them credit for and I would put them higher in the heirarchy of entertainment than a lot of other stuff.

Can I just say that I love that there's a place on the Internet where gamer parents can have this conversation?

That is all.

Great article.

One of the issues I face as a gamer is the ladies' perception of the leisure time of gaming. As others have noted, it is deemed "pointless" and a "waste of time", however it seems socially acceptable as a past time to watch soap operas as that is somehow passable as a form of entertainment.

I've played games since I can remember and now at 42 I thought it would have dried up but it hasn't, the 10 year old goes through phases of gaming but nothing too addictive. However as a kid I would spend hours at a time at the computer just messing around. Somehow it is deemed unacceptable to play games as a past time for any length of time, but kids go to school to learn for many hours during the week and so what is wrong with gaming, not a lot in my eyes, carry on gaming.

DeadlyGoldfish wrote:

Great article.

One of the issues I face as a gamer is the ladies' perception of the leisure time of gaming. As others have noted, it is deemed "pointless" and a "waste of time", however it seems socially acceptable as a past time to watch soap operas as that is somehow passable as a form of entertainment.

I've played games since I can remember and now at 42 I thought it would have dried up but it hasn't, the 10 year old goes through phases of gaming but nothing too addictive. However as a kid I would spend hours at a time at the computer just messing around. Somehow it is deemed unacceptable to play games as a past time for any length of time, but kids go to school to learn for many hours during the week and so what is wrong with gaming, not a lot in my eyes, carry on gaming.

The older I get, the less I worry about other people's judgements of how I spend my time. Sometimes, you just have to throw your head back, let out a smug belly-laugh, and shout, "ADULTHOOD, BITCHES!"*

* It may not be wise to do this "the ladies". But it would probably be satisfying.

I leave that for an inner shout!

Even at work the vast majority of people when they hear you talking about "games" they just have that confused look of "but you're an adult!", but I do have a few like minded souls at work who understand that gaming is a valid pastime!

One day the tables will turn and gaming will be a legitimate "waste" of time.

DeadlyGoldfish wrote:

I leave that for an inner shout!

Even at work the vast majority of people when they hear you talking about "games" they just have that confused look of "but you're an adult!", but I do have a few like minded souls at work who understand that gaming is a valid pastime!

One day the tables will turn and gaming will be a legitimate "waste" of time.

They have, depending on your demographic. Gaming is a very normal part of the culture of younger people, and there isn't the stigma that existed when I was younger, or still exists for people my age (I'm 42). That being said, I don't care. I can't imagine wanting to burn my spare time on another hobby; gaming is just as ridiculously awesome to me as it was back in 1978 when I saw Space Invaders for that first time. We had some fellow suburbanites over this past weekend, and one of them started talking about how her teenage son was really into Minecraft and had started playing Portal 2. I launched into a couple minutes of Portal talk plus some other recommendations, and everyone kind of stared at me; I just shrugged and said I'm a geek, and I'm happy that way. As I've explained to my non-gamer wife more than once, I'm 42 years old, and it's not likely I'm about to change my ways.

People think I'm weird because I game. Yeah, well, I am weird because I game. And I like it that way.

As a younger fellow (27), I can attest that people don't react to video games as if it's all that strange. Not always, at least. A lot of girls grew up with NES and SNES games my age, but they just never continued with it as a primary hobby. Others still do game, and they don't always look like nerds. But more often than not they've had plenty of boyfriends or husbands who have gamed, so it is more or less normal.

But there is still a bit of a stigma of it being a "guy thing" amongst girls who don't play games, which is a bit bothersome.

IMAGE(http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/blanket_fort.png)

CS Lewis' famous quote applies here. People who are afraid of looking childish have not truly abandoned childhood and its need to appear and be "adult." An adult accepts his or her adulthood implicitly, and therefore has no fear of appearing otherwise.

I don't play with some toys for little children because I do not find them entertaining, not because I fear to be mistaken for a child. Some toys I do. I play with LEGOs and toy cars freely. Other people may think that's childish. I don't think about it much. What they think is their business, really.

Judging a person's adulthood through his or her hobbies suggests a incomplete transition to adulthood; such people do fear being judged childish and so avoid entertainments they may otherwise enjoy. The injustice of my enjoying myself exactly the way I like eats into them.

The mentality is similar to the gay thing. Men (and women) who are fully and completely heterosexual do not get bothered when other people explore their desires; because their own desires are being fully met. They have no hidden concerns or envy.

I try to bring others into like thinking. When asked, "Why are you playing with that? Isn't that for children?" I usually answer, "It's actually quite fun. Wanna try? Why don't you join me? I promise I won't judge."