Your Kids Need Video Games
I remember when I was growing up my dad would play these super awesome games on the computer. People would come over to the house and play video games with him online or through a LAN party.
They played games like Age of Empires and Baldur's Gate and Dungeon Siege. This was all in the 90s, so every game was classically 90s with pixelated art, little to no voice acting, and straight forward plot lines.
It was amazing.
I would watch them play these games, and I was fascinated by them.
I loved that the mechanics were simple enough I could learn to play at age 6 but there was still a certain style and finesse required to be any good at them.
I loved watching my dad fight off hordes of creatures with his buddies at his side, both in game and in life.
Fast forward to the present, and I am still fascinated by these games.
Now, let's pause for a moment because you may already be thinking, "Okay, great, but video games are terrible for your brains, screen time is bad, and they can be addictive. So, you're wrong. Haha."
I concede some of these may be true.
However, a lot of good can come from video games, too. With good, healthy boundaries set in place.
For example, you may often hear how video games have a lot of negative side effects, and some of these are true, but there are quite a few positive side effects to video games, too.
You might often hear how video games are too violent. Again, this is true in many areas. But, there are those out there who see violence in video games as no more or less disturbing than what humans experience and hear about in their daily lives.
So, I would like to argue that video games can do a lot of good with healthy boundaries and your kids actually need to be playing them and/or experiencing them!
Role Playing Video Games as Excellent Teachers
I am a dreamer. I love stories and fantastical worlds.
I love challenging myself and I love creating a character, a person, to play as within the game.
This allows video games, or at least games where you get to create a character or team to play as/with, to become excellent teachers.
Because they teach you about empathy.
They teach you how to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Or to put yourself in hypothetical situations to learn about how you would think and feel in those situations.
When I play games like Dungeon Siege 2 or any of the Elder Scrolls or even Pokémon I try to make characters with personality that will or will not do certain things and who has preferences and opinions. On top of that, I thoroughly enjoy making those characters have struggles and challenges such as only using certain types of weapons or attacks, which can make the game easier or more difficult.
With this frame of mind video games can teach us a lot about how to think about what others are going through and experiencing. If we talk with our kids about their characters they create and ask them questions like, "what do you think is their favorite color?" or "why do you think they made this choice instead of the other choice?", then we can reinforce some of these empathetic skills and practices for real life situations.
Empathy is a tough skill to develop because it requires us to care more about how someone else feels in a situation rather than how we feel. It's not a skill many are good at, and it is a skill which is becoming rare. Taking every opportunity to hone this skill in our lives and the lives of our children should never be immediately discounted.
Another area where video games can become excellent teachers are when games offer open ended problem solving. When there is more than one way to solve an issue within the game, then thinking outside the box to come to solutions encourages critical thinking.
In a world where our kids are being bombarded with everything they could ever want to know at their fingertips and parents (this one might sting) who tend to do too much for their little ones rather than let them figure things out on their own (I feel personally attacked) we could use all the extra help we can get to make sure we are raising kids who know how to think and act for themselves.
As our kids play these video games we can engage them by asking "how did you figure this one out?" or "what made you think to do it that way instead of this way?" will go a long way in helping them put the pieces together of how their brain is solving complex issues. Again, this goes a long way to transferring these conversations into real life.
The Good, The Bad, and The Beautiful in Video Games
See, plenty of good lessons exist in video games. If I say and tried to build an argument for all of them, then this would become a doctoral thesis. So, we will leave these few here for now.
Still, bad lessons exist in video games, too. I'm not downplaying those. But we should be careful not to ignore the good because of the bad.
Throughout their life our kids will need to learn and wrestle with the fact that a lot of things in life aren't good or bad. They are usually a bit of both. Hopefully, we can help them to maximize the good more than the bad.
This makes life all the more beautiful, though, doesn't it?
We are all searching for some good in our life. Sometimes we come up with the bad. Sometimes things get messy and dark. It's up to us to find the beauty in the midst of it all which points us towards something better.
So, when it comes to video games, let's recognize the good from the bad, talk about the bad, and look for the good.
I lied earlier. Video games are only excellent teachers when we have conversations about our experience with them. So, really, we are the ones who need to be the excellent teachers. And our kids need video games to help them along the way.
I am a freelance writer with a background in Ministry and experience everywhere from technical document writing to copy writing to creative writing. I have interests and knowledge in Ministry, Marketing, Parenting, Leadership, and Technology. If you are looking for someone to work with and like what you see, then email me at [email protected] or check out my portfolio at dylmill.contently.com.