Are games a waste of time? Is gaming a healthy hobby? What are the benefits and downsides to gaming?
If you ask me, everyone’s asking the wrong questions.
“Gaming” is an obscenely broad term. And honestly, the fact that we still get away with asking questions about it in such a generalized manner is a head scratcher.
Discussing gaming as…well, gaming, is extremely vague. It’s worse than questions like “do you like anime? or “do you like music?” because those are at least mediums that have distinct qualities to set them apart on a grand scale.
“Gaming” is all-encompassing. Are we talking about shooters? Are we talking about Super Munchers? Civilization? Sims? Phone games? Dating sims?
Surely our kids are extrapolating more from a Ring Fit Adventure session over a Grand Theft Auto session, right? We need to broaden our vocabulary within the gaming sphere to accommodate all the different kinds of games.
Personally speaking, there’s certainly a case to be made that while the right gaming can be a good hobby, there's an objectively better hobby out there for youth 99% of the time. I say this as someone who coaches high school students and has seen the benefits and growth of esports competitors myself!
But let’s be completely honest with ourselves; even that is a remarkably small niche within gaming. The truth of the matter is that the majority of what plagues gaming these days are essentially hellish dopamine loops with a way to blast your bank account to smithereens.
I’d argue that, unfortunately, lots of games are less of an artistic expression now, and more of a scientifically diabolical way to hijack your brain.
There’s certainly an argument to be made for getting a squad of six together to become Overwatch state finalists - the genuine tears, the companionship, the leadership developed, the coordination, and the intellect all of note.
Also read: High School Esports - Five Major Benefits
But if you’re passing off some game that serves as little more than a distraction to your toddler on an iPad, of which they get a diluted experience without being pinged for micro transactions repeatedly? What does that do to the brain?
Are there better things we could be doing to keep them occupied? I think we need to start being more honest with ourselves in this arena.
I am not looking to champion nor dispute the benefits and/or downfalls of gaming. Heck, I’d be quite the hypocrite if I were to do that given my involvement and line of work.
I've certainly invested my fair share of time in gaming.
But I do think we stand to benefit from having more specific language in our chats about gaming. The question “should we be seeking alternatives to gaming as per what’s best for ourselves and our children” is beyond the scope of this article.
What I wish to accomplish, especially for parents who are none the wiser, is to vary and specify the language we use to describe these endeavors. It’s crucial that we are very specific in categorically discussing gaming based on attributes, most notably the following:
Is this promoting gambling or toxic microtransactions?
Is this expanding our minds or causing brain rot?
Will this negatively or positively affect our social skills?
This is a field where details are remarkably important. Just as “taking drugs” can mean extremely different things based on the context, this is equally the case with video games.
As an avid gamer and now parent myself, it’s been abundantly clear that even since I was a kid, we’ve been looking at the wrong things, be it ESRB ratings or cover artwork. If we want to get the most out of gaming with the least amount of damage done, it’s in our best interests to take a good look with a magnifying glass to the medium at large.
Protect your mind, protect your wallet, and be honest with yourself and others. We are what we consume. Don’t turn your back to gaming, but certainly tread carefully.
Michale Lalor is the Editor-in-Chief of Esports Heaven. Follow him on Twitter at @ESHDrexxin.
Cover image via WallpaperAccess.
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