Video games have become the plight of many parents. I’ll go on record to assume that all parents who are dealing with this issue are doing their best to manoeuvre themselves within this field of entertainment. Many people are asking a very important question:
What do I do with the video games my kids (or friend, husband, wife, nephew, niece, etc.) are into?
Here is one answer in a fivefold analysis:
1) Consider where the true problem lies.
More often than not, the question often paints video games as being the problem. Blaming video games for the problems that one’s loved one is having is what is causing these desperate folk to get deeper and deeper into the cave of confusion. Don’t blame the video game for the problems the gamer is having. The problem causing issues for the gamer is not within the game. The problem is not within:
- The graphics of the game (even those video games that have fantastically realistic graphics).
- The narrative the game tells.
- It is true that many video games have fictionalized violence, foul language, sexual themes and fictionalized drug and alcohol use (or abuse). These games are to be approached maturely. Adhere to the game’s rating and follow its guidance. The “M” rating stands for “Mature”, not “my age is, ‘X number of years old’; therefore I am a legal adult.” It is time for an important caveat. The “M” rating on video games means the games are catered to those who are legal adults. Regardless of how mature an individual is, in my opinion, all “M” rated video games ought to be kept away from people who are not of legal age.
- Moreover, it is true that video game developers design their games with interactive and attractive elements to keep the gamer seated on the sofa. However, the problem the gamer has is not due to the attractiveness or interactiveness of the game.
Where does the problem reside? Within the gamer. This will be expounded upon below.
2) Invest time to learn about the video games the gamer is playing.
Get involved in your loved one’s gaming! [i] Educate yourself with information regarding the video games they play, and not just video games in general. If you see there is a problem with your family member’s or friend’s gaming, please remember the first point made above; namely, that the problem resides within them and not within the game they are playing. Ask them to tell you about the games they are playing. Sit down with them and ask them to show you the game; (request a grand tour of the pixilated world their video game resides in.) Even consider playing the game with them.
Don’t stop at learning the game from the point of view of the person you are concerned for. Your gamer may try to manipulate the situation by putting the video game/s they are playing into the best possible light. Do external research on these video games also. You can do this by watching other people play the same games on Youtube. Read what is being said about the video games from both pro-gaming material and non-gaming material; material such as blogs.
3) Be very skeptical of popular media regarding the questionable content in our entertainment.
What popular media says regarding things is, of course, not irrelevant. However, popular media, i.e newspapers, politics and the proverbial buzz around town, can often twist the facts and the facts of video games are no different. As stated above, the content of video games is not within itself the problem. This does not mean they have no impact on the person as a physical and spiritual being. Educate yourself on what the academic community says regarding the affects of the mature themes in video games.
4) Know the true nature of the impact that video games have.
Everyone has a favourite pastime activity and sometimes it can be hard to pull away from your preferred activity. However, video games can have a grasp that is quite different from the grasp that a book, movie or television show can have. Video games can provide the player with much more than mere entertainment or something to do on a rainy day. Video games provide challenges, a medium to be someone else for a time, a boost in self-confidence, socialization, discovery and much more. The video game is an onion that has many layers and it is too easy to be pulled into the centre. Learn about the specific aspects of the video games playing – pun intended – on the person you are concerned about.
5) Have a conversation.
Move forward via a conversation. In the first point indicated above, I mentioned that the problem resides within the gamer and not the video game. The problem is within the nature of the gamer, a finite and imperfect human being, and this imperfection can show itself in very unpleasant ways. There are three questions you need to ask yourself before you enter into any conversation with the person whose gaming is concerning you.
- Is the problem I see really a problem?
- Is the problem I see a real problem for some people? Yes! Is it really a problem that my loved one is having?
- Is the problem I see as a real and scary problem, really as scary as I see it to be?
On answering the aforementioned questions, here are three examples of basic questions you could ask your gamer:
- Why are you playing this game (e.g. Call of Duty) instead of another game, (eg. Minecraft)?
- What draws your attention to the video games you play? Why?
- You chose to do this action (e.g kill the character) in the game, instead of that action (e.g save the character). Why?
Your goal is to get an insight into where both your head and heart and their head and heart are. We know that not everything can be a problem within itself. The preference for a violent video game (eg. Call of Duty, or even Grand Theft Auto) over a creative video game like Minecraft is not necessarily problematic; but the desire for such video games, or even the desire to play video games in toto, may show that there are deeper problems that need to be addressed. If you find the issues that your loved one is having are indeed seriously problematic, lovingly encourage them to see the problems and don’t just point them out.
[i] – https://reasoninggamer.com/