Tuesday, October 2, 2012

(Not) Playing Video Games Ruined Your Childhood

Could the same be said about video games?
Everyone has their own ideas on the basic activities that make up a "normal" childhood: twisting and spinning around on a playground swing, building up speed to jump on a grocery store cart, waking up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons...

As a long-time video game lover, I couldn't even imagine life without the joy of staying up past bedtime to finish just one last level. But a recent conversation with one of my close friends reminded me that some people never had the wonderful experience of growing up in a virtual world.

This isn't about people who just don't like video games (that's a whole different conversation, let's save that one for later...). This is about people whose parents don't allow video games in their household for whatever reason. In my friend's case, her mother decided that there were better ways for her daughter to spend her free time. Recreation was found in big museums and thick books instead of game consoles and imaginary adventures on the TV screen. While money might have been a factor, as it often is when it comes to games, the main reason seemed to be that video games were a waste of time...for lack of a better way to put it. You know, one that is less offensive to a video game connoisseur like me.

While I respect her mother's decision and understand it almost completely, I'm uncomfortable with how it puts my childhood in a negative light. I don't feel as if I missed out on cultural experiences or learning opportunities by spending time indoors with a controller when I could have been perusing an art gallery. And my passion for reading and large book collection was never affected by my deep gaming habit (The only time I've ever spent in a museum was a summer volunteer position which was not the best time in the world...).

I automatically thought that by never playing video games, my friend didn't have a "real" childhood. Of course that's not true; it was just the first thing that came to my extremely gaming-centric mind. But are the gamers the ones that missed out?

Are video games a basic part of childhood or a just pointless distraction? Did you grow up without games because of your parents' rules?


  1. Interesting post! While I didn't grow up with video games in my house, my boyfriend did. Although we mainly didn't have them because my mom, like your friend's mom, felt like there were better ways to spend our time, we also didn't have them because we just weren't interested. It's possible your friend may have also felt you didn't have a "real" childhood if you didn't go outside or play on a t-ball team. My boyfriend and his siblings were practically born with controllers in their hands. With the younger ones (who are 16, 19, and 21), its to the point where it's almost rude. They'll bring portable game systems with them to family events and spend the whole time playing instead of talking with anyone. Now that I'm older, I'm really into the Halo series (especially Reach), but I don't spend all day playing. I don't think that a lack of video games as a kid ruined my childhood, nor do I think having them would have ruined my childhood. I think they're ok in moderation, but leave them at home.

  2. Thanks for the comment! It's just shocking to learn how someone didn't have access to something that you've never been without. But that could be applied to anything, just like you said. While I do agree that video games are best in moderation, you don't have to leave them at home ALL the time. But even if a game is made to be portable, it doesn't mean that you should use it in a way that's rude to others. That can be said about any type of technology like cell phones, for example. You have to know when to put it down and return to the real world. That's the hard part, I guess.

  3. I grew up with both, however my video game playing was restricted far more than outdoor recreations.

    I was always involved in sports, and didn't really have time for avid video game playing-- plus I just wasn't THAT into them. I loved Nintendo (Super Mario bros and Tetris, then later playstation--Crazy Taxi, GTA, and some skateboarding game.)

    I really value the idea of kids playing outside, and when I have my own I will prefer them to spend time being involved in physical activities, but my fiance grew up playing (and developing levels by the time he was 12) so he has a different view-- however, I think my way of growing up was a little more well rounded socially. I think team sports offer important life lessons that are useful in the the workplace-- especially when it comes to dealing with difficult people and bosses..

    From a creative stand point (we are both artists) I think that a lot of games take you to wonderfully beautiful worlds and stimulate the mind in ways sports cant, but I also think a lot of them are just plain violent and not productive for young minds.

    As an adult I play video games WAY more than I ever did as a kid... and I can see where children could get sucked into these imaginary worlds-- I have literally spent hundreds of hours playing Skyrim.. and sometimes I think it was totally worth it, and other times I think I have gone mad and need to go outside and PLAY! ;)

    ps. new follower, i dig your style lady!
    Ryan @ Thismustbetheplaceryan

    1. I'm glad you can appreciate the positive aspects of video games! I think my problem with this comes from the fact that some people think children should stay away from games like nothing good could ever come from them. Personally, I preferred playing video games to going outside to play or structured sports, but that doesn't mean I never stepped way from the TV when I was younger. And I really believe that my creativity DOES come from all the games I played in many ways. With any medium, it's really up to the parents to make sure that their children aren't taking it too far. Have them put down the controller sometime, don't just keep it from them altogether.

      Thanks for the comment and follow!

  4. I was Deprived in my younger years, but however managed to obtain a N64 one christmas when i was 12.. however my gaming was limited to 1 hr per day..

    Now I'm 23 and i'm married, the wife hates me playing video games like Call of Duty Black ops 2, or similar stuff because i can spend hours on my PS3..

    Its a dilemma / Struggle. =(

    1. I don't think I ever had a time limit...I've always just played when I wanted to for as long as I wanted to. But you've just got learn to not get sucked in for hours. I think it's harder when you've never had restrictions before. It's something I still have problems with :D

      Thanks for the comment!


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