Music is bad. Once upon a time, Elvis and his hip shaking was thought to be ‘too vulgar’ and corrupting youth. Even today, rockers sometimes get blamed when individuals commit evil acts. I never got the connection.
Now I hear people talk about video games in much the same manner. I used to think it was ‘old people’. But I am an ‘old person’ now and I don’t think this way. I think it’s really people that just don’t understand the phenomenon. They don’t get it.
And I do not see why video games get such a bad rap. My parents speak to me about my kids’ video gaming habits the same way their parents spoke to them about Elvis. Like it is somehow bad or evil and will corrupt them. So I want to use this post to dispel a few myths about gaming.
Myth 1: Gamers are bad
“You need to get him off of those games. They are horrible for him.”
I don’t think games or gaming makes kids bad. I have been to many, many LAN parties in my time here at NVIDIA and I am always amazed at the quality of kids that show up. Maybe they’re a little zombifed and unkempt before the weekend is over, but they are overwhelmingly nice, polite and honest. They leave their stuff out all weekend. Nothing is locked up, and it’s awfully rare that anything gets stolen.
I have two sons of my own, and I noticed something about them as I watched them game. When given a character choice or play style my oldest son would ALWAYS pick ‘the bad guy’ and my youngest would pick ‘the good guy.’ But in real life, Coleman is a straight arrow. The kind of kid you get compliments for raising. He consistently does the right thing when given a choice. Playing the bad guy in games hasn’t sent him down a path of self-destruction.
Same with violence. I have been contacted by the school only one time for any type of fighting in 11 years. My youngest son Carson, 12, got into a near altercation in the library with a group of kids who were picking on a boy with autism. He stepped in and it almost came to blows. His teacher emailed us to tell us how proud she was of him. All those head shots and melee kills didn’t make him violent or warp his sense of right and wrong.
Myth 2: Being outside is better than gaming inside
“All they do is play games. They need to be outside.”
I had a wild side to my teenage years. Very wild. I was out running the streets all weekend. I will leave it at that. But I am shocked I came out unscathed. I would be horrified if my kids did the same thing.
My kids are so much better than I was at their age. They get better grades than I ever did. They play sports almost year round, so they are always in practices, and frequently have practices stacked on top of each other. At one point, Coleman, 16, would practice football for two hours and then go straight to wrestling practice for another two hours, five days a week. But they spend their downtime in our play room. They stay home on weekends instead of ‘going out.’ They meet their friends online or invite them over to play games. They’re safe at home.
I agree that you can have too much of anything, video games included. And we do set limits on gaming time, but they are much looser than most of their friends. And I would rather them be in the house playing games than what I was doing to their age.
Myth 3: Gamers are slackers
“Play those games all the time and you will never amount to anything.”
Video games are bigger than movies and music now. It’s big business and I’m proud to be part of it. I have worked at GPU companies most of my life. Games pay for my home, my cars and my groceries. There are thousands of hardcore gamers at NVIDIA and they all amounted to something. There is a whole industry built on the backs of professionals that spent ‘too much time’ playing video games.
My dad worked with a guy whose son is in the army. He is flying military helicopters. When not doing special ops he is flying dignitaries around in helicopters or planes. His commanders have called him the best pilot in the military. He has a knack for watching the exterior with one eye and watching the control screen with the other. They credit hours and hours of video games for developing this ability.
Based on my experiences, video games can be a huge, positive part of your life. Games have entertained and supported me and my family most of my adult life and I have met a lot of really cool people along the way.
Video games aren’t evil. But this twerking thing those young whippersnappers are doing these days, just might be.