Hey, Gamers! Actually, this post isn’t aimed towards gamers so… hey, parents! My name is Eleanor, I’m 21 and studying at university. I am also a gamer. Before you click off, I made this whole blog to try to help people understand how video games are actually helpful and not just ‘a waste of time’, whether that be talking about what games can teach us or just showing I passionate I am about games. I’ve been doing this for over a year now; alternatively, I’ve been streaming for nearly three years. So, I’ve been in the gaming industry for a while. I hope my passion and my critical thinking helps you understand how great video games can be for your children!
So, first of all, you can bond with them. I’ve bonded with my partner and his younger siblings by playing video games with them. This encourages co-operation (or competitiveness, but I recommend the first), and it helps build trust between you and the child. If they can rely on you to heal them in a game, they can probably learn to open up to you more than if you just didn’t care about them or their interests.
Something similar that games help with is general teamwork. In online games such as Fortnite and Geshin Impact, the player is usually put into a team. Teams rely on each other for support throughout the game, and friendships are often built based on these games. Being a team player is rewarded by other people helping you out. For example, if you help a team member by reviving them early on in the game, if they stumble upon you when you have low health, they may give you an item to heal yourself as a thank you. It’s teaching that if you put good things into the world, other people will see that and have the potential to give good things back to you. There’s also the chance that you get stuck with a… unhelpful team. This, instead, teaches players that not everyone who is on your team is in the team. Not all people are team players. Some people just want all the glory to themselves, and online games do a good job at showing this. However, I need to emphasise that these games really do a great job of rewarding team players. The best example I can think of is League of Legends which is a game I love (yet have limited experience and understanding of because my laptop isn’t the best, so correct me if you know differently) because it heavily encourages teamwork, giving you the chance at the end of the game to pick players who were the best team player, most supportive etc.
Another thing that games do a great job at displaying is that different people have different abilities. There are so many types of different games, and so many types of players in those games. If you take JRPGs (because I know them best), you have the protagonist which is usually an all-around type person, the muscle, the healer, the mage. You even have this in online games, but it’s worded somewhat differently. You still have mages, but you have tanks, melee fighters, all sorts! What this does is show players that just because someone’s ability is different from yours, that doesn’t mean they’re worth any less than you. It really helps some people understand the importance of others (such as healers) that are traditionally timider and less aggressive. The obvious real-world translation here is that players are more open-minded when it comes to people with disabilities. Whether that be a physical disability such as clubfoot, or a neurodiversity such as Autism. Players can accept that these people are different and still useful. This is obviously an amazing this because the world needs more people who understand that being disabled doesn’t mean that you’re worth less than abled people, it just means that society isn’t made for you.
Playing video games takes skill. Not only that, but if you play multiple video games, it shows that you’re able to learn new skills. For example, does your child play a lot of Skyrim? That usually means that they’re good at exploring and following through when they get presented with an opportunity. How about League of Legends? That usually means that they’re great team players and can successfully strategize- it may even mean that they’re a team leader and can command a team, communicating effectively with people in his team and that they’re capable of adapting to changes in the project (game) and feedback from the team. See, it’s not just ‘playing a game’. It’s different skills that players can work on repeatedly to maximize their potential. Can they put it on a CV when they’re older? Yes. Actually, both my partner and I were actively encouraged to talk about our gaming abilities in our personal statements for universities to read. Why? Because it shows that even in our free time, we’re still working on ourselves and trying to become better. Whether that be a better team player, a better thinker, better with reflexes or better communication. Games can show off the skills that your children have and help them practice those useful skills so that they can work better in the future.
Now, I know a lot of parents don’t particularly care about this one, but creativity is now valued in the workplace. Don’t try to say that it’s nothing to do with the workplace, because it is. I wanted to be an author as a child and my father argued because “it’s not a real job”. Now, employers value creative thinkers because creative thinkers encourage creative solutions which can generate profit for a company. Creativity isn’t just about marketing. It’s not just about art or writing. Creativity in games looks different. If you look at the game Hitman, this game encourages players to be both strategic and creative in assassination attempts. This leads to players finding new ways to successfully complete the mission with each attempt, which further leads to reflection on past attempts and critical thinking on how they could have done better. With creative thinking, players are much more reflective as there are so many different options, which encourages critical thinking which is something that is highly valued in the workplace.
Believe it or not, not everyone has the ability to be fully emersed in a story, either. Long, single-player games like Persona 5 (yeah I can’t write a post without mentioning it), The Witcher 3, and Red Dead Redemption all have complex plots with well-developed characters that fit incredibly well with the interactive aspect of video games as a medium. A large reason you probably can’t just sit and watch your child game is because you’re not interacting with the story like they are. These complex plots help children increase their ability to pay attention for longer periods of time, and they help their memory by including things like Easter Eggs (little throwbacks to earlier on in the game, or a previous game, or another game usually by the game company, or even a pop culture reference… Easter Egg is a short term for a big thing). Not only will this help them in the workplace, but also in school. I’ll give you a personal example of how this has helped me with my degree: if you don’t read my blog, you would’ve glossed over that Persona 5 reference earlier but it’s my favourite game. I’m autistic and while video games, in general, is a special interest of mine, Persona 5 would be my main one. I’m 21 and engaged and I have constant arguments with my partner over whether our babies’ nursery is going to be Persona 5 themed or Skyrim themed. That’s how much I love this game. And I study history… so that’s a lot of reading. The music in Persona 5 is sung in Japanese, so my brain doesn’t acknowledge it as lyrics unless I’m paying serious attention. If I’m focused, it’s just… a song. Obviously I’m focused when I’m playing Persona 5 (it’s a very intense game), and with the music in the background, my brain associates the music with me being focused. So I found this amazing 10-hour long background Persona 5 music thing on YouTube and that has honestly helped me focus on my degree so much. I used to be the most distracted person. Whenever I needed to study, I’d remember a chore I needed to get done or a blog post I needed to write or it was time to make food or I needed to take my medication. But because my brain associated that music with the game, I was able to focus so much more on my studying… and it actually helped me stop thinking about Persona 5 as much since my brain was already in that mode. I’ll link the music at the end of the most because it’s just a chill background sound- now it’s summer, I have it on when I’m doing chores and I literally have it on right now because I’m writing this blog post.
There is also an educational side to video games. Now, as a history student, one of the most promising careers for me is teaching. I’ve said this in lectures but video games are the best way to learn because it’s interactive. I’m digressing a little so I’ll come back to that point because my original point here was a lot of games have little mini-games where it’s a quiz about real life. The ones I immediately think of is in Persona 5 Royal (had to mention that too) and Yakuza: Like a Dragon (because Josh was playing it last night and I helped him with it). This encourages players to do their own research so that they pass the exam/ quiz/ mini-game. Furthering that point, let’s talk about the historic genre of video games because I’ve recently done an assignment on that and I loved it. This genre of video game helps children – players, even – learn about the past, mainly by encouraging them to do their own research. I’ve said multiple times that Josh knows more about the Cold War than I do because he has played the Metal Gear series. It piqued his interest. Another example, and I can’t believe I’m bringing this up again, is Persona 5. Some of the questions in the exam/ lesson section are about Japanese history and now my favourite podcast to listen to is one about Japanese history and I’m trying to learn Japanese so I can actually study it. When Josh (that’s my partner by the way, if I haven’t already said that) first played Red Dead Redemption 2, I was watching in awe at all the inaccuracies and explaining it to him, and then I was researching it to prove a point (overall though, it’s pretty accurate, I was just petty at the time). The main point of the historic genre of video games – or anything – is to encourage you to do your own research.
Now, I’m going to talk about socialising. I know you don’t think it’s good for your child to be on the [insert gaming device here] for hours at a time… but we’re in the middle of a pandemic. It’s something that they enjoy, that they can safely do with their friends. Quite frankly, there are far worse things that your child could be doing with their friends. But they’re not. They’re playing a video game, developing their skills and socialising with their friends. Video games can also be a great place to make friends! Especially, but not exclusively, online games like League of Legends or Fortnite. Games that encourage teamwork, builds trusts, creates friendship that can last for a lifetime. Even liking a single-player game, you can find people who also like it, you can join a subreddit or discord server… there are so many positive things about socialising through video games.
Something that I never thought about until I dated Josh was that video games help players get their emotions out when they don’t know how to process them. So, I have C-PTSD due to past abuse which means that when Josh and I argue, I get triggered if he raises his voice. So what he sometimes does is go and play a game – usually a violent one – so that he can get those angry emotions out before being able to process things logically. Josh is clearly the more logical one out of us because I just cry throughout the whole situation. But he’s actually been doing this for a while, even before he met me. Every sibling group argues, and Josh is the oldest so he tended to get in trouble the most for any anger-related incidents, so he used to take his anger out on video games instead. Video games provide players with a safe space so that if they were angry or upset, they wouldn’t actually hurt anyone. They can get the satisfaction from video games instead, by hurting fake people. Alternatively, if the player is struggling to process emotions – any emotions, not just anger – then video games give them a safe… environment so that they can take their time to process them. The game is something familiar to them and an issue with processing the emotions may be due to a change, so the familiarity of the game may help them be able to think about it more logically and process the emotions in a safe, healthy way.
But I know what you’re saying… I know you’re still upset that all your child is doing is playing video games all the time. I get that. I’ve been in the same position with my partner, and he’s been in the same position as me. But I plead to you, reach out to them before getting mad. Mental illness is such a worrying thing that might be causing your child to play video games because at least they feel something, or at least they feel motivated to do that. Read about, do research, talk to a medical professional. There have been so many times that I’ve had to stop myself from snapping at Josh because he’s finally out of bed after a deep depression but all he’s done is play video games for 20 hours straight; likewise, I often find myself feeling resentment because I can’t find the emotional energy to do a load of washing but I can play Persona 5 for 12 hours straight. Video games are often the first thing that gamers get the motivation to do if they’re mentally ill, because at least they’re awake. At least they’re not sleeping all day. Sometimes we can’t even find the motivation to play the games we love; sometimes we don’t feel worthy or like we deserve to play the games we love. Mental illness is scary and I cannot stress how important video games are in recovery. I know that in my darkest moments, getting out of bed to play a game was an achievement. Sometimes I didn’t make it out of my bed, but I was awake and I was doing something and that was important to recovery. Please don’t get mad at your kids, because the odds are, there’s something more going on.
In conclusion, video games are very beneficial and can help your whole family. They are not just for children, and I highly recommend you trying them out for yourself. In fact, I’m trying to save up money to get my mum a Nintendo Switch so that we can play Stardew Valley together. There are all sorts of different games with all sorts of different benefits, especially for your children! So, next time you get annoyed at your children spending too much time on their games, remember this list! Also, remember what I said about mental illness. If you think that this may be a case, try as I suggested about playing games with them if they are struggling to open up to you. As a child (any age, but I’m thinking more teenager years), it is very easy to think that your parents don’t care or that they have more important things to deal with. If you show any interest in their interest, they might realise that you do care and that you do have time for them. I hope this post helps someone, and if it did, give it a like!
And for my regular readers, don’t forget to follow this blog for more gaming content, check out my social medias for any updates and to have a say in what I post, like this post if you liked it; don’t forget that me and Josh stream every single day (apart from Sundays) on Twitch over at 2nerds_1game. See you next post!
The music I listen to: