Megan, an aspiring educator over at A Guy and Three Girls, went on a tirade about video games and gamers the other day, claiming that gamers "do not have a real social life. The only interaction they get with people is between a headset. Is that real communication? . . . [Children] should not be allowed to play a video game where all they do is shoot a gun. That to me is called bad parenting. What are you teaching your children?"
I suppose that would be bad parenting, though I doubt very many parents actually do that. I wonder what the source and true target of Megan's ire are. Does she have an acquaintance who behaves this way? Because, personally, she doesn't describe any gamer I know. She does seem to be talking mostly about console gaming, what with the "sitting in front of a TV" references and all. But since we tend to be lumped together by the non-gaming public regardless of the hardware/software combinations we use, I went ahead and responded, as did Landiien of Please Enter Your Initials. If you read Megan's post, my response may make more sense. Here's what I said (with some very minor edits):
In her title, Megan implies that playing video games and having a life are mutually exclusive endeavors. On the contrary, with proper balance, playing video games can be an enriching recreational activity, potentially full of social interactions as least as rewarding as any meat-space friendship. After all, what do we usually do with friends? We get together and have fun.
Before video games, there was TV. Before that it was Rock-n-Roll and comic books. Every generation has some form of entertainment that the previous generation (or others within it) considers brain-rot, contributing to societal decay.
Your initial premise is flawed. You personally don't like video games, therefore you dismiss their value out of hand. This is the same mentality that endangers music and arts programs in public schools across the country, not to mention physical education programs, despite the growing obesity epidemic affecting Americans of all ages. All things in moderation, humans need a balance of physical and mental activity, work stressors and opportunities for fun and relaxation, not to mention social connections. If you're decrying video gaming to the exclusion of all else, you're right, but in that sense a gamer is no better or worse than someone who spends all their time in front of the TV, in a gym or in a bar. However, you seem to think any amount of gaming is harmful.
As an educator and a gamer, I find many opportunities to relate to my students, drawing on our common experiences in games, as well as other aspects of life, like sports and literature, to illustrate my points and help them learn something new. Use every experience you gain to help your students learn, but don't dismiss their hobbies as worthless. You run the risk of equating their interests and their personal worth, as well as alienating them and shutting down the learning process.