Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Another Answer to "Videogames or Life?"

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):
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.
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.

14 comments:

  1. Well Said. It surely must be link bait, as its so disappointing to see people still thinking this way.

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    1. It is unfortunate. She makes a good point about not gaming "too much," but buries it in old stereotypes.

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  2. Checking out the context by reading her write-up now.

    Before that though, I just want to say that your response was very well-written, and also very diplomatic. I'd hate it if someone trolled the piece. :D

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    1. Thanks. If anyone did troll the piece, we're not likely to find out, given that the blog comments are moderated.

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  3. Didn't see your reply on that site. But overall, that site disturbs me more than encourages me. It was nice to see that at least one of the other bloggers did counterbalance the view. Still, if that sort of close-minded, ignorant viewpoint is held by a future educator of our (well, your) children then I fear for that future.

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    1. They have a moderation queue in place, so it may not have been approved yet, I followed Landiien's example and reposted my comments here on my own blog.

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  4. "...gamers "do not have a real social life. The only interaction they get with people is between a headset. Is that real communication?"

    You're right, sounds like her criticisms are more based on her views of console gaming. And it's definitely a fallacy to lump all gamers into one category. As an online gamer, I personally wouldn't discount those conversations we have with people "between a headset", hey I've made new friends and even got to meet them in person this way ;)

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    1. Exactly. As a sometime frequent traveler, I love having online pals that I can meet up with while on trips, instead of just being a stranger in a strange land. It's like a whole passel of pen pals.

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    2. Definitely console gamers. If I think about my own situation: I met my boyfriend through LotRO, and we have been living together for two years now. He even moved countries to be able to do so. How is that not real communication? Or would she disregard our relationship as less 'real'? I certainly hope not!

      I love the genuine Rowan well thought-through commentary. It hard to believe some people genuinely still believe this stuff. Nice job.

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    3. Thanks. I know a lot of people who have met their romantic partner through gaming. Granted, it's not most people, but it's more than a few. It's a valid common interest, just like sports, or theater/art, or hot rod cars.

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  5. I think the same general problem here exists as it did with the political row in your other post. People assume that if you game for 22 hours a week, that is on top of the average of 30 hours a week people spend watching TV and god knows how many hours a week people spend online in general. But its not a cumulative process, its a pie chart.

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    1. I think you're correct. Many people assume a gamer is gaming on top of other, more mainstream entertainments. I hardly watch any TV at all. The other night, I watched the pilot of "Cheers" on Netflix for nostalgia's sake, while eating a pizza dinner. Hard to game with greasy fingers, despite the "Cheetos-stained fingers" stereotypes. That's pretty much it for the last week. I've watched more football in person in the past year than I have on TV in past decade. But I still have plenty of time to play MMOs.

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  6. I'm happy to see so many level-headed and intelligent responses to a blog that could have easily incited a flame war.

    Great points!

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    1. Thanks. There was no reason to get ranty. :) She just makes conclusions from some faulty assumptions and prejudices, rather than objectively analyzing facts.

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