I’ve heard it all before. Video games rot your brain, they make kids violent, they will turn you into an antisocial. This negativity has been surrounding video games for over thirty years, but it has become especially noticeable over the past decade. I will be the first to admit that spending too much time indoors staring at a television screen is never a good thing, but I’ve been playing video games for most of my life. Not only have I turned out fine – more or less - but I also think the experience has made me a better person.
Most gamers start out when they are young, about seven or eight years old and in some cases even younger. I’m no social scientist, but I don’t need to be one to tell you that anything that takes up a large part of a child’s life will play a large part in determining what kind of person that child grows up to be. There is a stigma that suggests any kid who plays video games will have no friends. But in my own experience the opposite turned out to be true.
I remember when I was in third grade my mother bought me a game as a reward for having a good report card. The game was Paper Mario and I spent the whole summer trying to beat it. If I had been an adult when I first played the game I probably would have beaten it in a few days, but to a little kid the simplest things can be a challenge so I felt a real sense of accomplishment as I progressed. By the time I was finished I knew the game inside and out. This is where things changed.
A good friend of mine had bought the game a few months after I had, and he wanted advice. So, every Wednesday I would go over to his house after school and help him beat a section of the game. This turned a single-player game into a shared experience and a simple video game turned into an adventure. I’m a quiet person, so the sense of empowerment I got from becoming this friend’s coach was a totally new feeling. The game made a strong friendship even stronger and actually helped me become more social. This is why I feel most of the stigma surrounding video gaming is unfair, so with this blog I will do my best to overturn that view.