V – Video Games

A-Z Survival Guide to Life

V – Video Games

This is the twenty-second installment in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life I am writing for my boys.

Video games I happen to know a great deal about. We have had video games in our house since your Dad brought in the first X- Box when we were living back in Georgia. Remember Crash Bandicoot, or Munch’s Oddysee – we never did make it past that level with the dogs, but we sure got a kick of making Munch fart – by pushing the “B” button, a little green cloud of vapor would emit from the region of his posterior.  Or Timesplitters – the Tokyo subway level with the annoying woman who was so difficult to sneak up on.  I think my most favorite game of all time though was Pirates – Black Kat, which I spent an entire 6 weeks playing while stuck at home with mononucleosis and parvovirus (which I suspect I picked up at a water park in Atlanta).  I found most of the treasure chests, and with your guys help, beat all the bosses and the game.

During all this time, I have always held some unspoken guilt for allowing you to spend time playing video games. I don’t think it has done any irreparable harm as far as I can see. Over the years, as a parent I have been bombarded with advice about how allowing children to play video games will make them sedentary, sloth-like, unable to interact socially, incapable of functioning in real life, forget the basic concepts of hygiene and generally become anti-social.

I have to say that this is a bunch of horse manure. And why do I feel this post is important to include in the A-Z Survival Guide to Life? Well, for several reasons.  First, I don’t think you should turn your back on playing video games as you become older, and secondly there are some definite benefits to playing them, in moderation of course.

Video games improve hand-eye coordination – I read several articles that said surgeons are improving their laparoscopic abilities by playing a certain amount of video games each week. I am sure you have never witnessed the finesse it takes to perform a laparoscopic surgery, but the patient has only small incisions in which trocars with long, thin instruments are inserted, and by using a camera the manipulation of those tiny instruments is observed on the screen of a TV.  What better way to get improve one’s skills than practicing with videos games?

Video games improve problem-solving skills – Now many of the games where you just scurry around shooting at things will most likely not improve your problem-solving skills, but most definitely the adventure and quest games will. How many times have we had to find some item, unlock some door, with a key that is in a totally different level?  That takes a lot of planning, thinking and remembering which world the item was in, how to find the Boss or the person asking for the item, so they will let you move on in your quest or proceed to the next step in your adventure.  Remember Azurik and all the complicated steps we had to go through just to open the portal and gain entrance to the next level?

Video games improve your typing skills – Just the other day, we were sitting at the desk and I asked my youngest where he learned to type so well, did he take a typing class in school. He said he did, but he said he really honed his typing skills on World of Warcraft, because all communication is done through typing responses. I guess in the midst of a heated session of play, you become really adept at typing quickly and efficiently.

Video games improve your ability to multi-task – There is never just one thing going on in a decent video game. You might have some villain chasing after you while you have to collect coins, pick up weapons and look for some random item such as Foxglove plants all at the same time.  You have to keep an eye on your health levels, while making sure your opponent or the Big Bosses levels are decreasing and all of this must be done in the middle of an intense battle.

You can learn a great deal from video games – Remember when we played Timesplitters and we went to Notre dame to free the captured prostitutes down in the dungeons. Or Sid Meyers Pirates where we learned about different ships and ports and harbors.  Or how about Oblivion, set in probably the Middle Ages, although one website I looked at said it was a “composite era” (what the heck), and you learned about Wolf bane and Foxglove and all kinds of other plants, animals and weaponry.

How many times have you given me some fact, or piece of history, and I ask in amazement how you would know such a thing and the answer is always – video games.

Video games can teach you to persevere – Presently, you are both playing Dark Souls 2 and according to you this is the hardest video game ever invented, almost next to impossible. The Bosses are really tough to beat, but you try and try and finally you succeed in slaying the Boss.  This takes an enormous amount of perseverance and will serve you well in life, because a lot of things in life do not come easily, and although it may be seem impossible to beat, if you keep at it, you will eventually figure it out.  The only difference is, you won’t have a game controller to fling across the room.

Video games may slow the aging process – Many of the articles I read in preparation for writing this post say that video games may actually increase your cognitive abilities and keep them and the gamer spry well into old age. Bottom line is, video games can be beneficial for all ages, not just young adolescent boys.

As with all things, video games must be played in moderation – Make sure your homework is done, or as you get older, the chores around the house are done, and the children are fed, bathed and properly taken care of. Video games can always be a part of your lives, and should be, because there are definite benefits to playing, but as you become older and take on more responsibilities, it should be for recreation only.

Remember video games should never take precedence over real life. And they should not be used as a babysitting tool, or minimize the time you spend with your children. When you have children, allow them to play video games, within reason, but be a part of that time, play the games with them. Video games should never usurp your job of being a parent.

And finally, when you get married and do have children, do not let me come over to your house and find you playing video games while your spouse is doing the laundry, cooking the dinner, and caring for the children. We WILL have words and I WILL kick you in your butts. And God forbid, don’t let me find you sitting in a “Man Cave” playing video games, or else all Hell will break loose.


Photo credit – en.wikipedia.org


13 replies »

  1. I absolutely agree on the problem-solving skills! Especially those PC games like Myst. I remember many times in life figuring out how to fix something or get around something using the same thinking I’ve used in a game!

    A Bit to Read

    • I have heard my kids say that so many times “I remember something like this on a video game, it should work.” – and you are right, that critical thinking and planning they have learned while playing some of those games has really served them well.

    • Hi David, I do believe in some rather unconventional parenting techniques but they seem to have worked out rather well, from what I can tell.

  2. Munch’s Oddysee I don’t know at all, but Crash Bandicoot was a big hit in our house. It was one of the first games where my kids quickly got much better than I was. I couldn’t seem to move ten feet without hitting something, falling down something or being squashed by something. 🙂

    • Ok. When I was researching the benefits of video games for this post, it turns out there are numerous studies that look into how video games are really a good thing, within reason. People just have this preconceived notion that if you play games like GTA (Grand Theft Auto) you will be more violent in real life. The studies show it is not true, gaming decreases aggression, bullying, gaming is relaxing, allows one to step back from real life. They are definitely not all bad. Tell them that from me!!!!

      • As someone who played GTA for years, I can definitely attest to that not being accurate since it certainly never made me violent. Helped me wind down a lot.

      • Yeah go around and beating the crap out of people on the game seems to me would make anyone a much nicer person in real life

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