Are video games an acceptable way to spend your free time or are they time wasters that lead to shouting matches and punishment? I certainly didn’t know as a kid. It seemed like the answer changed depending on the circumstances. Play over the allotted time or before homework, video games are bad. Playing educational games, video games are good. Any other type of game, video games are a waste of time. PC games, those are allowed. Console games, those are banned. You see why it took a while for me to figure out my answer to this question.
Growing up I didn’t have access to any gaming consoles at home. Thanks to my older brothers. They are ten and eleven years older than me, a big age gap. During middle school and high school, they would pretend to go to sleep. Once our parents went to bed, they played video games in their bedroom at ungodly hours of the night. It was only a matter of time before they got caught by Mom. It was one of the causes for loud arguments between them. This happened multiple times. I wish I remembered how they got punished or if at some point Mom stopped trying to enforce those rules.
Whatever the case may be, their rule-breaking had consequences for me as well. Mom told me, “I’m done with dealing with video games. Don’t bother asking me for any because it isn’t going to happen.” She was the type of person who said what she meant and turned what she said into what she did. There was no changing Mom’s mind. She didn’t stop there. My mom didn’t allow me to have a tv in my bedroom because of what my brothers did. Even though my brothers got to have one in their bedroom. It seemed unfair at the time. Now as an adult, I can definitively say it was an unfair verdict. Parents are free to limit video game access and control what types of games they play. Many video games are inappropriate for kids and kids shouldn’t be allowed unrestricted screen access at young ages (my opinion only, I’m no parent). That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is taking the privilege away from the one who didn’t do anything wrong. I never did tell her how I felt or tried to change her opinion. I knew it wouldn’t change anything so it didn’t feel worth getting her upset.
Luckily for me, this ban didn’t apply to the desktop computer we had. “Take what you can get” was my mentality so I didn’t openly question it. Internally I always wondered why one was worse than the other. Why did my parents think that PC games were more legitimate than console games? It didn’t make sense, as they both did the same thing. Money wasn’t the issue because they had been willing to buy my brothers a Super Nintendo and a Gameboy. (At least I am pretty sure this is what they had) Did it come down to PC gaming was easier to monitor and control? The family desktop was always in the dining room out where anyone could see what was going on.
Playing games alone wasn’t considered worthwhile. However, playing games with other people was fine. My parents didn’t care that I spent hours with my cousins playing MarioKart DoubleDash. They didn’t care that my best friend and I played games on her Wii during sleepovers. As long as I was having some form of social interaction mixed in, suddenly video games weren’t a waste of time. This didn’t change their opinion of video games but for some reason, it made them more acceptable. The value of healthy relationships outweighs the evils of gaming. At least that was my takeaway. I didn’t talk about gaming at other people’s houses much but my parents were aware of it happening.
This isn’t the only way video games were portrayed as a moral gray area. At home, all video games, except educational games, were considered a waste of time. I was allowed my computer games but I was well aware of the opinions of my parents. Mom thought they were stupid at best and dangerous influences at worst. Dad didn’t care either way. Despite their opinions, they did let me spend my free time how I chose. Especially as I grew older, I got more freedom to control my schedule. Yet somehow it was demoralizing as a kid to be told that what I enjoyed was a ridiculous hobby by my mom. I had the freedom to choose my hobbies but if my hobbies were not “appropriate” to them I would be subjected to all of their negative opinions. The whole situation instilled a sense of shame for enjoying gaming while I was a kid. Naturally, as I am just as stubborn as my mom was, I disregarded their opinions, chose to not be ashamed of my hobby anymore, and continued being a gamer.
Fast forward to today, when I openly embrace my gaming and nerdy interests. I even blog about them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with video games. Playing video games isn’t something to be ashamed of. Just because other people may not like my gaming hobby doesn’t make it any less valid. It doesn’t matter whether I’m playing solo or with other people. There’s nothing wrong with doing something purely because I enjoy it. That’s the answer I found.