Updated: Jun 18, 2020
A bonding experience with your kids. A pain point in your marriage?
Video Games as a Kid
I have loved playing video games for as long as I can remember. I have video through almost the entire progression of video games and it has been a cool technology to watch grow. Ladies, if you have a man in your life who loves to play video games, and you don't fully understand why, keep reading. I hope that I can clear some things up, maybe their experiences are similar to mine and you can both relate to this post.
It started on Atari and I must have been like 5 or 6 years old. I still have vivid memories playing space invaders and a game called miner 2049er. For those who may not be familiar with these games I'll give a brief description of the both.
Space Invader involved the player controlling a small spaceship that can shoot one bullet at a time. It could move left or right, yes thats all it could do. Little small creatures would walk out out of the space ship and start marching toward the ground.
As they got closer to the ground, they would move faster and the music would get louder. Your anxiety level would raise along with your heart rate. Once you got down to the last monster, it would come at you blazing fast. If you were lucky enough to nail this critter, then you moved on to the next level. The space ship would move a bit closer to the ground and the cycle would repeat.
Miner 2049er was much different, much harder, and required much more strategy . In this game the player would control a small man in a hat. The object of the game was to color in all the block on the level by walking over them. You had to avoid these small shiny monsters as they would electrocute you. Each level had small trinkets you could collect which which turns the monsters green with a happy face. If you walked over the green monsters, then they would disappear and give you points, very similar to the ghosts in Pacman.
Each Level was riddled with different obstacles and challenges. These included jumps, slides, little slides that moved back, elevators and one level had a huge vat of "Radioactive Waste". At any point if you got hit by an electric monster or fell too far you would lose a life and have to continue where you left off. I'll include a video below. It is a bit long, but keep in mind this video is the entire game!
If you watched that entire thing, you are a true gamer too!! As technology increased, so did the complexity of video games. I grew up watching the progression of one video game console to another. I would anxiously away the next generation of gaming system. I had at least one console from every generation. I went from Atari to Nintendo and on to Sega, Playstation, Xbox, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 then Playstation 4. I still have my original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) from when I was a kid, and it still works. I have hooked it up and destroyed my kids at Super Mario Bros. I have watched them play RC Pro AM, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II The arcade game as well as classics like The Legend of Zelda. By now you probably have figured out I life video games a lot.
Video Games as an Adult
My love for video games has continued into adulthood. This really shouldn't be a surprise and if it is then you either aren't paying attention or you should should brush up on hour reading comprehension skills.
"The older I have gotten the more it irritates my wife that I still game."
I played more online games in my 20's than I care to admit. We are in the PS3 era if you're not into gaming or aren't sure where we are in the progression. By this time online games are extremely popular and are very fun. Almost all games have some sort of trophy or reward system for doing certain things in the game. Graphics are insane and the controllers have way more buttons than just A and B. If you're a gamer, by now you've been called a "Noob" or thousand other names (that I won't put here) by some kid that is likely in Jr. High. There is also a good chance you've seen the "Leroy Jenkins" video on You Tube.
The older I have gotten the more it irritates my wife that I still game. Her opinion is that I am "too old" for that kind of thing and that it is only for kids. She views it as a waste of time and that there is a lot of other things that I should be doing with that time. In some cases, she is probably right. I can't say that the time I spent playing video games was "productive" time. But I also won't say that it was wasted time. Playing video games is my hobby. It's my "me time". Whether I am 10 years old or 30 something, its still my "me time". I can sit down and immerse myself in an entire interactive world. In that time I can forget about the stressors of everyday life and go to a place that lets me forget about all of that. Some of the video games I have played, have a greater entertainment value than some of the major motion pictures I have seen and most games take much longer than 2 hours before you are done playing it. I have deepened relationships with some of my friends discussing video games and have connected with total strangers on the topic.
Playing Video Games with my Kids.
As my kids got older it has been amazing to watch them pick up some of the games that I played at their age and play them. As their skills developed I have found other games that they can play on the PS4. My oldest also developed an interest in Minecraft. If you have young kids then you a likely familiar with this game. For those of you not familiar, it is a game in which you can build all kinds of structures using various textured squares. There is concrete, dirt, stone, along with things found in nature sure as trees and flowers. You can break down the blocks and replace them with your own and build whatever you want to.
Kids love Minecraft. At first I didn't fully understand the craze. As I watch my oldest daughter play, I asked questions and tried to understand it. She asked if I wanted to play. Initially I had declined with not much interest as it was drastically different than anything I'd played before. There didn't seem to be any missions, or point to the game. There wasn't a goal other than create stuff or if you are playing in a different game mode, then you just survive. After my daughter asked me to play several times, I decided to let her teach me how to navigate the controls and menus. Once I had the basics down, she challenged me to a house build off. We both were to make the coolest house that we could and my wife was the judge of whose house was the best. My daughter was declared the winner and ever since we have been building out various structures in her worlds. It has been cool that we have come full circle and now she is teaching me how to play some games. I taught her Super Mario Bros. and she taught me Minecraft.
How Gaming has Changed Now That I Have Kids
Now that I have little ones, my gaming life has changed. I can't play games meant for adults while my kids are awake. This means that most of my gaming is done when they go to bed. I can't spend nearly the amount of time I used to playing games, and I'm totally fine with that. I have always loved being a Dad and wouldn't trade that for anything. Since my time is limited, I am a bit more picky with the games I chose to play. It also takes me longer to get through a game, again I'm totally fine with both of these. Gaming has always been a part of my life and I don't see that changing in the foreseeable future. I hope it increases the bond with my kids and that they can enjoy it too.
Being a Responsible Parent about Video Games
"Parents, if you never were in to video games as a kid, then you need to spend some time getting informed about how they are rated!"
As much as I love to play video games there is also a big responsibility I hold in how I choose to play them. I won't play most of my games in front of any of my children. Earlier I touched on this but now I will go into it a bit more. A lot of the games I play are rated "M" for mature according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating system. This means that they are meant for people that are over 18. Gentlemen, be responsible, don't play these games in front of your kids. Even if you think that they are too young to understand, say age 2. They will see it, they will absorb it. It's not necessary for them to be exposed to this. You know the content of these games, don't be selfish and expose your children to them.
Parents, if you never were in to video games as a kid, then you need to spend some time getting informed about how they are rated! Visit the ESRB website and familiarize yourself with the various ratings and why they get that rating. Over the years I have heard kids online
playing games such as the Call of Duty franchise. Every one of the Call of Duty games is rated "M". Every one of them is a military based game that contain curse words and violence.
They were designed by adults and meant for adults. Many of the "M" rated games are probably developed by people my age. People who have a love for games growing up and made it a career. This has baffled me why their parents would buy them a game like this. When you go to purchase these games at most retailers, they will ID you if you look too young to buy them. THERE IS A REASON FOR THIS. These games can contain blood, gore, violence, drug reference, nudity, sexual themes, gambling, curse words or other adult content. THEY ARE NOT MEANT FOR KIDS!
Gaming has been around for a long time. It is a part of pop culture, and a big part of a lot of people's life. There is a space within the gaming industry for people of all ages, including kids. According to Business Insider, the industry is worth $120B and is only growing. If your family is in to video games, I encourage you to embrace it, but do so responsibly. Set limits and only let your kids play games appropriate for their age.