As we progress ever further into this generation, the popularity of video games continues to grow. The days of non-gaming generations are coming to a close and soon, many of the adults around us, would have grown up with games surrounding them. Even now, many parents are passing on their gaming habits to their children.
Of course, this has had a profound effect on the culture of our society. The stereotypical cliques of nerds and jocks no longer exist, and gaming is seen more as a norm than a queer eccentricity. What was once a nerdy taboo has transformed into a practice which, in some circles, is more prevalent than reading. Even so, there is still opposition to this culture in which many of us have found ourselves entrenched.
Many conservatives from what I will deem ‘the shadow generation’ still hold negative views of games, either from ignorance, religious intolerance or a fear of physical or mental change. They seek to crush this skyrocketing hobby and industry with legislation and regulatory morality. And they fail. Again and again, they fail. They may have small victories every so often, but in the larger scheme – their campaign is as futile as attempting to stop the tide.
But are they right?
It must be quite weird hearing an avid gamer consider the possibility that the haters and enemies of his chosen form of escapism may, in fact, be correct in everything that they have fought for. For the most part, I tend to look quite scathingly at these members of the ‘shadow generation’, but more and more, I do see dangers in this culture we call gaming.
When I was younger, I did play outside. My parents had a computer on which I played Age of Empires and Warcraft III occasionally, but overall, my life was filled with making up my own scenarios and then acting them out. Even to this day I am not ashamed to admit that I still roleplay (LARPing) – constantly. It’s healthy. Not only for the body, but for the mind.
Pretending to be in a place and setting which I was not may have made one or two therapists think I was bonkers, but what it actually accomplished was the development of my imagination, creativity, intuition and above all else, it was fun.
I look upon kids now, and I do not see the same type of roleplaying. Instead I see games. Games which I enjoy myself, but not games which force children to turn nothing into something extraordinary. Even Minecraft (what seems to be the most popular of games for the age group of which I speak) does not have the necessary difficulty in order to function in the manner of which I speak.
Minecraft is a creative game. It is a fun game. I personally love it. But is it difficult to use? No, not really. Players are given everything they need (and don’t tell me you have to gather stuff; that’s not the point). They are given the means, and that is the problem. When I was growing up, I had to create my own means – and I feel that I was better for it.
Maybe the problem with games isn’t that they are going to make people unhealthy, destroy lives or turn people into serial killers – but that they make entertainment too easy. They have created an easy form of escapism which doesn’t require any work or personal involvement. All the player has to do is play.
Looking back at what I have written, I feel much older than I currently am. That is probably due to that fact that I was the last generation to grow up with the necessity of having to make up my entertainment.
Regardless, I am going to keep playing games – and I will encourage people to keep playing games. Gaming is a wonderful form of entertainment, escapism and even art. But when I’m not playing, I’m going to make sure to make my own entertainment, and encourage others to do the same. For what is as engaging as a world which has been crafted from your own mind?