Secret Saturday: Keep Your Hands Off My Video Games
Posted by Jenn
When I was growing up, I didn’t really have friends. I know, it’s shocking. Part of it was due to the constant moving. Part of it was that I was an easy target for bullying with my odd proportions, poofy hair, and refusal to think things were cool that were suppose to be cool. Part of it was that I didn’t fit into the norm for what was expected of a tiny blonde girl in the South (which probably contributed to the previous bullying point). It wasn’t really until high school that I had a group of actual friends. Lucky for me I’m still friends with those same awesome people 12 years later, so it was worth the wait.
Since I didn’t have relationships with actual people, I’d get invested in fictional characters. I would read excessively and watch movies over and over again. When my mom introduced me to the Nintendo Entertainment System, that became my go-to when I wanted “interaction”. Any chance I got I’d run through dungeons to collect Triforce pieces, freeze weird brain jellyfish, or ride dinosaurs in a hula skirt (if you know which game I am talking about I have to mail you brownies or something).
For the most part, kids default to video games as a form of entertainment, a way to not do anything. For me, it was a way to do something. It was a way for me to interact with someone other than my family, even if it was just an AI. It was an outlet so that I didn’t go bonkers.
Over the course of my childhood we gathered quite the electronics army, and that did plenty to entertain me and keep me out of trouble while giving me whatever interaction it was I needed to replace what I wasn’t getting in real life. They were such a massive part of my development that it should be little wonder why I still enjoy them so much. They are no longer a replacement for a lack of social interaction, because goodness knows I’m quite the social butterfly at this point (suck it, bullies), but I get a sense of excitement out of them because of the level of immersion I can achieve with them after the way I played for so many years.
It frustrates me to no end that video games are constantly being blamed for violent acts. I essentially lived off of video games for a majority of my childhood, and I never once have thought to myself that running into a public space waving a gun was a great idea. I didn’t have friends, I was bullied relentlessly, I was an outsider in every aspect and hooked on video games that could likely be considered “violent”. I was the very definition of the kid you should look out for according to those yelling about the dangers of video games. I know I’m a little biased, but I think I turned out just fine.
What you see are not people turned violent or sociopathic because video games glorified it, but people already on that edge who happen to be gamers. Saying video games are the root of recent violence is like the old “dihydrogen monoxide is involved in every death” thing. It may be a common thread, but it is certainly not the cause needing blame.
I love my video games. They’re not just fun, but they filled in the gap created by extreme bullying. Games kept me out of trouble, and I’m sure I can’t be the only one.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to step off my soap box and go play some Grifball.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s the Halo kind or fetch with the dog.