demise-guys-teenagers-video-games-story

Video games, especially online MMO’s can improve typing speed and skills. Sure, you have horrible “1337″ speak out there, but you also have people who have improved their typing and communication skills via gaming and believe me those skills are gained in action and often violent games. ~J.A. Laraque

The Problem with “The Demise of Guys”

This editorial is to an article featured on CNN discussing the Demise of Guys.

demise-guys-teenagers-video-games-story

I think it is time we really start to separate the extreme cases of gaming with general gaming itself. While I understand studies like what was done in the article listed can be helpful, it can also give the wrong impression causing people who believe by reading this that they are now educated to make rash and often wrong decisions.

Sadly, like most discussions where the person is attacking something, the worst of the worst is shown and then the spotlight is pointed at the everyday gamer with an ominous warning that they are a ticking time bomb, but like everything that can be an addiction, you can learn to par take in moderation and still live a “normal” life.

This is where studies can go off the rails when we start wanting to see what is normal. Mainly the problem is regardless of how scientific a study is when you toss in the pursuit of normalcy then the question is, whose definition of normal are you looking to reach.

Let’s take marriage as an example. More and more people are either not getting married or they are getting divorced faster than ever. I am sure you could link many things as reasons why that is including gaming and porn, but this is what you do not read much about. First, many women had no choice but to get married because of the rights women had and how they were treated. Even today many people still believe if you are not married and with kids by 35 something is wrong and this can lead to people jumping into horrible relationships just to meet some goal.

Women have more choices and so do men. Choice brings freedom and people will not only choose not to marry, but to leave a relationship if they feel it is not working whereas fifty years ago they had almost no choice but to work it out. The same goes for relationships in general. You are not confined to meeting people in a bar or at school or church and this changes the relationship dynamic because you might take your time and look around. Also, again, with more choices comes more freedom so if a relationship is not going well you know there are more options than say if you lived in a small town and only fished in the local dating pool.

As far as education, I am sure that video games has caused many to get lower grades or miss a test, but the same could be said for almost any other activity. As an example, a study was shown that more kids ditch school once they can drive. Another study shows that high schools that allow off campus lunches have a higher ditch rate. This is where moderation versus the extreme cases comes into play. You can make a bad call and play Diablo that first night and mess up a school day, which I could believe many had done. The question is, how many people made up for it and day 2, 3 and 4 they did not ditch because they only wanted that first day and pushed the rest of the week so it did not hurt their overall grade.

The same goes for work. If we want to look at video games as reasons for lost productivity then we have to look at the internet as a whole and smart phones and sports and talk radio. Even cigarette breaks which are all but extinct caused lower productivity.

Violence is another one of those issues that again pushes an old debate and gives us a new target to focus on. How many fights and love of war and guns came from playing Cowboys and Indians? How much desensitizing comes from Action News and 24/7 coverage of any violent event? Again, there are links that video games can cause some desensitizing, but studies like this make it seem like a large part of the issue when for most of the population it is an extremely small one. What you expose your children to and when make the difference along with all the other experiences of their life, removing gaming is not the answer just as much as removing television is not. This comes down to exposure in early life and how it is dealt with.

Another thing to remember is just because someone who did a violent crime claims it was because of a game that does not make it so. One, a person can lie. Two, if they did not play a game before the crime, because games did not exist, then it would have been a television show, a movie or music. Again, studies like this gives people the false impression that video games are the root cause and massive changes to games or removal of games altogether would solve the issue. The problem with that thinking is other signs and symptoms are ignored or downplayed and nothing helpful gets done.

We also need to look at what video games have done in the positive. Studies have also shown that video games improve hand eye coordination and stimulates the mind in the positive. Of course, you do not need Mortal Kobmat or Call of Duty to do that, but even violent video games can reduce stress and actually relax people in the end. Now you do not have a 10-year-old playing Gears of War, but an older informed gamer will have no problem playing a violent game and separating that world from reality.

Video games, especially online MMO’s can improve typing speed and skills. Sure, you have horrible “1337″ speak out there, but you also have people who have improved their typing and communication skills via gaming and believe me those skills are gained in action and often violent games.

Going back to communication, video games have improved that as well. Sadly, many of us still live in the past and believe online communication is not real and that real communication can only happen in person. Considering that 50 years ago people were more cut off from each other than now I always found that strange. We are more exposed, for the good and the bad, but in gaming and for the gaming generation this is our Elks Club or bowling night, it is our book club or our sewing circle and the rest of the world has to wake up and understand that.

Even as far as relations, there have been fights and bullying and racism within and caused by games. However, that person who is politically incorrect in a video game is much more willing to befriend someone who is African-American, Hispanic or homosexual than the clubs and organizations of the past. I personally as a black man have made friends with people and ended up meeting them outside of the game and remained friends for a long time to come. In game, we still talk trash and you might even think we dislike each other or are truly against a particular race or orientation, but that is furthest from the truth.

There will always be the extremes and the exceptions. The key is to truly understand the video gaming world as well as our evolving world. We still tend to live in the past and we always look back with rose-colored glasses. Couple that with the fact that because we often make decisions based on what we feel society, religion, political affiliation or family tells us we should do we end up bitter and resentful later in life and look at the upcoming generation as being horrible.

The American dream used to be a wife, 2.3 kids and a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence but the American dream just like America itself evolves and changes and we need to rethink our lives along with that change.  This applies to the gaming debate because people see games and try to put it in terms they understand from the past and based on their beliefs of what we should be doing and the result is they think it is wrong and then they rally against it.

Online dating use to the looked upon as the worst thing to do, as if picking up random people at a bar is somehow better. Today more people than ever use online dating and it is becoming just as normal as the bar scene. The same is with gaming and computers. In the 70’s it was a fringe activity and today everyone is playing something. We need to adapt gaming to our world, today’s world not the world of the past. Take out the extreme cases and look at the everyday man and woman gamer. Only then, will we get real answers, grow as a group and improve upon our lifestyles.