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10.26.2010

Let the Games Begin!

I don’t like video games. I never did. I was born in the original Star Trek generation when Neil and Buzz really did step on the moon. Technology was a fascination to me. The idea of satellites orbiting Earth and traveling to Jupiter overwhelmed my imagination along with beaming up to the stars, and flip top communicators. What I never imagined was that the orbitals were just for better TV reception and hand held phones filled the air with tiresome chat, games and downloading junk. What a disappointment. I’m of the opinion that these things promote shorter attention span and gloss over the need learning things the hard way. When the virtual world is easy and makes you look talented at things you simply can’t do what use is a real guitar when Guitar Hero makes you think you already know how to play?
Tio, on the other hand, can’t get enough of game boy and play station or even pac man if that’s all there is. He’d spend all his waking hours twiddling his thumbs over skateboarding, car racing, war simulation and gangsta street fights. Wii would be his nirvana (which is why we don’t have one).

He used to ask me all the time why I don’t like video games. He couldn’t figure out why anyone wouldn’t want a piece of this action. When he was younger, I’d just say “they bore me”. When we got together we made our own adventures creating green screen videos, imaginary worlds in the back yard, playing cards and inventing board games. There was always lots to do for him and Kit and me. But back at home he’d let the fast moving world of videos do his creative thinking for him. The last time he asked I explained it more clearly. “I live inside my imagination. I write books and create worlds and ideas of my own. Why would I want someone else to do that for me? If I was into gaming, I’d be the guy designing and creating those games, not playing them.”. I think he understood that but it was still a leap.

Since the family moved in here, it’s been a struggle for me to find a balance where he can use his play station but not overwhelm. Personally, I don’t think his life would be the poorer if he never saw it again. So we’ve limited the amount of time he can play each day. Add TV time and texing (don’t get me started on kids with phones!) and it mounts up fast to a lot of screen input.

He had the machine taken away at the end of the summer for a punishment and rather than work out why, he just waited hoping he’d get it back at some point. Well, I suppose that point has arrived and I’m thinking of making him earn game time. There’s always work to be done around the place. I’ll make him a two for one offer. For every half hour of chores he does, he can have an hour of gaming.

We’ll see just how important it is now.