But mercy is above this sceptered sway. It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings
Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I
As a parent, I normally take great pride in my children’s accomplishments. I’m pretty sure it’s a written rule somewhere in The Parenting Handbook…which was buried centuries ago on Oak Island. But I’m competitive too, and that’s not always a good thing. Especially when those accomplishments overlap. I’m pretty sure there’s also something in that handbook about being a gracious loser, and I am. Or at least I try really hard to be. We all have our moments of parenting fails, and that’s when we have to admit our mistakes and trust our kids are gracious with us.
Don’t worry – I’m not writing about a parenting fail. At least, not right now.
It’s no secret I like video games. The
obsession interest took shape just before Big Guy moved out. He got me hooked on Guitar Hero. And since his Xbox 360 went with him, he conspired with Hubby to give me my very own. I’ve wasted hours of my life since.
Unlike Little Guy, I’m not obsessed with earning all the trophies and racing through the levels. I try to enjoy the journey. Until I get stuck and force one of my kids to get me over the hump. I’ve helped them through a few too, but at an ever decreasing rate. Worse, I’m at a higher level than both of them, but can’t seem to kill it quite the same way. And the algorithm groups me with players who are levels below me.
It can be frustrating!
In the Summer, after a particularly brutal game of Monopoly, I felt conflicted, so I wrestled through this question: When did my kids get better at everything than me (leaving me feeling like a washed up loser who is ready to sit in a senior centre and weave baskets while singing Kum Ba Ya)?
An aging gamer, Theo Karasavvas described gaming in his younger days as “breathing…then all of a sudden, after thousands of hours spent playing across genres and platforms, boredom hit me hard for the first time”. He assumed he need only find a different game to stimulate his interest once again. He also blamed more responsibilities and stress in life for ruining his appetite. But is his reasoning completely accurate?
Sure, our appetites changes as we grow older, but (sometimes sadly) so do other things. Like our priorities, our sense of accomplishment changes too. High scores pale compared to a lower body mass index, especially as muffins tops sprout exponentially with every decade.
The desire to compete also decreases with age. The core gaming market targets 18-30 year olds. Many of the first-person shooter-style games, like my favorites, Halo & Overwatch, take time to develop skills. Older gamers simply don’t want to invest that amount of time, and prefer slower-paced, or solo games.
And who can forget that our bodies and brains are slowing down with every passing birthday! We tend to buy into the lie that we can’t keep up with our younger counterparts and our struggles become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Sometimes we can’t keep up, but gaming continue to have benefits as we age. There are a number of reasons why I play video games. And as long as my kids don’t mind if I sometimes slow them down, I’m going to keep playing. This “senior gamer” prefers to call it – leveling up!
So it’s no secret: I like to play video games. For a lot of reasons. Some of them good.
I don’t judge others on what they like to do in their spare time so please don’t judge me!
Wednesdays this year haven’t been Halo Night…they’ve been Overwatch night. It’s actually a game the whole family plays…just one at a time. But we watch each other’s backs and cheer each other on. I fare much better at it than I do at RISK or Monopoly.
“Heroes never die!” – Mercy, Overwatch
Overwatch is a team-based multiplayer online first-person shooter video game, which boasts over 20 characters. Each character possesses different functions and armaments which complement each other.
My first choice is Mercy, a healer with the ability to heal team mates, boost their fire power, and occasionally resurrect a team mate during play. She doesn’t possess armour or a high health level, only a small pistol with which to defend herself. While Mercy’s primary objective is to heal and support her team mates, sometimes she will be an aggressive “battle mercy” (cough, cough). She rarely earns the coveted “Play of the Game” honour, but it has been known to happen (cough, cough). [Before Big Guy comments, in my defence, I can manage to both heal, resurrect and wreak havoc on the other team – just saying!]
Earlier this year, video game creator Blizzard, introduced a limited $15 pink skin for Mercy. Blizzard pledged to donate 100% of the proceeds to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. A lot of people criticized the move, claiming they were exploiting a worthy cause for their own gain. Most fans applauded the effort, and generously raised $12.7 million. While that figure included a limited edition t-shirt, the majority of it came from Mercy’s pink skin.
The money will go toward “prevention strategies, improved treatments…and quality of life for breast cancer patients worldwide,” said Stephanie Kauffman, Chief Strategic Alliances Officer at BCRF.
I guess this proves that even gamers can be unlikely heroes. 🙂
That’s right…tonight is Halo Night, probably the last one for a few months.
My oldest son scolded me earlier this month because I didn’t do “H is for Halo”. It’s his fault that I’m playing it now. It was a forbidden game in our house when he was much younger. I cited the usual…addiction to violence, inability to separate fantasy and reality, dangers to physical health, blah, blah… I tried playing it once, maybe 6 years ago. The controls were confusing. Actually, figuring out how to look around was confusing. It went like this:
“Nope, mom, that’s the sky. Look down. Too far, that’s your feet. Ok, now just…nope. You’re dead!”
I don’t know how he talked me into trying it ever again. But we did…together. I learned some things about myself as I learned to defend the universe. I’ve been criticized for playing, told I need to “grow up”, but I believe part of growing up is discovering who you are, finding what you like to do, and not letting anyone steal your joy. Here’s why I play Halo:
6) It’s fun! It may not be your idea of a good time, and that’s OK. Go watch a documentary on the life cycle of a water beetle, drool in a recipe book, or inventory your lint trap collection. Find something that makes you happy.
5) It’s even more fun when it surprises others! Recently, an electrical apprentice struck up a conversation at work over the week he was there. He was shocked to find out I wasn’t in my 20s. He was shocked to find out I had a 27 year old son. He was shocked to find out I had a tattoo (considering I work in a church, for some…that is shocking)! At the end of the week, somehow, Halo came up. As he packed up his gear, he smiled at me and told me, “Jenn, you are full of surprises”! I’m a plain, quiet, middle-aged “church lady”, so…cool!
I’ve wasted far too much of the first half of my life crying, so I am determined to laugh more (even if it means by myself or laughing at myself – I will never cease to be amused). – jennsmidlifecrisis
4) For health reason. A 2003 study showed that action gamers were better than non-gamers at quickly processing complex info, estimating numbers, controlling their attention spatially, and switching between tasks. Video games can also help with fine motor control and reaction time, as well as in developing strengths like patience, perseverance, and strategizing/problem-solving. I enjoy the mental stimulation of a challenge, and the euphoria of success!
3) I find it relaxing. I can zone out from the real world for a short time, which gives my mind and my body a break. I can take my frustrations in a place where I won’t cause harm. Increased dopamine helps reduce frustration. It’s one of the strongest drivers of work ethic because we focus on building successes or positive outcomes. Our brains then create optimistic and hopeful feelings. As our focus shifts to improving, it can heighten our sense of having control in a situation, which then transfers into the real world. We all, at times, need to “reboot”.
2) I can do it! There are a lot of things I can’t do, for one reason or another. I have physical limitations – the spirit is willing, but the body can’t keep up! I have mental limitations – math, for example, is not my friend! The gifts and talents I have been given are not transferrable to every area, in every part of the known universe. But in this world, I am strong. I am capable. I am in control. I feel like a dangerous and invincible warrior!
Warriors are those who choose to stand between their enemy and all that he loves or holds sacred – Author unknown
1) I get to spend time with my kid. He grew up too fast. He’s moved away and building his own life. I’m proud of him – that’s how it’s supposed to be. So if he still wants to hang out with me, from time to time, bring it on! Relationships are a two-way street. If I don’t take an interest in the things that interest him, we might drift apart, and I can’t bear the thought of not having him in my life. Besides, I’ve improving and sometimes, I can kick his butt!
Bonus – I get to do it in a hot body!
It’s a video game that is shaping the next generation! There’s no complex story line, no timers furiously counting down, no pressing deadlines, and no graphic violence. The Minecraft universe is made up of blocks representing materials such as dirt, stone, various ores, wool, and water, and it’s a place I like to escape in my world for a bit at the end of the day.
Some would say that I’m wasting my time (because watching soaps would be so much better-yuck!), while others would argue that video games are inherently evil. But research has shown that sometimes gaming is good for you, and can have medical benefits. There’s even talk now that Minecraft is good for kids.
It encourages creativity and imaginative play. Minecraft was initially meant to be solely a survival game, but as it garnered attention, players began stretching their imaginations to build castles, tree houses and buildings that could only exist in a fantasy world. Imaginative behavior is based on the brain using and combining what we’ve learned and reworking them to generate new ideas. Minecraft is an open world and the challenge becomes shaping it to suit their desires. It also gives them the flexibility to decide if they want to build, mine, farm, or just explore the world.
Minecraft encourages learning. Kids are learning everything from programming, science, math, art and design, and history. Kids are mastering computer coding, engineering, architecture, and urban planning. My Little Guy loves the fictional ore called Redstone, a material that carries electrical signals to activate sophisticated machinery. He has created logic circuits to form a working computer inside the game, as well as elevators, cannons, and conveyor belts.
Players explore the world and learn how to gather materials needed to survive. In survival, peaceful mode, players require tools and shelter. In the survival, non-peaceful mode, they will also require food, and weapons for hunting and protection from enemies. They need to be aware of their surroundings in order to avoid swimming in lava or being killed by a Creeper.
It motivates kids to design their own projects, set their own goals, develop a plan, and work towards its completion. It often means reasoning out visual and spatial aspects, troubleshooting snags, and stretching their self-regulation skills.
Kids can measure success by their standards (not an adult’s standards). Minecraft allows them to be in control of the game and helps them build confidence in their ideas and abilities.
It encourages teamwork. Players can work together to build and protect their world and each other. It requires cooperation, sharing resources, trading supplies, and negotiating projects.
It can also bring together kids from different social groups and help kids who struggle in social situations, find common ground with their peers. (See the world built by a girl with autism to help her cope in the real world – it’s really cool!). More kids are teaching other kids by publishing tutorials, sharing designs and code, and helping each other online. They are connecting on a global scale.
Relaxation. Video games, like most anything, can become an obsession, but it can also be a form of relaxation. Our kids are stressed by homework and extracurricular activities. Introverts, in particular, rejuvenate in solitude.
It’s also been a way to “play together” as a family at the end of the day. It gets us talking – it keep us connected. I don’t think I will ever consider this time as anything but well-spent, and as long as they want to spend time with me, I’m hanging out with my kids! We’ve a lot to teach each other!
I haven’t been posting regularly on Thursdays and I know I’ve been missed. Ok, no one has noticed, but…
Since Big Guy moved in (temporarily) 8 weeks ago…I have been immersing myself in an epic battle for the universe. After pretending to listen listening to Big Guy talk about the video game for years, he finally got me to agree to give try it. In the process, I’ve learned a few things about myself:
…because I respawn A LOT!
You may think I’m immature and I need to act my age, but before you pass judgment –
Let’s just say that if this were real life…
I have some blog posts reading to do too! 🙂 Happy Weekend!
I sank deeper into the couch cushion and slowly exhaled before setting the controller down on the cushion next to me. I feel the same type of euphoria and relief when I have finished an intense and satisfying book, only this time the story had been an arduous, often mind-bending first-person puzzle-platform video game (aka Portal 2). Usually I hate puzzles…because I suck at them!
Some people would say that the hours I spent working through the multiple levels in all 9 chapters was a waste of my valuable time (and they wouldn’t be completely wrong), but a growing body of research has discovering that video games, when played in moderation, can in fact have a positive effect on gamers. A study published in 2003 demonstrated that action gamers playing at least 4 days a week, 1 hour per day, were better than non-gamers at quickly “processing complex information, estimating numbers of objects, controlling where their attention was focused spatially, and switching rapidly between tasks”. More recent studies also show that video games may improve vision and make people more empathetic, helpful and cooperative.
Video games can provoke powerful emotions like curiosity, optimism, pride, and cooperation with other players to achieve a common goal. I’m very competitive. I get frustrated more easily than I used to. And between you, me and the guinea pigs, I ranted in frustration and anger more than once when I couldn’t figure out what to do…or I couldn’t do what I knew I was supposed to do…or the batteries died in the controller at the worst possible moments! Thank goodness for avid gamers who posted cheats on Youtube. There were quite a few “woo hoos” as well (that usually sent the guinea pigs into a frenzy because they thought that loud yelp meant treats for them)!
I seriously doubt that there will be any positive “spill-over” effects in the real world as a result of playing the game, like greater empathy or better vision. I’m already a super multi-tasker – I’m a Mom. However, I’m excited that an antiquated broad like me, whose first video game was Pong, made it all the way through Big Guy’s complex game all mostly on my own. It’s not Mud Hero which was by far a greater achievement, but I’m still proud of the fact that I persevered to the bitter end. Mostly I’m secretly proud of the fact I wasn’t bested by my 8 year old (who plays obsessively and finished the game 3 nights ago). I actually enjoyed whispering in his ear at bedtime that I had finished the game too…maybe I need to join the more than half a billion people worldwide playing online games at least an hour a day to learn more about compassion…or maybe I should just finish painting my kitchen already…what do you think?
"Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing." —Laurie Buchanan
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