As my girlfriend was shopping her way through the local mall yesterday, I decided to go out on my own and see what the vast open space of shopping goodness had to offer. While the building has been under construction, some of my favorite mainstays (Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.) have been patiently waiting for more patrons who are hesitant to venture through the sounds of saws and hammers. I can't blame them, but I braved the elements anyway.
My first and (ironically) last stop on my venture through the mall was GameStop. As I've written here (here, here and here) before, I've always been somewhat of a video game fanatic. My love affair with games first began with the likes of Little League Baseball and Mario for the NES, which quickly became an all-out blitz on every video game console under the sun. Believe it or not, when I was in seventh grade,a few friends and I had the great idea to start our own video game magazine. It didn't work out -- I was a Sony fanboy at the time and one of my other friends preferred Mario and Donkey Kong -- it was a match made in hell.
Regardless of my past, I still played video games through school, but my love for them waned as my love for girls grew. In quite a few ways, video games -- once the object of my affection -- became something that I forgot about during my formative years.
But yesterday, perusing the wide selection of games in GameStop put things into perspective for me. For the first time in years, I had the urge to play games -- and lots of them.
I had the urge to buy Madden and BioShock, I wanted the used copy of Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete (my favorite PS1 game of all time), and I yearned for the days of Shenmue and Shenmue II and Mario 64 and Starfox and Contra. In a word, my desire to play video games had reemerged and I couldn't have been more happy about it.
But, like any twenty-something with a girlfriend who doesn't want to play video games unless Mario is in the title, I went home and watched movies. That said, my desire to play has not waned.
I don't care what the likes of Jack Thompson have to say and I can't understand the mindset of many forty-somethings who try to tell people to stop playing video games. I don't like the thought of giving up video games and I implore everyone to dig out those dusty old systems and play your favorite games from your past. Video games are great, fun, exciting forms of entertainment that, if you ask me, can add some significant value to the future adults of America.
Why do we, as a society, try to stop people (and especially children) from having fun? Video games are fun and we enjoy playing them -- it's as simple as that. Why should we stop children from having the fun they deserve to have? I've heard the argument set forth that video games help to create personality inconsistencies in children. I don't buy it.
That argument, while incredibly short-sighted suggests that video games help create a society of children that are aloof and introverted. I played video games my whole life (like many others my age) and never had a problem with introversion or aloofness. In fact, I sit here every day and express my opinions to a public that is sometimes agreeable and sometimes hostile to my beliefs. Is that introversion?
Video games do not breed troubled youth and violent video games are not the cause of children going into schools and killing their peers. We're looking for a scapegoat and for some reason or another, video games have become that scapegoat.
Of course, the reason is quite simple: the vast majority of kids play video games and chances are, even the killers play them too. So if you're looking for something to blame a murder on other than the most logical places -- mental illness, upbringing, familial issues -- video games quickly become the best option. Children watch movies, but so do adults, so that can't work, right? And while some adults play video games, the belief (erroneous or not) is still in place that only kids play video games.
Video games are good for this society and are not nearly as detrimental as some might have you believe. It's time we stop blaming video games and finally realize that the issues with America's youth goes far beyond digital guns and figures. The real issues with America's youth start with families.
So, in a show of solidarity, check out my next post listing my top 5 favorite games of all time. I'd love to read yours in the comments, or via email by clicking here