Saturday, January 21, 2006

Gamer Gene, Part 2

I know I said I was hiatus for the weekend, but this is nagging me, so I need to get it out in the open.

Thursday I put up a post about my family's Gamer Gene. And then Part Time Gamer read my post, and linked to it here, with some comment on it. He followed it a few posts later with one about Jared the Subway guy , and how it sucked that Jared blamed his initial weight game on Nintendo when in fact he simply wouldn't get up off his ass to exercise when he was a kid, and his parents didn't make him do anything until it was too late (I agree with Part Time Gamer; that is just plain stupid, especially for the son of a doctor). And then I put two and two together (slowly, I know) and understood what Part Time Gamer was accusing me of.

It never occured to me that my children were not getting enough exercise, not because I'm blaming a video game for their inactivity, but because they are not, in fact, inactive. I took them outside the same day as my post, and the day before that, as I do all the time. Yeah, they've had to spend a lot of time indoors because of the weather, but now that warmth is coming to Texas and I have a garden to tend, we spend plenty of time outdoors. The girls chase the dog and play wiffle ball and help me dig in the dirt. But since I didn't say any of this in my Gamer Gene post, how was Part Time Gamer to know?

Then I thought about the post itself, and reread it. I realize now that what I was thinking and how I came across were two different things. So I think I should clarify.

When I say Gamer, I mean someone who is actually talented at video games. I do not consider myself to be such a person. I do not mean a person who does no kind of physical activity because he's too busy gaming. My brother, who I spoke about as a Gamer, was also the kind of child who would play basketball with his friends, or go swimming, or get in the occasional fistfight. My husband, who I called a hard core Gamer, has had very physical jobs for the majority of our marriage, first as a Marine, and now as an EMT responsible for lifting some very heavy people on stretchers. (You might say that this is not a physical job. I would say that any job that makes him come home in as much pain as he does counts as very physical indeed.)

I realize also that I came across as being of the opinion that all Gamers are consumed by Gaming, which is not true and is not my actual opinion. I do apologize. What I actually believe is that my husband is consumed by Gaming. Not because he sits for two or three hours straight in front of the computer, but because he sits for six hours straight or longer in front of the computer after being at work all day, to the point where I sometimes feel he is ignoring the rest of the family, staying up very late when he and I both know he needs to wake up at 3 AM for work. Sometimes I want to take his Guild Wars disc and snap it right in half, but if it weren't that game it would be another. The problem is him. I am perfectly aware that not all Gamers do this.

And so when I marvel at my own child's gaming, I am simultaneously amazed by her attention span (something rare in a 4-year-old), surprised by her talent, concerned that she might one day do as her father does, and guilty that I am not directing her attention to her books, her instruments, her crayons, her paintbrushes, her trains, or her Playdough. But the truth is, even when she is playing with one of those things, I still feel guilty that she's not doing one of the others. And knowing this about myself, and that the game is in fact educational, I go ahead and let her play her V. Smile. Once she tires of it (45 minutes later) or I think she's had enough, off it goes, and we do something else.

1 comment:

Justin said...

A great follup post. You sound like a well rounded parent. I was really glad to see that you don't have a stigma towards video games as a whole and that didn't lead me to believe you did.

And when I said I could write about this for hours, this is what I meant:

In my mind, gaming like that (though not quite like your husband's) is similar to me in many ways to Play-Doh or musical instruments. A child could spend equal amounts of time doing anything and someone could consider it "wasted". I, too, played an instrument in school for seven years. I was also a thespian for seven years. I was on the highschool tennis team. Ten years later, the only thing I retained from all that was that I play tennis once a week with a city club.

I'm a strong believer in gamers catching the programming bug, or the elecronic. I grew up to program webpages for four years. Hobbies are hobbies. It's what is learned from those hobbies that is important. And apparently you agree.

I do appologize for the "hours" bit. I have no idea where that came from and I guess I did glean that from you talking about your husband's gaming habits.