In 2020, amid the pandemic and lockdowns, video games are popular like never before. Prejudice against them persists, however, and many see games as a waste of time at best. Shooters in particular supposedly make players aggressive and asocial. In fact, 2018 saw the classification of “gaming disorder” as an illness.
Because of the negative image of video games, even adult gamers typically avoid talking about their hobby with their parents. It’s the older generation that sneers the most, after all. Or is that just another stereotype?
Parents versus video games
To get to the root of the situation, we turned to research company Savanta, which carried out a global survey for us. Young gamers talked about what their parents think about games, and how that affects family relationships. Here’s what we learned.
More than a quarter of respondents said they hide their gaming hobby from their parents. What’s more, almost half say that having an opportunity to talk about gaming with their elders would change their lives for the better.
Why don’t they? Well, gamers believe it comes down to negative stereotyping about their pastime. Many parents believe video games are unhealthy, that gaming causes ailments such as obesity and insomnia. Another popular myth is that computer games “rot the brain.” Some respondents stated that the older generation considers games too violent, and that parents panic over cyberbullying.
Not all of those parental doubts are unfounded. For example, many respondents agree that in-game bullying is indeed a problem, and some note that they’ve had trouble with cheaters.
Don’t forget scammers, either: Gaming accounts, especially those containing valuable items, are prime targets for hijacking. Family talks could ease some of the stress that situation causes.
Even with all of those concerns, most gamers find that playing relieves far more stress than it causes — and that’s not the only upside. Contrary to popular belief, games can help keep the mind in shape by developing logic and attention span. They can also teach players everyday skills: Not for nothing is gamification (the use of gaming elements in nongaming environments) a major buzzword in business, education, and other walks of life.
Of course, the gaming industry, with turnover growing year on year, also provides a long list of jobs for a wide variety of professionals. Who else but gamers go on to become top game developers, designers, and reviewers?
Gaming benefits: What parents think
Not all parents see games as the work of the devil, as our survey shows. Many moms and dads agree that games can offer some scope for creativity. They also recognize that games can help players pick up a foreign language as well as develop communication (including intercultural), teamwork, and problem-solving skills — skills found in expensive courses, training sessions, and entire university programs.
Incidentally, older people learn about the advantages of video games from sources beyond their kids. Grandmas and grandpas play, too, after all. So, why the brick wall between gamers and parents?
To help knock down that wall, we invited some real experts to join the discussion — gaming moms. The world’s first show for gaming parents and parents of gamers, #MumsGotGame featured three moms who had either raised a famous gamer or become an influencer in the gaming community: Anne Fish (mother of gamer Benjyfishy and e-sports mentor), Keza MacDonald (video games editor for The Guardian), and Ruth Payne (mother of gamer Behzinga).
The three mothers discussed the impact of video games on family life, how parents and gamers can find a common language and shatter stereotypes, and the opportunities for personal and career growth that the gaming industry and e-sports enable. The topic of lockdown, which has shaken up the world of online games, came up as well.
The moms also talked about real in-game problems that cause caring parents sleepless nights, giving advice on how to work on them without resorting to bans or interfering too much in kids’ lives.
We, too, have some tips for you:
- To prevent accounts from being stolen, protect them properly and do not disable your antivirus while gaming. “Antivirus causes slowdown” is another long-standing myth — this one actually coming from gamers — but the truth is, modern security solutions do not interfere with games. Recently, the world record for speedrunning Doom Eternal was set on a computer with Kaspersky Internet Security enabled.
- To protect loved ones from online aggression, talk about how to handle it. Mutual support improves the atmosphere at home and can give gamers the language and strength to deal with bullies and griefers — not only in games, but in other areas of life too. At a time of forced social distancing, that’s especially important.
If you’re still unconvinced about the merits of gaming, perhaps Mum’s Got Game will help you look past the stereotypes and break the ice with your gaming kids. We hope that video games will become your common interest instead of a stumbling block. Good luck!