The question was posed to me the other day: why do boys love video games? While I can’t answer for others, I can certainly answer for myself. At the time I answered fairly defensively and in jest quoting the mainstream lines of it gives oneself a false sense of accomplishment, then pivoted to it was a form of escapism. While both statements were not fundamentally untrue I did skirt around my true feelings about video games and the impact they have had on my life. Its a subject where I generally feel somewhat defensive unless in the presence of other gamers.
That is in part due to the social stigma that has followed video games throughout the years. While growing up as a teenager I would play games and my mother would quote me news articles she had read about video games such as they make you violent, keep you from leaving home, making you unsuccessful at large in getting a job and lead to divorce in marriage. I would say unfortunately for her that nothing she quoted me stopped me from being the nerd that I am. And her arguments are all extremely flawed. If video games make one more violent than I am a failed example of that. I have never hurt anyone because of a video game. I also proved my mother wrong by living on my own and staying as far from home as possible. I wouldn’t say that I have been unsuccessful at my jobs either. Now the only theory I haven’t been able to test is the divorce part. I have never been married. But now to the good parts, such as what drew me into gaming.
I’d say I was first drawn to gaming because it was fun. From the first moments I can remember video games have always been tied to positive memories by and large. I first played on the Sega system in the 1990’s, and played Game Boy original black and white. While I don’t recall these games as well I do recall my favorite video game as a child was definitely N64’s 007 Goldeneye. I had a lot of fun playing with friends, and was a way to bond with others. I can remember the first rush to this day of beating friends, or even losing and being upset as losing. It was a form of escape from daily life, being mundane and generally boring. If I wasn’t gaming I was at school or I was doing chores at home such as cleaning, dish washing, yard work, or babysitting. So while gaming did prove a fun escape, why did I keep playing? I’d say what keeps me going is the social aspects to gaming.
I am sure this will not come as a shock but I continue to game with friends to this day. While the friends I have played with have varied over time it was through gaming that I learned how to socialize. Granted I would not wish this way of learning social skills on anyone but for me it worked better than any other method. Over time I would continue to hone social skills and develop life long bonds of friendship that were otherwise not available to me. I can say I have many positive memories, so much so that it outweighs the bad and the fact that others may believe it stunts growth and development. I still continue to bond with friends in video games, even occasionally meeting the random stranger and quickly developing a friendship. Gaming for me has become a part of my life that I can’t ignore.