Has your child asked you for a games console this Christmas?
Maybe it’s a Nintendo DS or Wii U, or maybe it’s something bigger like the Xbox 360 or PS3… Maybe they have even asked for something as big and ridiculous as a gaming PC.
Now it’s not for me to say if you can afford this or not, if you can’t then please save your money, do not and I repeat do not put yourself into debt for the sake of a Christmas present.
Let’s say you can afford it but you think a console is a stupid idea, you think to yourself that when you were a kid you didn’t have or need a console, and you had only your thoughts. Kids should be outside on bikes with their imagination rather than killing people on a virtual battlefield. Whilst I agree with you on some aspects I have to kindly disagree about the others and here’s why.
When I was about 7 or 8 I had played a few games, mostly badly pixelated ones on the Commodore 64 and BBC computer. I already had the gaming bug I just didn’t know it yet.
One Christmas morning I came downstairs all bleary eyed and looking forward to opening my presents, I walked through the door of our living room (well truth be told I opened the door and not walked through it like some kind of Kitty Pride) and there standing beside the Christmas tree was a kind of entertainment unit/table, on it was a TV and a NES system. I was so amazed that the rest of my presents remained unopened for a good while.
Now as an adult I knew the reason it was all set up and wasn’t wrapped and waiting is simple, my dad obviously wanted a shot before I got it. If I asked him today he would say he wanted to ‘test’ to make sure it was working before ruining Christmas if it wasn’t. I know the word ‘testing’ would be just another way of saying, ‘son, I fancied playing it for a bit before you got your grubby little mitts on it’. I know this because if I had a kid this would be the exact same thing I would do, difference being I would just keep the console for myself, they could have the box.
My parents were by no means gamers, I think my Dad has it in him but doesn’t have the time, I would love to get him in on a game of Call of Duty but believe he would get the rage in under a minute. The thing was this console was the first step in a passion that has for me become lifelong.
I’ve technically had 26 different Christmases and apart from the most recent two stand out in my mind. One was the day I got the NES and the other is the day I got the PS1.
Getting the PS1 is a similar story but by this time I was better at setting up electronics than my Dad so the present stayed wrapped. I knew I had it because I helped pick it out so on Christmas morning I ran in and tore open the presents, thanking everyone for my gifts and running quickly to my room to set up the PlayStation.
I remember being at my Aunts where we always went for Christmas dinner, all the while wishing I was tearing up the jungle as Crash Bandicoot or shooting zombies as Jill Valentine.
Now I wasn’t some sort of hermit who stayed in a darkened room and had red rings around my eyes because I played video games all night long. In fact the console was usually only used at the weekends. My Nanas house was closer to school so I stayed there Monday to Thursday and the console was home at my Mum and Dad’s. This however wasn’t the determining factor in me not being a reclusive gamer.
The thing is that stereotype of the reclusive gamer is just that ‘a stereotype’, as I got into my teenage years I played American Football, I was in the Air Cadets and eventually I just kind of hung around with my friends.
There was another determining factor… my friends. Most of us had consoles and we would swap games, go by each other’s houses and play for hours on end. On the cold, dark and wet nights would you rather your child be standing outside a corner shop or huddled in their room with a few friends playing the computer?
The thing is times have changed, I no longer need to go to my friend’s house. With the internet being so freely available now you can spend a whole night with friends and not actually see them. The thing to understand is that now this is the norm. Me and my best friend see each other every few weeks but usually at least once a week will speak online whilst playing a game. Some people might think this a sad lonely existence but it’s the opposite. I can usually connect with multiple friends and do something we love without feeling claustrophobic and I can leave at any time without feeling pressured to leave or stay.
As for exercise and creativity/imagination, over the years as I said I have done many physical activities and keep up moderate exercise to this day. I also write and write a lot, I played guitar and sang in bands for years writing my fair share of the songs, I’ve written articles like this one straight of the top of my head and have also tried my hand at writing short stories.
Gaming hasn’t stopped me or any of my friends from doing these types of things, if anything it has just egged us on.
Last but not least if you are worried your child will grow up a girlfriend/boyfriendless loser then you have been reading too many slanderous newspapers. Me and my gamer friends have lived up until now as happy people, very few of us have no one to cuddle at night and most of the ones who don’t it’s through choice and situation, just like everyone else.
I’ve had plenty of friends come and go in my life… just like everyone else.
Being a gamer doesn’t stop you from interacting with people, just don’t be afraid if they now interact in a different way through the power of Xbox live or the PlayStation network.
The whole point of this article was to tell you the truth about gamers so you could make an informed choice about the possibility of buying a console for your child/teenager/man-child. Gamers get a lot of stick and we don’t really deserve it. As with anything a love can become an obsession but this is true of almost anything.
Basically if you have the means and they want the console then why not?
My advice would be this. Check the consoles out and look around for the best deals.
Check the age ratings on games and even ask in store if they think it would be suitable for the age of your child if you are worried, most stores will give you an honest opinion. If in the end you see the game for yourself and think it’s too bloody/sexual then you can always take it back and say it’s not suitable. You might only get store credit but that’s better than nothing.
My last piece of advice is this, why not try it yourself. There are a million games out there and at least one of them you have to like. Fancy a dance? Then there’s Just Dance 4.
Want to shoot people and relieve stress? Then there’s Call of Duty.
Want to sing your heart out? Then there’s Singstar.
Honestly the list could go on and on, so let yourself go and have a little game yourself, you never know you might like it.