When I was growing up, video games were a constant companion of mine. I outgrew toys (playing with them anyway) but no matter how old I got, my interest in video games never drifted. In fact my fascination with them only strengthened as I understood more about the medium. Gaming has now pretty much become my favorite hobby. In addition to spending hours playing them, I write reviews and editorials about them. So you can probably understand why I become irked whenever I hear nonsense like “Video games make your brain rot!” Or my personal favorite, “Video games teach people to kill!” but that last one is a whole different topic for another day. For now, I’ll just stick to the former.
Gaming is a more widely accepted form of entertainment, but like anything that obtains popularity, there’s always going to be those that like to tear it down. It seems like we hear more of the negative affects that gaming has on kids and adults rather than the positive. Two sides to every story, folks.
Many games require the player to think about just how they’ll defeat an enemy, and anything that encourages us to use our brains can’t be all bad. The Legend of Zelda series is known for it’s puzzle-solving elements to advance through dungeons. Link carries a sword to hack and slash his foes, but a good chunk of the bosses in these games cannot be slain by simply whaling on them with a pointy object. One of my favorite boss battles in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is King Dodongo, a much larger version of the Dodongo bosses in the original Legend of Zelda. The creature’s weak point is his mouth. However, you can’t do any damage to him until you toss a bomb into his mouth, wait for it to explode, then you can commence with the hacking and slashing. This is one of the more tame examples of fighting a boss in a Zelda game, but it does still demand some thinking on the player’s part.
If we can use books to escape reality, why not do the same with gaming? Video games can also be viewed as digital, interactive books and there are tons of genres to choose from. Feel like saving the world from whatever mid-evil plague is troubling it? The Dragon Quest, Ogre Battle, and Final Fantasy games got you covered. Or maybe you want a horror/thriller adventure. Take your pick from any of the Silent Hill & Resident Evil games. Even prosecutors and defense attorneys get a chance to shine in the excellent Phoenix Right series. Wanna see just how good your reflexes really are? There’s a plethora of shoot ’em ups on numerous consoles and PCs. Like movies, there’s a game for everyone and like a good book, a lot of games, both old and new are packed with gripping tales.
How many times have we heard mom tell the kids to go outside and play to get some exercise? I’m a firm believer in fun outdoor activities but if the kids get some exercise indoors, that’s also good, right? The numerous Dance Dance Revolution titles not only help with rhythm and movement, but they also give you a nice work out. Sure, it may not be hardcore exercising, but at least you’re getting up and moving around.
I have two nieces, one is six, the other, three. One of their favorite things to do is play video games. Many times I’ll watch them play and help them out when the get stuck, but sometimes I’ll try to get them to do things on their own. Other times, the two of them just like to watch me play. Maybe it’s because their dad is a gamer, but I never dreamed they would be into gaming as much as they are. And I’m not talking about games like Barbie. Sure, a Barbie game might catch their interest, but the games they like to play are on the same level as what their father and uncle play. It doesn’t make a difference if it’s a modern day game like Super Smash Bros. Brawl or something old-school like Kirby’s Adventure. These kids love to game. They even know what they are not allowed to playe based on the ESRB ratings labels. You better believe I’m proud that they dig gaming and show off some adequate skill for their age.
All that garbage about video games rotting your brains is just that, garbage. Not only is gaming healthy for you on multiple levels, it’s fun, which is the entire reason many people play games to begin with.
I believe Mario’s creator, Shigeru Miyamato said it best. “Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock and roll.”