By Jodi A. Shaw
I cringed this past Christmas while purchasing a PlayStation 3 for my husband. It didn’t exceed my budget and the shopping experience was quick and easy, but I was disgusted with myself for finally giving in.
I’ve long had a distaste for video games and have been unapologetically vocal about it. The reasons were partly personal: for years I desperately wanted in on my brothers’ Nintendo playing, and the damn things were also responsible for the downfall of a four-year relationship with a boyfriend who seemed to love his time with Castle Wolfenstein more than his time with me. Less personally, video games can encourage and create isolation and anti-social behaviour and, of course, they have been controversially linked to violent crimes.
My husband loved the gift and I didn’t see much of him in the days following Christmas. I feared my reservations had been confirmed. Since then, though, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to have my expectations set on their head.
It turns out video games aren’t evil, violence-ridden, time-sucking isolation devices after all. Well, they do suck up quite a bit of time. My husband spends a couple of hours each night on the couch navigating his way through Lego Batman. But it’s fine: I watch and we talk.
We’re not the only couple finding quality time this way. Kyle, 30, says he and his girlfriend purchased a Wii specifically because “it’s something we can do together.” Rather than spending evenings on the couch watching TV, they bowl. Nintendo’s Wii is a top seller and has been praised for getting people off their butts, moving, and interacting. Kyle was injured last year in a hockey game and has been sidelined ever since, but he’s been able to get his athletic fix via the Wii.
Joanne, 39, cannot say enough about the Nintendo DS and what it’s helped her eight year-old daughter achieve. Hoping to help her child with concentration and schoolwork, Joanne invested in the handheld game system. Her daughter was soon hooked on games like Sudoku Challenge and Bookworm and “she’s more focused, more confident, and her grades have gone from D’s to high C’s and B’s.” Joanne has even found herself picking up the DS for a few moments of Brain Age.
Says an employee at EB Games: “Gaming companies are really responding to the changing needs of the players. There are still violent games, and lots of them, but there’s also a vast array of fitness-inspired games and educational and thought-provoking games.”
Meanwhile, at my house, we enjoy our PlayStation nights. Instead of watching separate television shows in separate rooms, or sitting in silence while watching a movie, we share news about our day, chew over problems, and joke. And I eat my words and admit repeatedly that video games really aren’t as bad as I made them out to be.