Videogame Week: The Question of Videogames
My parents have the Nintendo Wii. My house does not. Nor do I have an Xbox 360 or a PS3. This slide into a videogame-less existence did not happen intentionally. Up until the last console generation I was a fairly faithful gamer; not diehard, but I made it a point to buy the latest PS-whatever, and every so often I would become so immersed in a game that it would take over my life. If you’ve played videogames, you know the drill. And then, when it came time to upgrade to a Wii/Xbox360/PS3, I basically forgot. We had kids. Life was crazy.
Recently we visited my parents’ house in southwestern Ontario. A spate of rainy weather intersected with a period where my 4-year-old son was really into car-driving activities, and during a trip to Best Buy I made an impulse purchase of Mario Kart for my folks’ Wii console. After two or three minutes of instruction with the steering wheel controller, my son was zipping through Moo Moo Meadows and Mushroom Gorge, and as time passed he climbed the rankings and actually would win the Grand Prix races. I raced him. He even beat me. Kid had game, yo. Then, once we arrived home, he started mentioning it to my wife and I: Can we get a Wii, so I can play Mario Kart all the time?
Did I mention he’s only 4? I had visions of him sitting inside, on the couch, the drapes drawn, his skin so pale it was translucent. No! No videogames. It’s too early! We should spend his leisure time doing real-world activities, outdoor activities, activities that engage him mentally as well as develop him physically. But then I started thinking about the French, and wine, and how French people have lower rates of alcoholism because they grow up drinking wine. They grow up with it, so they’re better able to control their consumption of it. If you start a kid on videogames early in his life, is he more likely to have a healthy relationship with videogames, later in life? By introducing videogames to my son, now, am I making it less likely he’ll become a translucent-skinned shut-in, later in life, like in his adolescence?
I’m not sure. So over the next couple of days I’ll be talking to some experts. And by all means, readers, if you have strong opinions about the matter, send me an email or post a comment, below. I’ll be reporting on the process over here at Bunchland. And by the end of the week I hope to make some sort of decision. Well, probably. Hopefully. No, I will. I definitely will.
Tomorrow: A conversation with videogame critic Josh Ostroff.
Christopher Shulgan is Bunchland’s guest editor for the month of October and the author of Superdad: A Memoir of Rebellion, Drugs and Fatherhood.
Photo by sean dreilinger via Flickr.