Thursday, January 21, 2010

It Was The Hot Coffee, Wasn't It?

There’s no question that we are a generation of technological obsession. When was the last time you left your house without your cell phone? How about the last time you went 24-hours without logging on to the Internet? You’d probably have to struggle to imagine such a time and, yet, a decade ago, most of us didn’t even have either of the two pieces of wonder above.

Now, we worry about overexposure. How much is too much? According to a new study media usage (television, Internet, video games) among 8 -18 year olds has increased to an average of seven hours and thirty-eight minutes per day. That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is just about the same as having a full-time job.

That’s a lot.

No one is questioning that and no one is saying that's okay.

What I am questioning however, is the unfair spin I feel that video games receive. While watching HLN report on these findings tonight I repeatedly heard the host single out video games as the Great Destroyer of Young Minds. Furthermore, even though the host would occasionally mention television and Internet usage as part of the sphere of “media”, all the images in the background were of children playing video games.

I think an underlying issue that bothers me more than anything is the idea that video games are an isolating experience. More than the phone or e-mail, I use Xbox Live to keep in touch with friends these days. Together we’ll shoot zombies, venture through Africa, or play trivia – sometimes for hours – but certainly not alone in our rooms. Yes, I know that I am not the demographic being referred to in this study but I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated by this idea that video games are the worst of the worst of entertainment.

Here’s an example I heard from the folks over at Analog Hole Gaming: imagine telling a friend that your partner spent all day Saturday and all day Sunday watching baseball. More than likely, your friend who say something along the lines of, “wow, that’s a lot of baseball”. However, if you told that same friend that your partner spent all day Saturday and all day Sunday playing video games, chances are that they would be appalled.

You know it’s true.

I’m just trying to figure out why that is; when did video games really get such a bad rap?


  1. What else are they going to do with all that time? Homework? Yeah right.

  2. I totally left the house without my cell phone this morning!
    But anyway... I think video games are today what TV was decades ago, in the sense that the older generation doesn't quite get it. In the 60s & 70s, adults were all "You'll rot your brain out watching TV every day!" and they really believed it, because they didn't have TV when they were kids. Adults just have fear. I don't pay them much mind. Even if I technically am one, on paper.

  3. Dan -

    Touche, my friend. Touche.

    Traci -

    I think you're 100% correct. Once Elvis was gone, society needed someone else to blame.