Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ruffling Q*bert's Feathers or a Word on Success


Helping my children feel successful.  It is one of the things I struggle with as a parent.  Here is Seth navigating a game on Dr. Gooch's ipad.  I could hear him every few minutes, mutter, "Yes!" to himself.  Little successes that lure him onward in the computerized challenge under his fingertips.  

I cringe at the easiness of the way of video games.  I know there are many who turn their nose up at my distaste.  Overreaction?  Stingy?  Stuck up?  Who cares.  I don't like them.  I grew up with them towering over me in our garage.  My Dad was in the Arcade Business.  I have certainly played (and beat) my fair share.


And I realized, yesterday, partly why I don't like video games.  



Success.  Or rather, a false sense of it.  Without really doing anything at all (in the actual world) without any interaction, production, relationships, or work, someone can feel successful.  It is similar to caffeine.  It takes work, discipline, and motivation to feel energetic.  Early to rise, early to bed.  Eat well.  Exercise regularly.  Yet caffeine gives it to you for free (or the price of a bottle of soda).  Interesting that they are both addictive substances.  Video games and caffeine. 


Seth loves to build.  He builds and builds and builds.  He gets extremely frustrated and has to leave his building for a spell.  Maybe a scooter ride outside or some harmless pestering of his sisters.  But he always goes back to it.


Because he has found great success.  He has put in the HOURS.  He has tried and failed, but tried again and the tower stands.  The railway runs.  The marble travels and does exactly what he had planned in his mind.  He has something to show for it.  It makes him thirsty.  It moves and refreshes his mind.


His sisters sometimes come in while he is building and he can show off his creations.  They genuinely "ooh" and "aah".  Sometimes though, they get in the way and contention arises and we have to stop to learn how to "ask nicely" and "respect others".  

Nearly always, I am in the kitchen while he builds.  It is after school.  It is dinnertime.  Nearly always he runs through the hall to beg me to "come see!"  And I do.  And I tell him how wonderful it is (because it is) and he smiles and coos in his awkward way.  

He feels success.  


And so do I.  This is why I hate video games.  Because they are a threat to THIS.  

And THIS is priceless.

12 comments:

Ingrid said...

I agree...not a big fan here of video games. We do not own any game systems. However, back in the day, I loved me some Qbert!

kelly said...

I couldn't agree more. This is a hot topic in the Vaisey households-we have seen the destruction first hand and it's not pretty, yet I already feel them invading my home that contains a 3 and 4 year old. Down with video games, up with boredom.

Trainer Momma said...

Amen, amen and amen. My feelings EXACTLY.

Emily said...

I like the analogy between gaming and caffeine - it's very relevant. This has been a topic of discussion in our house since before the kids were born - but I've never been able to capture the exact 'thing' I didn't like about video games - the core of my issues with them. It's been the tiny bit of irritating sand that has kept me coming back to the discussion many times. You've captured a large piece of it here - thanks!

I agree that life is best learned actively - first hand and hands on. TV, video games, and other forms of virtual life can only attempt to replicate the rich, real environment that we sometimes take for granted around us.

Kurt Knudsen said...

wise mama...

Heidi said...

Okay, I'm playing the devil's advocate. Video games can be fun as long as you put a limit on them. They are enjoyed as a family in our home. Heck, my husband the surgeon was even encouraged by his UCLA surgery residency attendings to play video games as they help with his endoscopy skills (X-Boxes were set up in the residents' lounges). Yes, one can get carried away with video games but that is where we as parents can step in, set up boundaries, teach them discipline (stopping when the time is up), earning rewards to play, etc. Some kids are really interested in electronics, computers, gadgets. I don't think video games are all that bad as long as they are not fighting games and there are limits and rules for playing them.

Tracy said...

Oh, I am so with you on this! I hate video games too! We don't own any game systems, and (hopefully) it will stay that way. Of course, my kids do get the opportunity to play them when they go on vacation and visit realtives' and friends' homes. At these times I let them play a ton, because I know don't get any at home.

Of course, we do own a computer though, and I was seriously bugged by how early my eldest discovered that he could play "games" online (he learned this from watching his dad do it). So, even without the game systems, my boys are still always asking to play online games. Luckily, it's pretty easy to limit this type because mom and dad need to use the computer too.

I agree with you...I think the reason I hate video games so much is because they seem to sap the interest out of real life. They are so addictive, so fast...it doesn't take long after being introduced to them for a child's thoughts and aspirations to be almost wholly occupied by them! And that is probably, as you pointed out, because of the easy success they enable.

Jen said...

Agreed. We received a Wii for Christmas (against our wishes) and my boys beg me to play it constantly. We don't do any Wii during the week or on Sundays and for the last 3 Saturdays I have been able to divert their attention elsewhere. Before I even hooked it up I let them know that once it is nice outside, the Wii is going back in the box until winter. ...with all that said, the few times we have played it, we've been able to make it a family activity, so it's not all bad I guess. PS..what is the name of the color on your walls? Love it!

Michelle said...

I loved this post because I too dislike video games. We grew up with pong and an atari with two games. which We only every really played in the summer. Last christmas we bought the wii- not with my blessing and you know what at best we play it once a month if that. I just tell my girls I don't know how to work it- which is true, and wait till dad gets home and they forget all about it. They almost always get distracted with something else. I think the bigger problem for us is the PBS site- that's really addictive to the girls but some of it is really educational for young ones. The trouble is providing a "fun" home for your kids and their friends. I'd rather have my home be the fun home with my kids around me. That's where I start to consider balance. BUT there really is great joy seeing kids create and use their imagination- I completely agree!

The Original Mangums said...

I love his building. I watched out the kitchen window when I visited at your home, he was out there making a water fall.
He stacked and re-stacked cinder blocks and boards for over an hour until he finally got the right angle and the water did the right thing! He is amazing. Uncle Mark, watch out, here comes Seth!

Derek and Ceri Steele said...

Agreed! However, I admit I love games of any kind. I just spent a 1/2 hour playing Water Bombs (I think) and got to level 38. Can you believe it? Just wasted a 1/2 hour. Darn...I need to build something.

The Frat Pack + Me said...

I completely agree! It is a daily struggle with 2 teen boys....oh, and I have those same Dwell pillows in your first shot :)