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Gamers Will Rule The World

Posted by on Mar 28, 2012 | 11 Comments

Hello, Mr. President.

Our society like to vilify video games.  We like to blame them for the obesity epidemic.  We attribute the apparent rise in societal violence to the violent themes of many games.  We fret over the social isolation experienced when sitting in front of a computer screen.

And it’s all bullshit.

I’ve long-touted the benefits of video games.  Anecdotal evidence suggests gamers aren’t significantly affected by their pass time.  Research has repeatedly shown the fears listed above are unfounded.  Dr. Peter Gray sums up the pro-gamer argument quite well in this article.

I’ll go a step farther.  People that play video games today will rule the world tomorrow.

Why?

Our society is quickly being herded into two distinct groups.  These groups are most apparent when observing parents and their attitude with their children.

Group One: The helicopter parents.  This group obsesses over their children.  They meddle in their children’s lives at every opportunity.  They plan their child’s activities to assure future success.  They routinely interfere to advocate for their child.  They sterilize their children’s environment to minimize risk.  In short, they don’t allow their kids to make decisions or take responsibility for their actions or take risks… unless it is directed by the parents.  They take a “more is more” approach.  This parent is preparing their kids to get a good job. This parenting philosophy is on the rise.

Group Two: The freedom parents.  This group takes a hands-off approach to parenting.  They allow their children to explore and play without adult interference.  They give them solitude.  They trust kids’ instincts and abilities.  They foster independence.  They develop their kids’ ability to assess their world, make decisions, and accept responsibility for their actions.  They recognize that kids are like sculptures, not paintings… the goal is to remove barriers to allow them to bloom.  They take a “less is more” approach.  This parenting philosophy is preparing their kids to make a good job.  This parenting philosophy is on the decline.

So what does this have to do with video games?  Group one likes to limit or even forbid their kids from playing video games.  Group two allows more or less unfettered access to video games.  The kids in group two are far more likely to grow up as gamers.  And rule the world.

Why Gamers Will Rule the World: Skill Set

The kids from group one will have spent their time doing what they’re told.  They will get very good at following orders, memorization, and fitting in.

The kids from group two will have spent their time using their imagination to solve unique problems using creative solutions.  They will have developed the confidence, independence, and social savvy to lead others.  In short, they will have developed the skill set to be tomorrow’s leaders.

Why Gamers Will Rule the World: The Gamer Experience

Not all the people from group two will become leaders of the future.  Gaming itself will give a select group a very special skill set: the ability to master technologically-fueled social interactions.  The old guard is usually quite  suspicious of the social aspect of technology.  They’ll dismiss the interactions that occur on Facebook or Twitter as somehow not qualifying as social interaction.  They laugh at the idea of a MMOG constituting “social interaction.”

Why?

It’s different than what previous generations did.  We inherently fear new technologies.  We believe the next generation needs to learn all the social skills we had to master for our own world.  As such, we do a poor job of teaching the next generation the skills they need to navigate their world.  The parents of group two produce more adaptable kids because the kids themselves learn the skills they need.  Video games happen to be one of the best tools the new generation has to learn the skills they’ll need to successfully navigate the socio-technological world that’s emerging.

My Bold Prediction

The kids that are allowed to play video games will end up being the most successful people over the next 20-40 years.  Furthermore, this success will be entirely independent of success as measured by traditional means, like grades in school, test scores, or degrees earned.  Gamer experience will become a common thread to distinguish leaders from followers.

Contrarian Parenting Advice

So… if you’re a “group one” parent, give your kids some space.  Work on becoming a \”group two” parent.  If you already are a group two parent, let your kids play video games.  In fact, encourage them.  Let them set the limits of the amount of time they play, what they play, or whom they play with (warn them about the pedophiles posing as teens, though).

Of course, how you choose to parent your kids is entirely up to you… consider this a friendly suggestion.  ;-)

But Aren’t Video Games Bad?

Many make the claim.  After all, why would we want kids sitting on one place for a long time doing very little physical activity while intently focusing on a singular stimuli?

Most opposition to video games comes from Luddites that fear new technology.  They make wild claims about video games causing our society to crumble.  Their argument may have validity… if the exact same argument hasn’t been made by every single older generation throughout recorded history.  Many cite research, but the research is sketchy and clearly divided.  Some research shows a positive effect, some shows a negative effect.  Most is poorly designed with results that cannot be generalized to a wider population.  Most anti-video game rants end up sounding like a Pat Robertson sound bite.  Logic and common sense are thrown out the window in favor of ignorance and good ‘ole fear mongering.

I suspect many in the anti-video game crowd simply don’t give kids enough credit.  Odds are your kids are intelligent, well-adjusted social animals that are more than capable of consuming video games without ill effect.

Your Opinions?

What do you think?  Are you a gamer?  What skills do you think you gain from the experience?  Has gaming been a positive experience?  What about parents?  What are your thoughts?

If you ARE a gamer, share the post with other gamers.  I’m interested to hear gamer opinions…

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11 Comments

  1. Jeff Gallup
    March 29, 2012

    Interesting.. I ran across this infographic this week also.. http://frugaldad.com/gaming/

  2. Richard
    March 28, 2012

    Agree with Bob and Nick here. I’m a parent who falls between group one and two. I want my son to have freedom and take responsibility for his actions, but there are some things he can’t understand (like cars will hurt you if you get hit by one).

    I’ve also lived in a few countries and cultures and have witnessed various parenting styles which most certainly don’t fall into those two all-or-nothing groups.

    I live in Japan now and my opinion, having met a great deal of gamers, is that many of them are not about to lead anything.

    As with everything, we need to look at individuals. Seeing things as either black or white rarely leads to anything constructive.

  3. Bob (Downtown Runner)
    March 28, 2012

    Jason,

    I think you’re way over generalizing here. I would admit that my wife and I were somewhat helicopterish (homeshooled four kids, two until HS and the other two all the way through HS). We were very regimented, limited TV, organized curriculum, etc. But we also did allow them to have educational computer games. We allotted time for this activity, just like everything else. The result? They all still play a lot of video games. One is a doctor. Another a HS Biology teacher. The third works in freelance GAME DEVELOPMENT. The last is still in school. That is, when he doesn’t have a game controller in his hand. Or tutoring math.

    Different kids respond to different kinds of parenting. Even within the same family. Some NEED a regimen to keep them moving forward. Some can do “unschooling” and learn more than if they had more structure. Its a challenge to adapt your parenting to the unique needs of your kids.

    If we had it to do over again, we would probably be a little more “Group 2ish”. But to generalize and say all parents should be that way, or that gamers will only come from one kind of parents, or that gamers will rule the world is, well, going way too far.

    And I agree with others that many, not all, gamers are not well adjusted and will most certainly not rule the world.

  4. BarefootNick
    March 28, 2012

    I disagree with there being two groups. I think in any circumstance there is potential for greatness. No specific model facilitates this though.
    I’m in my young-mid 30’s now, I’m a gamer and always has been. I now hold the position of IT manager and have recently gone back to college to finish a degree I started eons ago.
    What I’m seeing is a constant chatter about games amongst the tech students, and I wouldn’t hire a single one of them.
    They are obnoxious, complainers and they always eat something….. In class…… Because life is so difficult that if they shape their meals around their schedules they may just drop dead from starvation, in spite of mostly being behemoths.

  5. Barbara
    March 28, 2012

    My husband and I are both gamers. We grew up that way. My parents bought me every new system, and allowed me to play as long as I wanted if my school work was done. Same with the hubs. But people don’t always give kids enough credit. They know when enough is enough without some one telling them. There were plenty of times when I wanted to play outside or go to the library instead of play games. My parents never forced it on me, and they never forced me into after school activities or sports. Now I own a business doing what I love to do, I run, and I play video games. The hubs is a proud member of the Marine Corps, and likes to blow off steam with some Call of Duty after work. I’m fairly certain that our group 2 parents and video games didn’t ruin our lives. :)

  6. Shelahd
    March 28, 2012

    <–Homeschool Mom who also games…and runs barefoot…and fights for the environment…and teaches people about health, nutrition and having a happier life.

    I am certainly NOT a helicopter parent. As such, all 3 of my kids have an incredibly high "standard" bar when it comes to their behavior and their responsibilities. Recently, I commented publicly about our boy being in "big trouble". Others assumed he had gotten into a fight, did drugs or been found to have been sexually active. Reality: He got two weeks behind in ONE of his 5 honors classes in virtual school. (see, incredibly high bar)

    My kids are all gamers as well. It is something we embraced as a family and I LOVE that my kids and I can share this part of life as well. We are all FAR from lazy or unsocialized. My son actually wrote a paper for his English class about how gaming is GOOD for you. It was fabulous!

    My goal as a parent is to give my kids every opportunity that I can while also teaching them how to ENJOY life. Who honestly cares if they wind up winning the Nobel Peace Prize? It's far more important to me that they are happy and compassionate humans.

  7. Erik
    March 28, 2012

    As long as you game barefoot, it’s natural.

    Helicopter vs. freedom parents: probably has something to do with family size. If you have 3+ kids, you can’t spend as much attention on any one of them. And if one or two don’t turn out so well, who cares? The secret to having just one or two kids is to pretend you have five or six, then you’ll be a freedom parent without thinking about it.

    For me, it’s all been downhill since literacy undermined oral culture. I blame the scribes for my poor ability to memorize epic poetry.

    Getting back to your post on play: toys tend to mimic adult skill requirements. The post-industrial workforce needs people who are good at staring at their computer screens problem-solving business solutions. But it seems like really little kids at least only choose tv and video games when no one is paying attention to them or their play options are limited.

  8. The Pooch
    March 28, 2012

    I would say, get those kids away from screens of all types and get them outside running, exploring nature, hiding and seeking, gardening–in short, playing in the real world.

  9. Chris Darin
    March 28, 2012

    @Chadisbarefoot: Having been an RA for 3 years and a prolific gamer myself I would say the opposite. On my floors games were what brought everyone together. And most of my residents were on the track or golf teams — hardly inactive, overweight, or socially maladjusted. Still, this is all anecdotal, just like your commentary — which makes it of limited use.

    I’m a game developer now, and I teach game production at a university. I’m in constant surprise of how diverse both games and gamers are. I think the variety will only increase, and like music we will stop asking “do you like games” but start asking “what kinds of games do you like.”

  10. Stacey
    March 28, 2012

    I think your assessment of group 1 (helicopter parents) vs. group 2 (freedom parents) is right on, but I feel like extending that argument to gamers is a bit of a leap. I went to engineering school and spent a lot of time with geeks and gamers, and I agree with Chadisbarefoot – the gamers were smart but only narrowly, with severely lacking decision-making and social skills. These guys weren’t concerned with “technologically-fueled social interactions” – they were simply addicted to gaming. No matter how technical the world gets, a person has to have some skills at reading and understanding people to be a leader – spending your life sitting at a computer just doesn’t develop those skills. So, letting your kids have freedom to make mistakes and allowing them some hands-on experience with technology = GREAT! Allowing them to become gamers = not so great.

  11. Chadisbarefoot
    March 28, 2012

    I can say, having been an RA (resident advisor) at a state university for 2.5 years, that the prolific gamers in the residence halls were definitely NOT “well-adjusted social animals that are more than capable of consuming video games without ill effect.” They were overweight, inactive, socially maladjusted nerds. They were smart but only in a very narrow sense. Decision-making and priority-setting skills were lacking or absent altogether.