Monday, December 16, 2013

A Life Without Gaming, James Douglas

A Life Without Gaming

James Douglas

Unlike many teenagers who started playing video games from a very young age, I have learned to embrace a life without video games. Growing up, my mother never allowed us to have gaming systems. Systems such as the PlayStation, Xbox, or GameCube have never had a place in my house. As a child, many of my friends were raised differently than me. I had a couple of friends whose parents allowed them to play all of the video games they desired. Honesty, I sometimes caught myself wishing I had the lives of those friends. I thought it was completely unfair that my parents didn’t allow me to play video games with my friends. Nevertheless, I always found a way to slip around my mom’s rules.

I knew that I could always find gaming across the street from my house. One of my childhood friends, Jonah, had all the game systems you could imagine. The original PlayStation, a Nintendo 64, and a Game Cube made up his bedroom. With these gaming systems, we used to spend endless hours playing games. I thought “adventures” were leaving my house and playing the games that my parents would never let me have. Looking back, this huge adventure was really just sitting on our bums for hours on end and staring at a screen, living virtual lives. On occasion, numerous friends would come over and we would all be antisocial together as we played games like Mario Kart and Donkey Kong for hours on end. We could sit for minutes, hours, and days doing nothing but sitting in front of a screen; somehow we still always had tremendous fun. However, when I went back home, everything changed.

No gaming systems could be found anywhere near my house. My two brothers and I never stayed inside like all of my friends. We were always outside playing in woods behind my house. We didn’t live lives where hour upon hour was spent staring at a television screen.

My brothers and I had to create the games and activities that occupied our time. Our imaginations helped us to create games that provided us with laughter and adventure that the virtual world could never replicate. Instead of staring at screens all day, I spent all of my time in those woods. We would pretend like we were warriors from the stories that my mother had read to us. Our favorite adventures to reenact the escapades of the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy. All five of us would run around the woods behind our house with fake swords, guns, and other “weapons” fighting imaginary orcs, ghouls, and goblins. Unlike the meager two-player option found in the game systems across the street, there was no limit on the amount of people that could play my games. We may have had looked ridiculous in our Salvation Army salvaged attire, but we were alive. On days like these I realized that I didn’t have to play video games to have loads of fun. I didn’t have to ask for the newest video game for every birthday and Christmas. I could just make up games of my own. The lessons, adventures, bonding, and love that came with imaginary battles in the woods are ones that I could have never experienced from video games.

In addition to the fun I experienced with the family, I developed other skills. As my friends sat in front of televisions, I started taking piano lessons. The time and practice that I put into playing piano would have been lost had I played video games. I am currently in college as music major and playing the piano has been very beneficial to my grades. Sometimes, all my friends will tell me how much they wish they could play the piano. Whenever I hear this, I look back to the time I learned to play. I feel blessed to have parents who provided me with the opportunity to learn to play the piano. I never would have developed this skill had I stared at a screen all day.

A life without video games has allowed me to discover who I am. In my free time, instead of playing video games, I did more productive things with my time. I joined the swim club of my hometown. We had practice about five days a week. Through that swim club, I was able to not only exercise, but I made friends who were more like me. All of us stuck together and stayed part of the same swim club for many years. We were all on the same swim team in high school. We won swim meets and other championships together. We won medals and were able to experience the world of real competition. Thee since of accomplishment I got after winning such meets is a feeling I have never gotten from a video game.

The absence of video games in my home also brought my family closer together, more so than most families I know. Instead of playing video games alone in our rooms, my family loves to gather together during free time. We will always continue to grow closer as a family every second we are not on a virtual adventure. My parents taught me to go on real trips and adventures outside rather than on a television. As a family we traveled all over the country and around the world. I was blessed with the sights and sounds of each new place that many of my friends had only experienced in the virtual world.

A life without video games is not a hard life to live. Such a life brings about a vivid life experience that video games can never imitate. If I had spent my childhood in the confinements of a room with my eyes glued to the television screen, I would never have had the chances to explore the real world. Now as I look back, I know that whatever the future holds, I will set the same rules for my children that my parents have set forth for me. Children can grow in the natural world mores than they ever can in a virtual reality.

1 comment:

  1. OR your parents could have taught you how to manage your time and have a healthy balance. Who is to say all kids who play video games are solely doing that activity? I just think it is pretentious of you to speak like your family is some kind of godsend to the average western family. You learned nothing.