Video games "aren't enriching" - my response

A friend in the dance community posted a request for feedback on a particular video game franchise, rightfully concerned about her daughter's exposure to various themes of violence prevalent in games today and asking what we thought. Among the commentary was the following:

"I can 't see where this or any other game is a necessity for the development of anyone's child.
I'm so grateful that my days after school were spent playing football, basketball and baseball and drawing and painting in my spare time.
Life is about creating memories. I can hardly see where playing video games creates memories."


To which I had a ready reply:

Not all things we engage in need to be for our development. Some things are just fun for fun's sake!

That said, some of my FAVORITE memories as a kid--in the 80's no less!-- was sitting with my brother and playing Zelda. One of us would be the navigator with the map and the other would run the game, then we would swap. We would have friends over and play together as well.
I also was in theater, choir, took dance and gymnastics, and played on basketball and volleyball teams, went camping in the summers, and loved to ride my bike. Later in college, my console system was one of the only ones in the dorm. I would invite people over to play, would leave my door open and people would gather to watch and play together. I met a lot of people and made a lot of friends with that shared interest. Today I have an awesome husband who also loves to game, and we do it together--both board and video games. We sometimes play online with friends who live in other states! Very enriching for me my whole life, with meaningful relationships and happy memories to spare.

I go to multiple conventions every year where I meet hundreds, nay thousands, of people who share my interests. Some of us spend months crafting elaborate costumes to dress up as our favorite characters, some of us develop games for a living now and get paid to do something we love and brings other people joy, some of us create art around various game franchises, themes, and characters; some of us use the vehicle of gaming to tell meaningful stories or messages ("That Dragon, Cancer" and "We Are Chicago" being two games with moving messages, just off the top of my head)--there are so many creative and interesting outlets which grow from gamers' experiences.

It's okay if this isn't your idea of fun, or if you wouldn't find it enriching or connecting. For me it definitely has been. I am also a dancer, an artist, a seamstress, an amateur chef, a community-builder, a dog foster momma, a gardener, and many other things.
I still love to ride my bike! Video games can be as much a way to connect with stories, people, and creativity as any other activity, and the implication that it will somehow supplant or prevent other endeavors "in the real world" is the kind of hyperbole I usually see reserved to old church ladies clucking about "kids these days". I hope you will open your mind to the idea that gaming can have value and enrichment just like any other hobby out there today.

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