Reconsidering video games


Senior reconsiders how technology will affect her generation.

Wii, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Xbox — no matter how they’re played, video games are a cultural phenomenon. Ever since their debut, young and old alike have been enamored with their multicolor, action-filled experiences. Today, many high schoolers play them on the daily. As an outsider looking in, watching my brother and other kids around me hole up in their rooms or basements for hours to play them, at first I was honestly kind of concerned. I saw my generation inhibiting themselves from going out with their friends or hanging out with their families. Would this cause us to become a less socially capable generation?

After paying closer attention though, I realized that maybe I wasn’t completely right. When my brother plays video games, he doesn’t just play by himself, he plays with friends online who are playing at their houses. They talk to each other and practically hang out from across the city through their video game. Are they not being just as social as if they had hung out face to face? They are talking to each other and playing a game, learning team building skills, and having fun — so is this really that different from the social habits of past generations?

What originally struck me as a social inhibitor was in reality another opportunity for human connection. Obviously video games still involve staring at a screen for hours at a time, so they aren’t the epitome of health, but now I give them more credit as a social outlet than I had before. I think as we as a race change and learn to create with technology, watching young people interact with each other in a different way can appear frightening and like we are losing a part of our human identity. But not all change is necessarily bad or good though, it’s just different. I think that through video games becoming a more legitimate part of social life, we haven’t actually taken away the ability to be social, but created a new way to be.

This form of connection seemed so foreign to me, I immediately assumed that it was wrong. I think that my own hesitance to change is a small scale illustration of the large scale unease in the world in relation to technological development. There is a fear of the unknown that comes with technology, because we’ve never seen anything like it before. Part of this fear is valid, because when we misuse it it tends to cause separation– like how when people play video games too much, they lose some connection time with their families, even if they’re still being social with their friends. But part of the fear of technology-age friendships and social interactions is not valid.

The ancient philosopher Plato wrote a story in which he essentially explained his fear that handwriting would be detrimental to the wisdom of the human race. He felt that it would cause people to forget what they learned if they could document it. In a way, this is similar to the fears of technology humans face today. As Plato feared the written word, which turned out to be the preservation and foundation of modern civilization, we too fear technology. It is a tool though, not something good or bad until we make it that.

Technology, although it may change parts of the way we interact, just like telephones did, will not be our downfall. It is just another milestone on the path of human development, as was advanced language, the written word, modern day health practices, telephones, space exploration, airplanes, cars, etc. Almost all these things, created to enrich and expand human life, were feared during their conception. But they each made life better, helping us to stay healthy, move quicker, pass down knowledge to the next generations, foster relationships across continents, etc. And although with every new development comes a new way for humans to do something wrong, there also comes a new way for us to do something right. We shouldn’t fear all of technology, we should of course be cautious and wary that we don’t hurt ourselves with it, but we should also embrace the new positive ways in which it helps us interact.