Issue Date: 3/23/2022
Last Updated: 3/23/2022 3:48:59 PM |
I recently overheard a couple speculating on whether kids who are raised on video games will have the same level of imagination as those who weren’t. If something will be taken away from them if they experience too much exposure to this medium. To anyone ruminating on that same question, as someone who grew up on video games I’d like to try and put some minds at ease.
The primary console I grew up with was an N64, translucent green with truly terrible controllers for tiny hands. My dad and I would go to pawn shops to find games to play, or rent them from our local video store when one looked interesting. We played plenty of games together as a family, and the memories of such silly shared adventures are something I look back on fondly to this day. Still, as an only child with two hardworking parents, I spent a lot of time playing an assortment of games by myself.
And my imagination ran wild.
I never completed more than a couple levels in my favorite Super Mario 64 in all my years with the game because I preferred to simply run amok in the colorful worlds, my own narration and scenarios streaming through my head as I gleefully ignored the game’s set objectives. The racing games I played were ripe for drama, my own telenovelas playing out at every corner, pass, and wreck. A tank game my cousin and I would play often, meant to be composed of short rounds and lots of combat against each other, had us instead driving around side by side, exploring the map to find the perfect fort where we could play pretend for hours. No matter the intention set for a videogame by its developers, I constantly and consistently found my own fun in their worlds.
I replayed some of those old games I loved so much as a child in recent years, and was a bit saddened to find they didn’t hold that same spark for me anymore. Without the rampant imagination of my childhood, I’m more limited to the fun I can find within games. Now I simply follow the story laid out before me, and, well, I suppose I remember my own stories invented in those worlds as better.
The expanses of a child’s mind are often hard to fathom as an adult. But just like the old – and accurate – joke of a child being more interested in playing with a box than the toy that came inside, their innate creativity will always rebel against the confines of any medium. In my experience, video games were just another doll house, an added visual element to my favorite activity of playing pretend in precisely my own way. Whatever shiny new tool comes along for kids to play with, it’ll never be enough to tear them away from the more interesting activities that only they can come up with and perceive. All it will do is give them a new way to play it out.