Guest Blog Writer: Kevin Schut
I make sure my girls get their regular doses of video games.
Hi, I’m Kristin’s husband, Kevin. Since it’s crunch time for Kristin, I thought I would be a supportive spouse and write her blog post this month. It’s an ideal opportunity for me to set the record straight about how I’ve twisted my children with gaming—and maybe persuade a few of you to do the same with your kids.
In case you haven’t read Kristin’s October blog post, I’m a professor of Media & Communication at Trinity Western University, and believe it or not, I get paid to do research on video games and culture. I wrote a book a little while ago called, Of Games & God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games, which talks about faith and all kinds of things to do with games. It probably won’t surprise you that I’m a gaming nerd, and I’m trying to pass on some of my enthusiasm to my three daughters.
Have I lost it?
The girls are not what I’d call hardcore gamers: no Halo, no Call of Duty, no Skyrim, no Grand Theft Auto (surprise!). But they do frequently play simpler, casual games by themselves, such as Minecraft, Toontastic, Plants vs. Zombies, Dragon Box, Cat Spanish, Temple Run, Threes, Globs, Rules, and more (I asked them for suggestions). Sometimes they watch me play games like Hearthstone. But the thing I enjoy most is playing games with them—stuff like Mario Kart 8, and adventure puzzle games like Lumino City.
I think at this point, many parents might think I’ve lost it. Why on earth do I think this is a good idea? Aren’t we trying to reduce the amount of games our kids play? I’m sure sometimes we need to—when your kids fall asleep in their cereal because they were up until 3 am, it may be time to cut back on League of Legends.
The making of a good scientist
But playing games can be good. Part of it is educational: games teach us to think in different ways than other media do. I love reading, and our girls do a lot of that, but video games are really good at teaching things like reflexes, spatial perception, and the kind of puzzling skills that make for good scientists.
I also think it’s really important for girls to play games. Video games are a good gateway to learning about technology. Kids who grow up playing games are often more comfortable with computers than non-gamers, and given the barriers to girls in technology industries, games can be very important for getting them in the front door.
The thing that I love most about games is their potential for sparking imagination. Many games give great opportunities for players to explore worlds. We do this with great novels and films too, but games allow us to travel in and touch these fantasy places. My girls are just starting to get to the age where I’ll be able to share some great imaginary places with them. Lumino City is a great place to start.
This doesn’t mean the girls have unlimited play time. You might be surprised at how infrequent their play sessions are—maybe two or three times a week, and rarely for more than 30 or 40 minutes at a time. And right now, they’re not ready for the sometimes toxic world of online multiplayer gaming (although if we’re careful, that can be fine too). Still, those sessions are important to me. This may seem a little backward to you, but in addition to practicing piano, doing homework, going for walks, and reading, I want to make sure they get some gaming time in.