Summary of "World of Video Games" session |

Summary of "World of Video Games" session

Parents and staff members learned a lot about the psychology behind the various video games that people play at last week's session with Mark Ballantyne.  He has a wide range of experiences working with kids and adults and shared a lot of insight into understanding why people play video games.  Read on if you'd like to hear some of the key points that were made...
Did you know that the average age of a video gamer is 35?  Mark talked about how boys and girls generally choose different types of games.  Girls don't always need a story line and often pick more puzzle, problem based games.  Boys, on the other hand, prefer action packed games that often involve improving their status.  He also talked about how each game will affect each person/child in a different way which is why it's important not to make general judgments about whether a game is "good" or "bad".  Often a video game is filling a need -- a couple of examples include, raising their status connected to a hierarchy or it might be the need to be part of a team.  Mark used the analogy of a person/child needing to "fill their vessel" -- they may also fill their vessel with friends, family, activities, etc.  However, if kids are missing one or more of these, they may be more prone to using video games to "fill their vessel".  He also emphasized how the language of video games can be used with kids to talk to them about what's happening in their lives.  For example, you could ask a child "What do you have to do to level up in that game?" and then parallel that with "What do you have to do to improve in reading?".  You could also ask "How do you choose people to join your clan or team in the game?" and then connect that by asking "How do you choose someone to be a friend or work on a school project with?"
So what can parents and adults do to support the children in their lives?
1.  Do your homework -- research the games that the child is playing.  A good resource for getting information on video games (as well as apps, movies, books, websites, TV programs) is Common Sense Media: You can also search YouTube and watch clips of the game to help you understand the game.
2.  Ask the child questions about the game, such as "What are you drawn to in that game?" or "What powers and abilities would you create in your character?"
3.  Limit the child's time playing video games to 1 hour per day.
4.  Don't allow video games in the child's bedroom and turn them off at least an hour before bedtime.