***This is a guest post by Sabrina Artigas.
Did you ever feel guilty about playing video games? Ever since I became a second-time mom, this guilty feeling creeps up on me every time I try turn on a console or load up a game in our PC. I felt like I shouldn’t be doing it, and as a wife, a mom, and a freelancer, there are a million other things that I could be doing. Because of this, I used to abandon the attempt and instead try to find other things to do that seem more “acceptable” for someone like me.
It wasn’t until I opened up to my husband that my perspective changed. I told him about how I felt and was thankful for his response. He said that I shouldn’t prevent myself from doing things that I like and enjoying some leisure time. I felt better after hearing this, but still replied with, “Really?” Sensing that I still needed a little convincing, we then proceeded to talk about why it was okay, and sometimes even good, to still play video games.
Here are some of the reasons we talked about:
Bonding time with your SO
As parents of two kids and both working, we don’t have a lot of time to spend with each other. So, I guess to also save time, we play video games together. We get to be with each other whilst also doing something that we both like. Also, let’s face it. There are times in a marriage when things get boring, and it seems that everything you do is just a routine. This is our way of injecting fun back into our relationship. While playing, we tease each other and joke around.
Exposes your kids to the same interest
I once asked my husband, “If our kids become gamers, is that okay with you?” He said, “Sure, what’s wrong with it? As long as they don’t let it distract them from their studies.” We both agree. Playing video games is something that we can share with our kids. It’s one thing that can also become one of their hobbies or be among their interests. It’s something that we can bond over.
Some might believe that it can distract kids from school, but I think it depends on how we would discipline our children. If any, I even think it can be a practice of self-control, and teach them how to prioritize what they need to do. For now, since my eldest has started playing Monster Hunter 3 on the PSP, we use it as part of a reward system. We let her play on weekends after she’s done with school work. I think it motivates her to finish them early, so she can already play.
For the interesting stories
I mostly play RPG games, and one of the reasons why I got hooked into playing video games is because of the stories. When I first tried to play Silent Hill on the PS One, I got hooked. I guess that was my gateway game. Most times, I would continue playing a game just to find out the fate of the characters. For me, it’s like watching a movie with more participation, and I have to do well for my beloved characters. I thought I would save Lisa Garland, and I also have to apologize to Alan Wake as we are yet to find his wife. (Please don’t tell me what happens. I’ve avoided reading about it until now.) So, to sum it up, I get engrossed in these stories, and I get the same feeling of catharsis as I would when watching a movie or reading a book.
Brain exercise and a feeling of accomplishment
Most games contain puzzles. You have to solve one to be able to move on to the next level or area. Sometimes, you have to think of a specific strategy to get through a level or get a certain achievement. You also have to look and study certain patterns of movement of your enemies to be able to defeat them. For me, this is brain exercise. It sharpens logic and also encourages you to think outside of the box. Sometimes it can be frustrating. There are times you even have to sleep on it, but it also teaches you to be more patient. There is a solution. You just have to think your way through it. After being able to solve them, you also get this feeling of accomplishment.
Of course, what good is a hobby if it doesn’t help relieve stress? For me, playing video games is one of the things that help me do this. There are times when I feel that everything has become just chores, work, and finances. Sometimes, I feel restless because there are so many things that I need to accomplish and resolve, but there is just nothing I can do during that moment. I just feel that I need to do something. During these times, I turn to video games. This actually reminds of what Sheldon did in S5 Ep12 of The Big Bang Theory wherein he wanted to go for walk but physically couldn’t, so his character in Red Dead Redemption did it for him. I could totally relate to this feeling. Playing video games takes me into another world. It takes me away for a while from all these stressors.
After playing, I am calmer. It’s like I was able to release some of the negative energy, and I was able to shake off the frantic feeling and restlessness. Somehow, after playing, I am able to tell myself, “There is nothing you can do now. You just have to wait.” For me, this is one of the greatest benefits and also one of the main reasons why I continue playing to this day.
Image 1 from Resource site for Video Game Research
Image 2 from Silent Hill Memories
Image 3 from Video Games Revisited
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