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Celemen 1 Hannah Celemen Instructor: Malcolm Campbell English 1103 November 8, 2012 Video Games: A consolidating or obstructing factor

in your family? Families of the 20th century have been bombarded by the growing entity of technology as our society has become increasingly dependent on electronic media to serve as a form of entertainment and a part of daily life. Among these electronic media are video games, standing out as a popular activity that can grab the interest of all ages. The children of the 20th century grow up playing video games throughout their childhood as the video game industries effectively promote their newest hits through TV advertisements and commercials where it is most likely for children to see it. Advancements in technology has improved video games to become more realistic and refined as the visual graphics allow the player to experience the full potential of the game. It depends on the parents and how they manage their children’s gaming behavior to determine the interaction in their family. They can either set restrictions that limit or encourage it as a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy. Sometimes, during family gatherings my uncle would go set up the Wii after dinner. All my younger cousins would run up and start playing a game of interactive sports. I’d watch their quick, practiced movements as they swing their arms and lean back and forth. Everyone gathers to watch and share laughs or shouts of encouragement. Everyone joins in a takes turns, even the adults, a spark of fascination as they make mistakes trying to figure out a game that comes so easily for the kids. Moments like these, you’d see a room filled with every member of the family doing something they all enjoy. This is the ideal picture video game industries try to project to their consumers so they can appeal to not only the children but the parents and family as well.

Celemen 2 “Sales of “family entertainment” video games more than doubled in 2007, making it the fastest growing segment of the video game market (“Games and Family Life”).” The Entertainment Software Association found that video game industries made greater profit from family-friendly video games because of the correlating positive perception parents have as they focus on the benefits from playing with their children. I will go into further detail about these benefits later on. There is also the noticeable increased production of E for Everyone, a category for video games that claims it is deemed appropriate for all ages (Steinberg). Accessibility to such games is augmented by the different choices of video game consoles that families can play in. It can be the Microsoft Xbox 360, the Sony PlayStation 3, or the Nintendo Wii. These consoles have been upgraded to not only allow gaming but also stream movies and enable motion sensors. The Xbox 360 is has the Kinect to distinguish body movements and gestures, while the Nintendo Wii has remote controllers that you make motions with to allow direct interaction with the game. Through such technology, a family can have the best interactive experience in the game with or without the use of controllers. This makes it extremely easy for anyone to participate as it foregoes the necessary basic knowledge of using complex controllers with multiple buttons for any movements in the game (GamePro Staff). With the rise of technology, family time and interaction has been redefined. The usual family dinners, where everyone sits down at the same table having face-to-face communication like talking about what happened throughout their day, has dwindled among households. Parents and children focus more on their electronic devices or the latest games they have to play instead of having an active personal interaction with their family. This issue has pushed parents to find better ways to interact with their children by choosing not to ban video games but encouraging it. “40 percent of parents play games with their children at least weekly (“Games and Family

Celemen 3 Life”).” In accepting the benefits of video games, parents can properly utilize it as a way to bond and connect with their children according to their interests. The benefits of a family playing video games include improvements in education, social interaction, and exercise. It is widely publicized that video games can be used as an educational tool for children as it can boost the development of literary and motor skills. There are video games designed to help a child read or solve problems, like Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster. This game can be played through Kinect so the child doesn’t need controller as they direct their character through the world of Sesame Street. This game is great for young developing minds as it educates children while keeping them interested in what they are learning. A great example for older age groups is World of Warcraft, which is described to develop judgment and decision-making skills as the player learns of teamwork in the game (Steinberg). Active games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a very fast paced game that could heighten the player’s instinct and reaction time as they control their character in fighting matches. Playing video games help form “new synapses between the neurons [in our brain]. So you’re creating thousands of connections that can then be applied to other tasks as well (GamePro Staff). This fact is a great advantage for players because it engages different parts of the brain and keeps it working hard to mentally process what is going on in the game. Being a character in a virtual world gives the player many opportunities to make different choices and learn from their mistakes as they explore different concepts that could happen if it were in real life. It the parents’ job to monitor the quality of the content and quantity of time their children are allowed to play by distinguishing between games that are for entertainment and education. They can significantly limit their child’s access to inappropriate and violent video games. According to a study made by the Education Development Center, using “digital media such as video games could improve early literacy skills when coupled with

Celemen 4 strong parental and teacher involvement (Steinberg).” Making sure that parents are involved in these fun and educational games can also ensure that the child can be comfortable to ask perceptive questions and share their experiences with their parents. Playing together and discussing the concepts of the game can bring parents and children together by improving their communication through common interests. Bonding over a game is done by direct social interaction or through coplaying in the virtual world. Coplaying is a simple word describing the interaction of two or more characters as they work together or fight against each other in the video game. By coplaying, the family can share a “perceived reality” in which the child feels that their parents make an effort to take part in their activities (Padilla-Walker). “62 % of gamers play games with others either online or in-person, 16 % play with parents, 40 % play with friends, 17 % play with their spouse or significant other and 34 % play with other family members (“Games and Family Life”).” As implied by this data, playing computer or video games is a great way to socialize with other people, even to a more personal level through space. Socializing allows the player to cooperate with other people for teamwork in reaching a common goal. Guitar Hero or Just Dance is enthusiastic, interactive games that every generation of the family can play together while enjoying the music. Furthermore, complicated games or puzzles can be discussed among the family to solve it together as they offer different ideas and perspectives. This can boost a family’s initiative and open communication (GamePro Staff). Taking advantage of the available devices and appropriate use of video games can enhance fitness in players. The Kinect and Wii are impressive consoles to play sport-simulating games on. Their motor sensors allow the player’s body to react in a realistic setting as they control their character. Video game industries are producing more workout-based games, like Zumba Fitness, that allow the player to get their exercise without having to go outdoors. This can

Celemen 5 be a great way for a family to stay active by motivating each other. Active play is an inane way for a family to integrate video games into their lifestyle (Steinberg). The introduction of video games has posed increasing issues that affect family interaction. Many families view video games to inhibit family time as it decreases the amount of interaction and communication between parent and child. During family dinners there can be a lack of conversation because parents get preoccupied with their gadgets while their children eat in a rush so that they can go back to playing their computer or video games. Video games can consume a child’s life without proper supervision if they spend too much time on it. Too much can result in the child experiencing isolation, lack of association with reality, and desensitization (Sabella). Parents are afraid that this will happen to their children so they try to limit it. The negative factors that can potentially affect the family due to playing video games include negligence on the parent’s part, social seclusion, and obesity from the lack of exercise (Caruana). These factors essentially overlap because they tend to come hand-in-hand in the worse case scenario. Parents neglect their children by not getting involved in their daily activities and not monitoring what content they have access to. Some parents are said to even use video games to keep their child preoccupied while they use that time to do chores around the household. In doing so, they carelessly lose time that they could be spending with their children. The lack of supervision could also be why children have access to inappropriate and violent games because there is no one there to tell them it is wrong. If parents are too busy with their jobs or chores, there is no one to limit the amount of time a child spends on their video games. This can result in addiction as they become too absorbed in doing one thing all day long (Video Game Addiction). A game addict can play for hours on end too focused on beating a game. I know one of my

Celemen 6 friends spent 6 hours trying to beat the game Amnesia. A lack of intervention and the absence of parents to help will only push the children to be more distant. This problem correlates with social seclusion. Social seclusion by playing video games can be spurred on by the player’s distraction from personal problems or avoidance of social interaction (Video Game Addiction). I have a friend who would play video games whenever he would experience some sort of emotional conflict just to get his mind off of it. This attempts helps him focus on his character’s mission as he gets entangled into a virtual and fantastical world where he only has to fight demons and monsters. Doing so also gives him an outlet to vent by playing graphic, violent video games. He has already been desensitized due to heavy exposure to the content. In addition, player’s relationship with his family and friends suffer as the time they have to spend with those people decrease. Also, their priorities change and school gets put at the end of that list because they never have time to do their homework (Caruana). The lack of sleep can cause this as well because a player can spend hours on a game and only stop for food or sleep. Being deprived of human interaction affects how a player fits into society for the rest of their life because they won’t have the proper social skills to communicate with others. The player would be stuck in an unhealthy cycle of total dependence on video games and they isolate themselves so they immerse themselves even further in the virtual world (Gaming Addiction). In association to social isolation, the absence of family to play or interact with can result in the child spending too much time indoors instead of getting involved with outdoor activities. Parents should encourage their children to participate in sports that can get them out of the house and away from video games. Activities can distract their child from thinking about the game and improve their resistance to playing it for an extensive length of time. A child sitting isolated in

Celemen 7 their room playing video games nonstop entails that they are mainly sedentary and use most of their energy mentally processing or simply moving their fingers around on the controller. The chronic lack of muscle activity can lead to obesity for the child. Carpal tunnel syndromes, migraines, insomnia, eating irregularities and poor hygiene are among other physical consequences that a player can develop from abusing their body with video gaming (Video Game Addiction). Getting out of the house to exercise by playing sports or going on a family outing can improve the social interaction with friends and family. When I first started this project I predicted that the inhibiting influence would outweigh the unifying influence of video games in family interaction. I realized that it really depends on how the household chooses to utilize this technology and resources. Video gaming industries have provided and appealed to practically all ages of our population to keep video games in demand. Families need to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of allowing video gaming into their families. The consequences can be negated by proper guidance and management of the content, duration of time, and accessibility that children have to certain games. The social opportunities created by video games can either encourage harmony or create distance between family members.

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Works Cited Caruana, Vicki. “Detriments of Video Games.” Focus on the Family, 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. “Games and Family Life.” ESA. Entertainment Software Association, 2012. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. GamePro Staff. “The Best Video Games and Consoles for Families.” PCWorld, 23 Oct. 2011. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. Padilla-Walker, Laura M., Sarah M. Coyne, and Ashley M. Fraser. "Getting A High-Speed Family Connection: Associations Between Family Media Use And Family Connection." Family Relations 61.3 (2012): 426-440. ERIC. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. Rowe, Michelle. “The Effects of Video Games on the Family.” ModernMom.com, 18 Jan. 2011. Web. 28 Oct 2012. Sabella, Russell. “Negative Potential of Video Games.” Education.com. Education Media Corporation, 2008. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. Steinberg, Scott. “The Benefits of Video Games.” ABC News, 26 Dec. 2011. Web. 17 Oct. 2012. Video Game Addiction. CRC Health Group, 2009. Web. 13 Oct. 2012.