Is the Advancement in Computer Gaming Keeping Kids from Being Outside?
by Scott Keever
Living in the South, we have great weather almost all year round. I remember waking up as a kid and wanting to run outside to play in the sunshine. Nowadays with all of the advancement in tech and gaming, kids want to play on their phones and computers instead of experiencing the sunshine, beaches and beautiful parks we have here in sunny Florida.
Since the mid-1980s, video games have created a massive following, from the memories people cherish to the increase of online competition. Different companies came and went over the years, but Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony remain the three big brands of the current gaming industry. Many people may find them enjoyable, especially when they have friends or relatives to play with. There are many great places, such as The Old School Game Vault, where retro, nostalgia-inducing video games can be bought and sold. Still though, some find computer gaming to be a concern for their wellbeing. The criticisms made toward computer gaming include how kids interact with others or the inability for them to want to try other things.
The Netflix show “Stranger Things,” which was filmed in Georgia, has used video and arcade gaming in many of its plot points. The first season begins with a Dungeons & Dragons game, and the second and third seasons feature arcade games. In the new season, the four friends play Dragon’s Lair at a local arcade, along with two other games called Dig Dug and Centipede. It seems that the popularity of video games is just one of many things returning from the 1980s, but the “Stranger Things” kids also ride their bikes around town to balance out all that time spent inside.
There are a handful of sources to go with these observations, so here are some ways the advancement in computer gaming has kept kids from going outside.
Online gaming: Back then, video gaming with other people usually meant having people take their consoles or controllers to their friends’ places. Or, if they had another controller in their own home, they usually played with a sibling or even a parent. This not only meant that more people were closer to each other, but were also willing to go a couple of blocks away from their home to play games with friends. I can even remember having block parties where the entire neighborhood would get together to play games both indoors and outdoors in our small community in South Florida.
In recent times, online gaming has kept people from wanting to leave their homes and enjoy some pizza or chips with friends. It’s been a growing staple of computer gaming from when it was introduced in the ’90s for select games to allow players to make their own avatars and meet other players across the world in the same game. Online games have expanded for both kids and teens to use, with different styles in mind, such as the Flash-animation aesthetic or fully 3D rendered models and environments. Online campaigns have been common for recent generation game consoles, especially for racing games, fighting games and third-person shooters. Gamers no longer need to meet other people when they can just be in a chat room or talk with their headphones and mic according to gamingrig.com.
Longer story modes: Video gaming has satisfied players wanting to go from point A to point B, but older games had either no save data or save batteries (which were known to be crucial for a game to function if not in use over the years). Memory cards replaced the save batteries before later consoles utilized internal memory. This went well for longer story campaigns, where players could play in as many levels as possible.
Players have done several videos where they go through the full gameplay within two to three hours. Some games even go up to five hours depending on how long the levels are or how many different paths a character can take. The use of longer story modes may add some value for money for gamers that want to do play in several levels across the story modes, but it does keep the more devoted gamer from wanting to go outside and interact with their surroundings.
Completing everything: Back when video games were either beginning to be common in households or at an arcade center, all that mattered to players were beating the high score or getting to the ending of the game. Not only did players want to complete the game in one sitting, but they would also want to unlock every single character, outfit, bonus level or collect every item in order to fully 100 percent complete the game (some even get 101 percent if it’s possible). It especially becomes time-consuming when players became obsessed with DLC (downloadable content) in recent years, a new way for people to unlock new characters and skins (also one that’s more costly and even makes games on their own look incomplete at times).
While the “Stranger Things” kids didn’t have access to skins or unlimited character options, they did worry about beating the high score, a position held by MadMax in season two. MadMax is actually the new girl in school, Maxine, a redhead who gets around town by skateboard when she’s not gaming in the arcade.