Q: Isn’t this what my child does all the time at home anyway?
A: Not at all.
Children play single player games at home by themselves, but that has no redeeming social value, which is the focus of our camps. After a while, gameplay becomes repetitive, predictable and unchallenging. At home there are fewer games available allowing boredom to set in, which generally leads to more supervision. And honestly, they’re still underfoot.
To address that boredom, many children play online. Unfortunately, there’s no way to screen who they’re playing with. Too often, inappropriate language is used by other players, some of whom may be adults (or worse yet – older, disgruntled teenagers with a newly discovered, colorful, working vocabulary).
At our camps, teammates and competitors are in their own age brackets and we closely supervise all aspects of gameplay. Inappropriate language or unsportsmanlike conduct is not tolerated at any level (and that goes at all times in our facility). We actually go as far as to ensure that skill levels between teams are balanced to provide a level playing field. Think of it like NFL salary caps.
Even playing online has little resemblance to what happens during games at eBash. Imagine the difference between attending a party in person and joining a conference call with the exact same people. That’s the difference – literally – between playing online and in a facility such as ours. Which sounds like more fun?
A drawback to online play is that children believe they are anonymous (a widely held misconception). That leads to a “no consequences” form of behavior, even by the best of children. It’s a opportunity to safely push the envelope (such as saying something inappropriate) to see what happens. Other offended players start in and the conversations can get downright ugly very quickly.
The short answer is that children behave better, play better and learn to socialize better in the ”live” environment of a Camp. Not to mention they make friends with other campers their own age from their own home town.
Q: Isn’t sitting all day in front of a computer unhealthy?
Children do “zone out” in front of single player games and when there’s little or no social stimulus. During camp, the interaction never stops. They are constantly talking, leading or following, negotiating with teammates and are fully engaged.
During Create & Play Camp a great deal of creative and critical thinking takes place. Dialog with instructors as well as other campers plays an important role in design and gameplay issues. Learning to critique someone else’s work in a positive fashion is also part of the process. Sharing their work is a huge part of our camps and is often the most rewarding part for campers.
Q: My child spends so much time playing these video games. Why should they do it more during the summer?
A. The proper amount of time spent in any activity depends on the child, the parent and the value system that provides the foundation of their family.
We certainly wouldn’t argue for excessive gaming time.
“I don’t understand it” is a very frequent comment by parents. There are several reasons for confusion regarding games and their attraction.
- The media focuses on games like Grand Theft Auto and others that contain mature content. We didn’t let our children play those games, don’t have them in the store and advise parents not to allow children to play them.
- Older parents (sorry guys) didn’t grow up with this form of entertainment and have a hard time engaging in games long enough to grasp the attraction. It takes time and effort to do so and often those parents are far too busy with other responsibilities to allocate time to video games.
- Some parents suffer from what we call a “skills disparity”. With no knowledge of the game itself and on the wrong end of the scale when it comes to reflexes, they are often invited to play and then subjected to a shellacking by their children. (The child often has something else on their agenda which is why they stage these “lessons”. ) Nevertheless, it’s frustrating and so parents toss in the towel quickly. Our recommendations are:
- Pick a game that doesn’t favor twitch reflexes over strategy. You can’t compete there.
- Pick a game that the child doesn’t know. Now you are sharing the discovery process.
- Do a little practicing before you play against the child. You’ll look better and gain their respect. All’s fair when it comes to keeping up with the kids.
- Select a cooperative game so that you and your child are on the same team. This invests them in your success and promotes dialog, sharing and team spirit.
When a parent makes a serious effort to engage a child on their own turf they will respond. If you need help selecting or learning to play games, ask us. It’s what we do. If you take that advice you’ll know first-hand what the attraction to video games is all about. If you stick with it, you’ll enhance your relationship with your child and have some great fun, too.
Children have lots of choices on how they spend their time and they have lots of free time to allocate. Too often that time gets allocated to television. While multi-player video games are not at the top of the enrichment activity list, they are far better than TV is, was or ever will be, because TV is completely passive by its nature. Not to mention the networks have run low on ideas for entertaining content. No one wants MTV as their values standard.
The games are a conduit for socialization. In their generation much of this exchange happens in the shared context of video games.
As for playing even “more during the summer”, remember that this activity is not the same as what children do at home.