Pressing Pause on Video Games

“Are you going to stay home from school and play video games all day?” Before I could even open my mouth, my mom looked at the sales clerk like he was from Mars and said, “No, he’s not.”

For the record, I was going to say the same thing.

It was a nippy and gnarly November morning in 2005 when my mom and I entered our local mall at 7AM. The mall was dark, empty, and tumbleweeds rolled by in the distance. Or maybe they were mall walkers. Not sure.

We had pre-ordered the Xbox 360 and this was the day it was released to the public. This was the time we were told to pick it up. I was in Grade 9 and had my school uniform underneath my jacket. The thought of staying home from school to play video games was never a thought that crossed my mind.

I was first introduced to video games on Christmas Day 1999, when my parents got me a Nintendo 64. I was eight-years-old. Kids, these days, would laugh at how late I was introduced to video games, but that’s how things were back then.

My Nintendo 64 was never permanently set up in our house. Every time I used it, I had to take it out of the box and set it up. When I was done, I had to pack it up again. To this day, I still do that whenever I use it.

I’m not going to say my parents were strict in how often they did, or didn’t, allow me to play video games. They were fair. They were exactly how all parents should act, in my opinion.

I always had to ask if I could play video games. I could never play on a school night, so that left Friday nights and weekends. If I played for more than three hours, they would get worried about the system overheating and start telling me it was time to turn it off.

NHL 99 and Mario Party 1 & 2 were my games of choice. I also had other sports games. Nothing else in the store really caught my eye. They were all just in the way of what I was looking for.

I didn’t grow up playing Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 64, which I feel awkward admitting because there will be people reading this that will be flabbergasted by such a claim.

I never knew what it was back then.

Between 1999 and 2005, I also owned a Gameboy Colour and Gameboy Advance. When the Gameboy Advance came out, I traded in my Gameboy Colour to help lower the cost of the new handheld device my parents were paying for.

In the early 2000s, I was introduced to computer games at a friend’s house. It was an NHL (hockey) video game. He used a controller that was plugged into the computer, while I used the keyboard. Retro!

In Kindergarten, I “learned how to type” thanks to “Mario Teaches Typing.” The game where you press the same three keys the entire time. At such a young age, I was applying what I learned at school to a real-life situation. Cool!

By 2005, I had a bunch of my own computer games. Hockey, Basketball, Baseball, Football, Car Racing, Soccer, Spiderman, and Harry Potter. And every year, when a new sports game came out, I wanted it. Fortunately, they all came out a few months apart from each other, rather than at the same time.

Video Games

My dad always asked me what was different about this year’s hockey game, compared to last year’s. I would tell him all the new features and how the player movement was now more lifelike than ever before! And every time, he would reply, “So nothing is different.”

He just didn’t get it. Everything was different. Everything!

I didn’t grow up with any shooting games or anything like that. Spiderman and Harry Potter was as violent as it got. Slinging spider webs at people is quite violent, no?

It’s not that I was ever told I couldn’t get violent games, but I never had an interest in them. I had my niche that I enjoyed – all the sports games. Beyond playing the games, I loved being able to draft my own team, make trades, relocate a team, and set the prices of merchandise and food at the concession stands.

I was having so much fun raising the price of hotdogs to $14 in a video game. I was an out-of-control owner.

When the Xbox 360 entered my life, I shifted away from computer games. Why was I going to spend money on those when I had a new gaming system?

My computer games were Woody and my Xbox 360 was Buzz Lightyear. The decision was easy.

By this age, I had more authority on when I could, or couldn’t play video games. I knew better than to play video games when I had homework to do. If I had a test the next day, they were definitely out of the question, even if I was “done studying.”

Playing video games is not something you do if you are ever “done studying”, I learned.

A couple of years later, my Xbox 360 died and I went without a gaming system for about a year, until I got a Playstation 3.

When I moved away to university, I could play video games whenever I wanted. But I never played video games instead of going to class. Ever. I never played video games instead of completing assignments, or studying for exams.

Video games were still more of a Friday and weekends sort of thing for me. Sure, I played during the weeks too. Maybe some games in between classes with friends. But I didn’t forget the reason why I was at university. Many times I stayed up until 4AM on weekends playing video games because I would never do work at those times. And who needs sleep?

I loved video games. Were they my entire life? No.

Over the last three years, I’ve started to care less and less about video games. As of right now, I can’t even tell you the last time I picked up a controller and popped a game into my Playstation 3. It’s been months.

And it’s not because I don’t have time, or that I don’t have any games to play. I’m just not that interested anymore.

I finally realize what my dad was saying to me all those years about how there really isn’t anything different between a hockey game one year and the next. I get it now. The only thing that changes is how it’s marketed. That’s where the “cool new features” come into play.

I grew up in the video game era. There is normally a negative connotation attached with that distinction. As if I’m some sort of zombie who just stared at a screen all day and squinted my eyes whenever sunlight came through the window.

There is a belief that kids don’t play outside, or aren’t as active anymore because of video games and other technologies keeping them indoors. I believe that, to an extent.

I had video games in my house that could’ve kept me indoors, but they didn’t. I was out playing in the backyard as much as I could, or playing road hockey with other kids on the street.

Road hockey wasn’t something for which you needed an invitation. You just showed up with your stick and by the time you got there they would have already decided which team you were on.

So I don’t really know what excuse kids have these days. Is there just an overwhelming amount of technology that keeps them indoors? I mean, all I had was Nintendo 64, Gameboy Colour, computer games, the internet, and television.

Is it the parents? Do they not have the same rules with video games that my parents had for me? My parents weren’t even strict about it. It’s just the way it was and I went along with it.

All I know is that I cringe when I hear about 6-year-olds playing video games, or 10-year-olds with cellphones. Who are they texting?

I haven’t grown out of video games. You grow out of diapers, cribs, and strollers. You can’t grow out of video games. I’ve just lost interest. That doesn’t mean I won’t wake up tomorrow and feel the urge to play for the first time in months, though.

Confusing, I know.

Video games just aren’t something I feel compelled to do on a regular basis anymore.

My 12-year-old self would be so disappointed. Those virtual hot dog prices don’t raise themselves.

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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32 Responses to Pressing Pause on Video Games

  1. Barb Knowles says:

    I don’t know….my son (who will be 29 in 2 days) and his nephews (who are 14 and 10), argue with him over the merits of ps4 and Xbox 360 (I think that’s the latest one but am hardly an expert). My son and his friends play at night and are hooked up to each other so they can talk while they play across 2 states. These are grown men who are an advertising exec, lawyer and tv sports guy. For some people it seems video games never lose their allure. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I think the newest one is Xbox One. Too many numbers out of order. Yeah I know many people my age who play video games for hours. And there’s a ton of people older than me who do it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. There’s even video game tournaments where people win millions of dollars. Just not for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. rebbit7 says:

    Interesting thoughts, Paul. I grew up with Gameboys and Nintendo 64 as well; nothing but good memories of Pokémon and BrainAge!

    That said, I am super surprised at kids these days who play video games. Like, the incredible amount of violent video games like GTA 5- to middle schoolers! Seriously…things have changed so much in the past fifteen years, even a decade! I don’t know what to say, except that I don’t really like it. But then again, that’s life…what are you gonna do? *shrugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Yeah I’m shocked at how kids are so into violent games at such a young age and that they know more about them than I do. I hate blaming the parents, but it’s not like an 8 year old is going to the store and buying these games…It’s just not right.

      Liked by 1 person

      • rebbit7 says:

        Very true. With such video games being so easily accessible these days, it concerns me- that is, with the kids who play them…I wonder if they will grow up to understand gun/violence culture in society, as well as distinguish fantasy from reality. I think that they will be fine (I hope), but with the amount of actual violence in the real world today, well, it makes me paranoid for future generations.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Yeah, it’s hard to say what the impact, if any, will be on kids. It’s easy to say that a kid will be violent because they grew up playing violent video games, but there are so many other kids that grew up the same way and aren’t violent in real life. The world is weird haha

        Liked by 1 person

  3. tontaybla says:

    When I was a kid my siblings and I would walked to near by parks to play, or play in the yard, we also had just as much fun making up games inside. We didn’t have any vidoe games had maybe a few movies and watched cartoon mostly weekend mornings. Now that I am a parent my kids have all the things I wanted as a kid, but I know why they don’t play outside as much as I did as a kid I am too afraid something will happen to them, kid napping some crazed person shooting in the neighborhood. Unless I can supervise their outside play they can’t go but I at least try to have an hour of structured play in both the morning and evening, the rest of the time they can choose what they want to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      That makes sense. I think we had a lot more freedom when we were kids. Of course, my parents always knew where I was, but I didn’t need to be escorted down the street to go play. Times are different now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Paul! Once again, you’ve left me speechless! It’s okay, I didn’t even own at N64, I didn’t play smash bros until the wii and now on my DS. The picture actually made me laugh out loud. Sports, sports,sports, SPIDER-MAN, sports LOL! Love it! My first gaming system was the first Nintendo system with the zapper gun- Mario and duckhunt. Then Super Nintendo came out and it was killer instinct, baseball, and donkey kong lol! It’s been a while since I’ve been on WordPress. This is the best post to come back to! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jess says:

    Okay, so there are a group of kids down my street who are little terrors. Seriously, every time I walk by they try to knock me over on their skateboard or throw a stick at me. BUT they are playing outside. All. The. Time. They have a portion of my respect haha

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Can’t say that I ever really caught the video game bug. Did enjoy the Wii golf, and bowling, and some Madden football. But otherwise…nah. Loved the tumbleweeds in the mall bit. LOL! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. LosiLosLoco says:

    Oh this was a joy to read Paul! I’m not quite where you are with video games, where I’ve lost interest. No, and I think the reason for that is because while I grew up in the same era as you did, I only received new video games once a year at Christmas. So I made the 1 or 2 games last… There’s a lot I have missed out on.
    Now otherwise, I really agree with you. You don’t really grow out of video games but you can lose interest. As for the 10 year olds on cellphones and 6 year olds on consoles… I’m in the same boat as you. Exactly who are they talking to? What games are they playing? Shouldn’t they be running around outside? But I think the reason they are that way is because, while it’s happening in small doses all the time, it’s happening everywhere at once. A kid is interested in new technology so his friends will be too, especially if they can connect through such technology. Soon the physical interaction becomes slightly outdated… Quite different from our generation.
    But I’m rambling and this isn’t even my blog! Thanks for sharing! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Thanks for the insightful comment! The only times I ever got new games were for my birthday or Christmas so I had to make them last too. You make a very good point about kids getting interested in technology, especially if their friends are. I guess in that sense it’s no different than how we were as kids. We saw things our friends had/were doing, and wanted those things too. I guess this is just the way the world is now! Thanks again for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My kids both grew up in the digital age, and still play video games, they still own and have set up permanently in their lounge/games room everything from Nintendo 64 to the latest Xbox and PS (Min you they sold of the Atari a few years ago!). They still play old school and new games. Me………I have a Xbox and really only play one game. I’d rather be outside with a camera

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ashley Hearod says:

    I worked at a video game store once (actually my family’s store). The one thing I learned was that it was some people’s entire world. People make a reality out of it. It’s crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I seriously LOVED this. First of all, it brought back alllllllll of my memories of playing intense Barbie dress-up games, *attempting* to spend hours on Neopets (before my parents not-so-politely booted me off) and of course, my ever favorite learning game…Freddy Fish. LOL 🙂 I totally agree with you on each portion of this piece. If you can believe it, I wasn’t allowed to have my own cell-phone until I could fully pay for it (which wasn’t until I was 18….a SENIOR in high school!) My parents would let me text on their phone occasionally and when they confiscated it I was forced to blast “don’t text back..parents have phone” to all of my friends haha. Great post, you’re a very talented writer my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Glad you enjoyed this! Oh man that texting situation sounds like a nightmare! I can only imagine all the texts that saw your parents eyes before yours. I wonder if they have any learning games these days that kids are attached to like we were with ours. Something tells me they aren’t. Ah well, their loss!


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