My dad was a technical genius and he loved computers. We always had technology in the house, and that was a long time ago. I remember playing DOS games on the TRS-80, being amazed at the Amiga, and beating my sister at Archon on the Commodore 64. When the first gaming systems came out, we were right there playing Pac-Man and Space Invaders on the Atari.
I never really spent a lot of time on gaming. I was too easily bored. As gaming evolved, I thought it was fun to look at the little characters and lands but I never could quite care about points or “getting to the next level.” I also started to get nauseated if I played the more modern games. Eventually, the games got too complicated, and I had a life, so I was no longer interested.
When I got married and began having children, I thought, like most people, that I wouldn’t mind having my kids and husband play games (and I wouldn’t mind doing a little race now and then–I thought it might be fun). I just thought we could limit the time played and schedule it so it would be fun instead of time consuming.
That didn’t work out like I imagined.
My husband, fortunately for me, liked some computer games, but never felt like he had time to spend on them, so he didn’t play very much. My son liked video games, and we tried timing and scheduling.
One thing I noticed with the games was that it was hard to “exit” out of the game itself. What a process. I think my son would be asked at least 117 times if he really wanted to exit. Then, there would be the “Are you sure?” and finally, the last button would always say something like, “Quitting the game”. Always with the word “quit” at the end, as if he were somehow giving up on the game and not trying hard enough.
If a game could be saved, it was even worse.
With the advent of the X-Box and other high tech gaming systems, playing games became impossible to do in a short time period. First, he had to load the game, then he had to choose or design a character and equip said character with all sorts of paraphernalia. I would call him to tell him it was time to turn it off and he would say, “I haven’t even started playing yet!!!”
Ah, Lego Star Wars. How I came to despise you.
It was about this time I was introduced to the Robinson Curriculum. Dr. Robinson’s Course of Study was plain. No gaming.
I tried to do the curriculum and “limit” gaming. The results were mediocre. I knew something was going to have to be done, but I was scared. I knew what would happen if I took it away, because, I like so many other mothers, often found myself using the game as a bargaining chip in the effort to get schoolwork, chores and other things done. I used it as a weapon almost. And he complied. If I told him he couldn’t play for two days, by day two he was syrupy sweet looking for ways to cajole me into letting him play.
And, sadly, a lot of the time, it worked. It’s just–he was so nice to me and I was so busy. And then, when the game was on, it was so quiet in the house. The kids would all gather around the console and screen like bees to honey and watch the adventures.
Other Posts In This Series
- why and how we don't do video games: part 1, the research behind our decision
- why and how we don't do video games: part 2, how we got them out of the house (This post)
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