Most people over the age of 40 hear the words “video game” and think of sitting in front of the TV playing on the Nintendo, but modern games have come a long way, even within the past 10 years.

Now we can reenact the Battle of Kursk with 50 other players, build a city out of blocks or race a mechanically accurate car against a bunch of other players.

Games of the past were somewhat limited in their capability to be immersive. Players could perform very limited actions, which helped to maintain gameplay, but the ways in which one could make it a social activity were limited.

Fortunately, over the past 10 years, there has been a lot of development of games. Racing simulators have perfected the physics of how a vehicle behaves and, as much negative press as they receive for their content, first-person shooters need to be recognized as being at the forefront for innovation and groundbreaking concepts and gameplay.

As technology improves graphics and processing power, it can be expected that the ways in which gamers can play will change. New gameplay mechanics and ways to play come with new in-game opportunities and lots of new ways to interact. It is promising.

Much of the socializing through video games is done collaboratively — you might revive an injured teammate, look out for other players on your team and work toward a common goal together. You get to know people you have never met, simply by overcoming a challenge together.

As fun as it is to work alone with strangers, it is a lot more fun when your friends are involved. There is an element of teamwork similar to that of a sporting competition. A group of skilled players working together can carry an entire team. One has to communicate and solve problems, and that can provide more of a bonding experience than hanging out at the park.

Game consoles have a party feature where one can talk through a headset, or people use a streaming or socializing app, such as Discord, that allows them to talk.

There are some real advantages when it comes to socializing using video games. You do not have to meet people or go anywhere. Gaming allows for people to stay in touch over long distances. Someone might be four states away, or they could be in the room with you. They are part of your conversation and doing what you are doing.

Over the past year, playing games has been an essential way in which my friends have kept in touch with one another, and it probably is going to stay that way as we move off to college.

Parents need to be aware that this is where society is going. Let your kids play games online with their friends. It is very important in building social connections that translate into the real world.

As convenient as it is to blame technology as a bad influence that will hurt your child’s social skills, that is the opposite way we should be thinking as a society. You are just going to make your child miss out on some sort of phenomena. The hype and excitement surrounding concert tours for Gen X are the equivalent to the release of a new title in a series to Gen Z.

Online is where most of Gen Z’s society is, and it is definitely going to continue to evolve in that direction.

Ben Timm is a recent graduate of Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School. Contact him at bentigertimm@gmail.com.

(1) comment

Katherine Martinez

Interesting perspective. I'm one of those 'over 40 Gen X'ers' who was skeptical of gamers (especially if they mooch off their parents and live in the basement). I agree with you, so long as all that innovation and technology is not channeled on the streets in criminal violence, then have the time of your life!

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