"You'll grow out of it one day."
I do not think that I can tally the number of times I heard this from various parents and authority figures throughout my childhood. Of course, we all must have heard a variation on this phrase at one point, especially if one was a child of the '90s.
I thought about this very phrase as I saw a local newspaper's daily poll asking if we are ever too old to game. I was annoyed by the potential responses a voter could choose from. The choices were 'Games are for kids,' 'Acceptable for teenagers,' 'Games are for losers,' and 'You should play until you lose the motor function.'
I was annoyed that whomever wrote the poll could be so short-sighted. However, I also realized that the times, they are a changin'.
As a kid in the early '90s, gaming was different. More of a child's distraction and never anything more, video games were meant to be something that was gradually abandoned, akin to a security blanket.
Times have changed. Blame the industry itself for demanding more from individual gaming experiences. Blame technology for progressing to a point where gaming could be taken seriously. Maybe we should even try blaming society and our ever-growing obsession with the newest and fastest ways to communicate.
The generational gap's own changing of the guard has inexorably changed hearts and minds. Our acceptance of gaming is evolving for the better.
As children, my parents were relatively free of technology. My father lived on a sprawling farm in southern Ohio, and my mother lived on a small street in a smaller town. A car afficionado, my Dad spent his teenage years obsessed with engines and motor oil. My Mom was a typical high school girl for the time.
I cannot be too surprised at the blaise attitude toward gaming that my parents had when I was a child. Of course, they bought my first console at the tender age of four. What brought this decision…I don't quite know.
My Dad had no interest in gaming. My Mother — despite a few run-ins with Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda — never cared for gaming. She eventually stopped playing because she said it raised her blood pressure.
In fact, they only seemed to tolerate the hobby because I was happy. Maybe that's the sign of a good parent.
As the generations move forward, society will become more accepting of technology. Parents who grew up in the generation I did are now passing on similar tolerance (or love) of gaming. One would assume that a person who grew up loving video games would at least condone their own child playing.
A recent study from Nielsen estimated that over 55% of American homes contain a gaming console of some type. Some may take this as a sign of the times, but I was very pleased to see this number as high as it is. Gaming is something that has become more than a younger version of myself locked in a room for 12 hours at a time while playing Final Fantasy 9 and screaming about Chocobos.
Gaming is in our schools. Gaming is in the news. Gaming is in our homes. Gaming is in our social interaction. It's even on our phones.
Most of all — and for the first time — I believe that gaming is in our DNA.
Just call it gaming Darwinism.