Dads, video games and children

My father and I did a lot of activities together when I was a kid. Cricket, building, drawing, camping and much more. When I reflect upon my childhood, there is one activity that stands out as the fondest of my memories, playing video games together.

We would spend an entire Saturday, or indeed sometimes an entire week, playing a variety of games on a variety of gaming systems, and it was the best fun I ever had.

Our first video game adventure began with the Sega Mega Drive and a game called Streets of Rage 2. A side-scrolling “beat em up” game, Streets of Rage had us working together to bash up legions of 80s punk gangsters and eventually find a 90s Hollywood style villain waiting for us at the end. I can’t tell you how many times we played this, but it was a lot.

As PC gaming came into the market, my father built us a couple of computers and connected them together via a Local Area Network (LAN), there was no such thing as Wi-Fi back then. We played many PC games together, but Doom, Red Alert, Blood and Diablo were among our favourites. I would also occasionally watch him play single player games, and there was a button-mashing sequence in Metal Gear Solid that I could never complete without his help.

Regardless of what we played, cooperation and achieving the same goals were fundamental to the enjoyment of playing games when I was a child.

As a teenager, however, I started pushing us to play games that were adversarial, or in the case of a game like Red Alert, I would declare war on my father mid-game and try to destroy his base. Eventually, I became much better than him, and I moved on to playing online games with friends, but I will always carry those memories of clearing out dungeons or shooting hordes of demons with my father.

Research has shown that there are many benefits to parents playing video games with their children, for both the child and the family. While this is not limited to fathers specifically, I would encourage the many fathers like myself who work full-time to consider using video as a method to connect with their children, especially if you are time-poor. Video games can be used as a way to explore mysterious worlds, overcome challenges, learn new skills and of course, have fun. Like all things, moderation and clear boundaries should be enforced by parents and by no means are video games a substitute for actually going outside! However, the many benefits of video games, in general, should not be ignored, and spending time with your child playing games can be great for everyone.

– Opinion of Jarred Kellerman, Business Support Manager and Cire Corporate Services