There was a time when a gamer was considered a young person at home in a dark room littered with fast food remnants, engaging only with the game and not with another person for hours and hours on end. Today—thanks to multiplayer online games—the act of gaming is no longer a solo sport. Gamers are now seen as part of a team of strategic and creative players. Here’s what makes today’s gamers different:

Gamers can experience personal growth through this experience.

Take the story of Mats, a young person from Norway whose short life was marked by disability and illness. His lived in his parent’s basement. He rarely left. And there, he spent most of his time immersed in World of Warcraft. To his parents, he fit the negative assumptions of a gamer—lonely and isolated. Yet at his funeral, unknown people arrived and, at that same time people all over Europe lit candles in his memory. To them, Mats was known as Ibelin, a nobleman by birth, a philanderer and a detective. His parents had no idea that their son had touched the lives of so many or that gaming has magnified his ability to make connections that fed his soul.

Gaming can help young people fix what ails them.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) recently recognized a medical diagnosis called gaming disorder, likening it to gambling and substance abuse disorders, many psychologists are skeptical that it exists at all as a stand-alone problem. Much of the debate around the ‘gaming disorder’ diagnosis is centered on video games not being the root of the problem, that the act of gaming itself does not create obsessions but rather gaming is often used as escape from family issues, anxiety and depression. Using this lens then, compulsive gaming is a coping mechanism for anxiety or depression which, once dealt with, can result in more moderate gaming. Experts are also advising that what a child is playing can be revealing as to how they interact in real life and reveal the cause for seeking a coping mechanism.

Gaming can help young people realize great success later in life.

Gamers can now choose to compete professionally with opportunities to earn significant prize money, gain corporate sponsorships, create personal brands with multi-level earning opportunities, participate in arena-like events. Behind-the scenes, gaming enthusiasts can consider a host of well-paid career options, from programmer to artist and live production roles. Even in traditional careers, gaming skills can be a bonus. Entrepreneurial experts believe that gaming trains a mind to deal with mistakes and failures, to persevere and to focus on decision-making. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Employers across a range of industries are embracing resumes that include backgrounds in making or playing videogames, concluding that the digital pastime can help employees with online collaboration, problem solving and other critical workplace skills.”

Let yourself get immersed in your child’s gaming world:

  • Discover what they are passionate about and how gaming is a positive force in their lives.
  • Use your child’s gaming habits to reveal how playing video games are helping him or her meet needs that aren’t being met in real life, including socialization, independent decision-making or being useful and making an impact.
  • Once you understand what genres of gaming your child gravitates towards, direct their real-life activities to meet these same needs.

Parents, hear what Mats’ father said after his son’s death, “In retrospect, I think we should have been more interested in the game world, where he spent so much time. By not doing so, we robbed ourselves of an opportunity that we didn’t know we had.” And, remember, the payoff from all those online battles may be rewards that come later in life!



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