Over the years video games have had to endure the blame for all kinds of real word violence and crime. But could it be that video games are now proving to be the healthy social outlet which kids desperately need, and which many of us always insisted it could never be?
We are living through the worst pandemic of our lifetimes, but this is not a new situation. It is one for the history books, an entry in a long list of devastating outbreaks that changed societies forever. What is new is the lifestyles we are living in, the technology available compared to historical outbreaks.
How lucky we are to have the Internet and video games for our children.
How lucky we are to have the Internet and video games for our children. My son and his friends, unable to go to school, get together to play Fortnite online every day, keeping up those vital connections which they would otherwise have got in the playground. I hear them chatting, laughing, enjoying banter while playing. It is wonderful.
During the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) of the late 1340’s, the disease stricken kids had no such luxury to keep them going, instead having to amuse themselves with games of Pick The Fleas Off a Diseased Rat or Latrine Death Race. The children would beg God for mercy, staring intently at the crucifix on the wall instead of on an HD screen. The agonising screams and gore would have been real, not special effects in a game. One can only imagine the effects on mental health of those children.
In 1665 the Great Plague of London (another Bubonic Plague) wasn’t much better; when that came along it killed around 200,000 people. Poor hygiene was the main spreader for it, fleas from infected city vermin carried the virus to flea ridden humans. Thankfully a devastating fire started when someone left the oven on, which barbecued most of the rats in London along with many of the the humans. Every cloud (of smoke), etc.
But one wonders if the spread of the Bubonic plague would have been less severe if everyone was more inclined to stay at home, having things like their Nintendo Switch, Netflix and Amazon Prime to fall back on.
The digital divide has been laid bare by Covid 19.
Of course, even in modern day England not all kids have the Internet. The digital divide has been laid bare by Covid 19, with disadvantaged families crying out for online facilities and computers just to survive. Finally after a year of struggle, laptops and broadband have begun trickling through to the needy, but it’s not clear if they will be gaming spec machines to bring smiles to the children’s faces in a way that online school lessons never will.
The mental heath impact of Covid 19 upon children has been largely overlooked.
The mental heath impact of Covid 19 upon children has been largely overlooked, but there can be no denying it is important for kids to have fun and regular banter with their friends. If that has to happen online the so be it.
It is time for the rest of us to grow up and stop blaming video games for the human horrors of the real world, and start reaching out to digital entertainment as a saviour, an escape, a portal to a better place, a leveller and connector of different minds.
BTW, I hear that Latrine Death Race is expected to come out later this summer on the X Box.