There was, once upon a time, when computer games sucked and real life was awesome. Games such as Bat n’ Ball and Space Invaders held our attention for up to twenty minutes at a time, but would always be dropped like a hand grenade full of hot angry wasps in favor of the chance to go out and build a rope swing, investigate an abandoned building or play a game of Take Down Bulldog. The video games started to get better, first the graphics started to look more and more realistic. Then they brought out games that enable people to live out their fantasies through a screen – exploring space, building virtual cities and carjacking and murdering strangers. Suddenly real life became a lot more mundane. Or at least it seemed so.
A generation of youngsters spends all of its free time sitting in front of screens playing video games. Whereas their parents’ generation used to talk in phrases like “gee whizz”, “groovy”, “cool cats” and “are we having fun yet?”, this generation’s conversations are peppered with phrases like “I’m Oscar-Mike”, “frag out” and “I’ve made my point. I’m not a sadist.” In their virtual lives they play characters who are as fit as a fiddle, whereas their real bodies are weak and unexercised. They haven’t developed social skills or any of the skills they need to survive in the real world.
And this is why they need to be shown that real life is more fun than virtual reality. For every game that they swoon over, there is a better real-life answer. An easy example of this is the FIFA series. In virtual reality, the player can watch themselves dribble the ball past Mascherano and Dani Alves and then score an incredible goal in front of 90,000 screaming fans. But they’re still sitting in their pajamas at 3 p.m. on a Sunday with chips spilled on the floor around them.
To be fair, in real life their chances of ever scoring the winning goal for Real Madrid against Barcelona are zero, given their lack of interest in athletic pursuits. But, were they to get off their butts and go outside with a ball, they might just develop the level of fitness and ball control to be considered for selection with a local youth side. It’s not the Premier League, but they get to wear a uniform and experience the thrills of scoring and winning in reality. Georgetown Under 10s 2 v 1 West Union Elementary School might not sound like the most glamorous game, but for those who played in it, it was a hundred times better than winning the Champions League on a computer.
There are plenty of other examples. For those who play military-style games, they can join up to uniformed youth organizations which will take them out on their own adventures. For a non-military combat experience, there’s paintball and airsoft, and even private armed combat training available to youths in certain areas. If you are willing to go to Russia, you can pay to drive a tank and be a passenger in a Mig-29UB fighter training jet.
For those who love racing games, there’s karting and drag racing. If they have a license, they can even go to private sports car events and try out their skills behind the wheels of a Lamborghini Murcielago or a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. If they get out there in the real world more, they might be able to pick up the skills which will one day get them the money they need to buy these cars for themselves.
Those who are addicted to Google Earth and other such aerial photography sites should get involved with their own drone photography. Not only can they shoot amazing snaps and videos but they can do some awesome tricks.
Which leads to the last point. Some video games develop skills and knowledge in people which can be applied well in the real world. If you are bossing a live trading simulation game for a couple years, you should probably try it out in real life. Making a million bucks a month in real life feels a whole lot better than making ten times that in the real world.