Gaming Media on the Rise— Week of 1/2/22

Every week I will be reviewing a reputable news article and engaging with it from a mental health professional standpoint. These will be short posts following a three segment model: 1. The News=short synopsis of article 2. The View= My initial impression of the article, and the news impact in the mental health world 3. The Reflection= Useful ways to engage with this information/applications to caring for our mental health. These posts will be published 8am EST on Mondays!

News= Gaming is quickly taking over as a one of the most popular forms of entertainment. It’s popularity is projected to continue to rise in 2023 with many different companies getting in on the investment. Streaming services, like Netflix, are trying to capitalize on games through their subscription service models. More movies will be coming out based on popular video games like the “Super Mario Bros. Movie”, and some new video game based tv series will be coming out in 2023, like God of War and Assassin’s Creed. Currently, the video game industry is valued at $184 billion dollars. With so much money being involved, there are definitely a lot of regulatory body interests also claiming stake. Lawsuits against large acquisitions have been filed over the past couple of years, and lawsuits related to protections for children buying digital products on freemium games. See this Epic games headline for reference. Also, here is the article that was used for this news update.

This continued stream of resources and content directed towards games is a result of parents, who grew up as gamers, passing down their love and interests to younger generations. Passing down this love has translated to a large population for companies to invest time and money in. So why does this forecasting of these media giants matter in our personal lives?

Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash

The View= Gaming isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it is continuing to get bigger. The large growth in this media, perhaps, causes more concern for some parents with how to best create structure for our kids as they engage and socialize with this media. As mental health professionals and parents we also realize how gaming is a vehicle for how kids and people socialize, connect, and play with each other. It has been particularly crucial during times of isolation or distance (which the pandemic definitely showed—like with how Among Us took off).

Since the pandemic we have noticed parents offering more leniency for how kids have used screens. This isn’t a concern in of itself, but there has been more parental anxiety as pandemic precautions have been lifted, and other forms of socialization and play have become more accessible. Let’s talk about a good way to gauge this issue, and release ourselves from the struggle of how we judge what is too little or too much screen time with video games. One of our group practice supervisors, Caroline Megargel, at Virginia Family Therapy speaks to mindless and mindful screen time here, which definitely dovetails nicely into what we are going to explore.

The Reflection= As with trying to find balance with any hobby or practice, it can be helpful to name out what the value and cost with the activity is. Gaming is valuable as play, connection, and can be a vehicle to learn frustration tolerance and communication. Some games also a learning based and can be a creative way to contribute to social and academic learning. The cost of gaming often has to do with how much time is being sunk into it, or if it is more isolating and sedentary than connecting and active. The experience of how stressful certain games are can also contribute to how it impacts quality of life.

There is a graphic I like to refer to in situations like these called the Bullseye Worksheet that I learned when getting training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This model encourages us to not place judgment on arbitrary time spent doing something (like gaming, or what kind of activities or games we invest in..within developmentally appropriate reason), but focus and understand where the quality of life resides, and where the cost might be. .

On a personal note, I have loved sharing gaming with our now 6 year old. I remember growing up playing old school Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle games and watching the early 90’s show. It’s been so meaningful being able to recreate some of that with my daughter. This gaming has added a lot of value to the both of our lives, but we also put a limit on how often we play, gauged by how frustrated we get, or how our gaming stacks up with the other ways we might want to share and budget time that day. As parents, my wife and I have also appreciated the learning curves we have been engaging in with parental controls with gaming, and setting limits with our daughter. Technology involved in parental controls with gaming drives good conversation between the both of us, and with our daughter on what she can expect and request. These intentional acts are all great ways to keep a fun and expansive form of media safe and meaningful.

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