Were We “Gamers” a Half Century Ago?

Boomers are having a challenging time understanding “gamers” and their endless obsession with electronic video games. For example – it is time for the family meal table and you’re wondering where your child is. “Be there in a minute…” while they finish up a gaming tournament with their friends – yet the game never seems to end. Before they can come to the table, they wrapped up in a new game. In my day, we would have gone without dinner.

There was no “in a minute…”

It’s time to head off on a family vacation and there’s that half-hour wait while kids gather up video gaming equipment to load into the SUV to have at the camp site along with stacks of battery packs and headsets to keep them from losing their minds while on vacation. Can’t be without their video games and communication devices.

And forget conversation – which is always peppered with the word “Huh?” – if you even get that.

There is abundant concern these days over the obsession we collectively have with electronic devices – particularly video games and cell phones. You see it addressed all the time on talk shows and in the news. Studies have been conducted on what this is doing to society and our minds. For such a connected world – we are so disconnected. I see this in restaurants and public venues all the time. The couple texting one another or gaming while sitting across a table.

Are you kidding me?

This isn’t just about a child’s obsession with video games and cell phones, it is about a nation of cell phone “zombies” who are constantly walking into walls, light poles, and mall fountains while glaring at a phone trying to kill zombies. It can be considered a form of mental illness and emotional dependency.

We just can’t cope without our dope.

Wikipedia defines a “gamer” as “a proactive hobbyist who plays interactive games, especially video games, tabletop role-playing games, and skill-based card games, and who plays for usually long periods of time.” That would be my 14 year-old son. It goes on to say, “Some gamers are competitive, meaning they routinely compete in some games for money, prizes, awards or the mere pleasure of competition and overcoming obstacles.”

That would describe my preoccupied teen as well…

Wikipedia goes on to say, “Originally a hobby, gaming has evolved into a profession for some (those who create video games). In 2021, there were an estimated 3.24 billion gamers across the globe.” Forget it, the battle is lost. You’re never going to be able to pull your offspring away from gaming.

The word “gamer” isn’t new. This oft used word dates back to at least 1422, when the local laws of Walsall, England referred to a gamer as “any dice-player, carder, tennis player, or other unlawful gamer”, according to Wikipedia. More recently, this word has been used to describe those who participate in the playing of video games for sport and competition. This annoying trend (for those of us who don’t participate) began as electronic war games that have evolved into an endless array of challenging video games one can play with others or by themselves for hours on end.

If you paint the gaming obsession with a broad brush, is it really any different than the games we played as children? We played kickball and other games in the street for hours on end. We’d ride our bikes all over the neighborhood. Dinnertime would roll around and you’d hear parents yelling for their kids to come home. We had a neighbor with a dinner bell intended to round up the brood of eight children at mealtime. One gentleman down the street from us would crack a whistle with his front teeth across his tongue and lips you could hear a block away. My friends knew they’d better be front and center upon hearing the whistle or else. The former US Marine didn’t need a bell.

Our childhood obsessions with sports, bike riding, running and playing isn’t much different than what we are seeing in children today. The way they get together and entertain themselves has changed. And imagine if we would have had video games to entertain ourselves in the 1960s…. Would we be any different than kids today?

I think not…

2 thoughts on “Were We “Gamers” a Half Century Ago?”

  1. We were actually connected. Spoke to people. Had (enforced) manners. Went on dates without a crowd. Interacted. I watch the gamers go through the same crap as the social media addicts. Long range bullying, smack talk. I hear my grandson start up that “Why’d you kill me? Whya re you doing that?” and shut the game down, have the “if you’re in a game with crazoids, get out” talk.


    1. How true that is. face-to-Face… A different world friend. I was at a school function with my 14 year-old son. Stunning the absence of manners and social graces. No one parents anymore. My son knows what’s expected and better follow protocol.

      Liked by 1 person

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