Video gaming & life skills

Posted 08.27.10

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | Earlier this summer, the Quebec's Aylmer Bulletin published a photograph of the Laflamme supermarket's interior in 1959. The store was busy, with numerous check-out clerks and bag-packers who carried bags to the customers' cars for tips. Where have those summer and after-school jobs gone? Where are today's kids and young adults who might have found part-time jobs like these?

Have shops been driven to cut their expenses to the bone, thanks to competition from mega-stores and the big-box warehouses which flog everything from frozen chicken to water pumps and underwear? Is price, not quality or service, all that matters, and so our kids are out of jobs?

That's assuming parents would permit them to work these days when crazy fears and crazier guilt motivate parental decisions. Those are my questions; here is a blended response:

"OK, you are forgetting that kids don't have spare time any more, going to baseball, hockey, soccer, ballet, gymnastics, swimming, plus French and trumpet lessons. You complain that in the old days kids spent their time earning a few bucks delivering papers or bagging groceries, or just having fun playing in the green spaces. Very creative! You complain kids no longer learn responsibilities or inventiveness. How can they? Everybody is gaming, even on their phones.

"You say all this because you see only games with shoot-'em-up violence and big explosions. Pow! Bam-Bam-Bam! But have you played any of these games? Pow! Sure, many are pure excitement --entertainment, but that's what they're supposed to be -- pow! pow! pow!-- entertainment. Boom! This is the interactive media of tomorrow. CRASH! KA-Boom! This technology has infinite uses, and instructional purposes. Get this, they offer real-time practice. WHAM! You can learn to fly an airliner on your cell phone today.

"It seems small, but eye-hand coordination is extremely -- POW -- POW -- POW! -- important, and will only get more -- Vroom -- VROOM! -- useful. Those kids playing in a vacant lot or fishing at the marina -- BAM! -- BAM! --- could never in a million years learn to fly a jet fighter, because -- WATCH OUT! -- of their poor hand-eye coordination. Canada is planning to spend nine billion-plus on jet fighters, not on the arts, schools, or day care.

"CRACK! KA-BOOM! The real issue is what is best -- POW! -- for the future. KA-POW-- KA-POW --KA-POW! Arg. Damn! Too much blood, losing too much . . . argh! POW-POW-POW! -- Ah, the future.

Here's the real question: where is the future coming from? Who is creating the future? The kids in their Waldorf schools making yarn mandalas? Or the kids with x-boxes, i-Phones and no-brains? Pow. Pow. Pow. WHOOP! Oh-oh run! It's the kids with technological know-how who will create their own future, which, incredibly, becomes the mainstream culture, molding all of us, colouring our world, our sounds, everything we see and do . . . POW! No . . . NO! POW! . . ."

Copyright © 2010 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/08.10