The Games We Play

By Christy Gualtieri

Chocolate, or vanilla?
The Beatles, or the Rolling Stones?
Nintendo, or Sega Genesis?

Growing up, we were a Sega Genesis family.  My brother and I took turns playing Sonic the Hedgehog until our fingers nearly fell off, sometimes forgoing our turns if it meant that the other one had gotten to a higher level.  We loved the high tech-ness of it, the new world that was so much more than what Atari games had to offer us.  16-bit graphics — unbelievable! As generations before us did, our friends and I gathered in basements and living rooms to socialize, but not to listen to records or watch TV or to merely gossip.  We’d gather around a screen and cheer each other on as we played different video games — to a kid growing up in the ‘90s, there was no better way to spend your time.

And now, with the advent of even greater technology, the bar has most definitely been raised.  The cavemen-like days of shimmying up a two-dimensional ladder in Donkey Kong or puttering slowly around a track in Excitebike are long over, with realistic RPGs and first-person shooting dominating the scene, not to mention the 3-D awesomeness of the newest generation of virtual reality games that really make you feel like you’re in whatever universe you want to be.

Of course, there are drawbacks to the gaming world.  There is a genuine concern about the relationship between kids’ attention spans and the influence of video games, and of course, serious conversations about the connections between video games and violence.  It’s easy to get caught up in the differing viewpoints.

But there are stereotypes, too.  Think about someone who’s really into “gaming,” and you might assume that they’re all pale, out-of-shape outcasts with a serious lack of Vitamin D and no social skills whatsoever.  But you may be surprised by the connectability that gamers share, the universality of competition around the globe.  The Internet has given gamers the ability to instantly connect with other players around the world; a person never has to play alone – never has to feel alone.

My brother-in-law has a serious video game collection.  Name the system, and he has it.  He knows the savviest ways to get the newest system as soon as it’s released, while the rest of the masses are put on waiting lists.  When we visit, we have a great time trying out the newest technology, and it’s just plain fun.

Just recently, we tried out the new Nintendo Switch.  Its particular innovations draw on the fact that most of the games that are played on it make the player rely on not looking at the screen at all, but at each other.  We had a great time, and I was drawn once again to what makes video games so entertaining: the competition, the skill, and the feeling of escapism that comes with entering new, beautiful worlds with the push of a button.

I’m excited for what the next generation of video gaming is going to come up with!

Thanks for reading,

Christy GualtieriChristy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at, and tweets @agapeflower117. Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health