Interview: Gaming And The "Demise Of Guys"
An article on CNN prompted quite the response from the video game community, as one might expect.
We at PSXE responded as well, challenging the assumption that video games are part of the reason why boys are slow to turn into young men. But we also wanted to tackle a few more difficult questions, so we approached the authors of the book, "The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling And What We Can Do About It" to see if we could get some answers.
Dr. Philip Zimbardo was out of the country and unable to participate, but psychologist Nikita Duncan was good enough to participate; the following are her replies to our relatively complex (and admittedly leading) questions, and we thank her for her time.
PSXE: Historically, video games have been seen as a "nerd" hobby. They're mostly mainstream now, but those who grew up with games were typically seen as geeks; therefore, would it be correct to assume that they were - based on definitions of nerds and geeks - smarter and less likely to be involved with vices and bad behavior?
Duncan: "If you're Generation X or a Millennial pretty much everyone plays or has played games and it doesn't make you a geek at all, rather gaming is normal activity. Gamers aren't necessarily smarter, different games attract different kinds of people and there's a game out there for everyone. It doesn't make you less likely to be involved in vices or other bad behavior except that physically you're most likely sitting down somewhere focusing on the game so your options for causing trouble are limited. Games can be a way to blow off steam, so in that way they'd be a good alternative to negative coping behaviors."
PSXE: The Atlantic's "The End of Men" article had a lot of merit, but didn't necessarily mention video games as a possible cause. What aspects of interactive entertainment do you believe hinders the maturity process?
Duncan: "We focus on the excessive use of video games and porn and the book is meant to raise awareness about the possible consequences of that, especially for guys that use both excessively. Porn and video games are also symptoms of a larger problem: that, as Jane McGonigal put it, reality is broken. If you're a young guy and you're literally being left to your own devices (i.e. parents are not parenting or father is absent, school is not interesting or challenging, no clear need for you in society), why wouldn't you engage in fun activities, and in the case of video games, a fun challenge that provides results?
The main problem with these activities currently is that in many ways they are socially isolating and they can be addictive, potentially undermining guys' abilities in other areas of their lives (such academic motivation and later succeeding and deriving satisfaction in a career, or socializing with girls and later being sexual with women). The sheer amount of time spent on gaming - the average teenage guy plays 13 hours a week or 676 hours a year or the entire month of February - takes away from exploring other talents or developing social skills."
6/11/2012 Ben Dutka