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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Zaborowski

I'm a newb...

Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I was never really into video games. As a self-proclaimed girly girl, I always assumed they were a "boy" thing and continued on with my little pony, barbies, and eventually transitioning to other activities like dance and field hockey. However, along with the many changes in views on gender stereotype we have seen over the years, there has also been a slow change in video games. From new technology, to more games, to perhaps simply more accessibility to play, there is less and less of any one "standard type" of video game player. Much like the slow change of video games, my interest in gaming was a slow change as well. It began when I got married to someone who enjoyed a tradition of Saturday morning video games. Then kids arrived on the scene and more and more of what I had thought of as "boy" things started to show up, to include more video games as they became old enough to actually play until one day, I joined and officially became a thirty-something newb. If you're wondering what that is, it is this:

NEWB: Honest, humble, polite players who strive to better themselves by playing as a team and seeking the advice of others.

This is opposed to the other spelling of the word with a different definition of:

NOOB: Relies on cheap tactics to barely finish second-to-last on the team, and often blame others for their mistakes.

I found these on Urban dictionary, but I won't post the link for these definitions as Urban dictionary is not know for hiding the unsavory and I'd rather not send you there, but unfortunately, along with that thirty-something newb title, I have also sadly fallen away from some of the slang of youth and had to brave Urban dictionary as it is surprisingly helpful in this area, if not incredibly offensive at times (most of the time). In any case, there you have it. I'm a newb. I use this spelling because though I am competitive at times, I work to do exactly as it says "strive to better myself by playing as a team and seeking the advice of others", the others being my husband, my kids, and anyone willing to show me how to stop somehow getting stuck in the sky in Minecraft, who knew that was a thing?

Which brings me to an interesting point on the idea of playing as a team. A study conducted at Brigham Young University and published in 2018 by Mark J. Keith, Greg Anderson, James Gaskin, and Douglas L. Dean called Team Video Gaming for Team Building: Effects on Team Performance, found here, looked at how video games that use the collaborative team concept may influence team building skills. While they were looking at older students (about college age), they did find an overall positive effect on how the use of these games helped improve team performance in newly formed teams. Young children and already established teams were not studied. We are also discussing non-violent, problem solving games, as a different discussion would be held in debating violent games. In any game, however, age recommendations should be adhered to or play should be altered for appropriate age range use or with parent guidance as appropriate. For example, Minecraft has also now been implemented in schools in an educational version to work as a tool to help critical thinking and collaboration skills, you can read about it here. The reality is though, video games are a part of our kids world now more than ever as well as more and more we are realizing that virtual collaboration will be a huge part of their workforce in the future. While we may not think a level in a video game is as important as a work proposal, I would argue that for a young kid, it is, making the mindset of honing those virtual skills very important to them. As a parent, I tend to overlook this in my struggle to balance their screen time use to recommended amounts, only to realize that entire amount was used for school work.

So what do we do? Join them in their game for little bit, then turn it off and go for a walk or something and not worry about how much time was spent on either because it was all spent with your kids. Which this, my dear readers, is one of my main reasons in becoming a newb as an adult. While I did discover that I actually enjoy video games in my own right, what I truly enjoy is being able to collaborate as a team with my family and while they teach me the game, I as the parent, can teach them team building skills and understanding how to work together in hopes that someday this will translate into real-world skills. I know many are saying sports do the same and I agree, but it's all about finding the niche that helps you relate to your kids and in my house, it's video games. They not only provide the team-building aspect, but they also help to build conversation with my kids because when we are going for that walk we talk about aspects of the game, strategy of play, and other fun things that may seem trivial from an outside perspective, but I find priceless because they are focused conversations with my kids and they are excited about it. Maybe we had board game nights with our families growing up, but now it's video games, whose to say one is better than the other if the end result of quality family time is the same? I hope that even as they grow into teenagers, video games can be something we can relate on and that maybe they provide a continued window of opportunity for focused conversation as adolescence takes over and they become "embarrassed" by everything I do. Maybe by then I'll no longer be such a newb and they'll actually WANT me on their team, one can hope. While I definitely don't condone constant overtime of video games, I see it much like everything else we do and it just needs to be balanced. There may be some days we play longer and some days not at all, but always remember the importance of what matters not only in our relationships, but in our health, which I would argue both can be influenced by either. So if you aren't already an avid game player, join me in my newb-ness (I just made that word up, maybe it'll catch on) and then just continue to make sure to move, eat well, and always enjoy time well spent.

If you have time to spend listening to a podcast with your kids, don't forget ours Playing With Food-Eat. Play. Balance. Catch you next time!

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