I grew up playing video games. I distinctly remember me and my friends from the neighborhood gathering at each others houses to play Atari, Intellivision and Coleco as soon as one of us got a new game. I remember the craze when Nintendo first hit stores, and I remember being the first of my friends to have it. It was like Christmas for everyone in my neighborhood!
All these years later, things aren’t so different. I still play games myself sometimes, although my Playstation 3 is used equally as much by me for Netflix and Blu-Ray movies. But my kids…that’s another story.
They love the video games just as much as I did when I was a kid. I have three different gaming systems in my house right now, not including anything portable. Seems silly, right? Well, not really. Each of them serves a bit of a different purpose. Besides a game system, my PS3, as mentioned earlier, is a Blu-Ray player and Netflix streamer. The Wii is for the more “active” games and is probably the most fun of the three systems. The XBox 360 is pretty much strictly for gaming. But I’ll tell you what else the games are – the Wii specifically, was used as a tool to get my boys interested in the game of golf.
People freak out and think that video games have a negative effect on kids. Many people feel if kids see violence in a game, they’re going to think violence is OK in real life. Well, I’m not saying these people are wrong, but if your kids play Grand Theft Auto for a few hours, then go out and steal a car and beat up a hooker…sorry, but it’s not the game. You’re failing as a parent. You’ve got bigger problems than video games.
Me, I’ve used my Wii to influence my kids. No, I didn’t buy Call of Duty so I can get them to buy guns…although, it seems to have influenced me a bit. Rather, it started out with Wii Sports (a “sampler” game that comes with the Wii). Included in this game is a cartoon-like 9-hole golf course. But the idea that you use the controller as a club is what intrigued my kids, as well as myself which is why I bought the system to begin with. And guess what…it helped!
My boys had no interest at all in watching golf on TV. And even though I play golf, they didn’t really seem to share my interest. That is, until they swung the controller on the Wii. Somehow, that seemed to open the door. Next thing you know, they want to go to a real driving range. Soon after, my oldest uses his birthday money to buy a starter set of clubs. The next season, we’re out on the course. Now, my youngest boy is interested in buying his own set of clubs! And I have to say, a golf video game is partially responsible for this.
So what could this mean for the future of this sport? Could golf video games help influence kids to pick up a real driver rather than just a virtual one? Should the USGA or PGA take this into consideration and do more to work these games into the sports promotion? I don’t have any real proof or statistics to show that a video game can influence this behavior, but I do know of two instances when it has.
Now it remains to be seen if golf does continue to hold my boys interest. For now, basketball is still first on the list for both, as well as baseball for one and soccer for the other. But the golf seed has been planted. And if it’s true that video games do have this “effect” on kids, then why not use it to your advantage rather than just complain about it? Get them influenced by something positive rather than some “shoot ’em up” game. You never know, you may end up with a future playing partner for years to come!
Swing ’til you’re happy, even if it’s with a virtual club!