The Gaming Generation

I’m an 80’s child; born in 1986. I’m now 35 years old but want to give you an insight into my childhood. Growing up I loved games and being around others!

I grew up playing Football, Akey 123, skating, tracker, hockey, skating, pogs, to name just a few! Over time these activities have been replaced in part by consoles. I have fond memories of hanging out at my nan and grandad with my cousins, playing PES, Killer Instinct, wrestling, and many other nostalgic games! However, I was 1 of 5 children with brothers who would always be fighting over who was playing. I often wouldn’t get the chance to play as I was the youngest. I remember playing handheld games to begin with like Tetris and space invaders. During the ’80s and 90’s, it was all about Nintendo. They were creating waves with the NES and the SNES; those were the days! Over time we then had Xbox and PlayStation; enter the console wars!

I bought my first console in 2001; it was the original Xbox which looked like a VCR player. Believe me, it was massive! Growing up I played many consoles and many of these consoles are still with me today. Without internet connectivity on these consoles, we had no option but to play them together in the same room. For me, consoles brought me together with family and friends. The gaming industry started small and over time has exploded, through new innovative ideas and more powerful consoles hitting the market along with gaming PCs and Macs. We live in a forever growing gaming generation! Gaming is everywhere but what’s its impact? The generation of gamers is getting younger and younger. I’m not sure that is a good thing! Having observed what can happen when children lose or get killed on a game – let’s just say it’s madness! Controllers are flying and the tears and screaming begin! For some, this is all they know. They come in from school and sit straight down in front of a game! This can be like a double edge sword. On the one hand, it’s good as it gives young people a place to escape from problems, but on the other hand, they can become engrossed in games, and it stops them spending time with their peers. Whereas my experience of gaming encouraged interaction with family and friends, the introduction of online has literally been a “gamechanger”. In my opinion, gaming has become a more separate thing. Although people are connecting online, it’s not the same as spending actual face to face time which is so important for the well-being of both children and adults alike!

Also, the combination of the addictive nature of many of these games alongside the peer pressure to stay online with friends into the early hours has the potential to slow down progress at school due to extreme tiredness. This obviously isn’t true for all young people, but it can be a real challenge for parents and kids alike to manage time spent online gaming. For me, I think we need to be aware of what our kids are playing and how much we allow them to play. There is life outside of gaming and having the opportunity to let kids do this outside is also positive!

Pete Allen
Male Exploitation Lead, Phase Trust