CW – Contains one strong profanity, used as an example.
For many autistics, video games can be a form of escapism.
Video games are usually seen as a boys thing, even for autistics. Games like Minecraft are usually associated with autistics. Thankfully, games like Minecraft can be useful for children in the spectrum. I will explain video game advantages and disadvantages. I will also explain my personal experience with video games and how “gendering” video games is problematic.
- Childhood of Games.
I was born in the nineties so I got to experience the Mega Drive/SNES era. Video games were my life. My special interest. Even at school, all I wanted was to talk about video game characters, wherever it’s Mario or Sonic. I even said in primary school for a project that “Mario is my best friend” but was embarrassed to tell my teachers what I wrote down and I got in trouble for it, I have vague memories holding the Super Mario World cartridge like it was a precious possession, like a teddy bear.
The console that was my life, was the PlayStation. This console. The selection of games, the many hours spent. It was a huge deal for me. I even convinced (they were very reluctant) my primary school class for me to talk all about the Playstation for a project. I cringe.
I played various games. Most that were friendly for children. Platformers like Crash Bandicoot. Puzzle games like Bust a Move 2. Even fighting games such as Tekken. There were a lot of Demo disks that contained a wide selection of games that were previews that you could play. This helped me experience more genres.
Pokémon was the game series that left me a huge impact. A game where you explore and catch creatures (and battle with them). It was amazing. A special interest on it’s own. Highly recommended for any generation.
Some games weren’t so child friendly but thankfully, they weren’t as graphic as games nowadays (unless you count Mortal Kombat which I didn’t own). A few examples of games I played that wasn’t child-friendly was the Survival Horror genre. Those games definitely caught my eye. Dino Crisis is one of my favourite games of all time. I thought it was scary but I loved the atmosphere. It was a stark contrast to the colourful platformers that I’ve previously played. The puzzles were too hard but I had a cheat book and written the passwords down on a password book. I remember most of the codes by heart now as I speedrun the game.
Rhythm games were another that I loved. Great for those who love music. Um Jammer Lammy was my favourite childhood game. It was colourful, funny, and it was about a nervous anthropomorphic lamb who’s a guitarist. It was a Parappa the Rapper spin off. Lammy was so much better than the rapping dog.
I was terrible for trying to skip school just to play video games. There were times I succeeded. No regrets.
Video games were a distraction which can be seen as bad (ie – skipping school), but it had given me inspiration for my other hobbies such as drawing or music. It also given me an escape from the real world that I could just enjoy the other worlds. Puzzle games are good for the brain. Games like Tetris or Puyo Puyo are good examples. Games are also enjoyable to play with other people, and you can make a social gathering with it! I have many fond memories of playing games with various people in groups, both offline and online.
- Problems with Video Games.
I didn’t play a 18 rated game till I was 13 when a parent borrowed this specific game for a week.
The game was Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It was the best game ever. Doing whatever you want, driving. Shooting, killing. The works. I didn’t care for anything sexual and I didn’t go that far in the game. I was too busy making up my wee stories while playing as Tommy Vercetti in the mall eating hot dogs, then killing people with the Katana.
Now, I could have played that game for ages. It’s definitely addictive. This is what parents should look into. Both what the kids do in their games and the content. Kids might want to use their imagination rather than following the story about a failed drug deal. I wouldn’t recommend letting kids go near this though, but I’ve written this story as an example of my first taste of a sandbox game (before Minecraft existed).
Sandbox/exploration games can be fun, but look at the content beforehand. Mature video games are a lot more graphic now and I wouldn’t let kids touch them at all. It makes Vice City look innocent (to a degree). Maybe let them try Forza if you want some exploration. Minecraft is child friendly so I also recommend that, but since it has online features, I’d research beforehand, or strictly let your kids play offline.
I was considered a “good kid”, and barely touched things that were strictly adults only. Parents need to realise that the 18 (or R Rated) label is there for a reason. Games are really “adult” now, as adult as tv shows in HBO. You don’t want your kids shouting “fuck” over and over again don’t you? Video games aren’t just for kids. Adults play too. Autistic adults too.
Autistic’s can improve their socialising with video games, as mentioned before with Minecraft. They can interact in their own worlds, and sometimes it can reflect in real life. There’s even a server dedicated for autistic children and their families called Autcraft.
Video games can be beneficial. It’s a shame that the negatives have been constantly shoved down our throats thanks to the media.
The issues of Autism and online gaming is still rife today. Bullying is there. Autistic screeching is still a meme that makes me cringe so hard. Some people are just cruel. There’s a limit to “banter”. Don’t be an arse. Bullying autistic’s online is still rife, even on voice chats. We need to be vigilant online, even more so to this day.
- Female Gamer.
Women in video games is another ball game. You’re either a false “gamer girl” who sells their body, or you can’t play games. Either way, you are seen as a stereotype. Games are for boys? No, I can kick your arse on Tekken. Girls don’t need to play consumerism Barbie games that only sell because of the brand. Not because of the game content. “Girl” games are a step backwards in society, Not to mention that they operate, and look like garbage.
Girls like Platformers, fighters, RPG’s, and dare I say it. First person shooters. We are all gamers. We don’t need to add gender to it, and if we do, don’t give us special treatment. We don’t need it. We just want to play games or compete fairly. The male dominated gaming culture needs to change.
I am a gamer. Like the rest of you. We don’t need a pink, sparkly badge or validation. We just want to play games. Is that a crime?
Nowadays, I’m slowly getting back to games after a long slump. I still have that spark of love. Fighters, Platformers, racers, puzzles. I also speedrun Dino Crisis now and then. The current video game I play in routine most days is Overwatch. It’s a team based first person game that I encourage to try. Both for autistic and NT people. There’s even an autistic character in it (that I may analyse for a future blog post!).
I think video games can be great for everyone. Nowadays, there’s accessibility controllers for those with physical disabilities (There’s a charity that specifically does this called Special Effect), communities for autistics, and even more diversity of characters (race, sexuality, gender, neurodivergent). There are still problems, but the positive list seems to be growing. Video games are for everyone.
This is a huge topic for me that I might have missed out information due to overload, but I wanted to share my story and thought about video games (in an autistic point of view).