My Child Just Wants to Play Video Games. What Do I Do?

“My young adult just wants to play video games. What should I do?”

This is a common sentiment we hear from parents concerned about the lack of direction and/or motivation in their young adult. We understand that it can be frustrating when a young adult appears to have little motivation for building their future.

While, yes, it’s true that some people actually do get paid to play video games, this isn’t a convincing reason to invest your student’s future in gaming. Furthermore, the few people who have found success in this career have not done so primarily because of their adept gaming skills. They have made their money through building social media audiences, advertising deals, and other such things. In other words, their careers are more dependent on marketing than gaming. 

So even the professional gamers need to develop real-world business skills to be able to earn a living playing video games. And the truth is, only a handful of gamers will actually rise above the crowd high enough to make it their full-time career.

Action Creates Movement

So back to your student: what can you do to help motivate your young adult when it seems like the world they want to live in is the virtual reality of a video game? How do you help them get up and start developing skills and opportunities for their future that are realistic?

Perhaps the most fundamental element of motivation for young people, or anyone for that matter, is action. Action creates movement.

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We can’t expect a young adult struggling with motivation to set a lofty and ambitious personal goal and immediately summon enough motivation to get there right out of the gate. Instead, we should encourage them to start with a question.

Unbound’s CEO, Jonathan Brush, has written at length about the idea of a “questions-based paradigm” and its critical importance in education. If we start with a question, commit to practical action, and follow through with reflection, we will start to get moving and can navigate as we go. 

Perhaps you’ve heard the sentiment that “it’s easier to steer a moving vehicle” or something similar. The principle applies here: motivation and direction feed off each other and getting moving is the key first step.

An Example

What could this look like in practice? Let’s imagine an example.

Let’s say that a young adult has been obsessed with video games and Mom and Dad decide it’s time to move on to more serious things. They need to start building opportunities and skills for the future. Our young adult tells his parents that he wants to create video games for a living.

Now, here’s the crucial element: framing this in a questions-based paradigm instead of an answers-based paradigm. Instead of determining that a career as a video game developer is the definition of success and anything short of that is failure, we should ask a question: what about video game development resonates with our young person?

With this question in mind we can begin to apply project-based education to develop practical, real-world experience and create movement. Let’s design and develop a simple video game. Let’s go through the process of design, development, and distribution. If that’s too big of a project right now, let’s find a smaller bite-sized portion that we can begin applying. 

Project Outcomes

In the course of completing this project, our young adult will learn new skills and proficiencies. They will also come across things they love doing and others that drain them. The essential step is to reflect on the experience and set a new target. 

For sake of example, let’s say our friend loved the task of designing the game but found the programming and coding quite difficult, cumbersome, and frustrating. In reflecting on this experience they can better understand that they may be more geared towards creative thinking and may be less analytically-minded. This is important understanding because it helps our young adult set another goal and ask another question.

This cycle contributes to more direction and motivation.

Navigate helps young adults find direction, purpose, and motivation for their path ahead through a variety of decision-making models like the one outlined above. To register for the Fall 2023 class, starting August 28, click here.

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