I was inspired to share how I incorporated video games into my workplace after I got an email from Extra Life.
First, I will tell you about Extra Life in case you don’t know what it is. Once a year, gamers across the globe play games for 24 hours to raise money for their local Children’s Hospital. I’ve been fortunate enough to participate for 2 years, and can’t wait to play again this October 2012. I was playing to raise money for BC Children’s Hospital. Be sure to check the site out, and sign up or support your gamer friends! EXTRA LIFE SITE
…and now for the personal stuff!
Two years ago was a turning point for me. I had been working in Infant/Toddler Education and desperately needed a change. That’s when I started working in a transition house for battered women and children. I am the Child & Youth Support Worker for families in hiding. Women and children come to the safe house when they are fleeing violent and abusive situations. Sometimes they are with the police, victim services, or in the hospital when they call for a space. Sometimes they have time to pack a few belongings and plan an escape. Every experience is different, but they typically follow the common thread of needing a safe place to live.
What makes this position even cooler, is that I lived in this same transition house as a child. I know what it’s like for a child to live in an abusive home, flee, and try to find stability along the way. I don’t know personally what it’s like to be a woman in hiding, but I can empathize and I have a huge amount of compassion.
What does this have to do with video games?
Video games offer “normalization” for children and youth living in crisis. I use the video games as a way to normalize a traumatic experience, calm the child’s internal stress, boost their self esteem, and give their mom time for personal wellness.
Did you know that singing calms the amygdala (a part of the brain), which reduces stress and makes you feel better? …you see, there are developmental theories that support my gaming addiction!
After a couple of days getting to know the children, and providing a safe and fun environment, they are extremely excited to play games. All I do, is turn on the Playstation3, Wii, or xbox, and start jamming to some Rock Band or Guitar Hero. The children are drawn in pretty quickly. Either because they have their own game systems at home or because its an opportunity to try something new.
A couple days ago, one of the kids told me my guitar playing is like “art”! …until I broke my streak, then it became a bit more like” abstract art”! They are so honest eh!?
The games we play are ones that children/youth feel successful playing. There’s no point in providing a game that induces rage! Although, I do have COD for them in case they have to go on a battlefield killing spree!
I believe that it is important to do something GOOD with your love for video games. If you’ve done something that you’d like to share, please use the comment section