A Scott Budman Perspective on the Evolving World of Technology

LET THEM PLAY VIDEO GAMES!

I know, the conventional wisdom is that video games are bad.

I’ve heard that since I was a little kid, which takes us back to the early days of the Atari 2600, where “Pac-Man” was made of little squares, and “Space Invaders” was cutting edge. Games were evil way back then, just like they supposedly are now.

Here’s the thing: Since I was a kid, and have grown up, lots of engineers have also grown up, started companies, and changed the world. Some of them are the kids I grew up with. The ones who insisted on playing video games while the rest of us were, you know, outside playing games and inside reading books. Many of the game players were also creating, coding, and programming their own video games, and yes, those are the aforementioned people now running companies.

Of course, not all young gamers grow up to be CEOs. But I cover tech, and the thing techies cite most as their inspiration for jumping into computers, or engineering, or science (besides watching “Star Wars” a lot of times) is video games. The challenges, competition, even the cheat codes.

Maybe that’s why, when Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was holding court among a few of us reporters about a year and a half ago – and found out that some of us had daughters, she said “Let your daughters play video games. Encourage it!” This from the current authority on how women can advance in the workplace.

As a father of two daughters, those words stuck with me. Not enough to actually go out and buy a video game console (I really want them outside playing games, or inside reading books), but enough so that when I see them playing something on an iPad, I don’t cringe. I dream of future college scholarships, and enough future stock options to keep their parents set well into retirement.

The debate over good vs bad will continue, with lots of stats on both sides. But let the record (and Sheryl Sandberg) show: Sometimes, playing around can lead to curiosity, which can lead to really good things.

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About The Author

Scott Budman
is an Emmy award-winning reporter, covering business and technology for NBC Bay Area News. He is also the host of the weekly NBC show, “TechNow,” and can be heard doing business updates every afternoon on KNBR radio. You can find Scott on Twitter: @scottbudman