Reverend Kate Bottley has been made famous by British reality show Gogglebox and her outspoken, liberal views. She recently shared them in an interview with The Guardian at the GameCity festival in Nottingham where she showed her prowess at the 1983 arcade game, Track & Field. Her views on gaming are surprisingly enlightened and welcome, especially for a church leader. She has a few points I don't agree with, but I think there should be more people like her. More people that don't think all video games are Mortal Kombat and Call of Duty, more people that don't think video games cause violence, or that spending too much time in front of the screen will rot your brain. The list goes on and I'm sure you have plenty more memorized. Maybe the next time you hear that voice, you can point to this article and tell it that even a hardcore Reverend thinks video games are good for you.
For example, her main point in the Guardian interview centres around her son Arthur in which she discusses her son's autism. Video games and “Online gaming really helps him, and he’s got a little community that he plays with. These are his friends. These are his community. These are the people that he learns how to socialise with.” I would say this is pretty amazing, and a story that wasn't told often enough until the Pokémon Go craze. Games are so good for people who have difficulty with in-person social interaction. Online communities, as Bottley states, allow for the human connection most people crave and can even translate into the real world. As with her son, “if we put Arthur in a room full of people he’ll find it quite difficult to make friends. But when there’s something else to talk about, and there’s something that’s connecting people right in front of him, then that really really helps. We can let Arthur go here, and he can talk to anyone. And they won’t make him feel stupid, and they won’t make him feel silly, and they will listen to him. They will listen to what he’s got to say. He’s quite used to being the weirdest kid in the class. He’s not the weirdest kid here.”
I don't know what it's like to have autism, but I can attest to the latter statement. I live in a city where I can be brought to tears just because someone recognized my Zelda ocarina earrings. Granted, it was a mother who only knew because her son played the games. Still, she looked so darn proud of herself, I couldn't help being touched by the moment. The kind of community Bottley is describing is something I feel at places like Comic-con, where I can literally turn to the person behind me in line and strike up a conversation about nearly any media from TV shows to video games. Comic-con is one of the only places where I get to feel practically at home in building of over 1000 people. Otherwise, the best friends I've made have been online and always somehow related to gaming. Be it the common interest in Horizon Zero Dawn hype or discussing the delicate intricacies of Persona 5, you can really get to know somebody by talking about this kind of shared interest.
There need to be more people like Bottley. People who believe as she does, that gaming can bring people together, especially those who struggle with any range of socialization handicaps. So when someone tells you that video games will lead to your ultimate pinnacle of violence (thanks, Fox News) or that they are somehow a waste of time and that you should “go outside," Bottley gives some great advice: “What gaming provides for us is a platform to provide [a] connection with ourselves [and others]... The danger comes when people just sit their children in their bedroom, close the door and leave them to it. Get involved, ask your kids what they’re playing. Ask them about where they’re going in their game, all that sort of stuff.”