"It's Not the Flippin Game......."

One of my favorite unschooling writers and very good friend is Kelly Lovejoy. She is honest, direct and speaks from the heart. I happened upon one of her posts on an unschooling list today and asked if I could bring her response here. It related to a discussion that focused on obsessions with World of Warcraft.

Brenna, Logan and I are all very intense and focused when we are involved in things we love doing. Recently, Brenna has been completely immersed in making pottery and reading and writing about pottery from the time she gets up till she goes to bed. She said today that she was even dreaming about pottery. Do you think that she gets any negative responses about the time and energy she spends on this?

After playing World of Warcraft until he reached Level 78, Logan recently moved on to a different video game. He is completely immersed in playing Half Life and is learning and enjoying it so much that he also has mentioned dreaming about it. He has spent the last few days coming out of his room only briefly to eat and shower. Do you think his focus gets the same positive reactions as his sister's pottery interest?

I love Kelly's take on this whole "obsession" idea and how it is so often viewed as a negative when it comes to video games. My thanks to Kelly for letting me share her words that express my viewpoint so well.


It's NOT the flippin' GAME!!!!!

I know people who have become engrossed in something else to the seeming exclusion of everything else. It's not WoW that is doing the damage.

Someone recently mentioned Dungeons and Dragons. That was THE downfall of the 70's. If you didn't limit your child's time with the game, it was certain destruction and ruin. Puh-LEEZE!

I played with three friends kind of regularly. One is a Classics (Latin & Greek) professor. One is a politician. One was a Rhodes scholar and is now a lawyer. I've had many incarnations. None of us crashed and burned playing D&D.

I know people who read obsessively. Who run obsessively. Who cycle obsessively. Who work out obsessively. Who fish obsessively. Who golf obsessively. Who show dogs obsessively. Who go to Star Trek conventions obsessively.

Who drum obsessively. Who garden obsessively. Who work with numbers obsessively. Who sail obsessively. Who collect flashlights obsessively. Who make wine obsessively. Who geo-cache or letterbox obsessively. Who play with dolls obsessively. Who knit obsessively. Who camp and hike obsessively. Who travel obsessively. Who watch Law & Order obsessively. Who perform magic obsessively. Who play bagpipes obsessively. Who sculpt/paint obsessively. Who dance obsessively. Who write obsessively. Who ride horses obsessively. Who make movies obsessively.

Some do these things for a living. Some are simply enjoying hobbies/passions. All are friends of mine.

Who gets to decide what's unhealthy and
what's necessary to achieve goals?

Last night, my family went to a magic show. Several amazing magicians. One also drummed. He combined magic and drumming in his act. He's a pretty big name: Ed Ellis, Fastest Hands in the World. Drummer AND Magician!

Anyway, last night, Cameron marveled at his drumming. He was amazing! Cam and I talked about his talent as we left the hotel. Cameron said that he must've drummed to the exclusion of everything else. He MUST have. 'Cause that's how you get to be the BEST. But he's not exclusively drumming. He's also a talented magician, an actor, and a speaker. But we know he spent COUNTLESS hours learning to BE that good.

He was probably told that he was obsessing too much about magic and music. I can almost guarantee it---it's just how society feels about "specializing.

" But had he NOT obsessed, how good do you think he would be now?

I really enjoyed meeting him. He asked us to stop by his home on our way to Ohio at the end of this month. Have Cameron come spend an hour or two drumming with him. How can I possibly pass up such an opportunity???

Cameron will call him tomorrow to make sure our schedules jive. But I'll move heaven and earth to give him the opportunity to spend time with this obsessed talent.

Pick any ultra-talented individual. He wasn't just born that way. He WORKED at it. He was obsessed by it.

No Olympic athlete got to the Olympics just wishing for it. No CEO got
to that position by working just 9-5. No farmer can make a living by just hoping crops grow. No musician got to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by playing just two hours, three days a week. No handler wins Best in Show at Westminster by showing only one weekend a month. No one wins a Superbowl ring by playing flag football on Saturdays. No gamer will reach level 80 and get a job with Blizzard by playing only two hours/day and on weekends.

Goals require dedication. Lofty goals require obsession.

I feed my children's obsessions. Who knows where that will lead?

Imagine all the amazing stars we have lost to parents' fears.

Help them achieve lofty goals. Expose them to as much of the world as possible. The world would be a better place if everyone did what comes naturally and what makes them happy. Imagine a world where *everyone* LOVED what he did!



Really, this is the essence of unschooling from my perspective. Value, time and resources for our interests that we have balanced with exploration and understanding that at any time we might discover something new and amazing to add to our rich lives. I want my kids to love what they do now and I'm quite confident it will lead to always doing what they love.


Beachbum said…
Thanks, Kelly and Gail, for this...
kelli said…
You go girl... er, girls! Gaming does get a bad wrap, I think people get sick of me talkin' about it but I think we'll keep talking :)
kelli said…
and I was also going to say that when I was studying French in college I would dream in French, and no one was worried about me studying too much! Great post Gail :)
laura said…
goosebumps all over...and tears, because i have always wanted to be passionately obsessed with my art. sadly it comes in waves. i went to college where it was important to have a "well-rounded" education. if i only knew then what i know now...i could've used all that tuition money (that we're still paying) to buy a studio and supplies!!! or at least not gone to a university, i might've gone to an art school!!

ren and i talked about this very discussion last night (and the kids joined right in). she was telling us about it and we were coming up with all sorts of things we are "addicted" to just for laughs...breathing, wearing clothes, reading books, eating. imagine telling my husband after a long 10-15 hour day spent at work that he was addicted to working and earning a living for our family. oh my!! it was a fun game to put it all into perspective how ridiculous the notion is that a game could cause all the problems described by the person warning everyone to be careful about letting your kids play WoW too much.

one of the things i imagined about homeschooling when my kids were just babies was this idea that they would have the "luxury" of spending countless hours doing what their hearts called them to do...without constant interruptions to get ready for school, come eat dinner, get ready for bed, or an arbitrary "it's time to clean up." they have spent hours with legos spread out on the floor, drawing, playing monopoly, playing computer and video games, reading, making up games inside and out.

samuel spends a lot of time in his studio working on his comic books and artwork, would i call it an unhealthy obsession? hell no. but someone might. they would be wrong. silas is my gamer...and he loves it!! he can tell me complex plots and methods of playing a specific game that go way over my head. and i'm in awe. is that an unhealthy obsession. hell no again!! thanks for sharing kelly's words (as i am not on that particular list)...they are powerful, powerful words!!

i am learning everyday from the experiences my kids have time for to give myself that same kind of time. i still can't believe how long it takes to undo though. i'm glad they'll never have to figure out how to do what they love. they just do it.
Madeline said…
Great post (your's and Kelly's) and something I've been thinking about a lot, in the same vein, as I watch my boys' passions change. It's wonderful that they have the attention span and stamina to stay at it on WOW for so long (or at learning a new bike trick or reading a book series or standing in the woods with a hunter). I don't always share their passions but have learned to value them all.
Curtis said…
Kelly is definitely right on. I can't tell you the number of hours I spent practicing juggling while I was in college. I was the first one on campus who could juggle 5 balls. For a while, I was also one of just 2 people in St. Louis who could do 7. I spent hours on my knees in my dorm room practicing to learn 5 (the ceiling was so low I had to kneel to practice indoors during the winter).

The last year or so I've been obsessed with both paying off our debts and starting my own company. I work way to many hours with the extra jobs, but the end goal is financial freedom and working from home (and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel). No one would say anything about the recent obsession, but trust me, I sure heard about the former!
mindy said…
WOW :)
I love your words, and I love hearing Kelly's words through you! Love it. Love it. Love it.
Thanks ladies...I can always count on on amazing unschooling moms to inspire me.
Silvia said…
I always obsess over something new, or when I return to a past hobby or interest. That's just how I am! Reading, gardening, playing WOW :), learning/researching something I'm interested in, a new-to-me tv show that I can rent all the episodes for, martial arts, raising chickens. The list goes on. Thanks for posting this.

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