With the start of the school year I have found myself looking back on previous years and how I managed my time between playing video games and school, personally, it has been a constant struggle. As far back as I can remember I have known that having a portable video game console during school hours was a huge “no-no”. I remember Game Boy Colors being taken away from small, tearful eyed, children as a teacher told them that the child’s parent would have to come and pick it up for them at the end of the day, I also remember watching other students trade Pokemon in the back cubbies before school started and the thrill they got out of using their Game Boys in school. However, I was spared these painful and thrilling experiences because I never had to worry about my Game Boy getting confiscated. You see, my mother was teaching fourth grade at the elementary school I attended. In the mornings before class, I would hand over my Game Boy to my mother who would then put it in her desk until recess when I was allowed to hang out in her room, since her class had recess at in the same time black, with a couple of friends. We would all play Pokemon RedPokemon in the seclusion of her room but instead had to venture forth into the wildness of recess. After that time, the only time that I remember that teachers gave us permission to play only when we had indoor recess. Then once we were free from the oppressive chains of school I remember heading into my mother’s classroom, finishing my homework as fast as possible, and then continuing to play Pokemon. These times were of prue entertainment, fun and joy. No time before and no time after could replace the experiences of gaming during the elementary school years.
But middle school was a whole different beast though. Without the protection of my mother, I rarely brought my Game Boy for fear of it being stolen or taken by a teacher. Yet still the black and twisted spirit that is middle school seemed to reach out it’s black hand and affect my playing of video games. Middle school was the first time I found myself being punished for poor grades and my “video game privileges”, a term my mother coined and used for many more years to come, being taken away. I was ultimately unprepared for the difference in work load between elementary and middle, which then negatively affected my grades, which then pissed my mother off forcing her to take action. This began what I call “The Age of Hidden Gaming”.
I literally had to hide whilst I played video games during the week days. The hidden gaming process had a few rules and step ups to it. The rules I had self imposed were things like, never do a hidden game night two nights in a row, if possible during the hour period take a nap, if a test is that week do not game for the two nights leading to said test. The process itself started the afternoon on the day of the hidden game night. After the lunch bell rang, I would quickly scarf down my lunch and find the least occupied computer lap to take a nap for the remaining forty-five minutes. This usually resulted in me being late to my next class seeing as I was relying on the end of lunch bell to wake me up, if this did not happen however I would usually be woken up by the computer science teacher(s). After school, I would then be transported to my mother’s school and take another hour long nap. This would then give me roughly two hours of sleep I would not need that night. Then finally, once my mother and I had retired for the evening, I would get under my covers and start to play. These night time gaming sessions lasted between two and two and a half hours. Even now I am surprised that I was never caught doing this.
Then came the final leg of my public school journey, high school. At the high school I went to none of the staff really cared if you had your Nintendo DS or PSP on you, they just did not want to see it during school hours. However, many of the teachers would allow us to use our phones, listen to our iPods, and play games during the lunch hour. So, even though I sometimes had my “video game privileges” taken away I was still able to sneak my DS or PSP out and play before school and during lunch.
In retrospect, if I had spent as much time in middle school on my homework instead of coming up with a way to play video games without my mother finding out, I probably would have been able to get out of my punishment and not have to hide. So readers did you ever have any of these issues during your school years as a gamer? Did you have any of these problems when you first played Final Fantasy XII in 2006? Were you even in school in 2006? Let me know in the comments below.