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I was never a gamer. I enjoyed arcade games like Super Mario Bros, Galaga (my favorite), and Street Fighter when I was younger but was never compelled to own a console. I enjoyed playing “patintero” or “agawan base” more (there goes my age) on the village streets while basking in the afternoon sun.

When I had kids, gadgets and TV time became such sensitive topics. I was super against them that when my kids were at the ages 2-5, we cut our cable subscription without hesitation so that our kids will be forced to read. It worked until Netflix came. I was so against gadgets that when my daughter’s school decided to use tablets, I arbitrarily transferred my daughter to another school.

But then the COVID health crisis happened.

Now everything is online. Schools, work, and even motorsports are done online. Without any foreseeable silver lining into this global crisis, people just need to cope, and I need to accept that gadgets will be part of my children’s reality.

But what about gaming? I see stories of e-gamers earning more money than physical athletes who compete in the Olympics. The billion-dollar Formula 1 enterprise had no choice but to go into E-sports as well. This made us think whether this is the future of the sport. At first, we were hesitant and in denial.

I had to wrestle with some of my demons before we started organizing virtual races. Is it ok to promote this kind of activity to other kids while I forbid my kids from participating? Will it be acceptable for my kids to spend another two hours in front of the screen just to play?

My realization came earlier than COVID. I removed the rose-colored lens on how I was brought up playing outdoors and how life was back then. Since parenting does not come with a manual, the default is to replicate our experiences, thinking that we came out ok anyway.

After being subjected to numerous brainwashing, er talks on how technology is changing the world, I realize that even our industry has changed. Motorsports has now branched into another arena where there are fewer limitations. Gender, money, built, courage, and age are no longer a factor to win. It has embraced another set of demographics, fans that turned into active participants of the sport.

The difference with motorsports games, as we realized, is that it is the easiest to convert into real life. Physical racecar drivers have been using the race simulations in training for several years now. It helps them memorize the circuit and condition their body to the turns (moving simulators).

On the road, my son Arthur feels that his reflexes become faster. The use of gaming steering wheels and pedals enabled him to hone his hand, eye, and feet coordination. This made him feel better equipped driving even though his seat time was cut during the lockdown.

In terms of career path, with car manufacturers diverting some of their marketing funds into e-sports, big virtual racing leagues are now taking over the world in a storm with big cash prizes. The once frowned upon gaming habit has become a viable career for my Gen Z children alongside robotics and coding.

Removing technology is no longer an option because it’s a reality in our lives. But the danger is always there, the World Health Organization has included gaming addiction as one of the mental disorders of our times. More alarming, though, is that sometimes this disorder masks a more serious condition such as depression and anxiety.

Our job as parents has changed. From the traditional mindset of conformity, more parents realize that there are different kinds of intelligence. Finding your kid’s unique path and enabling him to maximize his potential is now the name of the game. Plus, to teach them to balance, discipline, and realize what is essential in life. Phew.

The finish line is not visible yet on this journey. But for me, if one, two, or 20 kids find their purpose on the virtual grid or enabled them to find joy in the time of uncertainty, then the question whether to e-game or not has been answered.

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