The debate on whether video games are good or bad for you has been going on for the longest time. For parents raising kids in the age of technology and social media, it can be quite hard to monitor exactly what their children are playing or watching online.
But the world of video games has a lot of positives too and we wanted to find out what some of these Instagram Gaming Ambassadors had to say. We had a chat with gamer girls who shared their typical day to day roles as ambassadors, what their favourite games are and their own perspective on gaming culture.
Meet Stephanie O'Connor (@stephoppotamus), a 9-5 social media manager by day and an avid gaming ambassador on Instagram after work hours.
“If I have a reputation for anything on Instagram, it's being real and nice. As an ambassador, I have to stay positive in the community, stay grounded and help others who want to better themselves.”
Steph is currently playing Spyro, her favourite game that brings a sense of nostalgia. “Although no other game has given me this much rage! The Witcher 3 is also a current fave.”
Despite the negative connotations about gamers, Stephanie thinks there’s always a silver lining.
“A lot of people, especially parents, believe that gaming is wrong and that it destroys their kids brains but, in fact, it's the complete opposite,” she said.
“Yes, there are some mind numbing games but I think all games teach you something. Online games teach you people skills and teamwork. Shooting games teach you about patience and aim. RPG games help calm mental health issues by taking you into another world. The benefits far outweigh the negatives.”
A 2018 study revealed that video gaming comes with cognitive benefits. Those who play video games extensively have, on average, higher IQ's and perform better on a wide variety of cognitive tests of perceptual and mental ability than non-gamers.
Aside from fast paced action games, strategy role-playing games also exercise problem-solving skills.
But not all gamers enjoy intense and aggressive games. For gamers like Bonita (@hyliagamer), Pokémon Let's Go Eevee/Pikachu is the game she’s obsessed with at the moment.
“The new elements they added into the franchise have really brought the game to life. Reliving the childhood memories of Kanto in a new adventure is so satisfying,” says Bonita, who is also a Gaming Ambassador on Instagram.
“You get a real sense of accomplishment when completing the Pokédex as you interact so much more with catching and looking after your Pokémon.”
Each day as a Gaming Ambassador is always different and exciting, as it involves constantly looking for new trends and stories about the gaming world.
“All the ambassadors work together to make the gaming community better and free from negativity. Before every new launch, we get to test them out to make sure it’s helpful to the gaming community. We provide feedback on Instagram to ensure that it is a better platform for people to come together and share their passion.”
Bonita believes gaming is far from laziness and says it’s something people always assume when you express your love for gaming. “It exercises your brain in creativity, imagination and problem solving. Gaming is a way to express yourself in a place where you can’t be judged wrongly.”
Caz (@cazgirl_plays) sees gaming as a new way of of storytelling.
"Gaming is so much more than just a form of entertainment. It's also an expression of creativity. Whether it's creating new worlds on Minecraft, playing a story like The Last of Us or competitive play on Fortnite."
Instagram's gaming community is packed with constant engagement and conversation and support - bringing together gamers from all over the world. As a gaming ambassador, Caz expressed her excitement over her role and how she has met amazing people through the programme.
"The whole experience has been brilliant and I'm so happy to be included in this programme! We report back to Instagram about the energy and feeling within the community. Basically we are trying to act as a bridge between Instagram and the gaming community."
For others, gaming is an escape - a way to get away from the downside of life. "I personally feel that gaming can help someone in many ways as it got me through some dark times in my life with bullying and what not," says Ivory (@walkthroughtime).
"People just see kids sitting playing games for hours on end. They don’t see the benefits that they are actually getting - for example, social skills with online, hand and eye coordination."
Ivory is currently playing Overwatch purely because of the winter games. "The skins that Blizzard launched this season are insane - especially Mercy."
Ivory also spends a couple of hours each day looking for relatable content and new hashtags on Instagram. "I'm looking for accounts with spark, good images and presence in the gaming community."
As a mother, she believes gaming is beneficial as long as there's a balance.
"When my child is older, he will play games as well. I see so many benefits from gaming. As long as you have balance then there is nothing wrong with it at all."
There’s usually stereotypical images of the typical gamer: someone who's stuck in their room for days, being immature online and the most obvious stereotype: gaming being a guy thing. Well, it's about time we put an end to it because there are plenty of gamer girls who are just as passionate as guys are in the world of gaming. With now around 47% of gamers being female, the facts really do speak for themselves.