There’s no one to blame but yourself for missing class

Video games are the reason for students’ struggles in school as much as food is to blame for people’s weight issues.
College often is a person’s first taste of freedom (loads of free time) from parental supervision and influence, especially if said student lives away from home during the school year. And it happens to coincide with the dawn of adulthood.

This is me playing "Mortal Kombat" for PlayStation 3, and I turned out all right, right? Well, I graduated, at least. (Photo illustration by Steve Kuchera /

The key is having the desire and drive to complete the necessary work without overindulging in the circus outside of the classroom. Remember, college is optional no matter how much pressure your parents might apply.
As gaming has evolved the past 25 years from the days of 8-bit, side-scrolling heroes Mario and Link to elaborate, co-op, first-person shooters and full-body, motion-sensing controllers, so, too, has its benefits. Titles such as the popular “Call of Duty” series force gamers to use multitasking, problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination — and teamwork in online play — in order to succeed, as one friend reminded me. But that doesn’t mean any college student should blow off that 8 a.m. Intro to Psych class in favor of blasting zombie Nazis.
People are responsible for the decisions they make. Yes, video games can be a distraction when you’re living away from Mom and Dad in a dorm or house with your buddies. But so can alcohol and drugs, which all too often contribute to the derailment of people’s educational and life tracks with devastating consequences.
Some of my best memories from college — what I remember of it, anyway — include all-hours marathon gaming sessions of “WWF No Mercy,” “NHL,” “Mortal Kombat,” “Goldeneye 007,” “Contra” and “FIFA Soccer” with roommates and friends. In college — or even today, when family and full-time jobs take up time — we played when we could.
That guy who failed every class this semester because playing “Skyrim” took priority over studying for that calc final — and I’m sure there’s at least one out there — has no one and nothing to blame but himself.
I’m tempted to use the standard “bad parenting” blanket excuse that inevitably gets pulled out of the linen closet of clichés at this point, but it goes beyond that. There are such things as common sense and learning from the mistakes of others.
The “iWorld” we live in today makes it easier to act like slugs, passing up physical activity and face-to-face interaction in favor of the Netflix Instant Queue and Facebook chat. (Sadly, there’s a reason the NFL feels like it has to encourage kids to run around outside for an hour a day. It makes me feel guilty for watching eight hours of “Dexter” the other day.) But that doesn’t mean we should be held to lower standards than before.

Jimmy Bellamy is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and multimedia editor in Duluth, Minn., and a lifelong gamer. Contact him at (218) 723-5390 or This pro-con piece originally appeared here. The opposing view can be read here.