Video games “screw up” kids’ minds: Gerry Harvey

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blog Look, I don’t pretend to know what goes on in the mind of Gerry Harvey, but if you believe comments he made on Channel 10 last week, the Harvey Norman founder may be more out of touch with reality than any of us had previously realised (is that even possible?). According to Harvey (click here to watch the video interview, you select it from the menus on the right), one of “the great tragedies” of our modern age is that kids spend way too much time … you guessed it … playing video games. Shocker. Norman says:

“If I could get rid of leisure computers in Australia, I probably would. They can have them at school, but leisure time, no. We’re talking about kids playing games online, and wasting their life away playing games. They’re not getting any physical activity. Their minds are screwed up in these games.”

Honestly, I don’t think we need to seriously address these claims. The extensive role which video games have in our society in areas such as artistic works, entertainment, facilitating social interaction, health care and even in education is incredibly well-documented by now, and I think almost everyone who lives in Australia accepts that. I’m no kid; I’m 31 years of age, I’m a father myself, a small business owner and I’ve played video games my whole life. Contrary to Norman’s claims, I also exercise (Karate, the gym and so on) and I’m even married. Shocker. Seems like I turned out OK, and I think most of the billions of others who also enjoy video games are also pretty normal people.

What these comments by Harvey demonstrate to me is that the executive really is quite out of step with modern society and even reality. For me personally, for Harvey to label video games as a blight on society is similar to a racist bemoaning multicultural Australia, a homophobic person sledging gay people or a chauvinist making offensive comments about women. Video games are a normal, basic part of Australian society, and if you don’t accept that, Gerry Harvey, it’s you whose mind is “screwed up” — not the other 99 percent of us.

One last thing … we do so hope Harvey’s attitude towards video games changes fairly soon. We’d hate to see the Harvey Norman founder alienated in the expensive nursing home which, no doubt, isn’t too far away in his future … you know, the kind where the aged citizens are obsessed with playing Nintendo Wii?

42 COMMENTS

  1. If Gerry really thinks video games harms minds, he should put his money where his mouth is and pull said games off his shelves.

    • Does Harvey Norman even sell games? I haven’t been in there for about a decade, so I really have no idea what they sell any more. My mates and I used to refer to it as “Hardly Normal” because of the “Hardly Normal” prices.

      I still do go into JB Hi-Fi a fair bit, however. Perhaps Harvey Norman would be doing a little better if it focused on video games as much as JB does? My impression is that HN sells stuff that nobody really wants to buy … HP printers, for example? ADSL routers without Wi-Fi? That kind of thing.

      • Not only do they do games, they also do sofas and beds, thus allowing kids to slumber instead of doing some physical activity. Not to mention TVs that waste kids’ time without even exercising their fingers.
        Me, I applaud Dr Harvey and Mr Norman here for making me feel younger. I’m a kid again! Saving the galaxy has its benefits.

      • Harvey Norman sells quite an extensive range of video games – http://harveynorman.com.au/gaming as well as computers, of course.

        It’s the height of hypocrisy to be happy to get rich in part by selling computers and video games, and then paint them as a blight on society. Gerry, to be consistent with your ‘principles’, clearly you must immediately pull all video games and consoles from sale, and institute a policy of requiring anyone purchasing a computer from you to sign an affidavit promising that the computer will only be used for ‘learnology’.

        Oh, and you’ll be donating all the profits derived from sales of video games and ‘recreational computers’ to date to an organisation that focuses on rehabilitating gamers and turning them into athletes, right?

        Nutjob.

  2. Your journalistic credentials are slipping, Renai. Answer the big questions that the public is dying to know!

    … what rank are you in Karate? :D

      • Renai, I was there not too long ago buying a new dishwasher and washing machine (I know a guy that works there who got me a good deal), and saw a few overpriced games on the shelves to go along with their overpriced Xbox and PS3s.

        I wouldn’t say that they are really focused on video games or consoles, at least to the level that JB Hifi are. People probably shop there because they don’t know any better. It’s pretty obvious Gerry sells the stuff he has on his shelves, because that stuff sells and Gerry loves a quick buck. Case in point: iPods and accessories.

  3. Harvey doesn’t know anything about ‘kids’ or ‘gaming’.

    I’ve been playing Video Games since DOS games, Games like, 11th Hour, Doom, Heretic, RTS Games like Warcraft, Dune, and so forth.

    Hasn’t “screwed me up” one bit, if anything it probably taught me more about Big Business and Politics lol and how pathetic they can get.

  4. I have been playing computer games for a looooooooong time and I am no more screwed than I was when I started.

  5. People spending large amounts of time playing games to relax are screwed up… so what does that make people who spend their lives building a corporate empire whos purpose is to screw those people.

    • Well in a Game, you might be a Tyrant in virtual. But in the real world, you can really be a Tyrant. Guess which one can really hurt others. Says it all really.

      • Being a tyrant in the real world can be quite fun. I rather enjoy being the Supreme Overlord of Delimiter, although unfortunately I didn’t get many magical powers along with the role, unlike in some fantasy games I have played *sigh*

  6. I wonder if Harvey’s luddite attitude also explains why his store has been so bad at embracing the new paradigm of online shopping?

    It may be that his unfounded and irresponsible attitude has been the achille’s heel of his empire. With a more balanced individual at the helm, they may be prospering instead of sitting back and complaining.

  7. I have played video games for years, and I don’t think I have turned out too badly.

    Hmm anyone else wonder what Gerry Harvey would drop?

  8. People that play games aren’t taking that time away from running around the park and exercising, they’re taking it away from sitting inactively in front of the TV.

    If Harvey wants to blame something for obesity and inactivity he should blame TV’s and the broadcast industry. Then let’s see if he wants to stop selling TV’s and other passive entertainment devices at his stores.

  9. Sorry Renai, I know this doesn’t add much to the discussion, but I just had a dreadful case of recognition ….

    Look at Gerry in the picture.

    Look closely.

    Now look at this link. See the resemblence?

    http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Snaga

    /boggle

    P.S. Apologies, I have too much time on my hands today but it just kind of lept out at me.

  10. I posted this up on WP as a response.

    Well, bashed it out in between getting my jobs done and organising a conveyancer.

    http://whrl.pl/RdtEWk

    h jeez. I wish he would keep his mouth SHUT!

    Okay, so he’s fine with computers in schools… So what does the student do when they’re told to complete the assignment at home? Do they print out more paper, hand write on it, then waste time at school merging those changes into their file at school? Are they made to write out the document by hand each time they want to work on it at home?

    And so what if kids are playing games on their off time. In many ways, playing games is a great stress relief, as well as being a valuable education tool. Take the iPad (and I’m sure there’s similar/identical games available on Android as well.) A child can use them for learning, and with the new lockdown features, parents can restrict the device to that app unless a passcode is entered. The child could be playing a game that encourages them to learn to write, or read, or solve problems, all in an interactive environment, which encourages learning.

    And then there’s people like me. I’m playing Darksiders 1 at the moment, on my computer. It’s an adult game, but there’s also a fair bit of problem solving involved, making me think outside the box to find a solution. It might be really obvious, or it might take multiple steps to complete. It still involves working the brain to find a solution (be it violent or otherwise!)

    Oh, and lets not mention those people that rely on computers or tablet devices to communicate! Wouldn’t it be something else if those people were able to “talk” through a computer to get their needs across, rather than being forced into “Blink once for yes, twice for no” Statements with yes or No questions. EG, that same game that’s teaching kids to produce sentences can easily be re-purposed to provide a list of words that someone with even minimal hand control can use to create a sentence, and then use the device to say it.

    So yeah, computers are in homes now, and they have made a niche for themselves. Like them or not, they’re here to stay.

    So I say to Gerry… If you don’t want people to have home computers, game consoles or tablets, then take them off the shelves at your stores. Whilst you’re at it, you might as well take off all DVD/BD players and Smart TV’s as well, since kids are happy to sit down and watch a DVD all day. Just don’t blame the consumer if they decide that they’re gonna spend their money elsewhere.

  11. I’m a gamer, have been since my c64. (Which I had at 4 years old)

    IMO Harvey is nuts when it comes to games screwing with our minds.

    BUUUUUUTTTT

    He is right that we spend too much time playing games. Our kids do need to get out and do some physical stuff.

    My son(6) only gets to play games in the late afternoon, and generally not 2 days running. He is also only allowed to play for a short time on weekends. Honestly at this age I am not worried about it too much. But I know what I was like and I am going to push for my boy(and my daughter) to do at least some sort of sport as he ages, mostly to ensure there is some exercise happening, but also to ensure at least a modicum of physical social activity.

    I am really looking forward to playing games with him as he ages though :-) No doubt he will be “schooling” me in no time

  12. I started playing games waaaaaay back, they have not screwed me up, if anything they have saved my sanity by giving me an escape which requires no self medication – try playing after are few beers, fail guaranteed – but the reason I take exception to the claim is that my teenagers actually learn some pretty valuable lessons from playing games like Minecraft etc, creating their own game mods and even building the PCs they run on ( that’s a hint Gerry, your stores are irrelevant to teenagers so you’re stuffed, bye bye Gerry)

  13. I just love the fact that people are trying to defend themselves due to something Gerry said.

    Really… he’s still got that much power?

  14. Can’t understand why this guy’s not bankrupt I can do better anywhere buying anything!
    He’s senile!

  15. Is this old Gerrys final stubborn concession that his videogames arm isn’t earning a quid anymore after years of rorting?

  16. I find it amusing that for a man that has probably made Millions out of selling the bloody things, would come out with this. Can’t see myself walking into one of his shops again

  17. I think you’d find most large corporations executives would have this attitude, for them the only real game in town is “the business” and money is just used to keep score. I mean, seriously, why bother once your personal wealth crosses the billion mark otherwise…personally I’d move on to something else (like Bill Gates/Dick Smith did).

  18. what next…. a drug boss coming out saying that drugs are killing our kids? ronald mcdonald blaming take away food for kids getting fat… MT claiming that copper to the house is a sufficient internet platform for us ?

    Honestly, i think games have saved more lives … if i didn’t get to go home over the last 20 years and take someone apart with a BFG ingame … i could have gone postal at work! :P

  19. Gerry needs to remember which market he is in.

    It’s the one that sells a bunch of overpriced sh*t (they don’t need) to people consuming time that could otherwise be used to take a walk, got to the gym, cycle, or whatever other physical movement happens to be acceptable.

    People have all manner of reasons to play computer games, and to lump all usage patterns together is a pretty lazy approach, showing quite an alarming lack of understanding of the thing he’s commenting on.

  20. He hasn’t looked at where his profits are coming from lately, has he? Or does he think people watching his overpriced TVs is better, and they won’t see any violence or (gasp) sex there, would they?

    If you don’t like it don’t push it.

  21. I just mentioned this story to my wife, who said “he just wants media time, doesn’t he?”

    No, she’s not a gamer. Maybe she’s a little cynical, though.

  22. i think its more likely that harvey is worried that kids will be on computers, which have net access and access to better pricing then his “hardly normal” pricing, thus depriving him of income

    Boo freaking hoo.

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