Friends through Video Games

Video Games have done a lot for Liam. They earned him friends.

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See, while Liam was not able to keep up in playground games, while he was not able to maintain conversations about others’ interests for more than 30 seconds, while he was not able to wow peers with his smooth social skills, he was able to impress them with his gaming.

This mattered among kids. He actually became “popular” among other kids who played video games because he could beat New Super Mario Bros. When they could not get past a certain level, he could help them beat it. When multi-player games were being played, kids fought to have Liam on their team. No more, aww, he doesn’t play good.

In 5th grade, Liam’s math teacher exposed the class to Scratch programming. Liam creates many games through Scratch, under the name Superpi2. Other kids have followed him and given his video games great ratings. In fact, Liam took an Advanced Scratch Programming class through Johns Hopkins during his 7th grade year, and earned an A.

Playing video games well has earned Liam a great reputation among Kieran’s friends – they definitely look up to him. Kieran has always wanted Liam at his birthday parties because he is proud of his big brother, and enjoys the attention he gets from the other kids who admire Liam too.

Kieran actually shared with me earlier this year: Liam is famous in our school. He’s a cool smart kid. When I work in the middle school, I actually introduce myself as Liam’s mom as, who knows what a Reading Supervisor is anyway? Kieran also has shared, I’m a smart kid who’s not cool.

What Kieran doesn’t realize is that in 6th grade, Liam was not cool either. There will be plenty of time to tell you about 6th grade later this year. It wasn’t until last year, especially with Technology Student Association (TSA), when Liam was the only 7th grader who qualified for nationals. Moreover, he was the only middle schooler who won an award, twice, at nationals.

So, while no one calls the house to talk with Liam, and no one invites Liam to parties, they do clamor for Liam to be on their team in school, or in TSA, know he is the middle school kid who takes math classes at the high school (with sophomores and juniors), and nominate him to be an officer (treasurer, of course), of their clubs. This is a wonderful way to be popular in our eyes – and it makes Liam very happy.

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2 thoughts on “Friends through Video Games

  1. Lisa says:

    My nephew, who is just genuinely a little off socially and not on the spectrum, had similar social difficulties. I remember him at age 6 saying that he had no friends because nobody liked the things he liked and friends like the same things. He was very “Sheldon Cooper” about the whole thing. There were no hurt feelings, just a statement of fact. In high school, he discovered a whole world of friends online. He met them in chatrooms about the things he liked/likes: coding, programming, astronomy. It has never mattered to him that these people are not friends he’d go out with. Now, as a university student, he has many friends that share his interests. He is able to expand his circle to people who only share 1 or 2 interests now! 🙂 But the online friends really opened the door for him.

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