SIX NATIONS — About 400 parents, grandparents and children came to the Gathering Place on the Grand December 28 for the TRT’s Day of Play.
The annual event puts a focus on family togetherness through gaming together as an act of decolonization in action.
Video game stations were set up with a running Super Smash Bros. tournament throughout the day. Tables were filled with families playing table games, card games, colouring, building lego structures and enjoying some delicious pizza and wings from Village Pizza.
“Way more people showed up than we were expecting,” said TRT Publisher Jonathan Garlow.
“The prize winners were really super happy.”
Garlow is an avid PC game streamer on YouTube and Twitch.tv as JeexTraxLivestream where he often will live stream and guest host other Six Nations gamers.
“Video games gave me an opportunity to be good at something,” says Garlow. “Back in the eighties video games definitely weren’t cool. But I’ve embraced my identity and video games are how I choose to express myself.”
As part of the festivities, Garlow built two custom gaming PC systems worth an estimated $4000. The computers were gifted to two youth on Six Nations through a random draw at the event.
The free event was provided in part by funding through the Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation. Parents and caregivers shared that timing the event during the holidays was a good move.
“It’s nice to have something free and indoors to do with the kids after Christmas,” said a parent who attended the event. “My kids were able to meet up with some friends from school and have an indoor playdate and a free lunch. I got to meet other parents. My guys are really good at video games so it’s nice to have a space like this that honours what their interests are and what they are proud of.”
She expressed frustration with the tendency of some who assume teens investing time and energy in video games is harmful.
“The amount of critical thinking that is required in those games is intense.”
In 2019 a study by researchers at Montreal’s Sainte-Justine Hospital showed that while an increase in online screen time is connected to depression in teens — those who spend their time gaming did not.
Additionally the study showed that 70% of teens who do spend time gaming are socially connected to other people playing online — which helps them avoid the social isolation linked to increased screen-time leading to depression.
“For me gaming isn’t an escape, it’s a competition,” said Garlow, “and now with the internet our distant communities can compete with each other.”
TRT will host another Day of Play gaming event later this year. To volunteer or for more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.