Video Games in Interviews?

Along with academics and extracurriculars (and other stuff) that I talked about in the interview, would the AO think badly of me if I mentioned Minecraft? It’s a video game that has shaped me and helped me learn throughout my life as well as strike an interest in programming for me (which I highlighted) but I’m not sure if the AO was pleased with me talking about video games. Should I avoid talking about video games in future interviews?

Be yourself. If that includes video games, so be it. But talk about other things too. Don’t come across one-dimensional, whether it’s video games or some other interest.

Agree - Use it as an example but not as the biggest thing in your life. Explain or tell them WHY you mention the game and what you learned from it. But don’t sound like a gamer. For example, it really made me interested in web design, interactive platforms, future of educational technology.

BTW Some schools have rules @ playing video games in the dorms. A few years ago, we visited a school were the tour guide told us that the dorm parents don’t allow it except for during certain hours.

I would add to the above: focus on the deeper, creative aspects. Did you recreate Middle Earth? Host a server that became a draw for thousands of users? Program red stone into a 32 bit computer?

We had to deal with this. Schools know students play video games. Some schools are more accepting than others. Not all video games, or gamers, are equal. It depends upon WHY you play, and what you get out of it. First person shooter is very different than Minecraft.

They will want to know that academics and community comes first. That gaming won’t get in your way and you will be 100% invested into their community.

If you are part of a Minecraft community, emphasize how it helps you connect to people. For some, those gaming communities have been a godsend while coping with pandemic isolation.

If you have developed coding skills, that’s good. If you have created things you are proud of, to me that is no different than being an artist.

What you want to avoid is sounding like an addict or into video games to shoot things up, or a loner. If you are just wasting time with it and not developing yourself, don’t go there.

Answer this: How will your gaming skills contribute to their community? How does it make you interesting? How does it demonstrate how you approach real life challenges? You mention it if it tells admissions something you really want to share with them and they need to know because it makes you special.

Eg My kid does speedrunning. He has been very committed to it, just like an athlete practicing a sport. Granted he didn’t talk about it during admissions, but he has shared it with teachers and they have been intrigued and supportive. He is devoted to developing motor skills and precision and mental stamina and contributes to a great online community. He can talk articulately about all of the good things he gets from it. Discipline, The importance of practice and repetition, focus, being goal oriented, etc - he has me convinced it isn’t that different from devotion to a sport or academic endeavor.

If it got in the way of his grades or participation in the school community, that would be a problem. They know he puts school first, though, so it has never been an issue.

As an aside, he found that gaming was a great way to make friends at school. It broke the ice better than anything else.

@CateCAParent I didn’t mention anything about Minecraft helping me make friends or fitting into the community at the boarding school, but I mentioned how it was basically what made me want to start programming. I also mentioned that I learned a lot of things not only from the game itself, but from others who played it (ex. political ideologies & world economies, some java programming, world history/world wars, etc, as well as perservearance, pushing boundaries, and creativity.) and I tried to only mention it to say “this is a great game and I learned many things from it.” I’m just worried I might have came off as too much of a gamer because I didn’t mention everything I’ve learnt. Will this damage my application, especially if I don’t think I’ll include this into an essay, because that might make me sound more like a gamer?

@pearlescentrose I wouldn’t worry about it. From where I sit, many, many kids play video games at boarding school. It isn’t shocking. The AOs have kids themselves. They know. Sounds like you handled it well. It is part of who you are, and nothing to hide.

Minecraft is so creative, it is easy to present it as a positive. If it was ALL you did, that would be a problem. As part of a well-rounded life, though, which you seem to have, it is a fine topic to talk about.

Good luck - please don’t hesitate to keep asking questions!

@CateCAParent Thank you!! I was super worried about getting an immediate reject because I mentioned things outside of academics :grimace: but this had made me feel a bit better! <3

My son also loves Minecraft and is not hiding from it in his interviews or essay questions, when applicable. He has always liked building things and having creative license to do so. Right now he’s building a futuristic city in Minecraft and I can definitely see him potentially pursuing architecture. I was never a gamer, more of a sports kid and haven’t necessarily appreciated his love for it but when he’s showed me some of the things he’s done lately I’ve been blow away.

As long as you build a narrative around how its shaped you or how it ties into fields of study, I think you’re more than fine.

Our school advisor told us that some schools, he mentioned Mercersburg as one, understands this is what many kids like and some schools are beginning to add classes to cater to gamers. Don’t think playing, but coding, etc.

Remember: you are looking for the best school for you, one that will love the individual you are, and foster your academic growth.

If they don’t “get” you, then they might not be the right school for you.

The right school for you will have an AO that, after your interview, feels like exclaiming, “What an amazing [kid]!”

  1. I 100% promise you that if all you did was talk about academics that would be a much clearer path to an immediate “no” than talking about something you like that you learned from.

  2. Wouldn’t you hate to go to a school that hated gamers of any style?

  3. My kids barely talked about academics. That isn’t what the AO wants to know. I think they were asked what their favorite subject was and that was it. Acadmics are on your transscript - your grades, your teacher comments, your test scores. They want to know about YOU and what makes you tick.

Total aside, but “Among Us” is super popular right now in the social gamer set. The howls of laughter from my son’s room before he left for school were heartening. He and his friends were having a blast. It is like they are playing a board game together. Very wholesome.

I am convinced that these days gamers have a leg up on mental health (contrary to the stereotype). Kiddo didn’t suffer the isolation this summer that many kids did. He was also excited to be back at school and be plugged into the ethernet directly so there would be less lag time. ?.

Games are a tool for good. They just can’t be your everything. Any more than any other activity.

Oh, and yes, comp sci classes seem to be incorporating gaming into the curriculum. From what I can tell.

@DaddyHoosier see, this is a problem. I can’t really show anything I’ve done to cater to things that I want to learn in. I mentioned to the AO about how because of what I’ve seen players in the community do, It’s made me interested in coding and architecture, but I can’t really show that I have any achievements, as I haven’t really worked on any “builds”, and I’ve only done some simple projects in python. I know Minecraft has definitely made me a more persevering/boundary pushing/curious, etc. person, so should I highlight that more in my essays, contrary to in the interview, where I talked about it making me interested in certain subjects?

@one1ofeach thank you for the advice! This was my first interview so I wasn’t really sure how to make myself sound like a balance of “good academic achiever kid” and also “learns outside school from stuff they like kid” and I was really nervous, but now I know how to prepare for the interview :slight_smile: I’ll definitely focus more on my own experiences outside of my school achievements next time!

@CateCAParent Yes! Among Us is getting super popular lately, and usually it’s a great way to find really cool and friendly people, as well as finding out which of your friends is best at lying xD I would agree that most gamers who can find a balance between life and gaming are usually more happy, but once you lose that balance, things get iffy. I understand that gaming can be great, and it can’t be my everything, so I highlighted some things outside gaming as well, but as gaming wasn’t a subject I initially wanted to talk about and came up with on the spot, I wasn’t able to talk about my interest in piano, which I had planned out for the essay, as well as academic achievements to back it up. Should I just not write about piano at all, because I barely mentioned it in my interview, not write about gaming at all (my original plan), or write a bit of both?

Big thanks to everyone who’s replied to my thread so far, My confidence level went up a bit :blush:

@Calliemomofgirls gives great advice about this, which I won’t do justice to: Write down all of the things you want the school to know about you. Map them out onto your application. If piano is important for them to understand you, include it. If you can use it to explain something deeper - a character quality - it is potential for an essay. Like with Minecraft - it satisfies your desire to create stuff, etc. What do you love about piano? What does it do for you that is different than what Minecraft does? Make sure you use the application to its fullest potential.

@CateCAParent I definitely think that Minecraft has had more impact on me, but I have played piano for 9 years and it definitely helped me in finding joy of learning, which I mentioned in the interview. The thing is, I have a lot of experience and academic achievements in piano, and I don’t think just not really talking about it in my essay would be a red flag, like “oh they were forced to do piano” (which is definitely a possibility, because I’m Asian) I also mostly have personality-related developments and also interests I would like to do in high school from Minecraft, so I don’t really know if I should include that over piano. I’m thinking right now to do some essays on both, but I don’t know.

It is tough to figure out. Think of it this way: use the combo of the various components of the application process and your activities to show as completely as possible who you are and what makes you tick. That is different than telling what you do.

Piano may be a stereotype, but you aren’t. What makes that statement true?

It really depends who your interviewers are. A lot of people have prejudices about gamers so I wouldn’t mention it unless you did something amazing like winning a national contest or something similar.

“…you have to show your real face, so be yourself.” I completely disagree in the context that you are suggesting the OP not be mindful of his/her audience.

We do not have one real face that we show all people, all of the time. We must be conscious of our audience and be thoughtful about what and how we show of ourselves. We do not talk the same or about the same topics to our friends, family members, school acquaintances, teachers, co-workers, bosses, etc. Not only are the topics different, so are the mannerisms, the clothes we wear, etc. Just because a kid might like to wear tank tops around the house doesn’t mean they should show their real face and wear that on their Zoom interview.

IMO, failure to recognize that we must present different sides of ourselves to different audiences has gotten many young people in trouble over the past decade or two. How many people have been fired for personal posts on social media, particularly back when social media didn’t allow posts to be tailored to subgroups (when your FB “friends” included everyone you knew and they all saw your posts).

Tailoring your message to your audience is not lying or not being yourself; it’s being wise and realistic.

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You’re being interviewed and if you have something to say about a video game or a detail from a game, feel free to say it. They’re interviewing you first, not you. If a game has left some kind of mark or you want to share something interesting about a game, then say it. The only thing that might happen is that a snippet gets cut. You said Minecraft shaped you and helped you learn, say so. If you play CS-GO or want to say you can Sell csgo skins and want to share with others to use, say so. And so about any other game. Some people have been influenced by games more than society.