Why My Life Filled with Video Games is Not a Waste
This is one of the most thought provoking videos I’ve seen this year, but also one of the most frustrating, as it chronicles just what it means to have a life shaped by video games, which some may argue mine has been. It tells the animated tale of a real-life guy who took a step back from video games and realized what it had gotten him, nothing. He reflects on all he missed out on while playing games, and all the IRL adventures he could have had instead of staring in front of a screen.
At this point the video, I was ready to argue that the guy seemed like a former World of Warcraft addict, which is a game notoriously known for destroying lives. He talks about building level 80 characters, and grinding, all things within that game, and I feel like he was leaving out “normal” games that aren’t life consuming.
Fortunately, by the end of the video, he realizes he’s being overly harsh, and admits that video games actually can bring people together, just like any other form of entertainment. Sure, I’ve played thousands of hours of video games in my life, but the vast majority of those were spent playing games with friends, and I have great memories growing up of watching my friend beat Sonic the Hedgehog for the first time, staying up until four in the morning playing Mortal Kombat the day it came out, or how in awe we were of the limitless freedom to cause chaos in Grand Theft Auto III.
And even now, my friends and I still play games. I’ll spend two weeks beating Mass Effect 2 and talking about all the various outcomes with my friends. I’ll have people over on the weekend, and we’ll play a few rounds of Smash Bros. and Halo before heading out to the bar. I even have a buddy in law school across the country who I used to see every other day, but now only twice a year. But a couple times a week, we put on our headsets and play Modern Warfare 2, it’s a way to stay in touch that isn’t as lame as Skyping because we’re killing things and making fun of 12 year-olds.
Sure, in all the time I’ve spent playing video games I could have driven across the country, learned a language, baked a cake, done volunteer work or gone on dates. But guess what? I HAVE done all that stuff. A balanced life is really not that hard to live, and I feel that this guy is overgeneralizing about the evils of games because of a life-destroying addiction to World of Warcraft, a game I stay away from purposefully because I know about its addictive properties. Just because I have a few beers from time to time doesn’t mean I’m going to end up homeless on the streets sucking down rubbing alcohol.
I don’t view “wasting my time” with video games any differently than people who “waste their time” watching sports. At the end of the day, we go to sleep at night with the game we’ve just consumed having no real effect on our lives, and adding no real benefit, but we had a great time playing/watching it with our friends, and it’s an interest we all share and talk about.
Sure, we’d probably all be better off skydiving or going on safari or painting a picture or something, but this is real life, we all can’t do that stuff, but we do need distractions. The multibillion dollar industries of movies, television and sports can all attest to that. Is it really fair to say these industries are “useless,” and if we partake we are wasting our lives?
Too much of anything is bad for you, and this is most definitely true with video games as well. If playing games actually intereferes with the leading of a normal life then yes, burning them all in a grill might be the right life choice for you. But for the rest of us, who have lived great lives growing up playing video games? Sorry, but you’re not going to be able to shame me into the thinking I gamed my life away.