Posted by TekZero (2682 posts) -

I've written in the past about what it was like for me to grow up with video games. In previous blogs, I've examined my desire/obsession with games through the past 30 years and how life itself slowly took more importance. Now, I'm facing another period in life where I am asking myself, is this all worth it? I now have two kids, a wife (who hates video games, but I'll get to that later), and a house to take care of. Video games have become such a second thought these days that I'm lucky if I get to play an hour a night.

The amount of time that I play, or what I play isn't what concerns me anymore. I feel that I play a healthy amount of games, I only allow myself to turn on the Xbox when there really is nothing left to do. What concerns me is the old stereotype of "gamers". My wife would tell you that all games are a waste of time, and honestly, they are. The time spent playing games can be better used on just about anything else. But what if you have nothing else to do? Are games still "bad"? The days where games were educational, made you think, and honestly made you feel smarter for finishing them are over. Now, most games are extended tutorials and hand holding while you do unspeakably violent things. I can't recall the last time I got anything beneficial from a game outside of the sense of accomplishment. I used to play games for the stories, but that seems to be in a decline these days as well. I mentioned my wife, because she has a point. I honestly can not think of a reason, other than entertainment, to justify playing a game.

I know the irony in coming to a video game site to ask the question if games are "bad" and I can only assume the answers that will come after this. Video Games are the highest revenue producing entertainment market out there so there's no question in their success. But, aside from the entertainment value of games, are we getting anything else out of them? I know that everything is best in moderation, but even in moderation, video games seem hollow. I might just be going through another phase of life where games are meaning less and less to me, because life is more important. Which leads me to the second part of the old stereotypes; age.

I can tell you that I played much more games as a kid in highschool than I do now. And in college, I played less games because it was more important to me to have a girlfriend, get good grades, and do well in my job. But, as I've become more of an adult with more responsibilities, I've played games much less frequently. Statistics would show us that the average age of video game players are 30ish years old. But are we really fooling ourselves? Even with mature rated games (that are definitely not for kids), I'm one of only a few of my friends who play games at all. It might be different in other circles, (just look at the GiantBomb guys, they are all 30ish) but in mine, even how I little time I spend playing games seems excessive. Most of my friends have the consoles, but never play them. So, are games just for kids, and 20-somethings? Because I can't see gaming being anywhere close to as important it is to me as I get older.

tl;dr

Are video games themselves "bad" for not offering anything else these days beside entertainment? And should grown men really be playing video games as much as we are now?

Also, please forgive my free-flowing stream of thought style of blog writing. I didn't really plan this thing out, I just got inspired.

#1 Posted by TekZero (2682 posts) -

I've written in the past about what it was like for me to grow up with video games. In previous blogs, I've examined my desire/obsession with games through the past 30 years and how life itself slowly took more importance. Now, I'm facing another period in life where I am asking myself, is this all worth it? I now have two kids, a wife (who hates video games, but I'll get to that later), and a house to take care of. Video games have become such a second thought these days that I'm lucky if I get to play an hour a night.

The amount of time that I play, or what I play isn't what concerns me anymore. I feel that I play a healthy amount of games, I only allow myself to turn on the Xbox when there really is nothing left to do. What concerns me is the old stereotype of "gamers". My wife would tell you that all games are a waste of time, and honestly, they are. The time spent playing games can be better used on just about anything else. But what if you have nothing else to do? Are games still "bad"? The days where games were educational, made you think, and honestly made you feel smarter for finishing them are over. Now, most games are extended tutorials and hand holding while you do unspeakably violent things. I can't recall the last time I got anything beneficial from a game outside of the sense of accomplishment. I used to play games for the stories, but that seems to be in a decline these days as well. I mentioned my wife, because she has a point. I honestly can not think of a reason, other than entertainment, to justify playing a game.

I know the irony in coming to a video game site to ask the question if games are "bad" and I can only assume the answers that will come after this. Video Games are the highest revenue producing entertainment market out there so there's no question in their success. But, aside from the entertainment value of games, are we getting anything else out of them? I know that everything is best in moderation, but even in moderation, video games seem hollow. I might just be going through another phase of life where games are meaning less and less to me, because life is more important. Which leads me to the second part of the old stereotypes; age.

I can tell you that I played much more games as a kid in highschool than I do now. And in college, I played less games because it was more important to me to have a girlfriend, get good grades, and do well in my job. But, as I've become more of an adult with more responsibilities, I've played games much less frequently. Statistics would show us that the average age of video game players are 30ish years old. But are we really fooling ourselves? Even with mature rated games (that are definitely not for kids), I'm one of only a few of my friends who play games at all. It might be different in other circles, (just look at the GiantBomb guys, they are all 30ish) but in mine, even how I little time I spend playing games seems excessive. Most of my friends have the consoles, but never play them. So, are games just for kids, and 20-somethings? Because I can't see gaming being anywhere close to as important it is to me as I get older.

tl;dr

Are video games themselves "bad" for not offering anything else these days beside entertainment? And should grown men really be playing video games as much as we are now?

Also, please forgive my free-flowing stream of thought style of blog writing. I didn't really plan this thing out, I just got inspired.

#2 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@TekZero said:

The time spent playing games can be better used on just about anything else.

This is, of course, assuming that mental/non-physical pursuits are, ultimately, an utter waste of time. This is also operating under the assumption that video games do not help develop some sort of physical skills, or, while I'm at it, skills in general. It's a flawed point, is what I'm saying.

#3 Posted by TekZero (2682 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: Aside from hand-eye coordination, normal games do not necessary develop physical skills. This is not counting kinect games which may actually teach you how to dance, or run in place.

#4 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -
@TekZero said:

@Video_Game_King: Aside from hand-eye coordination, normal games do not necessary develop physical skills. This is not counting kinect games which may actually teach you how to dance, or run in place.

There was a study about gamers making good body builders. The ability to stay focused on one thing and see it though. Setting goals. 
#5 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@TekZero:

But that argument does not rule out developing mental skills. I'll leave this here, because although it is tongue-in-cheek (what an odd fucking word that is), it is getting somewhere.

#6 Posted by doobie (605 posts) -

my gf tell me gaming is a waste of time to. as she turns her head back towards the TV to watch the X factor or some of the other shit she watches.

#7 Edited by deathstriker666 (1337 posts) -

All hobbies are a waste of time, therefore bad.

#8 Posted by BraveToaster (12588 posts) -

People believe that it's acceptable for grown men to spend hours watching football, so I'm sure I can justify why I spend so much of my free time on video games. Then again, I really don't care what people think about my love for video games.

#9 Posted by SamSharp505 (210 posts) -

I guess the time could be spent doing more productive stuff, but for the people who say it's sad or wasteful in comparison to everyday socializing it's no less productive in my opinion. :)

#10 Posted by MooseyMcMan (11335 posts) -

Yes. They are the worst thing ever, and everyone who plays them is a terrible person and is going to hell.

Moderator
#11 Edited by TheDudeOfGaming (6078 posts) -

Well yes, games are a waste of time. But then again, we will all die someday, and anything and everything we do will be buried under time. So, I tell you this. Everything's a waste of time.

Yeah, i know, made the hairs on your neck stand still didn't it? That was some heavy shit right there, heavy shit.

#12 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11934 posts) -

But... couldn't the same be said for any other form of entertainment? I mean, I'm going to the midnight launch of Brandon Sanderson's new book, and while it will most likely be the kind of high quality novel I would expect from him, it's not exactly going to enrich my life or make me a better person. Sure, I guess you could argue that the difference is that there are plenty of books in the medium that can enrich my life or make me a better person, whereas there are zero video games, but I'm not reading those books with my free time, am I?

Of course, I'm a college student, so any sort of knowledge on how video games would fit in with my life as an adult would be mere speculation on my part. On some fundamental level, you're probably right.

#13 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -

I think that the point of videogame is to entertain. Of course, you can learn something from gaming, and gaming can at least make you think about something, and i'm also pretty sure gaming can change lifes. This sounds dramatic, but i overcame a personal problem of mine thanks to Kanji in Persona 4(I guess you can imagine what that problem was.)... But their main point is still to entertain. It's not everybody who will learn how to draw because of gaming. It's not everybody who will quote a game. And i guess it's because of that; that people created the label "gamer". Because gaming, in the life of a "hardcore gamer" should be "not only entertainment, but a life style".

#14 Posted by TekZero (2682 posts) -

Gamer is a weird term. Because gaming is what someone does, it is not what someone is.

#15 Posted by CornBREDX (5646 posts) -

I'm 29 years old. While games have changed (dramatically even) over the last several years, I still tend to play a fair amount of games. The more social games keep my interest longer (MMOs and some multiplayer games) as I can socialize while I game. I play others, as well, but they don't hold my interest as long I have noticed (unles fairly engrossing like the new batman games or Uncharted or something like that).

I do not find this any less productive then any other hobby. I am wasting my time, but so do all hobbies- that is often the point. It's very similar to people who watch a lot of TV. I play less then I used to, because of more responsibilities in my life granted, but I still love video games and I don't feel bad that I play them. As for any friends I have, some play games a lot like me, some never really did to begin with. I don't really care haha

Games help me relax after a stressful day at work, and gets my mind off the BS of life. I'm perfectly happy playing a video a couple hours a night, or several hours on week ends. I don't ever feel bad about that. I have been playing games since I was like 6 or 7, and I will probably play them until I die. The amount of time I have to play them doesn't change how much fun I have when I do.

#16 Posted by EveretteScott (1522 posts) -

@deathstriker666 said:

All hobbies are a waste of time, therefore bad.

#17 Edited by deathstriker666 (1337 posts) -

The whole "my entertainment medium is better than yours" is brought forth by hypocritical, self-righteous elitists. These people are stupid, therefore you shouldn't listen to them.

#18 Posted by McShank (1629 posts) -

video games are not bad. Its like reading a book or watching tv.. think of playing your video games like watching a movie. a hour and half / 2 hours and stop. just like a movie :D People may not like it but since its not hurting anyone or taking away from anything since you said you usually only do it when you got nothing better to do it shouldn't be a problem. I get called a gamer all the time but yet they cant be angry that i play games more then watch tv or something else since i did buy my own car and have a job that is furthering my career so its not getting in the way of me living life.

#19 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -
@TekZero:  Oh, i don't like the word "gamer" too. I was trying to understand the meaning behind the word, because... Well, i dunno. All i was trying to say is: "Videogames are a waste of time but they can teach you things."
#20 Posted by thechronodarkness (294 posts) -

If you ask me, the only time video games are bad, are if they are actually bad.

There are games like dark souls, that are technically broken and bad. But people can put up with it, and somehow get some enjoyment out of it somehow. But I can play ninja gaiden on the harder difficulties, and love it as its an amazing put together game. But, the same can be said for duke nukem forever. The game is technically broken in spots, though I find some enjoyment to be had, just for its weird humor. Thing is....I don't think people should spend time with either of those games, unless you actually have plenty of free time.

What I'm getting at is, games should make a person feel calm, and engaged, like a good movie. If you get that sense while you're playing, then its not a bad hobby. Though if its a game you constantly get pissed at since the games broken, or has some major technical issues that prevent it from being good- your wasting your time and therefor- almost degrading yourself trying to play it. If a person has the time to lower what he can handle from a bad game, he is wasting the time of his lifetime. Answer me this. Why should you have to lower your expectations to see a movie?

#21 Edited by Loose (419 posts) -

@TheDudeOfGaming said:

Well yes, games are a waste of time. But then again, we will all die someday, and anything and everything we do will be buried under time. So, I tell you this. Everything's a waste of time.

Yeah, i know, made the hairs on your neck stand still didn't it? That was some heavy shit right there, heavy shit.

It's okay though, because it's just a ride.

#22 Edited by TekZero (2682 posts) -

If games are bad simply because they are a waste of time; then, like everything else that's a waste of time, why do we spend so much of our time on pointless activities? It seems like in this day and age, we are so caught up in pointless entertainment that we lose sight of what really matters.

#23 Posted by bombHills (632 posts) -

Aren't we all just "wasting time" right now reading posts, commenting...

#24 Posted by TheDudeOfGaming (6078 posts) -

@Loose: Yeah, and at times a really bumpy ride. I hate bumpy rides, did i ever tell you that?

#25 Edited by Still_I_Cry (2494 posts) -

Does your wife watch movies?

If so her argument is invalid :P

The only time games are "bad" is when someone neglects others/work and so forth in order to play them.

I don't play video games much (if at all) during the week when I have classes so I suppose I don't fit into the "as much as they do" category.

If you enjoy playing games I see no reason not to pursue your interest.

So what if other guys you know have different hobbies?

#26 Edited by deathstriker666 (1337 posts) -

@TekZero said:

If games are bad simply because they are a waste of time; then, like everything else that's a waste of time, why do we spend so much of our time on pointless activities? It seems like in this day and age, we are so caught up in pointless entertainment that we lose sight of what really matters.

Exactly. We should all become mindless, productive robots. But, why stop there? Why don't we eliminate all individuality and creativity from our lives? Join me comrade so together we can all be Communist Robot! ¡Viva la Revolucion!

#27 Posted by Fobwashed (2130 posts) -

I'm curious as to what your wife does with her free time if she's got any. From this blog, it seems like she spends it riding your ass because that's what makes her feel better about herself and that you'd rather play a game than talk to her. . . about how much she thinks you're failing.

Anything in excess could be seen as being bad for you. Hell, if you work too much and make too much money but neglect your family doing so, that could be considered bad as well. I think entertainment has value, so spending time being entertained isn't a waste at all. You spend good money in lots of ways to be entertained, gaming is just another way to do it. Pretty much, unless you're not doing things you should be doing because of all the time you're spending gaming, it sounds like your wife is a cold hearted, fun hating bitch that is pissed that you're doing something she's not into.

Your mileage may vary.

#28 Posted by SuperMeatToy (35 posts) -

I tend to agree that if you apply the same logic to other hobbies as people do for video games, we "waste" a whole lot of time.

Are there really any long term benefits to watching Michael Bay films or sitcoms? I would argue that the enjoyment I get out of games make them more than worth the time I put in, because I accept that I can't be productive 100% of the time. So long as you enjoy your entertainment, it cannot be called a waste of time.

#29 Posted by theguy (796 posts) -

Entertainment is not a waste of time.

#30 Edited by BlinkyTM (1054 posts) -

@CornBREDX said:

I'm 29 years old. While games have changed (dramatically even) over the last several years, I still tend to play a fair amount of games. The more social games keep my interest longer (MMOs and some multiplayer games) as I can socialize while I game. I play others, as well, but they don't hold my interest as long I have noticed (unless fairly engrossing like the new batman games or Uncharted or something like that).

I do not find this any less productive then any other hobby. I am wasting my time, but so do all hobbies- that is often the point. It's very similar to people who watch a lot of TV. I play less then I used to, because of more responsibilities in my life granted, but I still love video games and I don't feel bad that I play them. As for any friends I have, some play games a lot like me, some never really did to begin with. I don't really care haha

Games help me relax after a stressful day at work, and gets my mind off the BS of life. I'm perfectly happy playing a video a couple hours a night, or several hours on week ends. I don't ever feel bad about that. I have been playing games since I was like 6 or 7, and I will probably play them until I die. The amount of time I have to play them doesn't change how much fun I have when I do.

I definitely feel the exact same way about games. VIDEO GAMES ARE AWESOME!

#31 Posted by prollyknot (1 posts) -

i find it interesting that so many comments compare gaming to watching tv or reading

i guess i should not be surprised that no one here would ever consider an activity that actually requires leaving the house and perhaps even *gasp* physical exertion

as for the lable "gamer" i do not find odd

a person who gambles is a gambler

someone who smokes is a smoker

and a person who runs a large bank is a thief

it's all good

#32 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@ArbitraryWater said:

But... couldn't the same be said for any other form of entertainment? I mean, I'm going to the midnight launch of Brandon Sanderson's new book, and while it will most likely be the kind of high quality novel I would expect from him, it's not exactly going to enrich my life or make me a better person. Sure, I guess you could argue that the difference is that there are plenty of books in the medium that can enrich my life or make me a better person, whereas there are zero video games, but I'm not reading those books with my free time, am I?

Of course, I'm a college student, so any sort of knowledge on how video games would fit in with my life as an adult would be mere speculation on my part. On some fundamental level, you're probably right.

*bursts into angry rage*

#33 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11934 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: If you say Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, you automatically lose.

#34 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@ArbitraryWater:

If I say Fragile Dreams or any game that deals with complex political issues or the political game itself, I automatically win.

#35 Posted by upwarDBound (654 posts) -

Video games aren't bad, but they're also not good. They are just a way to entertain ourselves in our free time. They're no worse than books or tv or other sedentary activities. I wouldn't stop playing games because they're a waste of time, I'd quit playing them if they were impacting my life in a negative way. It's all a matter of priorities.

#36 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4240 posts) -

I deliberately skipped games yesterday and got a lot done, and also wasn't as irritated. Maybe it's because I've been playing TOME and thus dying a lot, but I think if I just looked at it as a problem with games I'd be missing the point a bit. I think getting too into just about anything can be destructive. I would say though that other forms of entertainment often seem to target different parts of my brain, so that if I spread out the stimulus I'll feel a lot better than if I just keep doing the same sort of thing over and over.
 
Games are a bit like candy to me, though, while I tend to feel accomplished when I finish a book (even if I didn't like it). Could easily be the kinds of games I play. Dunno.

#37 Posted by Mageman (351 posts) -

Well yeah gaming is a waste of time. But what isn't ? Where is the line drawn ?

#38 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

There are "better" things you can do than stare at a painting, or read a book, or watch a movie. Still good things to do every once in a while, at least. Sure, it's not performing open heart surgery, but everyone needs a release, some way to have fun. THings designed for enjoyment are always going to be a waste of time. Sometimes that's exactly what we need though. There are limits, but it's a bit silly to say that video games are any more wasteful of your time then books. As someone who loves both, and plenty of other sources of entertainment, I fail to see why people are so uppity about games in particular, while totally ignoring everything else.

#39 Posted by YI_Orange (1163 posts) -

@TekZero: Pointless entertainment? What really matters? These concepts and the idea of a waste of time is baffling to me. The entire point of life as far as I'm concerned is to enjoy yourself. All that matters is being happy. If you're happy how can you be wasting your time, regardless of what you're doing? Go ahead and cite volunteer work, doctors, whatever to me. I 100% believe that those people wouldn't be doing those things if it didn't make them feel good. What matters is happiness. Video games, or anything else really make people happy.

#40 Posted by Little_Socrates (5684 posts) -

I believe games can also enrich life experience. The Shin Megami Tensei: Persona games (specifically? 4) encourage setting schedules, surprisingly realistic social interaction, and a willingness to be open to others and to yourself. Just because games are not abstract does not mean they are not art. This is, in my opinion, the strongest example, but there are certainly others; Metal Gear Solid 3, Deadly Premonition, hell, even Catherine; these are games that improve the human condition beyond more than just "catharsis" or "entertainment."

And then there's abstraction in "games as art," and they do exist. Missile Command, Space Invaders, Braid, Passage, and at least one reading of the Modern Warfare/Battlefield multiplayer as "purposefully chaotic" fit the bill here. Abstraction, in Juul's definition, is the strongest argument games have as a medium. By abstracting concepts of a game's reality, it is easy to have players accept rules & fiction as one coherent combination. As a result, players can be molded into a mindset for playing the game as the designer sees fit and can experience the designer's whims appropriately.

Now, if the argument were to be "but games aren't good enough yet," I'd agree. Even of the games I mentioned in the first paragraph (the first three of which are probably my favorite games ever,) we're not at the point where everything works towards its ultimate goal.

I don't especially think this is relevant, though; if you enjoy them, then they're good. You care about them for a reason beyond "fun" or else you'd simply do something else that's more fun and more effective, no?

#41 Posted by HandsomeDead (11863 posts) -

I can't think if any other hobby that's as singular, repetitive and unengaging as video games.

#43 Posted by mlarrabee (2999 posts) -

This is my opinion:

Video games are nearly always intended as entertainment. Yes, some attempt to delve into the deeper questions of life, but they are few. A few are very beautiful, but even as art they are far surpassed by their material counterparts. Most games are the equivalent of a summer popcorn film, requiring nothing from the viewer. But even so I find it better to play one of those games as it at forces mental work slightly beyond those types of films.

Most video games are a waste of time, but less so than a great deal of films and TV shows. And when used as pure entertainment, of course there are better, more productive sources: museums, music, and so on. But stupid fun is great, as long as people can exercise self-control. We've far too many man-children running around these days, playing games excessively and not taking enough responsibility. Video games aren't bad; people who don't comprehend moderation are.

#44 Posted by Icemael (6343 posts) -

Video games are fun, and pleasure is all that matters in life.

@TekZero said:

The days where games were educational, made you think, and honestly made you feel smarter for finishing them are over. Now, most games are extended tutorials and hand holding while you do unspeakably violent things.

There are plenty of sophisticated, challenging games. You just have to look for them.