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.
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.