In light of the #gamergate drama that’s transpired over the past month and its connection to fraudulent people and sociopathic-narcissistic liars who want to manipulate the industry and the media to paint its constituents in a good light, I thought I would write a little bit about how much gaming meant to me and where it’s heading. This post is not meant to take a crap on gamers or gaming but rather to put it into a new perspective as a young adult.
My background in gaming and why I don’t play newer games
I’ve played video games since early childhood. My family had the NES and SNES consoles, but I played mainly on the SNES. Countless games. When the N64 came out, I had that too. My cousin had a Playstation so I also had access to that.
When I reached age 12, I learned about game emulators that let you play old console games on the computer. I also owned the Nintendo Gamecube. A couple of relatives who lived nearby owned the Xbox and Playstation 2 so I wasn’t deprived of those either.
I never had a computer that was badass enough to play the latest FPS games, so the only PC games I took to were Starcraft, Doom and all the old console emulators that could run on my pitiful family desktop computer. Around this time I finally played many of the classic Squaresoft RPGs since I was old enough to understand and enjoy them.
By the time I reached the last half of high school, the number of new games I played dwindled, and the amount of time I spent on games dropped as well. I also did not have the money to spend on new games.
Unfortunately I do not have a huge passion for gaming any more than I do for any other form of media. I’m very particular about what I get into.
Enrichment, escape or distraction?
When it comes to looking at hobbies or things to do to unwind, I look at it this way: Does it enrich me, or does it serve as an escape or a distraction?
As I explained, I don’t play video games too much anymore. Once in a blue moon I’ll play some Doom, Minecraft or fire up the old SNES emulator, but I simply don’t have any interest in new games.
I feel that newer games take a while to get into. Then I would have to invest more time in playing the game to feel like I had spent the time learning to play the game wisely. It’s just not how I want to spend my time.
What is important to ask is: are these games helping me or holding me back?
Considering that on those rare occasions where I do play them, I don’t spend whole chunks of days on them. I think video games can actually be a nice way to be entertained without turning off your brain completely like watching a movie or TV show would.
However, I also feel they supplant other hobbies and activities like exercise, reading or creative endeavors like making artwork or music. If I play video games, I have a little fun but I feel empty like I’ve accomplished nothing, not unlike masturbation. The skills you learn are hardly applicable real life unless you are part of the industry yourself, and even in the industry it’s not enough to be just a fanboy. You actually have to learn real skills.
Is moderation of gaming possible?
Yes, if you know your overarching goals that you are working toward. If your gaming or other hobbies fit nicely into your life rather than having to orient your life around them, then you will probably find a pattern of moderation. If you have discipline, you could probably find time to play video games in between kicking ass IRL.
If you can be described as a “gamer” and even call everyone else a casual, you may be in it pretty deep.
Yeah, I know.
There is no such thing as a waste of time
There’s a popular saying that implies that no time is wasted if you spent it how you wanted to.
But really, how do you want to spend it?
Do video games do anything for you besides serve as a form of entertainment, not much more different than television or movies? Yes, I know there is an element of challenge or skills in games, but how do any of them carry over to real life?
Many of my close friends and former high school classmates do not play video games as much as they used to. I’m one of the few people who play a game once a month, if that. When they play games, it’s usually one of the “new” FPS that all basically require you to point and shoot at someone, the same as it was in the days of CS and doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to get into.
The few acquaintances of mine who do still play video games are all over that shit all the time. When a new game comes out, I don’t see them for weeks.
When the power is off, what is left behind?
When I was younger, I once went to a friend’s house, and learned his older brother got the new Game Boy Advance that had just came out. Being the young gamer nerd I was, I read a lot about the graphics capabilities and wanted to see it firsthand, so my friend’s mother kindly let me play with it for a bit since the older brother was out doing something else. If I remember correctly, the game was probably Tony Hawk.
Anyway, I fired it up and started playing right away. When I selected “New Game” it asked me “Are you sure you want to start a new game?” Yeah, sure. I didn’t pay too much mind to it. Later I would learn it was one of those games where it can only have one save state at a time. But it was too late and I was already playing the first level.
After I had my fun for a while, I returned the Game Boy Advance to its desk. About an hour or so later, the friend’s older brother, probably about 6 years my elder, came into the room absolutely livid. I guess he’d sat down to play some Tony Hawk and do some sick kickflips, but I screwed it up for him. “You fucking deleted my game! I spent hours on it and now it’s all gone, god damn it!” After that, he kept making passive aggressive remarks at me. His mom just rolled her eyes at him.
Had I been totally aware that starting a new game would’ve erased his save state, I wouldn’t have done it. I felt awful. It was a youthful mistake. But what I really took away from that moment was how emotional and worked up we can get when we feel we’ve lost something we’ve invested a lot of our time in.
I don’t think he took anything away from it though, other than I sucked for accidentally screwing up his game.
Nonetheless, what do you get out of your achievements in a video game? If you felt the thrills of accomplishing something in a virtual world, imagine how much better it would feel to accomplish something else in the real world.
Perhaps the few of us who shy away from real-world accomplishments happen to enjoy the way gaming makes us feel accomplished. The harsh reality is that is what games are designed to do: if you lost at the game all the time, you wouldn’t feel accomplished, and if you won all the time, it wouldn’t feel like a challenge. It’s a basic principle of game design.
Real life unfortunately is a much more challenging game.
The current gamer mentality
From what I can tell, gamers are not all bad and they really enjoy their hobby, but many of them have the attitude of “just leave me alone and let me play my video games.”
It’s an attitude that a lot of young guys adopt these days, what with the shuttering economy, the rape accusations leveled against them and the testosterone-draining lifestyle and foods that are pushed onto them. Right out of high school, some of these dudes don’t know what the fuck to do so they do all that they know where they won’t be hated: gaming.
Games give them the feeling of accomplishing something without having accomplished anything in the real world.
Unsurprisingly, some of the reactions to the #gamergate ordeal amounted to “shut up and quit talking about it. I want it to go back to how it was in the old days.”
For how passionate these guys were about games, I was surprised that they wouldn’t be more willing to say or do something for what they loved. This scandal is pretty severe, and from what I can tell, it means gaming has reached a new low. The last bastion for gamers is being encroached and surrounded.
We get this from these passionate gamers:
“I want it to go back to how it was in the old days.”
Unfortunately, reality is not like that. It’s not going to be like the old days, and with that attitude, it will never be like the old days.
Not if you don’t do something about it. But a lot of gamers are used to doing nothing but waiting for the next game to come out. I’d hate to feel so powerless as to tell others who want to do something to stop doing anything at all about it, and just hide your head in the sand to hope that it goes away.
If I were passionate about gaming but I also wanted to accomplish something big, I’d start a gaming news website that actually covered games like how they were covered in the old days. It would come from a unique angle that gamers would actually enjoy unlike this condescending shit from Kotaku and their kin telling you that you and the game developers are perverted rapists.
On this hypothetical gaming news site, I would have some balls and ridicule the social justice whores who use their accusations to elevate their own status at the expense of everyone else. (But not post too much of this, because drama can get annoying. Use balance.)
Furthermore, I would take shit from no one and enjoy my goddamn video games in peace and make some honest money doing it. My rage against those who wanted to destroy what I love would fill my pockets and see my enemies driven out of the industry and their site readerships dwindling.
If you ran this hypothetical site with the principles that Mike from D&P and Victor from Bold & Determined put forth, I could see this getting big enough to supplant even Kotaku and all the other lame excuses that pass for gaming news sites these days.
All you need is the ambition and the ideas and the drive and discipline to start. Something like Victor’s BADNET could help you get started.
So is gaming really a waste of time?
On its own, I’d say gaming could either be a time killer or a time waster depending on how you use it. I personally no longer have the time or desire to invest in newer video games, consoles or computer parts, and in light of the #gamergate scandal I am especially wary of what the industry currently has to offer since they want to politicize everything and act like gamers are out to kill them so they can get that sympathy money.
Now if you have the passion and the audacity to start a humble gaming blog that stood out from the rest, I could see it becoming an enriching lifestyle where you share your example with the world.
If you’ve thought about doing this or are currently doing this, feel free to talk about it in the comments.