Friday, August 29, 2014

Grown Ups VS Gaming - Part 3 of 4: Mature Misconceptions

This post is part three of a series beginning with this post.

"You're an adult and you still play video games? Get a life!"

"Get a life."  That short dismissive phrase is a common one spewed time and again towards adult gamers.  Said phrase is typically muttered towards older gamers by relatives, co-workers, even potential dating partners, when they discover the grown up who still plays video games.  It seems not uncommon for an adult who does not play video games to assume that another adult who does is doing so out of "not having a life".  It's like assuming that all a gamer ever does is play video games, which is entirely not possible, or said gamer would be dead.  In reality the "life" the non-gamer speaks of is the way in which the gamer is spending their free time in regards to entertainment.  But what is the "life" of a typical non-gamer then?  Just what does the average American adult spend their free time on?

The Big Bang Theory and Facebook.  I'm not kidding.  Here are some sources:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Based on the evidence, the average American adult spends about 3 hours of free time each evening watching non-educational television whilst simultaneously browsing Facebook on their smartphone.  That is supposedly the accepted way for an adult to spend their free time.  It's ironic then that some adults would consider myself a 35 year old man as being a childish nerd by playing Ys Origin last night, instead of catching up on the shenanigans of fictional childish nerds on TV instead.

If you talk to adults who don't like video games, they often make consistent arguments as to why they think gaming is useless and childish.  Terms such as "brain rotting", "waste of time", "antisocial", "immature", and "useless" are thrown around often.  Some of those aspects certainly could apply in particular situations, but holistically speaking, they are not inclusively true of the entire medium.  Never mind that any of those terms could arguably be used against the average television show or Facebook post.  All the same, I'll explain my view as to why video games are not necessarily any of those negative things in general.

Are video games brain rotting?  An interactive medium that requires user feedback in order to be enjoyed... cerebrally detrimental?  Even in the simplest of video games, the brain is not going underutilized.  Rather the mind most constantly perceive problems and offer solutions to overcome then.  From something as simple as timing a Mario jump onto a Koopa, to concocting stratagems to defeat a massively challenging boss in a JRPG such as Etrian Odyssey.  After all, video games do not beat themselves, the brain does.  And the brain grows in power as such.  But don't take my word for, read up on the science: 1 | 2 | 3 The truth is, video gaming is actually useful exercise for your grey matter.  Especially if you're into the adventures of this capital chap.

Are video games a waste of time?  I hear this so often about the medium that I plan to do a detailed post about it soon, as the true answers are long.  But I'll keep it simple for now.  If you take time out during your day to devote to entertainment, than any form of entertainment has the potential for being "a waste of time".  Decrying any singular entertainment medium as more a waste of time than another is solely subjective, with no objective logical rational to back the claim.  Truly if you're watching fictional non-educational television for example, in no way is that less a waste of time than playing a fictional non-educational video game.  If you're reading a fantasy book, that's no less a "waste of time" than reading hundreds of pages of text in your average video game RPG.  Let's not forget that ultimately the very point of unwinding via entertainment is to "waste time" and relax in the first place.

Are video games antisocial?  It all depends.  Is someone playing a 3DS on a bus being more antisocial than someone else on that bus who's browsing on an iPhone?  Of course not.  Is a person playing a single player video game alone being any more antisocial than someone reading a book alone?  Have you ever heard of a reader being called antisocial?  And at least another person can watch someone play a single player video game, who wants to watch someone read a book?  I bet you've heard of the Wii.  Want to know why the Wii sold so well?  Because it made local multiplayer gaming easier than ever before.  Hence it had the best selling game of all time, hardly an antisocial experience.  From an online perspective, video games have never been more social with MMO franchises, hence the untold millions Blizzard has made from World Of Warcraft.  And let's not ignore the rising fervor for eSports, an entirely social collective.  The fact is video gaming offers the ability to be the most social medium, due to cooperative gameplay, and competitive gameplay.  And yes it can also be a nice bastion from the ruckus of reality.  But someone choosing to play a video game alone in their bedroom is being no more antisocial than someone listening to an album alone in their bedroom.  The medium of any given type entertainment is irrelevant, rather it's the physical isolation itself that's "antisocial" in nature.  Someone must choose to be antisocial on their own, their hobby doesn't define that for them.

Are video games immature?  That would assume all video games are made for kids.  That's not the case, hence the existence of ESRB ratings. Just as there are films made for kids or adults, there are games made as such.  In that regard video games are not inherently "immature" anymore than films, it's a fallacy to claim as such.  Perhaps a non-gaming grownup would consider the activity of mass slaughter in a title such as God Of War or Grand Theft Auto to be immature in nature.  But to label all of video gaming "immature" by citing games such as those, that is to ignore distinctly polar opposite games in the same medium.  I'm talking about higher brow stuff like Cosmology Of Kyoto or the wonderful works of Kheops Studio, let alone the astonishing output of CiNG. Or is it the very act of interacting with a video game itself that's the immature aspect?  That would mean that if I played chess in real life I was not being immature, yet if I played a chess video game instead I was being immature. Completely illogical.

Are video games useless?  Absolutely not.  I linked earlier to brain studies showing how video games can increase grey matter and improve dexterity.  They are used to train soldiersteach codingtrain pilots, even surgeons.  Sometimes games have unexpected uses, they even help keep thugs off the street, or out of your house.  The benefits of gaming go on, and on, and on.  And I haven't even mentioned how much money the video game industry is worth, and that's billions.  How can you call something that employs thousands of people across the world and feeds their families "useless"?  Not to mention the countless hours of entertainment the industry provides to the entire world on a daily basis.  Video games are about as useless as oxygen.

I hope in writing all this I've helped to shed some light on the hypocrisy of non-gaming adults' misconceptions about the medium.  Or at least provided some ammo the next time you may need to defend your favorite hobby.  The next time someone tells you to "get a life" about playing video games, you can tell them to "get educated" about them instead.  The good news is the entire civilized world's perspective of this medium is shifting over time.  There will come a day when those who think video games are children's play things will be the biased outliers, not in any way the norm.  And that day is coming sooner than they think.  In the next post in this series, I will elaborate upon this illustrious world to come.

This series is continued in this post.

1 comment:

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