Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What is too much?

Being a video game enthusiast, I often feel defensive about how much time I spend playing video games. I honestly spend about an hour, maybe two a day, depending on how much homework I have and what else I’ve got going on. Some say any video game time is a waste, while others love playing for upwards of 6+ hours a day, so what is too much time spent on video games?
For those who don’t play many video games, the question is why would someone spend so much time on a game? The arguments about people escaping their lives and forming fantasy lives instead of real ones have all been explored, but I think part of it also has to do with the games themselves. Nutritionists talk about portion control and how restaurants serve massive amounts of food, thus making it hard to put down the fork. The same can be said for video games. Some games like Skyrim can have over 100 hours of gameplay. Between long missions, side quests, and just plain goofing around in massive game worlds, it’s hard to feel any sense of accomplishment, even after the credits roll. Other games like World of Warcraft come out with one expansion after another, expanding the gameplay even further. The fact that these games are just plain fun combine to make putting down the controller a huge challenge.
But why pick up a game then, if they’re so addictive? Rumors of people in other countries collapsing at their computers from malnutrition are accurate, and people in America have been known to lose jobs, destroy marriages, and even injure children due to neglect because the parents were too busy playing to take care of their children’s needs. These occurrences are extreme rarities, some only happening less than once a year, and varied throughout the country. Violence in children or anyone else has never been positively linked to video games, and has in fact been proven to provide cathartic release to those in high stress situations.
The real problems come when one overindulges. As the church says, participating in any activity to the exclusion of family and God is unhealthy. The idea for me is moderation in all things. Video games are fun, not in excess. I usually have one game I work on a piece at a time, a level or a quest or whatever, and I play about an hour a time, then an hour of chores or homework or whatever else needs to be done for an hour, then doing something fun for another hour, maybe a video game or something else, just whatever is fun to relax, then I do it again. I also try to add other people to my gaming, beyond just online interaction. I have a ton of fun hanging out with someone while one of us plays a video game and we just make fun of how silly these things can be. I love an evening where I have to stop a video game because I’m laughing too hard.
The idea, as I said before, is moderation and incorporating other things and people into your entertainment, as well as making sure that you get everything done before play time. So remember, not everybody who plays video games is an addict, and playing video games doesn’t have to make you an addict.

1 comment:

  1. Video games in general have a major image problem, partially because they're so new in terms of media. I mean, if someone were to say that they listen to music for 6 hours a day, or watch 15 movies in a week, we wouldn't see them as "addicts" or "time-wasting slobs," but as afficianados or buffs. It's their hobby, the art form they've devoted time to truly understand and appreciate. Until the idea that "video games are art" becomes ubiquitous, people are still going to look down on "gamers."

    Some might argue that video games are really just toys, but let's think about that for a second. Adults have spent many hours in a day playing games like Risk, Monopoly, Dominion, or Chess, and they aren't considered "childish." If you expand this out to sports, many people devote great deals of time understanding and perfecting their play, regardless of whether they're professional or not! Essentially, more needs to be done to show that video games are a normal hobby and pastime, just like anything else. Check out this episode of Extra Credits; they have a lot more to say about the subject (warning: there is a little harsh language):

    For what it's worth, I definitely agree with the idea of moderation. Too much of anything in leisure activities can be a bad thing. Even in terms of health, staring at screens for that long at a time is bad for the eyes. There's no point in destroying oneself for the sake of entertainment.