Video games have always been part of my life. Like most of you, I started playing video games before even turning 6. Obviously, I will be a proponent of playing video games. Many people have their own misconceptions about gaming. Some think it is a waste of time, others think it triggers violent behaviors.
Of course, I do not think video games are bad. They are definitely reports of issues related to gaming, but there is also negative news on sports in general. In that case, the medium is not responsible and does not create a problem. It is about the way we leverage that medium in our lives.
Memories and Hard Work
As far as I’m concerned, video games have brought me many great memories and taught me so much about the world and triggered my curiosity in so many topics. As a French native speaker, it drastically improved my English fluency, it allowed me to acquire the fundamental concepts of the language.
More seriously, gaming brought me a sense of hard work. I could spend hours and hours working on the next achievement. I associated hard work and fun all together. This really shaped the way I would approach school and any other challenge triggering a sense of passion and commitment.
Playing management games also made me think about systems, what was a human being in a system (prison in the example of a prison management game), the connections and oppositions between individuality and collective, between the overall result and the small losses. The human tends to fade behind a number when viewed from a systemic point of view. Playing video games made me wonder about it, making me feel more than knowing, it opened questions that I could dig outside of the virtual world itself.
Challenging your Conception of the World
Playing many video games over the years has also made me wonder about this immersive attribute so embedded in the gaming experience. When someone likes a game, they tend to play this game a lot. RPGs have a special spot in my heart. You find yourself in an original world, strange, exotic. The journey and the discovery are the key components of this type of game.
Each world is totally different and the player may find himself lost in a world he has everything to learn. However, all of these games share a common language. Having an inventory, healing potions, recognizing the enemies, winning currency after a quest,… This is the law of the genre, and a common language shared by millions of players across the world and history.
The beautiful thing in that type of game is the development of a meta-self where the character changes but the player stays the same. He starts as a beginner to the world learning and learning more and more but discovering fewer things after making progress in-game and between games.
Games give us the possibility to reinvent ourselves, reboot, ask ourselves fundamental questions on the meaning of our existence within the gaming system. This same question does apply in other entertainment mediums such as movies or books. However, none of them really achieve it at the same intensity as video games.
Video games also made me think about what a story is, about what it’s like to be part of that story. It made me think about my place in a complex world. From the world of Azeroth to the medieval time of Age of Empire, where did I really fit? In every game, the player always faces difficulties to survive.
However, some games make you face situations that challenge your understanding of fundamental life questions. What is empathy, what is rationality, what is ethics, what is morality, what is a choice? The game that pushed these boundaries for me was Civilization IV.
Waste of time? Come on…
Are games really a wast of time? After explaining this story above, let me explain my point of view on the topic. Usually, if someone asks me the question, this tends to reinforce my idea that the ignorance on that topic is well-spread among the overall population.
In order to remove that ignorance, I compare video games with mediums with a wider audience such as TV. “Is it a waste of time to watch TV shows or football (or other sports) games?”. Gaming is leisure, involving reflexes, reflection, memory, coordination, etc… Of course, some people consider that all leisure is a waste of time. This is definitely another debate.
In addition, video games adapt to the desires and expectations of their players. Spend time on public transport? Live an epic adventure, or scary for thrill seekers? Solve puzzles or measure talents against other players? Such richness in the diversity of situations with a game may escape those who consider video games to be a waste of time…
In recap, here are the following points about what I really learned:
- Improvement of my English
- Perseverance and Hard work
- Definition of where I stand in this world and where I need to go (I see my life as an adventure)