“I don’t get it. Everyday it’s the same; hour after hour playing some silly game on the computer. Just put it down and get outside. Meet people, talk to people, get a job; start living!”
Today I raise for thought and discussion the situation of The Gamer and those living with one who can’t understand the appeal of looking at a screen and playing. What one person sees as an enjoyable way to pass the time, another sees as an unhealthy addiction.
Here in 2019, we’re living a reality that in a few years time we’ll never have again. We’ve got a generation of people who can still remember the pre-television days and the introduction of personal electronics into the home while at the other end of the spectrum we’ve got a generation that grew up with electronics in kindergarten and have been accessing the internet for decades. Both these generations are living in a shared world, and as the pre-baby boomers age and pass, soon everyone will have had a shared experience at some point in the their lives with electronics at an early age.
But this alone doesn’t explain the difference of opinion between those that spend countless hours in fantasy, role-playing and questing games and those that don’t. While there are many who feel Gamers are maladjusted and need to disconnect in order to live more productive lives, I’ll offer up a defence for the person who would appear on the outside to have an unhealthy and addictive obsession with playing; self-esteem.
There’s irony for you. As an observer, you see The Gamer retreating to their room or the basement, isolated and stagnating while the world outside goes on. The Gamer on the other hand enters worlds where they start with little, face and overcome challenges, gain riches, fame and renown. They may interact with an entire online community of fellow Gamers, communicating with keypad, a mouse and voice. They may play solo, forge alliances, plan and enact strategies, fail and suffer penalties, die and start anew, conquer and flourish, grow in stature, plunder and/or help others in their own quests.
Many still don’t get it though. How do you feel about literature? Literary classics perhaps? You know, picking up a good read and sitting back with your favourite drink and immersing yourself for an hour or two. What’s your pleasure? A spine-tingling thriller, whodunnit or a scandalous and unrequited romance? Perhaps you’re a sci-fi junkie or into autobiographies. Whatever your genre, you pick up a book and in immersing yourself, you enter that world; you picture in your mind the characters you meet, and if it’s a real good read, you care about the people in it and how the things they’ll face will affect them.
Your book is their game. Not convinced though? Not the same? Let’s go further. A lot of people in 2019 are dealing with anxiety, stress and depression. Constant messages to get a job, be successful. There’s pressure to eat right, lose weight, be whatever you want to be, use the right deodorant, be financial independent, be in the know and honestly…some just can’t do all this. It’s too much. In a world that has so many expectations for how to live, some are doing their best to cope and in ways that make sense to them.
The Gamer who doesn’t feel connected and valued in our 2019 world is much more at ease engaging in their gaming world. In that environment, they set goals, make progress, overcome challenges, show tenacity and resolve, receive recognition and rewards, help others and are helped themselves. It’s judgement-free. Sure there’s pressure to fight battles, strategize when initial and subsequent plans don’t result in advancement, but they enjoy the mental challenge of figuring out puzzles, going on quests, multi-tasking several objectives and all the while the time goes by.
It’s not wasting their lives as much as coping with the passage of time. I’m not saying one can’t have a job or career if they live the life of a Gamer. Some very productive people in the world love to pass their leisure time playing. All I’m saying is that I understand the appeal of the gaming itself and those that do it.
The conflict if there is some, comes when we want real-life productivity from those we view as wasting away their precious time. This is really projecting our own values onto others, and if we see no or little value in playing a, “silly video game”, then we simultaneously devalue the people themselves playing them. That’s a danger. When we project our values onto others, that’s not fair of course. Our values are not universal, although in heated arguments around a household we may talk as if they were as we attempt to coerce others into adopting our own values, beliefs and thinking.
There’s a place for such leisure activities and I suppose like all things it’s really a question of a balance. Before knocking something you don’t understand, best to attempt to see the appeal for the person. Knitting, reading, gardening, cooking, golfing, board games and computer games; all hobbies that may peak pleasure in those doing them. Fun? Absolutely.
Even when one person’s interests aren’t shared by another, it’s a good thing to at least comprehend the appeal. Coming at things from another vantage point with an open mind is a good place to start.