Friday, December 4, 2009

Linky Love - In Defense of Video Games

Hat tip for Mr Musacha on this post. And since he'll feature in the post himself let's tip the ole hat again. *tip*

As the wife of a dedicated - and successful (even if I do say it myself) - gamer I've often found myself in the position of defending gaming to the non-gaming world. It appears that Kim Sears could have used some of my astute advice on being the partner of a gamer and that Andy Murray isn't going to live this down anytime soon. As I've stated before I am solely a social gamer and a viewer of games over the shoulder of the player. I have little interest in video games as a personal hobby. That being said, I know A LOT about video games. And I know A LOT about how time consuming advanced games can be.

I say advanced to draw a clear line between say, Disney's Bolt and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. There are many types of gamers out there and, as a result, there are many types of games. I fully admit that until I went to grad school I thought only kids played video games. My friends and siblings played when I was a kid but then I went to college and didn't happen to meet any gamers. This didn't strike me as odd because I assumed it really was only kids that played. Fast forward a few years and I found myself in grad school hanging out with adults that played video games! Wha?????? It struck me as odd. I soon came to realize though that the games my friends were playing when I was a kid were games for kids. Video games were a new enough market - and a market mostly geared towards young people - using newish technology that adults weren't necessarily a part of. So confusing story made plain: when I was a kid the adults around me had not grown up with video games but now, as an adult, a lot of the adults around me grew up playing video games. The industry grew up with them.

When I was 15 games as advanced as Call of Duty 4 or The Orange Box would only have been wishes in someone's imagination. We have the technology for these games now and the advanced systems to support them. And these really aren't games for kids. Advanced games feature complicated challenges and subtle plots. The best have awesome model rendition, beautiful scenery, excellent dialogue and engaging stories. The best are like interactive movies. They are stories that the gamer can be a part of. Now that is something I can definitely get on board with! For me, though, I prefer to have that type of experience with a book.

Yes, that's right. I have just equated a good video game with a good book.

Actually a good video game might even qualify as a little more challenging than a good book. When I've got a great book in my hands all I have to do is read and use my imagination. I don't have to try to coordinate buttons and joysticks with random bogeys jumping out of corners. It's a different way to interact with a story but an active interaction regardless.

Along with a defense of video games I should probably throw in a defense of real life. It's not productive to lose your real life to your hobbies. I should know, I have a ton of hobbies and find myself going through phases of wanting to hole up in the house (or at the horse barn) and indulge in those hobbies at the expense of deadlines, errands, and other pesky real life responsibilities. But then I remember that real life is fun, too, and it's good to get out and live it.

So, Ms. Sears, don't forget that our generation is a generation of gamers. And Mr. Murray, don't forget to enjoy real life. And finally, Nosy Public, let's assume that a mere hobby is not enough to break up a couple.


  1. A very interesting and insightful post sgwordy. I'll agree with your assessment of 'our generation of gamers' and I'll even admit that I chuckled when you equated a good video game with a good book. But what about the husbands and wives of these poor gamers?

  2. Hmmm, I did say it's not a good idea to ignore real life for your hobbies but maybe I should also add partners - hopefully they are more than hobbies after all. ;) Naturally real life obligations must be a priority but I challenge those that say gaming is a waste of time to actually learn about the gaming world and to realize that how someone chooses to spend their free time should be their business. We all unwind in different ways. :)