I used to be a hardcore gamer; I’ve been gaming since 1992 when I was five years old. I got a Nintendo Entertainment System with a port of Marble Madness, and the very okay Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle. This started my problem with this digital crutch. I had all the great NES games, Super Mario 1-3, both Zelda games, Somari, you name it, I had it.
Over time, the collection got bigger and bigger. I ended up with a Sega Genesis with an impressive library, a Super!! (fanfare) Nintendo Entertainment System, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III, an Atari 2600 with a plethora of games that have not been reissued, a Nintendo 64, a Playstation One and Two with a collection just as huge as the NES assortment, and Game Boys and Pokemon up the wazzoo. Of course, I could get all this stuff because we bought secondhand, and my parents loved my brother and me enough to have spent about five figures on video games throughout my 23 years on Earth, but there in lies the problem.
First off, I have seriously, seriously calmed down. At my peak, I played Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy VII, and Crash Team Racing, among others, fifteen hours a day for two years straight in a room where a ghetto entertainment center and pair of bunk beds dominated the room with the blinds shut, a mausoleum earning the nickname of “the cave.” I lived video games, I breathed them, and I only ever came out to scavenge for food looking like a young Geico Caveman. I was a teenager.
One day in 2004, I got the internet. With it, I yearned for something more productive, so I veered away from video games, and decided to follow the culture surrounding them instead. I wanted more to be with other gamers and pal around rather than on my own staring at Tommy Vercetti’s butt all day.
Why am I talking about this? Well, I’m asking myself why I even mentioned Tommy Vercetti’s butt at all, but that’s not the point. The point is that I literally got nothing done as a teenager except for exercising my thumbs. I can hear my late mother laughing at me. I could have been reading all of the sci fi books that I’m just catching up on now, I could have gotten to be a better writer gradually instead of assimilating it all in four years, I could have watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 in its prime instead of discovering it on Google Video. Dude, even reading some Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers would have been more productive… At least I think that they would have, but that’s a different argument.
Allow me to explain further, think about this. What if you forwent your workdays just to play in the holodeck, when there was a constant niggling sensation in the back of your mind regarding a burning passion that you want to achieve? Why waste time in the cave when you can feel in your bones that there is something greater in the real world that you know that you can achieve? You have the confidence to work at it, you have the ability, the drive, and the balls to get out there and make it happen… but you don’t. You put it on the backburner because the princess is in another castle, and of course, you need to make sure that she is able to rule her kingdom in between the nanosecond she’s kidnapped again by a turtle. Strong female lead, that Princess Peach.
That was my life as a teenager. That was how I felt every waking moment, yet I pushed the feelings back, thinking that I would get to them later. Of course, I did eventually, but I know that many people do not. I know what you’re saying though. I was a teenager, and as I put in one of my own stories, the word is a synonym for “insane.” Moreover, why look back on what you should have done and dwell on it Well, that just kills all my defenses, and it makes you just want to tell me to move on and that the past is the past, moving away from my own problems with e-addiction rather than telling others to spend less time gaming.
That’s not why I wrote this.
I wrote this for all those people who were in my position; procrastinating to the point where their minds are too flooded with ringworlds to pursue their passion, whatever it may be. What sort of long-term productivity does a massive amount of video game playing bring? Hand-eye coordination increase from Call of Half-Halo? Better reflexes from Dance Dance Guitar Hero? How World of Everquest can increase leadership skills? How Super Portal Galaxy can help put you in the right mindset to understand physics?
Wait, I’m turning around on myself, aren’t I? I am, yikes! Spend your teenagerdom playing video games and you’ll become a better person. Sounds like a deliberately poorly thought out fantastic aesop.
Anyway, before this article’s point fully loops itself into a horrible knot, my final words are that I regret wasting my time being Solid Snake and Squall Lionheart because, what good did it do for me outside of being a lot of fun? Well, I played Portal and Mario Galaxy to warrant the effect outlined above later on, but pre December 2004?
Helping me not to fear computers as a whole? (what are RPGs but menu screens?)
Not a whole lot else.
I’m not decrying the video game concept, not in the least. My whole writing career came about because I wanted to make a video game (that’s a different story), I bought Sonic the Hedgehog 4 and a Sega Genesis Collection recently and I love them both dearly. I am condemning over excess of video games when you want to do other better things and you’re just procrastinating.
This article is just my ranting about a tirade I have on video games and subtly bragging about my collection and my game knowledge when it boils down to the concept of procrastinating, isn’t it? I don’t think that I’ll retool this, but I’ll throw common sense to the wind and say that Hitler played Grand Theft Auto, and look at what he accomplished.
Happy (responsible) Gaming.
One good thing did come from my experience with a bunch of games, and that was the music. SSX 3, Grand Theft Auto, XGRA… This brings us to our next topic…