As a married father with a full-time job, I don’t have a lot of free time. What little free time I do have is distributed – albeit unevenly – across reading, working on projects for Geeks With Wives, catching up on movies or TV shows, entertaining quirky academic pursuits, and enjoying video games. As a 27-year-old professional, the same question is raised every now and again from co-workers, fellow Rotarians, older community leaders, or simply those who don’t understand: why do you waste your time playing kids’ games?
I’m going to assume that you – the reader – already know that most modern video games can hardly be described as “kids’ games.” Instead, I want to focus on why I “waste [my] time” playing video games.
As I get older, there is an acute realization that sets in that “wasting time” very much does exist. However, I would posit that – like beauty – the definition of the term is in the eye of the beholder. For example: watching sports is an incredible waste of time. What’s the point? What am I getting out of it? Nothing.
Do you agree with that last bit? It doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant. You won’t change my opinion, I don’t care to change yours. Unless you think that everyone should share the same view of “wasting time.”
Now that we’ve established that “wastes of time” are purely subjective points of view, allow me to explain why I choose video games over other activities when I get free time.
I consider myself a thinker, a rudamentary philosopher of sorts. I enjoy problem-solving and working through issues. I love to argue and I do crossword puzzles for fun. Video games are puzzles, they are tests, they are problems to be solved. How do I best my competitors in this deathmatch round of Halo? How do I sneak through five armed guards to reach that security panel undetected with a throwing knife, a flash-bang, and a stick of chewing gum? Should I choose “Snarky” or “Nice” in response to this shopkeeper? These questions and many more like them flood the mind of anyone holding a game controller in their hand while they stare at a glowing screen.
Video games make me think outside of the box. They help me to navigate real-world problems and help me to have experiences in a fake world that would have more detrimental effects in reality. Video games help me to – temporarily – forget the burdens that rest on my shoulders on a daily basis. They are the ultimate form of escapism that – when used in moderation – allow me to be more patient and relaxed once I unplug. That’s the key though: video games aren’t my life. They are a tool that allow me to sharpen my mind and ease my stress.
Why do I waste my time with video games? The simple answer: I don’t.