Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my NES
I am a 26-year-old male, currently single, currently employed, and currently completely addicted to video games. I have been gaming since I was born (the Atari 2600 was my first console and have fond memories of playing games like Boxing and less fond memories playing E.T) and have at this point plugged in near 40 hours in Blizzard’s Diablo 3 since it’s release a few weeks ago. I plan on plowing through D3 several more times (KiNGofKiNGS#1247 for any of my fellow demon slayers) and am playing through several more games at the same time, including The Witcher 2, Tales of Vesperia, Twisted Metal and replaying the amazing and classic Chrono Trigger.
I am completely addicted. When I’m not playing Diablo 3, I’m thinking about Diablo 3. I’m thinking of the different skill loadouts, the various strategies, and the tactics to use against groups of enemies. Thinking about the story, where it’s been, where it could go, how I’d change it and the characters. And it’s not just D3 that I think about outside of my game-playing time. When I’m driving in my car, I occasionally think I’m playing Crazy Taxi – especially when this song comes on. While my psyche is not so damaged that I stomp on turtles whenever I see them, I do occasionally imagine dialogue options coming up in my real life conversations with people, a la Mass Effect.
Basically, I’m addicted to gaming, and I love it. But you know what? I’m still a completely sociable and healthy person, aside from a case of insomnia, with responsibilities and dreams that I aspire to achieve. I’ve had several relationships – complete with the love, passion and sex relationships usually come with – and several other interests that are not game related, like the mass of theater work I do and my quest for weight loss. I have a job, and am currently on the hunt for something better (preferably in the gaming industry. Please?). I went to a university and graduated with a bachelor’s degree and currently looking into expanding my schooling.
Oh, did I mention I watch porn too? On the daily basis, at the least. I’m a guy – it’s what we do.
But people like Dr. Philip Zimbardo – author of the “Demise of Guys” article this article is responding to – will claim otherwise. They see me, the overweight, porn-movie-television watching gamer who also enjoys pro-wrestling as a lazy, glossy-eyed time-bomb pervert who’d quickly sacrifice real-life interaction with that of pixels and polygons. Or comparing me to the likes of game-obsessed Norwegian mass murderers who played World of Warcraft and Call of Duty for 16 hours in preparation for their killing sprees, or South Korean Starcraft addicts who die after 50 + straight hours of Zerg rushing.
The article states that gaming and porn causes “arousal addiction,” which can simply be described as an addiction to variety and surprise in content. Comparing us to self-stimulated rats who chose the electronic brain stimulants over eating, until exhaustion or death. This is ridiculous. This simply is not a far comparison to gamers. How often do we eat while gaming? We’d never give it up. I’m particularly fond of downing Wheat Thins while killing the horde of undead.
While I do believe this can be true, specifically targeting gaming – and men – is absolutely idiotic. According to the Nielsen Entertainment Study, there are roughly 49 million female gamers in the United States right now. How could such a huge factor be ignored in an article that’s supposed to better us?
What I do believe can be true is the shortening of attention spans, due to (what I assume is) a different hardwiring of the brain. But is specifically gaming the cause of this, as the good doctor so frighteningly points out? I specifically remember the so-called MTV/X/Y Generations, who were infamous for their neon-flashing, ADD-inducing television style (and fancy shmancy walk mans and cassie-ette players and generic-old-person-complaint.docx) that shrank the average attention span to roughly 42 seconds, if even.
This has been happening since the 80’s. Thanks to the increasing output of television, increasing workload of parents and decreasing of time with children, the general attention span has gotten shorter, and the general outlook of children and young adults is definitely different than it has in years past. But can’t we say the same of every generation and past generation? Didn’t the 60’s generation really piss off the adults of the 50’s (as demonstrated by Easy Rider)? And didn’t the 50’s generation’s crazy rock and roll stuff drive the folks of the 40’s insane? Isn’t this cycle and endless waltz that will continue on forever? The ideal of masculinity has changed since the author’s days (who was born in 1933) in drastic ways. Complete, total masculinity is frowned upon these days, and women are able to get along their lives without men or the need for a machismo-oozing man making their lives complete.
And Doctor Z, in a strategic placement of paragraphs, places these “studies” between the most heinous examples of the gaming outliers, including the previously mentioned South Korean Starcraft gamer and Norwegian World of Warcraft murderer. Just because you place these things around each other, doc, doesn’t mean it’s true. I mean, anyone could place statistics around each other and claim they relate. It’s a classic juxtaposition hat trick utilized by journalists and documentarians everywhere. It’s easy.
The average amount of high schoolers having sex has dropped from 54% to 47.8% since 1991. The gaming industry has increased from $13.8 billion dollars in 1993 to $60.3 billion dollars in 2010. Thus teens are obviously having less sex because of Solid Snake and company.
See what I did there? He wasn’t a psychologically scarred murderer because he played games excessively. He played games excessively because he was a psychologically scarred murderer. It’s like blaming McDonalds for the epidemic of obesity. It’s the way people blatantly blame everything else for the problems of society, instead of looking internally at the issues presented within ourselves.
Anyway. Back on track. Basically, it’s really easy to demonize the gaming industry. It’s still relatively young, and most people don’t really understand it. When something goes wrong, it’s easy to look at what our children are doing, point a long, shaky finger at it and shout “It’s a witch! BURN IT!” while not looking internally at the problem: our parenting style. Most teens say it’d be easy to avoid having sex if they were able to have open conversations with their parents. And of course, any medium is bad in extended doses, not just games. Television is just as, if not more so, filled with violence and riddled with sex. And course in these articles demonizing games never mention how much good video games do for the world, like helping people with fetal alcohol syndrome, teaching students the concept of economics and helping veteran’s cognitive abilities.
I believe anyone with a predisposition for laziness; rudeness, disinterest and other hermit-like (ironically “hermit” is a nickname given to hardcore PC gamers) attributes would probably be exemplified by excessive gaming, and by anything else in major numbers. Gaming isn’t a single cause of anything, be it violence or whatever this article is trying to say guys are becoming. It’s a combination of several things that can be easily fixed with some decent parenting, discipline and open communication.
So, basically. Don’t do anything for too long. Be good parents and talk to your kids. Don’t believe big scary articles with big scary words. Do your own research; come to your own conclusions.
Now… back to slaying the demonic horde and ignoring those icky not-demon hunters called people. I mean, wait…
- “Demise of Guys” article says gaming and porn is turning men into asshats who suck at relationships, work and being awesome
- Doubtful. Gaming is great and helps a ton of people
- Though really too much of anything is bad, including gaming.
- Solid Snake is great at teaching kids about sex