I was reading a comment section under an article about the ESA study on demographics of gamers and something caught my attention. One person simply stated the obvious saying even though only 19% of gamers are boys under 17, society as a whole still tends to believe video games are silly toys that aren’t for adults. I really resonated with the comment that person left and now I’m pretty bothered that video games haven’t been culturally accepted yet. Maybe it’s because my girlfriend and her whole family is just like that. She always acts like my games are just silly things that I, for some absurd reason enjoy. When I told her that I consider video games to be one of my passions she said that they don’t count as a passion, just a hobby.
Why do people still think like that? If 58% of Americans play video games then you would think that they would adjust to the times and let video games have the respect they deserve. The reason that my girlfriend feels the way she does is because in reality for probably 99% of gamers we don’t get paid for playing games. Technically in the real world the games we play don’t have any tangible gains. But what is never taken into account or given enough credit are the feelings that our games give us. There is a certain satisfaction with conquering that tough level, or finally getting that awesome weapon you’ve been after. This satisfactory feeling is my theory to why people can have views similar to my girlfriend’s about video games.
The satisfaction and relief gained from finally beating the water temple in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is incredible. It is literally one of the most confusing, long, and arduous temples in all of Zelda history. However, this feeling cannot by reciprocated with non-gamers. The amount of time you put in to achieving a goal in a game and the times you failed along the way add up to make the end result something special. You can’t do the same kind of thing in the real world. An argument could be working hard for something and finally achieving a promotion or raise etc. but if you fail along the way you risk getting fired or not even being able to try again. In the real world mistakes aren’t always tolerated and you can’t undo things you have messed up. In a game, dying and failing result in you just getting disappointed or mad and starting over again. When you start that part over you analyze what you did wrong, correct those mistakes, think of creative new ways to accomplish your task, and execute them to progress. This can be a one-time thing or a ten-time thing but no matter what, in the end you get through it.
The only message I want to leave you with is that people who don’t play video games need to get the idea that they are not “for nerdy kids who never leave their room and become unhealthy”, rather they are for people who enjoy escaping the real world to experience things they could not otherwise experience. But if you can find a place for me to go and gain powers, explore new worlds, be a main character, and do whatever I want, I may agree that video games are a waste of time.