A few weeks ago some friends and I played Minecraft all day. We created
a new world, found a giant chasm, built some houses around it, then
a town, some mines, a mine cart railway system, an armoury, towers,
elevators and countless other things. We rotated shifts in which some of
us would mine for resources, while others built paths, houses or cooked
food. First came that wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Then came
regret. Despite this initial satisfaction, I felt like I had completely wasted
A lot of us feel the need to justify the time and effort we put into
playing games; to others and to ourselves. We’ll look up guides, hints
or tips. We’ll watch Let’s Play’s and professional gamers on YouTube,
then mentally scold ourselves for trying so hard at something so
inconsequential. But is it?
A friend on Facebook recently wrote a status “If you ever feel like
playing a videogame, I urge you to pick up a book instead”, which was
pretty jarring at first. It wasn’t just a dismissal of video games, but an
Partly because of views like this, it seems we’re still far away from
being able to allow social recognition of our gaming achievements.
The fact that most of us wouldn’t include our gaming achievements on
our resumes is telling. We assume that people look at video games as a
distraction and a waste of time. But the things we achieve in games can
be important. An employer should take into consideration the leadership
skills you developed managing that competitive clan. Of course not all
gaming achievements are made equal, but the insignificance of some
doesn’t invalidate others. This said, I think few people play for mental
improvement. But hobbies shouldn’t be analysed with cost-benefit ratios.
We play to unwind, fill time, have fun with friends, or to just be good at
something. We don’t play games to escape the real world, but to explore
new and foreign worlds. We can find out about other people, without
that dreaded ‘physical interaction’. There are things games can offer that
other mediums cannot; books included.
Of course, as with everything, it all depends on how you use
gaming, rather than how it uses you. This can be a thin line. Gaming
culture is becoming more and more mainstream. Some would argue it’s
already established its place. The recent Netflix remake of BBC TV
show House of Cards shows power hungry politician, Francis Underwood
(Kevin Spacey), going to an orchestra then putting on a headset and
playing Call of Duty.
Throughout the year, students will be defining themselves in
tutorial classes as people who like ‘watching movies, reading books, and
playing video games’ (Seriously folks, come up with something a little
more exciting during these exhibitions). It’s becoming more common
for regular, social, well-adjusted people to spend a significant amount of
their time playing games. You can look at it as the declination of society,
or the birth of a beautiful new medium.