Put my head in a jar à la Futurama style and I will be content to see the passage of time and change.
Before starting a family at the age of 39, I was easily clocking 40 hours minimum a week playing games. I have no preference of platform so have always owned the latest Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo and a high end PC gaming rig. My preferred games are RPGs, Adventure, Survival and Sandbox.
Sure I am still a firm believer in books and outdoor activities and have always kept a healthy balance of food and fitness. Gaming for me has always been a welcome reward at the end of a day, weekends and public holidays. Heck, whenever I have had a spare moment!
I can easily say I am a gaming addict. As a father, naturally the time I spend playing has, for now, been somewhat reduced. However this does not stop me from visiting sites every day to read reviews, previews and announcements for upcoming titles. As my time is now limited, I need to choose my games carefully to make the most of my time. I simply cannot give them up.
As an adult gamer, I have to admit that for many years it was not easy to discuss games with people. I have not been the type to surround myself with other adult gamers, so my friends have always seen it as an odd quirk. However in the last 10 years, I have personally noticed that the acceptance of gaming has taken a big turn. Originally seen as a form of kid’s entertainment, it is clear that many games are developed with adult gamers in mind. With today’s modern systems in particular, even non-gamers cannot help but be impressed by the level of detail and realism some games can accomplish. There have been a number of occasions where skeptical fiends have walked in on me playing a game and not being able to leave for a couple of hours, amazed at the rich and deep world I was exploring.
There have been plenty of times when I have reflected on my addiction, and questioned what it is about gaming that I love so much. To be honest, I can never find anything negative to say about it, however I do believe there have been a number of benefits.
In addition to gaming, I have always been an avid reader and movie watcher. Gaming, however, has given me the ability to immerse myself and interact in incredibly imaginative worlds, providing unparalleled escape from day to day life.
They also open your mind to viewing the world and events from a different point of view: what it would be like to live on another world, or to have immense powers, or to even pilot planes, helicopters and futuristic spaceships; so many things that we will never get to see or experience in our relatively short lives.
Sandbox games in particular give you a feeling that you are interacting in a living and breathing alternate world, where your actions can effect elements around you and even the world itself. They encourage freedom of play and allow you to make your own decisions and decide your own fate.
In fact some games like Minecraft do not even have a main quest, but instead provide you with a vast world to play in. You are free to build incredible structures and contraptions or create your own adventures. Voxel procedural worlds also mean that there are an infinite number of world variations which provides players with unparalleled decisions and creativity.
I am convinced gaming has made me more content, relaxed and calm. In effect, it has been very good for my well-being. Rarely has there been a time when thinking of a game has not lifted my spirits.
Additionally, being an adult gamer has helped keep me in touch with my inner child. I think this is important for adults as our lives are filled with so much stress, responsibility and activity that we tend to forget what it was like to be a care-free child. Gaming has helped me to keep those roots and to remember what it was like to be young again.
This not only has an effect on your mind, but physically as well.
Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University writes:
“(Games) stimulate learning, allowing individuals to experience novelty, curiosity and challenge that stimulates learning. There is the opportunity to develop transferable skills, or practice challenging or extraordinary activities, such as flight simulators, or simulated operations.
“Because video games can be so engaging, they can also be used therapeutically. For instance, they can be used as a form of physiotherapy as well as in more innovative contexts. A number of studies have shown that when children play video games following chemotherapy they need fewer painkillers than others.”
I am certainly looking forward to spending some time playing with my children as they grow older. I can’t wait to introduce them to some of the wonderful experiences I have had as an adult gamer. Gaming can be a great bonding exercise as you venture on incredible journeys together. Unlike watching a movie, you are actually interacting with each other and creating your own adventure.
Sports and Dancing games allow small groups to play competitively and I have seen whole rooms filled with laughter as adults and children join in together.
On top of that there is research to suggest that gaming can give the brain of a child a good workout. Benefits such as following instructions, problem solving, multitasking and hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills are involved with many modern games.
It is easy to assume gaming can be a lonely experience, holed up in a dark room in front of a bright computer screen. However for many gamers this is a time when they thrive in social interaction. Most modern games have some form of social aspect built in to them. Whether it be co-op, multiplayer or an MMO, they allow people from all over the world to log in and interact via emotes and voice chat. People from all cultures coming together to join in and enjoy a common interest.
I really cannot find any issues with gaming being such a big part of my, or anyone else’s life. It is a hobby for modern times, and with virtual reality just around the corner, it is only going to grow more fascinating and addictive. It is hard to ignore the fact that big budget games are now equaling and even rivaling the sales of popular movies.
Of course addiction can always be taken too far and it is important to balance out any hobby with a healthy lifestyle. But i can only speak for myself here and hope that others choose to game-on in moderation.