I used to play a lot of video games.
In fact, there was a point in my life where video games were all I thought about. There was one, in particular, that took most of my attention.
While I haven’t played video games all that much in recent years, all of this was brought back into sharp focus when my brother bought the Nintendo Switch the other day.
He loves video games and couldn’t wait to get his hands on the new console. I don’t begrudge him purchasing the console, but once upon a time me and him were not too dissimilar.
We were both enraptured by video games, I stopped playing, he never did. If he could, I’m sure he would spend the majority of his time playing video games. This would have been something I enjoyed when I was younger, now it’s just not as appealing.
Playing the Nintendo Switch is a lot of fun, the games and the graphics are fantastic, but the games don’t have the same pull that they did when I was younger.
Something inside has changed. I would rather spend my time exercising, working on my travel website, or writing here at Medium.
Basically, I would rather spend that time investing in myself than playing a game that offers me nothing more than immediate satisfaction.
There is a lot of stigma around video games, and I agree, they can be an issue. But, it’s not the games themselves that are the problem, it’s the people that play them.
As I alluded to before, there was one game I was addicted to when I was in high school. I was so addicted to this game that I would spend the majority of my time at school thinking about it.
School was really a distraction from me being able to play this game as much as I wanted. It was an inconvenience. Somewhere I had to be for 6 hours a day, instead of at home doing what I enjoyed.
The game in question was Football Manager, if you’re from the UK, you will more than likely be familiar with the game. It’s not the most elaborate game, but it is highly addictive to a certain type of person.
The game puts you in charge of a football team, and you get to make all the decisions that a real-life manager would. You decide who to buy, who to sell, how the team trains, and you decide who plays and the tactics for the matches.
As a football-obsessed teenager, it was probably the closest I was going to get to being involved in the setup of a real-life football club. I am not exaggerating when I say that I spend hours upon hours playing this game.
The depth of my dedication is highlighted in one story. My local team, Chester F.C., is not the most successful team. In the version that I played the most, they were in the fifth level of English football.
During the course of several seasons, I was able to get them all the way to the top of the pyramid and into the Champions League, which is a competition for the best teams in Europe.
I was immensely proud of this achievement!
To this day, it still fills me with pride knowing that I was able to achieve this. It may mean absolutely nothing in the real world, but I’m proud nonetheless.
However, that was then. If one of my friends were to tell me they had achieved something similar on the latest iteration of the game, I would look at them with a curious expression and ask why they were spending so much time playing this game.
Video games were fun when I was a child and during my teenage years for one reason, I had next to no responsibilities. The only thing I was responsible for was ensuring that I did well in school. That was it.
There was an ocean of time I could spend playing the game and there would be minimal consequences. Maybe my parents would get angry at me for playing the game so much, but that would be it.
If I devoted the same amount of time to that game know as I previously did, the consequences would be far greater. As someone that’s self-employed, I would have less time to work and make a lot less money as a result.
My diet would suffer from not eating the right food, while my physical shape would suffer from a lack of exercise. I just wouldn’t have the time to be a well-rounded individual if I played the game anywhere near as much as I used to.
Thankfully, I don’t need to worry about this, because I don’t want to play the game anymore. I enjoyed my time playing it in the past, but now I wouldn’t get the same satisfaction.
I get more satisfaction from making a website a success. I get more satisfaction from writing here on Medium. I get more satisfaction from living a fun and enjoyable life.
Video games are now a distraction, nothing more, nothing less.
The Problem Is The Person
Video games get unfair treatment. There is nothing inherently wrong with them. For a lot of people, they are a way of unwinding after a stressful day.
There is no issue with spending an hour or two playing video games during the week to let off some steam. Where there is an issue is when the games start to take over your life.
This is often framed as the games being addictive, and it’s true, some games are very addictive. However, this isn’t to do with the game, it’s to do with the person playing them.
I used to be one of those people in my childhood, but now I don’t have that issue. I can’t imagine myself spending hours playing a game, I would be bored within an hour!
A lot of us have addictive personalities. I know I have one. I know friends that have this personality trait too. Some people get addicted to alcohol, some people get addicted to gambling, and others become addicted to video games.
The games themselves are not the issue, whether someone spends too much time playing time video games or not, is down to the person.
I barely played video games after I graduated from university. I didn’t have the time anymore, and they just didn’t feel that important anymore, now that I was living in the real world for the first time.
If you’re spending the majority of your time playing video games when you’re an adult, there is something wrong. This is time that you could be putting to better use.
You could use it to learn a new skill, you could use to start a self-hustle, you could use it to do some exercise. It’s time that could and should be better utilised.
Video games are a lot of fun, but it’s imperative you don’t let them take over your life. When this happens to someone, it’s not the fault of the game, it’s due to the person prioritising the game over more important matters.
It comes down to a simple question, what do you value?
Do value instant satisfaction? Or, do you prefer to delay it until later by working on yourself or a project?