Commentary

Boys and Their Toys: Why I (Still) Hate Video Games, Part II

At the risk of annoying my boyfriend and all of his fellow gamers, I have decided to write the second installment of my diatribe against the video game.

After reading my last blog (and lovingly outlining all of the ways I was wrong) my boyfriend offered several points in defense of video games, and gamers in general. Some coincide with the posts in response to my other blog, and others were completely new. So, here are just a few:

- Video games are similar to any pastime done by oneself... Like reading, gardening and watching TV, gaming can be done alone; this does not make it a pastime for the socially inept.
- Video games provide an “escape” from daily life, just like other forms of entertainment… some even have storylines like in books, music and TV.
- Video games can promote creativity, imagination, and problem solving skills.
- Games can promote treasured themes like justice, democracy and heroism.
- Twenty-something males don’t necessarily meet with their friends at bars or for “poker nights” anymore; gaming provides the social outlet and interpersonal connection that these activities once did.
- Games are hobbies, not vices.

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That being mentally processed and mulled over time-and-again, I still hate video games.

- Unlike other hobbies, gaming takes over most of one’s time and most of one’s paycheck.
- Despite the fact that gaming is a “social” hobby these days, I will point out that most of the time spent playing is alone in one’s den, which does not push it into the ranks of a social activity. Not even a little.
- Hobbies are fabulous. Many of us have more than one. Many gamers, don’t.
- Video games are not a means to an end… there is no final outcome/artifact produced other than bragging rights.
- Games are bloody, noisy and violent… I don’t like movies or books like that either.
- Many posters last time mentioned I should be lucky that my boyfriend isn’t out doing crack, drinking and philandering with other women; I am incredibly distressed to find out that these are the only options for pastimes other than gaming. If this is the case, I am certainly blessed to have a gamer in my life.

I should also mention that I’m not attempting to dissuade anyone from gaming. Just airing frustrations… I find video games annoying, but I don’t ask that people convert to my favorite pastimes. I’m also not condemning video-game lovers themselves. I hate the games, not the gamers.

7 comments about "Boys and Their Toys: Why I (Still) Hate Video Games, Part II".
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  1. Victoria White from Sallie Mae, June 8, 2007 at 8:48 a.m.

    These are huge generalizations. I'm sorry if most of your boyfriend's time and money is spent on gaming, but I myself am a gamer (and a pretty serious one) and I have plenty of other hobbies including reading, singing jazz, and writing. I enjoy some bloody games, but I also enjoy cutsie games like Zelda or Paper Mario. I often play games with my boyfriend or we trade off, I do not hole up somewhere with red bull and hot pockets. As for video games not being a means to an end? I get more out of video games than watching a movie-try thinking of them as interactive stories. They're entertaining, almost all have at least a basic story, you solve problems or increase your reaction time, you relieve stress and have fun. And while gamers are very open to making fun of ourselves, someone believing an extreme stereotype is actually somewhat offensive.

  2. Davis Brewer, June 11, 2007 at 9:35 a.m.

    Not only are these huge generalizations, they are without any basis in fact. Its unfortunate that a media professional believes these things about gaming. I suppose its one thing to vent about something you dislike, but you should at least have a shred of data to support your polemic.

    According to a Nielsen study, 2/3s of all men 18 to 34 have a video game console in their homes. So, you may not like video games but you are definitely on the wrong side of the divide.

    "Unlike other hobbies, gaming takes over most of one’s time and most of one’s paycheck."
    Hmmm... 68% of those with video game consoles spend less than 30min/day playing and with the average video game player being affluent, well, "most of ones paycheck" would add up to tens of thousands of dollars. Your boyfriend spends more on video games than his does on rent?

    "most of the time spent playing is alone in one’s den, which does not push it into the ranks of a social activity. Not even a little."
    -- Do you have any facts to support this? Sports titles, which tend to be social because you play with your firends, are among the most popular video games. The Madden series is the most popular game series ever.
    However, let's accept your point that gaming is a solitary activity. So are reading, gardening, and watching TV. So is writing a blog to vent your frustrations.

    "Hobbies are fabulous. Many of us have more than one. Many gamers, don’t. "
    Black people are good basketball players and women are all cooks and maids and gay men all have good fashion sense. I aalready pointed out that the overwhelming majority of "gamers" spend less than 30min a day playing games. I wonder what they do with the other 23 1/2 hours?

    "Games are bloody, noisy and violent".
    This is also patently not true. Not all games are like Halo. The hottest console this year is the Nintendo Wii, which features fun sporting games that use a motion based controller. The fun is in the playing.
    The world is pretty bloody, noisy and violent, actually. Been to CNN.com lately? The Departed, Lord of the Rings, Million Dollar Baby, and Crash were all bloody, noisy and violent to some extent and they were the last 5 Oscar winners.

    Your rant about gaming is beyond myopic. You'd do well to mature beyond using focus groups of one to judge the value of a particular medium. That's a piece of professional advice: as a media professional, its important to know the truth about how people spend their time. Relying on tired stereotypes makes for ineffective media plans. Here's another piece of unsolicited advice - people tend not to like nagging shrews who prejudge their hobbies.

  3. Sean Mulholland, June 13, 2007 at 1:53 p.m.

    Prior to the ad world I was actually in the gaming business, and for many the whole fun of it is to make something to entertain their friends! Gaming is a very social activity.

    I agree there are freaks out there, but there are freaks in anything. Some car freaks will drop literally $100K+ tweaking their rides...on a $30K / year salary. Audio freaks will buy $10K speakers. Cycling freaks will spend $7K on a bike to shave off 12oz. off their bike...and then ride for 10-15 hours a week, usually alone. Gym rats will revolve their life, diet, etc around their training schedule.

    I think the real issue might lay with your favorite gamer, not with gamers in general. His habits may be annoying, but that doesn't make them representative of all gamers.

    In fact, if you look at the stats, the largest population of gamers is middle aged women playing casual games (stuff like Pogo.com or PopCap)...a far cry from the geeky male teen you're likely envisioning :-)

  4. Shaun Hekking, June 18, 2007 at 9:10 a.m.

    I guess Amanda has never played the Wii...four of us [two women/two men] played for over an hour and a half this weekend and had a terrific time...zero blood/gore/violence [unless you count profanity...mine after missing a 3 foot putt in Tiger Woods '07 and losing a hole to my wife, a first time gamer]....

    "Hobbies are fabulous. Many of us have more than one. Many gamers, don’t."...does Amanda have an axe to grind here? Maybe her boyfriend waved her off one too many times when he and his buddies were playing "Halo" or "Madden '06"...

  5. Amanda P from Ball State University, June 18, 2007 at 11:29 a.m.

    Thank you for all of your comments—believe it or not, it’s actually very interesting to hear everyone’s responses to my blogs. The only point I need to make is that I am not a media professional, as was stated in a comment earlier. I’m not even in a media field. I’m an English major going into her senior year.

    I feel the purpose of this blog as a whole is to show college students’ honest reactions to media, whether they are positive or negative. These can be in-depth analyses of media issues or heated opinions/reactions to what is going on around us. From everything I read in media magazines, my demographic is the lost demographic. Supposedly, you don’t know how to market to us, what intrigues us… this blog offers you the opportunity to get into our heads and see what we’re thinking about.

    In my case, I see my roll in this forum as the tech-novice, the one who doesn’t usually get excited about technology in general (not that there is anything wrong with that!!!). Before I started writing this blog I never considered my media usage, or new tech innovations, or target demographics… but because I am writing this blog I do now. I don’t have focus groups or panel discussions to form my opinions; I have my own experiences, and because I’m a consumer (and a pretty hefty one at that) my opinions count too. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people like me out there who aren’t going to get excited about the iPhone, or the xbox, or get into an intense debate about whether PCs or Mac are better. But we still buy things and have opinions about how we would like to spend our time.

    It should be stated as well that it wasn’t my intention to offend anyone, though it seems like I did. Most of what I wrote was in direct response to what my boyfriend has said in the past. It seems like I didn’t make that clear enough. I do apologize.

    Please continue commenting. This is an open forum and I know my fellow bloggers and myself appreciate hearing what people in the media world think about what we write.

    -Amanda

  6. Josh, June 19, 2007 at 1:35 p.m.

    Amanda,

    You seem to have fallen prey to a common result of stereotyping: reality is seldom so simple and contained.

    As is often the case though, the ultimate loss belongs to the person holding to their stereotypes, as it always results in viewing things with a narrowed point of view.

    As an English major, I'm sure you've seen some of this sort of thinking. Consider the statement "Non-fiction is boring and not really very creative." Or "People that spend their time reading books aren't very fun to hang out with." Neither of these statements are true, but I have heard them held by others on more than one occasion.

    See, you'd look at a game like the upcoming "BioShock" and just see "another stupid violent shooter." You probably wouldn't notice that the plot was based off of Ayn Rand's works, and poses the question of how the ideals of her works would work in a "real world" implementation. It's got amazing art deco design, and provides an environment for the player to decide between objectivist ideals and a humanitarian side of things, finding a balance between extremes. Regardless of your position on Rand, I would think the concept would be interesting.

    Or perhaps a game like "Mass Effect," also easily dismissed as another violent space-themed video game, where the developers have previously established some of the best systems for social consciousness within a game, and believable character arcs throughout a story.

    Or "Pokemon," a clear kid's game with no complexity or intellectual value, right? Since college, almost the only times I've actually used math beyond simple calculator functions has been on video games, and most of it has probably been on the Pokemon series. Figuring out the game mechanics beyond the simplistic surface is harder than doing your taxes.

    Maybe the next time your boyfriend is playing video games, you might try to participate. This will (a) likely make his day, and (b) you might find something deeper in the game than what preconceived notions might have seen.

    Note: this was assuming he's not one of the "Halo"-types. In that case, forget everything I just said. That's one of the gaming stereotypes that is horribly, horribly true.

  7. Michelle, June 21, 2007 at 2:29 p.m.

    Here you go Amanda: a solution to the "my boyfriend spends all his time gaming" problem.

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