It’s sad to see that video games in general get a lot of flak from the media for causing all sorts of problems from depression to random acts of violence. To be honest, the worst I’ve ever come to flak about my compulsion to play computer games was the fact that it was the cause of my grades dropping in school. The other bit was the fact I’m a nerd or “such a boy”, but those statements I’m used to handling.
Over the years, computer games have been the anchor point of my life. They were the “play” bit in my “work hard, play harder” rule. It’s not exactly a secret that I am bi-polar, but it’s not exactly public knowledge either. Ever since my early teen years, even through the worst of times, games have helped steady my unpredictable mood swings. It gave me something to do, not just for recreation, but for tackling the darker impulses I had and perhaps, still have.
The games I played showed that I other than unleashing fury in whatever stood my way, I also had the power to create and to build worlds to however I saw fit. I would spend days and months trying to craft a perfect city or a vast empire in between taking time off to kill more bad guys. It helped shaped my creative logic and foresight. Traits that today are invaluable to me in the work I do.
The upside to games didn’t just stop at playing the games themselves. Without them, I wouldn’t be the geek I am today. Wanting to play the latest games always forced me to ensure my computer could handle it and in doing so, taught me everything there is about the PC. From building it to general maintenance to squeezing out every last bit of processing power, I owe all that knowledge to my compulsion to play games.
In turn that gave me more of a focus when dealing with my depressive downswings, even if today it can be considered a vice seeing I tend to unconsciously geek out even going as far to buying new toys to play with whenever I’m in my depressive state. It’s a work in progress, but I can afford a little leeway in the matter.
Of course people say that my lack of social life is directly correlated to the fact I spend so much time playing games. This of course I cannot dispute, but for what it’s worth, cultivating relationships with people whom you share none of the same interest with you isn’t much of a social life.
I understand that in meeting people in real life, you have the opportunity to experience new things you otherwise haven’t before; but walking into a pub and sharing a drink with a random stranger is no different than drinking at home while in a multiplayer game with a lot of random strangers. The only difference is that you can’t see who you’re talking to, also you already know you share a common interest in the game you’re playing. I guess while people would say that physically having the person in front of you matters, I say that it’s the sharing of an experience (in this case, playing a game) that matters more.
In any case, I know I’m one of the many people out there that go against the conservative and archaic idea that games are bad for you. Like all hobbies, they can go one way or another. It’s about taking whatever it offers and turning it into a constructive element in your life. It’ll always be my source of inspiration and strength. You can’t praise a hobby any more than one that’s brought back a measure of hope in your life.
This post was inspired from a site I found on Kotaku. If you have the time, read some of the stories there written by people who have had video games change their life one way or another. How Games Saved My Life