Is Gaming a Waste of Time?

Do gamers waste their time? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was scrolling Facebook last night and just before bed, I see a well-known apologist saying to not play video games and not let your children play them. It’s just a waste of time. Naturally, I have to give a disagreement, but I would like to go into that more now.

I am 43 and I have been a gamer for as long as I can remember. My first experience is seeing something I think coming home from school under the TV and asking what it was. I was told it was my Dad’s Colecovision. That was my introduction to the world of video games. My Dad had thought he was hot stuff at the games, but we all know the rules about small children and video games. My favorite was Ladybug. If I saw that game on the Nintendo Eshop today, I would go and get a gift card from Amazon immediately to buy it. Shut up and take my money!

In Elementary school, I was the main legend at the school. No one was as good at games as I was. As a boy on the spectrum, this is something that helped me interact with people. We didn’t know I was on the spectrum then until I was in fifth grade, but my friends had the same hobby I did.

This continued throughout my life as my friends have regularly had a shared interest with me in gaming. RIght now, I am living on a seminary campus and I still love it when I get to get together with people and play games. I have a good friend on campus who is a professor and a gamer and we regularly chat about such matters.

Getting back to childhood though, all the while, I was still doing other things. I regularly won the summer reading competition at the library reading hundreds of books. I was introduced to the Hardy Boys and read through all the books there and winded up then reading Nancy Drew as well. I would also regularly check out Peanuts and Garfield books I didn’t have.

Also, my sister and I loved watching games. Gameshows were a favorite pastime of mine and if it was summer vacation, you could bet that every day at 11 AM, we would be downstairs on the couch watching The Price is Right. Today, I still turn on gameshows on Roku while I’m reading.

My schoolwork wasn’t a problem. That’s something that needs to be changed as I spent a lot of time gaming because frankly, I wasn’t challenged at school. Gaming gave me more of a challenge. Little tip about men. We tend to like challenges and go where they are.

When I first went to seminary, I went with my friend who lived in Missouri at the time. We had met on and what got us introduced to each other? You’ll never guess. Gaming. He was impressed with how I did in a post answering someone and sent me an avatar of a character he made for me saying “I’m not sure if you’re into Final Fantasy games or not.”

Lifelong friendship born right there.

Something that amazed my ex-wife about me? She had been told years ago that Pokemon was childish, and here I was nearly ten years her senior and I knew about the series very well. It was a connection and we did enjoy gaming together.

Of course, we did get divorced and I am thankful that at times when I was alone, I had games there so I could get caught in a story that would engage me and have goals I wanted to reach. I also used my gamer mentality in the divorce saying “I will not be defeated by her. This is my one round at life and I am playing to win.” Play to win has become a motto of mine.

My mother was concerned about me, her son on the spectrum, going to New Orleans and my DivorceCare leader and his wife came over for a get together and he told her “He has been playing these games all his life. Now he wants to live them.” She’s still not crazy about her son being 600 miles away, but I do speak to her every day on our Echo device. Oh yes, while I’m playing a game too.

As someone researching this material now for a PhD, something that comes across to me often when I read (Or hear in the case of Audible) about how a game came to be is the idea of “I wanted to tell a story”. We are people of stories. The oldest book we have is The Epic of Gilgamesh. Then we have plays which are stories. We have movies and TV which are used to tell stories. We have radio and what is something we did with that? Stories. Video games are no different.

Now can some people be addicted? Yes, but saying some people have a problem does not mean everyone needs to abstain. You need to control your behavior, not everyone else’s. If there is a problem with self-control, that is the big issue to work on. I find when I am gaming now, I also have my Echo nearby and I’m watching YouTube videos to educate myself or watching some TV just for personal entertainment, such as right now I am going through Young Sheldon.

Video games are a medium that’s here to stay and isolating ourselves is not the solution. Through the advent of smartphones, more and more people are gamers now. They also help us connect, something I notice when I go to the park from time to time for a special Pokemon Go community day. I am also working on learning how to make videos on YouTube for my Gaming Theologian channel. (If you are interested in helping, please let me know.)

All things in moderation. I still get in all my reading as on my Kindle I am going through probably about a dozen books right now and I read some of them every day. Still, I am thankful to kick back and relax after a day of work or school.

What is a waste of time? Inevitably, it will always be what the other guy is interested in. I don’t understand sports. I don’t understand why people get so excited over the Super Bowl or why there are TV stations dedicated to sports and radio shows that spend hours talking about sports.

That’s okay. If you like it and it doesn’t control you, that’s fine. Any good thing can become an addiction to some extent, even religion. For some people, outright avoidance could be needed. For most of us, it’s learning self-discipline.

I have an aim to reach gamers and explore our need for stories.

Hardly a waste of time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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