It’s almost 2 AM, and I am crossly closing dozens of tabs I opened just a moment ago, searching for an article to soothe my butt hurt. Typically, I have enough self-confidence, and I am rarely bothered by comments like, “Playing computer games makes you dumb and violent,” but when they are made by people you consider to be your relatives, at one point or another it just starts to get you. This thing has just happened to me, and here I am, trying to find an article with a similar point of view to make me feel better about myself. And while I still hope to remember the title of the article and finally find it, I want to share my reasons for believing that gaming is no worse than reading.
Reason #1: We Need Stories, Not Books
Though it is true that our brain craves stories for evolutionary reasons (that’s why those nerve-wracking social ads about unhappy children work so-o-o well), no one has ever said we need stories exactly in the form of printed books. For sure, this is one of the earliest ways of transferring stories, which emerged after the most ancient method to pass rumors and plots – by word of mouth.
However, when they first have appeared, printed books were shunned as the invention of the devil, and said to have a harmful impact on one’s brain. Does it remind you of something? We heard the same thing about TV, and now the main reason for terrorism, addictions, and violence are computer games.
Can you see the repetitive pattern? I’m going to tell it anyway – humanity has a general resenting reaction to anything new. The group of people who like the new invention is usually relatively small, and the rest of the society is appalled by horrendous printing press/ telephone/ TV set/ computer (underline as necessary). The moral of the story is that, whether you like it or not, you can’t stop the progress.
Reason #2: It Does Require Imagination
The main argument against computer games in every forum thread and under every news piece, apart from being harmful to one’s eyes, is the ability to kill imagination. As an aspiring writer, I always had difficulties with understanding this premise. I remember how enthusiastically I wrote fan fiction stories to the gaming universes I fancied. Have you ever heard about the “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.” gaming world? It inspired more than 70 fan-made books written in Russian. I mean, SEVENTY BOOKS!
The same is accurate for other gaming universes that didn’t have an initial basis in books – Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and many others. Not to mention fanfics that don’t get published as books, kilometers of fan art, and even universe-related poems and songs! I truly can’t see how video games are killing creativity. Yes, you do not imagine the main plot in your head as with reading, you get a ready version of it on your screen, but you can imagine anything you want in-between cut scenes and main gameplay.
Reason #3: You See the Immediate Impact of Your Choice
Books and stories are said to be the most powerful tools of education and instilling moral values in the younger generations, while games are shunned for perpetuating the violent behavior. I believe that behind stereotypes people can’t see the potential of VR in teaching moral doctrines to the youth. Games with choice-based plot show the gamer how his decisions to kill, spare or help someone impact the world around him or her. Someone may object by saying this world is imaginary, but so is the world in books.
Moreover, the outcome of any book is pre-designed – the main character reaps what they sow, and the reader is left to ponder about another possible aftermath of the story. With computer games, you can try those outcomes, see the reaction of other characters and feel twinges of conscience for doing the ultimate wrong thing. To me, it sounds more efficient, at least from the perspective of emotions experienced in the process.
Reason #4: You Can Earn Money Playing Games
Though this sounds like another “easy cash” ad, luring people on a trash website that feeds on their clicks and views, it is not. Earning money in the gaming industry is both hard and risky, but look at the prize pool of the major competitions. You can object that only a tiny percent of gamers will ever make it to the Pro-league, and you will be right.
However, now gamers have gained a unique opportunity to make money out of their in-game items in three clicks. Thanks to such websites as Skins.Cash and CSGOReview, gamers from every corner of the world can turn their hard-earned items into bucks. Tell us now about gaming being a useless activity with certain skins and items selling for more than $1000, he-he.
I believe you can turn the most benevolent thing into harmful if you overuse it, or use it in the wrong way, so let’s stop blaming computer games and look for the opportunities they can provide.
Written by Alex Miller
Alex is the founder of the csgoreview.com and, as you have probably guessed , a computer gaming fan to the marrow of his bones. Video games and eSports are his calling, hobby, and job, and he considers himself to be very lucky for being able to connect all that. He also studies the gaming industry and writes articles about it on a regular basis.