Maybe it’s me, but am I the only one who gets just a little annoyed when someone else refers to my chosen hobby as an addiction or a disease?
Look, Mr. I’m-18-years-old-and-have-no-self-discipline, I know it’s hard to focus on studying when you’re just two more raid drops from a full set of “Tier Who-Gives-A-Crap” armor. However, calling it an “addiction” and incessantly posting about how your lack of time management skills has ruined your life, career, or relationship isn’t going to solve your problem. Keeping a sense of perspective will.
Games are a hobby.
For those of us who have been fortunate enough to work in the gaming industry, I can promise you that “gaming-as-a-job” is a whole lot more work than most of the misguided 16 year olds, many of whom would benefit greatly from a competent guidance counselor, think it is. For every “addict” out there who can’t wait to sell you a book that chronicles their experiences in nauseating detail, there are thousands of everyday folks who manage to keep their hobby in proper perspective.
Games are often a grownup, adult hobby.
While we’re on the subject, let’s debunk another myth that I am in danger of helping to perpetuate. Gamers aren’t always teen-aged basement dwellers. Don’t get me wrong, I spent many of my teenage years dwelling in my parents’ “underground cavern,” but at some point, I grew up, went to college, got a job and a life… and kept right on gaming. In fact, here are just a few of the professions gamers that I have been lucky enough to meet through my years of online gaming hold.
- Corporate Counsel for a Fortune 500 Company
- Public Health Advisor for the Centers for Disease Control
- Professional Baseball Player
- Award Winning Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author
- Hollywood Actress
At the risk of seeming immodest, my own career is a testament to the idea that you can be quite successful and still maintain time to play video games. I’m married with two kids with a successful career who happens to play, write about, and plan conventions around video games. If I can do it, anyone can.
Games bring us together.
I’ve gone dungeon delving with kids as young as 7, and kids old enough to be collecting Social Security checks. Gaming crosses age and socioeconomic barriers like no other hobby ever has. The fact that there are some people out there who call gaming an addiction because of their own failings in time management or personal responsibility is galling. It is rather like calling all gun owners psychopaths because some whack job decided to shoot up a school. (Oh wait, they tried to pin that one on video games too, didn’t they…)
Blame the player, not the game.
As long as I’m throwing uncomfortable ideas and images out there, let me leave you with one more. In the day and age of the Internet, it is all too common for people to seek validation by finding something else to blame for their problems. It is absurdly easy to find groups of like-minded individuals who can reinforce the notion that “It’s not your fault. You’re an addict and need help.”
Playing video games doesn’t make you a junkie.
If you are the type of person who gets so absorbed in a video game that you avoid real life, maybe you’re the problem. Maybe you need to take a good long look at why you are in such dire need of an escape from your day to day life. Dumbing this idea down even further, school can suck, work can suck, life can suck, but video games are fun. Some children can be described as having an inability to avoid instant gratification in favor of a greater long-term benefit.
Maybe it’s just time for you to grow up.