Video games are not a waste of time

I’ve had this conversation before, more times than I can remember, whenever a friend or a colleague finds out that I play video games.

Hi, my name is Sharon and I play video games every single day. I am a 31 year old woman with a full time job and a preschooler.

Reactions usually vary from “Oh cool, what games do you play?”, and “How do you find time for that?”, to “That’s a waste of time”.

I explain that I find time for it because it’s something that I enjoy, and outside of working full time and being a mum, I have to have things that are just for me too. I am a better person if I also enjoy my life.

The reaction that I’ve often found difficult to respond to though is Video games are a waste of time. This is because it’s subjective, I won’t change their minds and they won’t change mine, and that’s ok!

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A good friend once asked me “Why make something in a game when you can make something in real life?” There are a few reasons why someone might choose to be creative in this way.

Making things in a video game costs me nothing more than the cost of the game itself. To pick up a new creative hobby often has a huge upfront cost, depending on what you’re doing. I don’t own a craft knife or glue guns or any of the equipment I might need for various different crafts but I do have a computer and a games console.

I don’t have a garden to speak of and so I can’t do things like keep ducks or make ponds or large flower beds in real life, but I can play stardew valley and have as many farm animals I like. I can watch the seasons change in my game and make beautiful houses and gardens in the Sims. I can create incredibly cute villages and outfits in Animal Crossing and share all of these with people who do the same thing. I, like millions of other people around the world can channel my creativity into something intangible, and that is a fantastic thing. You should see some of the amazing minecraft creations people make.

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For all of these reasons, I don’t feel like this is any less real or creative as making a crochet blanket or doing a spot of adult colouring.

Some people might say I’d rather go out and talk to people. I am by no means downplaying the importance of face-to-face interaction but let’s not also lessen the value of online communication and interaction, especially in recent times! During the year long period in which my husband and I had a long distance relationship, there were only so many things we could talk about without getting bored.

We played an online MMORPG together to spend some time doing something we both enjoyed. I look back on that time fondly because in lieu of being able to go on real world adventures together, we could do that with our game instead.

2020 has increased the use of communication tools like Zoom and Teams and while weekly family quiz night might be fun for some people, I’d much rather talk to my family and friends about the games I’ve been playing instead. We can make up challenges together and share ideas about how to do something. It’s just another means to achieve the same end — being together while we have to be apart.

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One problem I have with the video games are a waste of time argument, is that a lot of the time people saying this would see nothing wrong with watching the television all evening. 2 hours in front of a film isn’t a waste of time but 2 hours problem solving, watching an interactive story unfold or making something beautiful while playing a video game is?

To all the people who shake their heads in disbelief at the notion of a hobby that’s different to yours I say this; Give it a try, you might just surprise yourself.

Software Engineer, expert worrier and mum

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