Life / Relationships

Played and Won – How Computer Games Have Affected My Life

“Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock-n-roll.” ~ Shigeru Miyamoto

I was going to start this topic by trying to give the good and bad points of gaming; but I would struggle to give an objective argument being an avid gamer. And you can find any number of media hyped reasons blaming games for the downfall of society. I say avid gamer, but over the past decade of my adult life, thinking about it, I have only played a handful of games; and my reasons for playing games have changed as I’ve gone through various stages in my life. I’ll go through the ways I think gaming has benefited my life and for the most part I’ll leave out the negative ones. Not because I don’t think there are any but because I’ll admit I would struggle to see them, as it’s hard to look back on something you love doing objectively.

When I was around 10 I used to play all sorts of games but the ones I enjoyed more than the rest, and probably spent the most time trying to complete, were strategy games. I was particularly fond of Command and Conquer, and Theme Park. I think I probably learnt quite a lot of analytical skills from games like these, but it is hard to say if I’m analytically minded because of these types of games, or if an analytically minded person would naturally enjoy playing these games.

As I got older I started playing first person shooters. Quake was a favourite, then came Counterstrike, and then Battlefield 2.

I would say from these sorts of games you increase your hand/eye coordination and learn how to prioritise critical information. Studies have shown surgeons who play these sorts of games have better dexterity, and we all know that modified first person shooters are used to train army personnel to react better in hostile situations.

I stopped playing first person shooters after playing Battlefield 2 as I don’t think I could have had a more rich combat experience without actually being in a war. It’s like all the good bits of war without the human suffering and permanent destruction.

What are the good bits of war? Increased team work, a common goal, motivation; all of these can be found in Battlefield 2.

I thought Battlefield 2 was the best gaming experience I’d have, and after my friends (who I’d met in the real world) stopped playing I quit playing computer games for a period thinking I was too old to play games. At the time I’d also generally lost interest in the simple one dimensional nature of most games.

I got back into gaming during the writers’ strike in 2007, and after watching an episode of Southpark called “Make love not Warcraft”. I often find myself wanting to know the background to Matt Stone’s and Trey Parker’s jokes, and I knew for them to parody World of Warcraft like that they had probably played it at some point. I’d heard about this game for a while, didn’t really know what it was about, and wanted to find out more.

I really didn’t think it would be my sort of thing as I had the impression only nerds, people who lacked social skills, or people who never left the house played it.

While that may be true to some extent there is definitely a mix of people who play the game, and it increased on my experience from Battlefield 2.

In Battlefield 2 I had teamwork, a high level of coordination with my team mates, a common goal which made me want to work for the greater good. WoW had all of this and added a rich community, not to mention people I would later consider to be my friends – people who I actually talk to more than I do my non-Warcraft friends.

When I look back to when I started playing this game I never once thought that I would end up being good friends with people I may never see face to face – people from different countries – laughing with people I’ve never seen, and being frustrated and angry with people I’ve never seen. Through the course of the game and my interactions with the people I play with (mainly over voice communication, I hate communicating by typing) I have learnt so much about other countries, their cultures, and the different ways they do things.

I’m glad I stumbled into this game which has become more than the game to me now, and even though I don’t have as much time as I once did to play, I still keep in touch with my World of Warcraft friends outside of the game.

Level 90, Night Elf Druid

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