Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

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Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby kinigget » Fri May 28, 2010 12:24 am UTC

Apologies for the rather awkward title, this is something that I've been thinking about for a while. I for one believe that games have just as much value as any other form of media and I'm sure I'm not alone in this, the thing is though, I couldn't really tell you coherently why I feel this way. So my question to all of you is: what's your opinion, and why do you feel that way?
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Aikanaro » Fri May 28, 2010 2:44 am UTC

Dear xkcd,

On behalf of my religion, I'm sorry so many of us do dumb shit. Please forgive us.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby psion » Fri May 28, 2010 3:10 am UTC

It depends heavily on context. I mean, video games as a form of media are a waste of time if I want to know about real world policies and events. If you mean video games are a waste of time as an entertainment medium, well, that just doesn't make sense because any form of entertainment could easily be considered a waste of time.
I think you need to elaborate.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Fri May 28, 2010 3:18 am UTC

Define "waste of my time." The reason you can't answer with a why is because you have made a question so vague that it is difficult to.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby poxic » Fri May 28, 2010 4:00 am UTC

Waste of time, first class: filing my belly button lint.

Waste of time, second class: playing a video game.

WOT, third class: learning to play an instrument or write a good essay.

WOT, fourth class: exercising

WOT, fifth class: earning money

So, like, what's you're definition of a waste of time?
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Tomo » Fri May 28, 2010 10:25 am UTC

Well if you define the purpose of life to be achieving or creating something tangible, videogames are among the biggest waste of time there is.

On the other hand, if you subscribe to a philosophy that the purpose of life is to enjoy it, there's really no better way to spend your time!
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby SlyReaper » Fri May 28, 2010 11:33 am UTC

Tomo wrote:Well if you define the purpose of life to be achieving or creating something tangible, videogames are among the biggest waste of time there is.


Possibly not though. Humans need some form of downtime other than sleeping in order to work effectively. Without any form of entertainment at all, a person could easily fall into depression which would decrease his/her productivity. So you could argue that video games (as well as television, music, films, etc) are not a waste of time, even from a productivity point of view.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby WarDaft » Fri May 28, 2010 7:10 pm UTC

From one perspective, they are almost a complete waste of time - unless you are playing an awesome game, you won't even have much in the way of fond memories from the experience.

On the other hand, they can be a decently to extremely cheap way to have fun... and the ultimate extension of video games is a totally immersive 100% uptime virtual reality, IE a voluntary Matrix. Once you hit that point, there's nothing else you really need.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Aben Zin » Fri May 28, 2010 7:15 pm UTC

It's my life- thing only thing I know really exists. If I'm enjoying myself, how can I possibly be wasting my time?

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Triangle_Man » Fri May 28, 2010 7:25 pm UTC

Aben Zin wrote:It's my life- thing only thing I know really exists. If I'm enjoying myself, how can I possibly be wasting my time?


Agreed. If you enjoy what you're doing, then how could it ever be a waste of time?
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Accountant13B » Fri May 28, 2010 8:30 pm UTC

Everybody needs sometimes to do something simple, meaningless and well within their comfort zone - that's just relaxation, and without it we would go crazy. Video game are just one means to achieve this - it works well for some, REALLY well for others (i.e. me :D) and not for a few, just like all things (books, action movies, badminton etc.). In that sense - as a tool, a simple means to the end of chilling out - video games are incredibly useful.

In any other sense? Utterly worthless, and potentially destructive to boot considering their sheer addictiveness (again. see me :S)
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby frezik » Fri May 28, 2010 8:40 pm UTC

A friend of mine once invited a group of us over to ride our ATVs in his family's field. His dad (an old, old farmer) got seriously pissed off at us. Not because we tearing up the field (it wasn't one that was planted anyway--we made sure of that). Not because he didn't like 4-wheelers. But because we were spending a Saturday afternoon doing something other than work.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby SecondTalon » Fri May 28, 2010 8:50 pm UTC

As Poxic pointed out already, until we define what constitutes a Waste of Time, it's rather difficult to discuss it in a structured way.

Supposing that actions can either have a meaning or not, we have to then determine what those meanings could possibly be. There's the big, rough notion of "Keeping yourself alive" or however you want to phrase the acquisition of food, shelter, and bodily protection (ie Clothing and hygiene products) and all of the acts associated with that, but that does leave out the idea of learning or expanding your mind or however else you want to phrase it.

So let's try anyway.

Acts can :
Get you Money. Money can, of course, buy you food, clothing, shelter, hygiene products, and so on. So any act that is an assurance of you getting money - ie Going to Work cannot be a worthless act. If anything, it's probably one of the clearest acts that has worth. At the end of the work period, you can clearly state how much worth your acts in that time had towards the contribution of labor and so on.

Fuel your body. Eating food, of course. This one is a bit more nebulous as eating a fifth slice of cake is not exactly the most worthwhile act on the planet, but not eating in favor of more work is also a terrible thing to do. So, while it does not contribute to getting you money, eating does contribute to keeping your body running, allowing you to (among other things) make more money. So we'll let this one go for now, tacking on "with Moderation"

Acquire New Possessions. Good ol' buying shit. There's shit you need (pants, shirts, food, soap) and shit you don't (a blender specially designed to blend smoothies made from bananas and peach slices when you have a perfectly good general purpose blender at home, also what the fuck is wrong with you for wanting that in the first place?). Of course, even buying shit you don't is a worthwhile act as it insures somewhere that several more people have a job. If you buy it in a store, that means at least one person (if not two or three) have a job in that shop, the person driving the delivery truck has a job, and the person at the factory actually putting the shit together has a job. Hell, even if it's a worthless thingamabob you're buying from a gal who specializes in hand crafted worthless thingamabobs, you're at least giving her job validation which is.. arguable in worth, sure, but not inherently worthless.

Educate Yourself. Learn you a book! If the act is teaching you a new task, a new skill, a new way of looking at the world.. even if the ideas are being rejected by yourself for being monumentally stupid, you at least do have to take the time to refute them in your head as to why they're stupid. The more ideas, even bad ones, you hear, the better you get at refuting them, going from "that's just stupid" to ".. and as you can see by item 245, section A subsection J paragraph 5..." so.. yeah, learning something is pretty worthwhile.

Exercise Yourself. Does it make you harder, better, faster, stronger? Can you track more moving objects? Can you lift more weight? Are you less susceptible to heart disease? I'll grant you that, say, 100 years ago keeping fit wasn't as big of a deal. Of course, even 100 years ago not starving to death was still a pretty big deal. Hell, it's still a big deal in many, many parts of the world. But in the parts where we take food that's perfectly fine for human consumption and feed it to tiny yapping dogs, actually keeping your weight under control is something of a big deal. Of course, as I said, that's not all there is to it. Being able to follow multiple objects moving in a three dimensional space is also a useful skill and the more crowded cities get, the more useful it is to avoid getting flattened by that guy driving 50 miles an hour in the parking lane, sending out e-mail from his phone and trying to finish his Starbucks Coffee before he makes it to work (that he actually passed a block or two ago). So, if it makes you fitter, stronger, or more observant, I'd say it counts as a worthwhile activity.

So, before I go on.. what can Video Games do in this list? Well.. outside of a few rare and odd professions, they won't get you money. And unless your physical media is a lot different than mine, or you have a radically different digestive system (in which case, Hello to our New Alien Overlords!) you cannot eat them. You do acquire them, and as I stated that even if they're a worthless thing to own, you are at least contributing to the economy and keeping a few people employed - so the worth there is in question and something I will not address as I simply don't have the economic backing to discuss it (and think the stock market pretty much works the same way - people buying worthless shit from each other, convincing themselves it has value) so.. yeah. And can you learn from it? Well.. depends on the book. Doom teaches you that id Software has no idea what Mars is like. Bioshock is Objectivism for Dummies. Half-Life teaches you that recent theoretical physicist PhD graduates who are also mute, wear glasses and have goatees are fucking mass-murdering sociopaths in waiting. So it's kinda a mixed bag. Sure, video games may help you keep track of a lot of things at once and help with your hand-eye coordination. Then again, being able to shoot down the UFO in Space Invaders isn't exactly an in-demand skill these days. Then again, neither is the ability to run from square bag on the ground to square bag on the ground after smacking a sphere with a wooden club, yet somehow Baseball is this wholesome worthwhile pursuit. You'd get more benefit from just running laps.



So what's left from actions?

Entertains Yourself. Oh, right.. No Beer and No TV make Homer something something (go crazy? [Don't mind if I do! HSGHALKHALJAHGAHABLLBLALAHA!]). Keeping yourself entertained is a pretty worthwhile activity. See, a century or more ago, even longer ago people spent their hours trying to not die. If they weren't working on getting food, they were working on getting shelter or clothing. And once they had their food, shelter and clothing taken care of, sleep was pretty much all that was left. Today, however, we've gotten the food problem taken care of in certain parts of the world. Same with the shelter and clothing thing, to where the average Westerner doesn't really have to concern themselves with such things. So there's a lot of free time, and only so much can be filled with education before you become one of those creepy people who can discuss in detail the dental industry of ancient Rome but cannot understand the body language of everyone else on the bus that's screaming "OH GOD PLEASE STOP TALKING". So in comes the entertainment. Outside of self-amusement, there's no real purpose or value with it. You can combine Education with Entertainment, and if you're lucky your Work also fits in with Entertainment, and Getting New Shit can serve as a form of Entertainment, as can Eating Stuff.. but Entertainment for the sake of Entertainment also works.

Socialize. Lastly, there's the acts that get you talking to other people. These days you can work, learn, entertain yourself, eat, and buy all the shit you'd ever need without actually ever coming into contact with another human being. And we aren't even in the creepy Cyberpunk fiction world yet. So, yes, even for hermits like myself who'd like nothing more than for the rest of the world to just go away for a week or two, it's still a good idea to be around other people from time to time. Or you'll end up like the aforementioned Roman Dental Expert.

So of those two new ones, do Video Games fit in anywhere? Well.. if you find them entertaining, then they need no other purpose than that. The Bubble Wrap simulator doesn't each you shit, doesn't let you interact with others, and doesn't contribute a damned thing to your pocketbook, and you can feel parts of your soul melt away when you play it, but it is fun in a goofy way.

Since the advent of Play By Email and BBSs, you've also been able to socialize. This has moved from a crude text-only interaction to someone calling you a "scrotum licker" via a headset as you run around in WoW together, making you realize your main healer is 12 years old and up way the hell past their bedtime. Whether or not this is a good thing, and how much it compares to real live face-to-face socialization is debatable. On the one hand, most people won't call you a cuntrag to your face. On the other hand, the kind of person who'd call you a cuntrag to your face would also probably hit you with a glass bottle, so we'll call it a tie there. No, it's not the same as sitting in a room with people and chatting. But yes, it's a lot more social than playing minesweeper. So, it's a.. "eh, sorta" on the Socialization scale.

Final tally?
You can't eat them, can't wear them, outside of very rare instances you can't make money with them, can possibly be educated by them, depending on who did the study you can get a bump to your spacial awareness, hand-eye coordination and ability to track multiple variables at once, get a rudimentary form of socialization and a fuckton of entertainment.

So it's like Baseball. Or Football. Just with less running. And running's overrated.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Accountant13B » Fri May 28, 2010 9:11 pm UTC

Nice wall of text, Talon, and a good analysis.

Now we've established just what video games actually do - namely, entertains the player and not a lot else - the last question is simple: what do you hope to accomplish? Just why are you playing the game? We've established what direction this vector will take you in, now where do you want to go?

If you just want a brainless, engaging virtual challenge, video games are for you; if not, don't bother.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Fri May 28, 2010 9:39 pm UTC

Video games are entertaining, but its dumb to consider this worthless.

Video games won't put food in your mouth or your families, working 50 hours in a factory will. Do you want to work 50 hours in a factory or play video games?

Video games won't show that you have read the literary classics that your teacher made you write. Do you want to do that or play video games? etc.

So just because there is no "meaningful" value (what you really mean is respected from others) in video games doesn't mean shit. About 90% of the jobs out there is to be a cog in a wheel of the industry. The only reason you do them is for money, otherwise you wouldn't do them at all. Whereas with video games, I would gladly pay money to get what they offer. And a lot of the school education, besides the technical ones like engineering and science, are really filled with people that cannot teach the young people what they are aiming for. So I would consider them pretty near the worthless scale too.

So yeah man, video games are good for fun, for competition, for being drawn into your fantasy etc. If thats not your thing, then don't do it. If that is your thing, then enjoy it. Making money isn't even something that is necessary when you have a ton of it. If we were in a state where there wasn't an abundance of food and time, video games would necessarily be the last thing in our mind. But we are, and we have a lot more leisure time. Its not like you are in Dafur or North Korea or something.

So lets evaluate some things right now. Lets say a person starts up some industrial work. Is his activity worthless? How about visiting foreign countries? What about eating only healthy foods? etc.

Btw, video games aren't always brainless. Wasn't chess the symbol for intelligence until a couple of decades ago?

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Accountant13B » Fri May 28, 2010 10:35 pm UTC

Infernova, who are you railing against?
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri May 28, 2010 11:06 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:Wasn't chess the symbol for intelligence until a couple of decades ago?

I was unaware of the change. What is the new symbol for intelligence, and can I have two please?
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Magnanimous » Sat May 29, 2010 3:21 am UTC

There's a lot of evidence showing that video games are good for you, but that definitely depends on the kind of game and how much you play it. Playing Farmville fifty hours a week will probably only condition you to play more Farmville, while something like Tetris gives more direct results. And then there are the purely educational games, like the Learning Company games that I grew up on, which are entirely meant to improve your brain.

So... It's pretty easy to go with the stereotype and say that video games are bad for you, but I'd vote that they're worth your time overall.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby sje46 » Sat May 29, 2010 4:16 am UTC

WarDaft wrote:On the other hand, they can be a decently to extremely cheap way to have fun... and the ultimate extension of video games is a totally immersive 100% uptime virtual reality, IE a voluntary Matrix. Once you hit that point, there's nothing else you really need.

You know what's cheaper? Baseball, surfing, LARPing, programming, reading, writing...in fact, most hobbies are probably cheaper than buying a fifty dollar game every month and a 300 dollar gaming system every other year.

Magnanimous wrote:There's a lot of evidence showing that video games are good for you, but that definitely depends on the kind of game and how much you play it. Playing Farmville fifty hours a week will probably only condition you to play more Farmville, while something like Tetris gives more direct results. And then there are the purely educational games, like the Learning Company games that I grew up on, which are entirely meant to improve your brain.

So... It's pretty easy to go with the stereotype and say that video games are bad for you, but I'd vote that they're worth your time overall.
...so? Most everything improves your mind somehow. Even Farmville, I bet. But are these improvements actually significant? Do you need them? Could you spend that time exercising another part of the brain? I'm thinking spending that time reading (half an hour a day for a month) might be more beneficial to most people. How about writing? And did you take into consideration the harmful effects of video game usage? Training people to be violent, discouraging socialness, encouraging impatientness, and a sedentary lifestyle? All the gamers I know are procrastinators in life...is this because of distractions like games, or are the procrastinators more attracted to games? Or is it a vicious circle? I should check for research on that.

Anyway., I used to play video games a lot. I don't anymore; they just started to seem like a total waste of time. Sure, shoooting a guy in a helicopter is fun, and you can get quite good at it, and I'm sure that hand-eye coordination, timing, and so on translate into real life. But so does knowing how to interact with people, building relationships, analyzing concepts, communicating ideas.

This isn't to say I'm much better. I only play video games about once a month, socially. Now I am addicted to the Internet. I like reading stories and commenting on them, learning amateur computer science stuff, philosophy, psychology, talking to my girlfriend, and chatting on IRC. There are probably a lot more nourishing ways to spend my time, but I do think it's better spent than spending hours a day on acquiring every achievement in a game. But hey, everything in moderation.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Sat May 29, 2010 5:33 am UTC

My point wasn't to say that Chess had become stupid, but that there are games that require you to use your brain. Apparently, people forgot that after playing 10 years of bad video games. Play strategy games if you can't handle the brainlessness.

I'm thinking spending that time reading (half an hour a day for a month) might be more beneficial to most people. How about writing? And did you take into consideration the harmful effects of video game usage?

Have you taken into consideration the harmful effect of writing and reading? Just because society as a whole tells you its good for you doesn't actually mean that its good for you. Better to learn to think than to write, and better to explore than to read. Going from playing video games to reading reddit isn't too big of a jump.

In any case, playing bad video games is a good way to achieve mediocrity. All of the awesome gamers I know are strikingly intelligent while being brutally good (world class to Intermediate level) in games. Its kind of the way they show their dominance, which is overflowing in almost all activities they enjoy.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby smw543 » Sat May 29, 2010 10:01 am UTC

sje46 wrote:
WarDaft wrote:On the other hand, they can be a decently to extremely cheap way to have fun... and the ultimate extension of video games is a totally immersive 100% uptime virtual reality, IE a voluntary Matrix. Once you hit that point, there's nothing else you really need.

You know what's cheaper? Baseball, surfing, LARPing, programming, reading, writing...in fact, most hobbies are probably cheaper than buying a fifty dollar game every month and a 300 dollar gaming system every other year.

Magnanimous wrote:There's a lot of evidence showing that video games are good for you, but that definitely depends on the kind of game and how much you play it. Playing Farmville fifty hours a week will probably only condition you to play more Farmville, while something like Tetris gives more direct results. And then there are the purely educational games, like the Learning Company games that I grew up on, which are entirely meant to improve your brain.

So... It's pretty easy to go with the stereotype and say that video games are bad for you, but I'd vote that they're worth your time overall.
...so? Most everything improves your mind somehow. Even Farmville, I bet. But are these improvements actually significant? Do you need them? Could you spend that time exercising another part of the brain? I'm thinking spending that time reading (half an hour a day for a month) might be more beneficial to most people. How about writing? And did you take into consideration the harmful effects of video game usage? Training people to be violent, discouraging socialness, encouraging impatientness, and a sedentary lifestyle? All the gamers I know are procrastinators in life...is this because of distractions like games, or are the procrastinators more attracted to games? Or is it a vicious circle? I should check for research on that.

Anyway., I used to play video games a lot. I don't anymore; they just started to seem like a total waste of time. Sure, shoooting a guy in a helicopter is fun, and you can get quite good at it, and I'm sure that hand-eye coordination, timing, and so on translate into real life. But so does knowing how to interact with people, building relationships, analyzing concepts, communicating ideas.

This isn't to say I'm much better. I only play video games about once a month, socially. Now I am addicted to the Internet. I like reading stories and commenting on them, learning amateur computer science stuff, philosophy, psychology, talking to my girlfriend, and chatting on IRC. There are probably a lot more nourishing ways to spend my time, but I do think it's better spent than spending hours a day on acquiring every achievement in a game. But hey, everything in moderation.

False dichotomy much? There are plenty of quasi-gamers who only play a few hours a week (or only a few hours a week on average—more after they buy a new game, but less in between). I'll admit I don't read as much as I'd like (maybe two books a month right now, when I'd rather it be three or four), and I could obviously read more if I cut out gaming, but I like video games1. And I still play sports, usually a few hours of basketball a week, plus I bike anywhere I need to go as long as I'm not in a hurry. tl;dr: There may be a correlation between video games and bad life habits, but it's entirely possible to play video games and also be a well-rounded person (like most things, it's fine in moderation).

As for money, you don't need to buy new stuff. Video games have been a major industry for decades, so there's a huge backlog of great games that you can pick up for under $10 that play on systems you can get for under $100. Better yet, if you have a good computer, you can even get some newer games for cheap via Steam and similar services.

1The obvious question here is why books are superior. Honestly—and I'm loathe to admit this, seeing as I'll be getting my BA in English very soon—novels are a dying art. They won't disappear entirely, at least not anytime soon, but people have started to accept that movies, and now video games, are a legitimate (and often superior) medium for both storytelling and artistic expression.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Aben Zin » Sat May 29, 2010 1:14 pm UTC

smw543 wrote:1[...]but people have started to accept that movies, and now video games, are a legitimate (and often superior) medium for both storytelling and artistic expression.


This really isn't true, at least from a storytelling perspective. As they stand now there is stil nothing that can beat a novel to bring you into a story due to the very nature of the mediums. A Movie can tell a story- at least a fairly short story- but the observer will always be a voyer on the action, outside the story looking in. Videogames are by their nature more involving though this is offset by their nature. A need for meaningful player interaction means that storytelling can take a back seat or risk constricting the player's input. This is something that modern games still struggle with but games like Mass Effect 2 and Portal are showing that the media is developing new stoytelling methods.

So how could videogames be a waste of time? They're giving us something to talk about!

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Sat May 29, 2010 2:44 pm UTC

I couldn't care about moderation. Videogames, along with sports, reading, writing, socializing, movies, learning science, writing programs are enjoyable activities. Thus, they aren't a waste of my time.

Is it strange that really good FPS players I know are also really good at sports?

Btw, why do people keep comparing video games to books/movies? Is my ability to crush some n00b in a RTS relevant to me enjoying Dostoevsky's "The Underground Man"? Videogame stories are dumb, if novels are having a tough time competing against them, I feel sad for the state of the writers currently.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sat May 29, 2010 3:15 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:Videogame stories are dumb

If this is the extent of your position on videogames, then I don't think we really have much more to discuss pertaining to your stance; I highly disagree with you that videogame stories are dumb, and would be akin to me saying that reading books is a waste of time or that sports are for people who can't string two words together.

I view many (obviously not all) games that have come out in the last 10 years to be some of the best stories I've experienced, and I feel I read fiction slightly more than average to the average xkcd board member. Indeed, story elements from many games have influenced me over the years.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby smw543 » Sat May 29, 2010 3:18 pm UTC

Aben Zin wrote:
smw543 wrote:1[...]but people have started to accept that movies, and now video games, are a legitimate (and often superior) medium for both storytelling and artistic expression.
This really isn't true, at least from a storytelling perspective. As they stand now there is stil nothing that can beat a novel to bring you into a story due to the very nature of the mediums. A Movie can tell a story- at least a fairly short story- but the observer will always be a voyer on the action, outside the story looking in.
So what? I mentioned that video games were more engaging in the context of their cognitive benefits. Whether a novel or any other narrative medium is good is quite separate from whether it makes you feel like you're interacting with the characters and setting. Otherwise every novel would be written in second person, and every movie would have a conversational narrator.

Videogames are by their nature more involving though this is offset by their nature. A need for meaningful player interaction means that storytelling can take a back seat or risk constricting the player's input. This is something that modern games still struggle with but games like Mass Effect 2 and Portal are showing that the media is developing new stoytelling methods.
I never meant to say that Pac-Man could go toe to toe with Moby Dick (although we're getting there). In terms of storytelling, an interactive game will always be more immersive than little spots of ink stamped on processed dead trees. You can come back with the artistic merit angle, saying that novels have stronger stories, but that's only circumstantially true—in the beginning, it wasn't really possible to include a story, but this is rapidly changing; even now, there are many games that outdo your average novel. And it's irrelevant that some other games have bad stories, because that's the beauty of video games as an artistic medium—you can focus on whatever you want. Some games are all about visuals, others about story, and so on.

But to be clear, I'm not saying novels don't have their place, just that their place isn't as big as some people think it is (and honestly, it would be for the best if the industry had a bit of a trim, and maybe a shift towards other mediums—I've encountered numerous writers in workshops who had great minds for worldbuilding, plot, etc., but they couldn't actually write 200 pages worth of prose. If they weren't so stuck up about the superiority of novels, they would have great futures in screenwriting or comic books or video games).
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infernovia wrote:I couldn't care about moderation. Videogames, along with sports, reading, writing, socializing, movies, learning science, writing programs are enjoyable activities. Thus, they aren't a waste of my time.
There can always be too much of a good thing. Haven't you heard of those cases where people died because they were so caught up in MMOs that they forgot to eat? Hyperbolic example is hyperbolic, but we're talking about the overall merits of video games, so I think it would be fair (albeit redundant) to say that playing too much is a waste of time.

infernovia wrote:Btw, why do people keep comparing video games to books/movies?
Because people are starting to realize that video games are a legitimate artistic medium, and so they are comparing them to the closest analogous mediums.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Sat May 29, 2010 3:42 pm UTC

smw543 wrote:I never meant to say that Pac-Man could go toe to toe with Moby Dick (although we're getting there).

lol, ok, the story about a ginormous mouth swallowing food can go toe to toe with a classic. Maybe its a good thing that I didn't read Moby Dick then?

You can come back with the artistic merit angle, saying that novels have stronger stories, but that's only circumstantially true—in the beginning, it wasn't really possible to include a story, but this is rapidly changing; even now, there are many games that outdo your average novel.

Really? Videogames have better stories than novels? Is the state of novels really that bad? There are like maybe a handful of games that I consider to have mediocre stories, and only a few of them really able to do the plot thing right.

Have you even seen the last 20 videogame movies?

There can always be too much of a good thing. Haven't you heard of those cases where people died because they were so caught up in MMOs that they forgot to eat? Hyperbolic example is hyperbolic, but we're talking about the overall merits of video games, so I think it would be fair (albeit redundant) to say that playing too much is a waste of time.

Video games doesn't give you nutrition. So when your body wants nutrition, you don't fulfill that need by playing more video games.You fill it by eating good food. When you want a good mental challenge, you don't fill it by reading reddit or playing Assassin's creed, you would play Chess or learn Physics or do Math etc. So yeah, your body has more than one thing it wants, so what? I never said you do one activity the whole time.

The thing people have to be is sensitive to their own needs.

Because people are starting to realize that video games are a legitimate artistic medium, and so they are comparing them to the closest analogous mediums.

By making videogames into novels? Do you even know what the word medium means?

Listen, videogames, and games in general, were awesome BEFORE people started talking about art this and art that. The closest analogous activity (not medium) is acting and war.
Last edited by infernovia on Sat May 29, 2010 9:17 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Dason » Sat May 29, 2010 3:47 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:Have you even seen the last 20 videogame movies?

Are you trying to say that because movies based on videogames are typically bad (I don't think most people will argue against you there) that videogame stories themselves are bad?

I'm afraid this argument just doesn't hold up. If I interpreted you wrong then I apologize but if I didn't then I hope you see why this argument doesn't work at all.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Magnanimous » Sat May 29, 2010 3:54 pm UTC

sje46 wrote:And did you take into consideration the harmful effects of video game usage? Training people to be violent, discouraging socialness, encouraging impatientness, and a sedentary lifestyle?
These all stem from playing video games too much: In moderation, you're not going to have a sedentary lifestyle. And depending on the games you're playing, you can be quite social(Super Smash Bros, Rock Band) or active(DDR, various Wii games). The jury is still out on whether video games make people violent (and impatient), but even if they do, the violent games shouldn't discredit the more appropriate games.

RE: Video games vs novels: The minority of games that do have great plots could also have been written as books, but would that have made them better? Video games have the storytelling advantage of immersing the player as the main character(s), while (most) books and movies put you beside them; interactions become more dramatic and impressionable when it feels like they're actually happening to you. The famous betrayal/twist in Bioshock wouldn't have been nearly as effective if we had been watching Jack experience it, since we'd think "sucks to be him" instead of "sucks to be us".

The best example I have is horror games like Fatal Frame 2 and Call of Cthulhu. Movies and books fit into the genre well because you can't stop the suspense(unless you stop reading/watching, but that's lame); you have to watch the characters suffer no matter how uncomfortable you are. In video games, on the other hand, you actually have to convince yourself to enter the next room, even though it might kill you... More than once, I've wandered around a part of a level that I knew was "safe", just because I couldn't bring myself to go to the next area and get the balls scared out of me. :(

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Sat May 29, 2010 4:05 pm UTC

Kind of.

What I am saying is that Videogame stories work well in the scope of the videogame, where storytelling isn't really the main focus. The attractive things about video games, and the reason we forgive this lack of complexity, is the ability to play and interact (that is, the complexity of the activity). In this way, video game stories are simply a way to set up the activity, and don't serve too much else.

But once you take away the activity, give it to someone else (the actor), what you are left is just the act of watching. Here, the story of the videogame shows itself to be weak, whereas before, it used to be the thing that binded all the action together. This is what snw543 is arguing anyway, that if you take the story of the video game on its own, it will still beat novels in its realm.

In the way that music is watered down so that you can use it to supplement its environment or emphasize it (like a movie or a video game), stories are used similarly in videogames. Comparing the art (the spritework or w/e) of a video game to a work of art is silly in the same way that comparing a story of a book compared to a video game. And it is asinine to consider that the watered down work BEATS the other, especially in a fight geared for the latter. It might beat the very bottom, but since when do we consider mediocre movements a challenge?

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Accountant13B » Sat May 29, 2010 7:54 pm UTC

:roll: Nitpicking. There really isn't an argument here, folks: as a form of entertainment, the worth of a video game or games is entirely the individual playing's decision. For some people, this can be massive and extremely influential, while it may be only brief and effectively mindless for others. They don't achieve anything else outside of the realms of entertainment, so they are worthless form any other perspective.

In my experience, every individual has games which really affect them and entertain them immensely, and has games which are just silly fun - this varies between individuals, what may be one man's engaging trial may be another's pulp action flick. They are all united in that they are purely entertainment - just like novels and films and tv etc.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Sat May 29, 2010 8:19 pm UTC

izawwlgood wrote:I highly disagree with you that videogame stories are dumb, and would be akin to me saying that reading books is a waste of time or that sports are for people who can't string two words together.

I view many (obviously not all) games that have come out in the last 10 years to be some of the best stories I've experienced, and I feel I read fiction slightly more than average to the average xkcd board member. Indeed, story elements from many games have influenced me over the years.

Ok, missed this before.

No, I don't think video game stories are worthless. I think if you compared the story of a videogame to the story of a novel (obviously a good video game compared to a good novel), the video game would lose, or should lose. Because the story is not the primary part of the game, its the playing. Compare Bioshock (there is probably a movie coming out for it right?) to the great sci-fi story, Minority Report.

But lets argue this for the sake of proving me wrong, lets find really really good stories in video games. Most JRPGs are pretty basic once you boil them down and probably borrowing heavily from other novel works anyway, I don't really consider them good, but feel free to list em. My novel reading only comes from 7-5 years ago when I was reading Terry Pratchett (he is pretty bad, I think video games can beat his stories). I have also read a lot of good fiction like Fight Club and Crime and Punishment.
Last edited by infernovia on Sat May 29, 2010 9:19 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Dason » Sat May 29, 2010 9:09 pm UTC

Uh infernovia... Can you pleeeease start attributing your quotes. It's really annoying trying to figure out who exactly you're quoting. I guess I don't have anything else to add right now.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Aikanaro » Sat May 29, 2010 10:22 pm UTC

infernovia wrote:
izawwlgood wrote:I highly disagree with you that videogame stories are dumb, and would be akin to me saying that reading books is a waste of time or that sports are for people who can't string two words together.

I view many (obviously not all) games that have come out in the last 10 years to be some of the best stories I've experienced, and I feel I read fiction slightly more than average to the average xkcd board member. Indeed, story elements from many games have influenced me over the years.

Ok, missed this before.

No, I don't think video game stories are worthless. I think if you compared the story of a videogame to the story of a novel (obviously a good video game compared to a good novel), the video game would lose, or should lose. Because the story is not the primary part of the game, its the playing. Compare Bioshock (there is probably a movie coming out for it right?) to the great sci-fi story, Minority Report.

But lets argue this for the sake of proving me wrong, lets find really really good stories in video games. Most JRPGs are pretty basic once you boil them down and probably borrowing heavily from other novel works anyway, I don't really consider them good, but feel free to list em. My novel reading only comes from 7-5 years ago when I was reading Terry Pratchett (he is pretty bad, I think video games can beat his stories). I have also read a lot of good fiction like Fight Club and Crime and Punishment.

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby kinigget » Sat May 29, 2010 10:24 pm UTC

wow, uh, I guess I should have been paying more attention to this thread. I haven't actually made it all the way through the thread so far but I noticed several people complaining that I was very vague about the definition of "waste of time" and decided to clarify that before reading on. I think rephrasing the question as "are there any good reasons to play games" might help a bit, though that isn't really all that much clearer. I guess what I'm asking is whether or not video games have any merit as a medium. Hopefully this helps,
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby Accountant13B » Sat May 29, 2010 10:38 pm UTC

Oh, as a form of entertainment VGs have a metric fuckton of merit, pardon the extreme language but it's true. There are some things a game can do for one that novels and movies couldn't even hope to achieve; and of the many things that the latter two do well, video games can do many as well. Of course, in terms of pure narrative a well-written book or enchanting screenplay can grasp a reader more than the ever-testing, peripheral experience of a game ever will - I feel Infernovia summed up the reasons why fairly well; but very few games can truly claim to have as much worth in that sense as video games do.

Outside of entertainment, they do very little for an individual. But as an entertaining, sometimes artistic media, they are very much worth the time spent playing them. but only if you enjoy them of course ;)
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby SecondTalon » Sat May 29, 2010 11:23 pm UTC

Accountant13B wrote:Infernova, who are you railing against?
It's infernova. Existence is to argue for not goddamn reason.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby infernovia » Sat May 29, 2010 11:28 pm UTC

I actually meant Terry Goodkind. That will teach me to use information that I haven't recalled for ages. My apologies!

Specifically, the Wizard's First Rule's series. Ayn Rand in fantasy form? Anyway, its been ages, but w/e series I was reading, I think videogames could beat that. But some great stories like Philip K Dick's Minority Report? Doubt it. Btw, I thought I was pretty good in this thread. :/

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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby You, sir, name? » Sat May 29, 2010 11:43 pm UTC

Video Games are a waste of your time if you are playing video games instead of doing something more worthwhile.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby SecondTalon » Sat May 29, 2010 11:45 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:Video Games are a waste of your time if you are playing video games instead of doing something more worthwhile.
Such as.. Heart surgery? Donating time at the homeless shelter? Solving World Hunger?

You'll need to be more specific.
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Re: Are video games a waste of time? why or why not?

Postby You, sir, name? » Sat May 29, 2010 11:59 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:
You, sir, name? wrote:Video Games are a waste of your time if you are playing video games instead of doing something more worthwhile.
Such as.. Heart surgery? Donating time at the homeless shelter? Solving World Hunger?

You'll need to be more specific.


Not really. What one finds worthwhile is, in the end, a personal decision. If your aim is to live a hedonistic life, and you enjoy playing video games, then it is time well spent. If your aim is to be a doctor and you have exams in 3 days that you need to study for, playing video games is a waste of time.
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