Why I’ll Never Stop Playing Games

And why you shouldn't stop playing, either

Today, I had an epiphany

I was at work today when this coworker tried to pick a fight with me. Since this was day two of her passive aggressive and border line abusive behavior, I wanted to give her the rough treatment and speak my mind about how little I care about what she thinks. I wanted to tell her that she should mind her own business and leave me the f*** alone. However, I didn’t.

Not because I was afraid of confrontation. On the contrary. I am known among my friends and acquaintances for my short temper, open criticism and unsympathetic sarcasm. But in that exact moment, when she was still giving me the look (not that type of look tho), I restrained myself only because I realized something utterly true:

I am not the cause of her anger. 

Although this realization may seem like a fortune cookie type of wisdom, there is a difference between knowing something, and actually understanding something. Today, I believe that I had a profound epiphany which helped me realized why I should’t respond to every snarky comment directed to me. It’s because in this case, and roughly said in 90% of other cases, I am not the main character of that story.

You see, we are millennials (although I hate the term this is simply how the public identifies us, generations between 1980 and 2000), and we are the very first generation which grew up playing games, watching cartoons, and reading comics all together. Although all of the mentioned activities may seem harmless, the truth is that our minds were influenced by media in such manner that we are always looking for stories.

We played games and fought dragons on screen. We watched fictional heroes conquer armies and triumph against all odds. We absorbed an unhealthy dosage of pretty childish stories on a daily level, and what is even worse – we identified ourselves with them. So today, as semi-functional adults, we are trying to live out our own stories. After all, we watched, played and read so many of them, and we knew exactly how we would respond in a great variety of dangerous situations. However, faced with the fact that those stories are just not happening, we are slowly turning our cold shoulders to the uncooperative world. We are becoming more and more distant, angry, revolted in our own, passive aggressive manner. Selfish, as humanly possible.

In short: today I realized that the angry coworker wasn’t angry at me. She wasn’t even angry at herself either. She was angry because of the circumstances which lead her to this point of unfulfillment. A lack of concept which would portray her as a hero in her own world. The problem was, I choose not to become a part of it.

After I got back home, I played Galak Z for a bit. It’s a bullet hell AI shootemup title that I really dig. The game helped me to relax and comprehend the significance of my revelation. I started thinking how this delusional worlds and constant exposure to media can lead to serious issues, so I started researching a bit.

As it turned out, I wasn’t alone in this thinking. In fact, there were quite a few studies that actually backed my opinion. In some extreme cases, people blame video games and movies as the main reason behind aggression in youth, lack of empathy in teenagers, and so on. The following three cases are all founded on hard evidence however.

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Ralph Baer, The Father of Video Games

1. On Screen Violence Makes You More Aggressive

Although there are many of us who would love to (arguably) dispute this fact, it seems that aggressive behavior is in fact influenced by violence that we are witnessing on our screens. The latest research conducted by professors of the Linfield College confirmed that our brains simply react in that manner. When we are faced with an image of a wrongdoing, we are identifying ourselves with that situation almost immediately. The uncomfortable scenario of being helpless and exposed in front of hostile factors drives more emotions than any other visual experience. it literally inspires us to act the same and become aggressive.

2. Video Games Are Highly Addictive

According to a 2013 Gartner Research, 81% of US kids play video games. This is hardly a surprising statistic. But did you know that approximately 8% of those kids are actually addicted to video games? This addiction allegedly interferes with the child’s development of communicative skills, and often causes obesity due to lack of motivation for exercise. Not to mention that any form of socialization can become a problem as well. Furthermore, the study suggests that kids that play violent games often have self-confidence issues, and are more likely to become addictive of their delusional worlds, finding escape in stories that they can tailor to their own liking.

3. Kids Will Always Follow Their Role Models

Over the past few decades, quite a few studies confirmed that kids are heavily influenced by movies, television and media in general. And in a very harmful way, of course. Kids simply identify themselves with their heroes in a more personal manner. They mimic them, they want to be like them so they act like them, they relate to them and they follow their examples. This can incite serious behavioral issues which can lead to depression later in life, not to mention aggressive behavior and insecurity. It is a simple matter actually. If our kids are learning about morale and core values from action movies and violent video games – what kind of a future can we expect them to have?

Fun & Games

So it’s true. Our minds suffer severely due to the constant influence of mass media. Not quite a revelation I suppose, more of a common knowledge, but when you are noticing the affect of decades of exposure in people around you, it can be a bit scary. We’ve become a civilization modeled by BS stories and false advertisement. We’ve become aggressive, asocial and detached from the real world. On the other hand, I refuse to believe that video games, movies and media in general, can have such a strong impact on our generation. As a devoted advocate of all of the aforementioned, I am positive that there are some upsides to this whole story. In fact, I can back this with data as well.

1. Video Games Won't Poison Your Brain

Despite the popular belief, it seems that video games cannot actually poison your brain. In fact, three comparative studies proved that there is no direct cause between violent behavior and playing games of any sort. Violent or non-violent, games can definitely influence a liable person, but in the same way, these individuals could be influenced by their peers, other sources of media, their parents, and so on. Furthermore, psychologists behind this experiment agree that the role of video games in child’s development, and the connection of games to behavioral issues, is overly exaggerated even by the academic community.

2. Games Help Cognitive Development

Another ground breaking scientific report proved that AVG games can actually help with the development of cognitive functions, and help children enhance their motor control and perception. The experiment examined the relation between action video games and the plasticity of insula. Insula is the region of your brain that is in charge of the attentional and sensorimotor functions. As it turns out, our brains are more active when we are playing action games, and by keeping our minds engaged we are also enhancing the overall performance of our cognitive functions. Dare I say it, it seems that kids that play games are actually smarter than those who don’t.

3. Playing Games Is Similar to Meditation

Games can decrease stress? Now I’ve heard it all. I can’t possibly be alone in my opinion that this is a false statement. Games can really make you lose your cool in fact! But all jokes aside, this is a scientifically proved fact. Casual video games (like the ones that I like to play) can actually help you to relax. They can help you to tune out from the world and focus on something irrelevant, forcing you to relax and enjoy the ride. Furthermore, some of them can even help you to develop your social skills, instead of forcing you to become alienated. Video games can even help you to conquer depression and, believe it or not, to control your anger. Which is a total absurdity if you ask me!

In Conclusion

So what’s the conclusion? Are we a generation of hopeless dreamers, lead by non-existing idols, designed only to make us feel insecure and damage us for good? Or are we just a bunch of messed up kids that would probably end up being weird anyway. At FistsofHeaven I found friends who share my passion, and some of them share my profession as well. I’ve gained a few friends, I’ve talked to a lot of game developers, and most of those guys are genuinely supportive and creative individuals. And all of them are gamers, of course. However, I cannot fail to notice that the words of Tyler Durden are slowly creeping up on me. So I guess that I am not a unique snowflake. Although I do have occasional daydreaming scenarios that I just let unroll, and in those stories I am a mighty hero slaying dragons and conquering worlds – I am still a functional adult and I guess that’s a plus in this crazy world that we are living in. Violent games, action movies and all other forms of media can certainly be influential, but I guess that it still depends on what kind of person you are. Oh, and parents are probably the ones who you should blame for that (not really).

At the very end, I promise that I won’t stop playing games. Also, I am curious about what consoles you used to play as a kid. I was a Sega-nut myself, although I had Nintendo and a GameBoy as well, nothing could beat Mortal Kombat. Or me at Mortal Kombat. Take your pick.

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George is an avid blogger, a fiction writer in his own spare time, a content marketer during the day and a manager of the FoH website. A book nut, a movie nut and everything space nut, who loves to talk about himself in third person. He's awesome.

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