The time I spent in gaming negatively affected my relationships, my school work, and my career opportunities. Even though my habit is in balance now, it still hurts to think about what my life could have been if I hadn’t wasted all that time. I know that a lot of gamers and former gamers feel the same way.
I realized that this mindset is only one perspective – and a pessimistic one.
The stereotypes against gamers have gotten to us – we take it for granted that gaming is a waste of time. This makes us feel guilty and ashamed of what we spend our leisure time on.
That isn’t the whole story, though. Gaming is a hobby that can enrich your life and provide benefits to you in unexpected ways.
Before I list those ways, let me be clear that this is not a way to excuse irresponsible gaming. Every gamer who has let gaming get in the way of their responsibilities should own up to that. Rather, this is a way to find the good qualities that gaming brought out in you. While much of that time was wasted, some of it gave you experiences that can serve you for the rest of your life.
1. Video games exercise your persistence
“An iron will, practice, and persistence were required to ever see the ending screen of many games from the 80’s and 90’s.” (Classically Trained).
What were you doing in all the time you were playing games? You were attempting to achieve something: victory over a boss or another player; a place on the leaderboard; reaching the end of the storyline, etc. Whatever it was, it took time and commitment to achieve.
Depending on the game and the goal, completion could take hundreds of hours over months to achieve.
Maybe you realized that those goals weren’t worth the effort – but think about what accomplishing it meant. It meant that you are capable of being unshakeably persistent.
You may not think much of your own abilities – but through gaming, you know that you can stick with a task to the end.
You know that you have it within you to get a degree or lose the weight – whatever that challenge is, you have the resolve to accomplish it.
2. Video games acclimate you to failure
What does failure mean? It is wrought with self-doubt and fear. Even shame. But in a game, failure is a stepping stone to success.
“If we never strive to be more than we are, we cannot define our limitations. Games such as World of Warcraft give players the opportunity to grow and succeed where they might not have the chance in real life. Just as importantly, they give players the opportunity to fail and learn from those failures. The entire game is built around failure and learning from it.”
Gaming encourages you to think about failure – not as an end – but as a way to improve. They force you to get past your fear of failure in order to advance.
Real failure involves higher stakes, to be sure. But our gaming achievements show that we are capable of taking setbacks in stride.
3. Video games help you discover yourself
Video games give you an environment where you can try on different roles to see how they fit. By looking at what you’ve excelled at or simply enjoyed in games, you can get a lot of information about yourself. Games invite you to be yourself, so they tend to bring out parts of you that may shy away from the criticism of the real world.
What aspect of a game draws you in? Creating things? Action? Adventure? Strategy? Connection with others? Discovery?
Where in the real world can you find what you crave in games? The answer might lead to a promising career path, new hobby, or just enjoying your free time more.
“If you are a gamer, it’s time to get over any regret you might feel about spending so much time playing games. You have not been wasting your time. You have been building up a wealth of virtual experience that . . . can teach you about your true self: what your core strengths are, what really motivates you, and what makes you happiest.”