How many hours have you wasted this week? Me: about 5 to 8. That time was thrown away pretending to be strange cartoon characters shooting rockets, holding up shields, and building turrets. All in the name of virtual goals. I won. I lost. I accomplished nothing of tangible value.
The stigma towards time spent gaming harkens to the childhood refrain from our moms and dads and grandparents: “Stop wasting your time with those video games” or some form of that cliche. Try it on the gamer in your life and watch a defensive struggle worthy of the NFL.
The defense usually goes like this: gaming is no different than other more accepted hobbies/pastimes like reading, Netflix binging, or hitting the bar. From there the counter may site the numerous studies on how video games have largely positive effects on the brain like, but not limited to, better hand-eye coordination, improved reaction times, superior spatial awareness and problem solving skills. Valid points as effective as saying nothing.
I’d rather briefly consider the language and pop disposition related to game playing. I’ve seen many “successful online entrepreneurs” (modern snake oil salesman selling YouTube platitudes instead of a reptile fluids) use gaming as the prime example of distractions in today’s world. Not the internet, not social media, or Netflix, or the platform like your phone or computer. Instead Madden is crucified.
The Archenemy of Work
I’m less interested in debating those merits than bridging the ideology of these “digital media gurus” with the ideology that drives the stigma against video games: money and its pursuit. When someone questions another’s time spent playing games, it’s a questioning of productivity. The essence of games is fun, the archenemy of work and subsequently money. Even a day job seems no justification for lack of production.
Productivity as a concept is directly tied to our economic milieu. Consider the way monetary concerns creep into the language of time and work. Verbs like “spent”, “wasted”, and “throw way” are all deeply rooted in an idiom so persistent it has become truth. The words of the factory owner to his workers: time is money.
Proxies of Power
But time is time. Time only becomes money when we assign a dollar sign, an exchange value, to it. Swap the Benjamin’s with fun and we’re suddenly back at enjoying games. It’s easy to forget that time = money is a relative and arbitrary attribution. The only true formula is time = how many days we got left.
Build an empire, play Madden, help the poor, love your mom, ride your bike, create art, write raps. It’s your time, “spend” it how you’d like. Letting a system and culture define what is personally value is a crime against yourself. And hey, consenting to fun certainly has less ethical concerns than what writhers below the chase to stack green proxies of power.