Are Video Games A Waste Of Time? Writer Says Yes

Is there anything more tedious than an op-ed by an aging writer with a giant stick up his a** who wants you to believe putting the stick in was the best decision he ever made? Here’s how these articles work (we’ll get to the video games part in a second):

First, the writer gets to gleefully revel in richly detailed stories about How Awesome The Thing I Am Talking About Was. Credibility duly established, they now get to deliver a solemn lecture about why I had To Stop Doing The Thing That Was Awesome. Sometimes, it’s about drugs. Sometimes it’s about music. Extra points if it’s about That New Teen Sex. But no matter the topic, the content is always the same: this New Thing Isn’t Identical To My beloved Old Thing, And Even If It Is, It Is Now Very Troubling!

Anyway, a recent entry in this literary genre attempts to get video games off our lawn, and comes courtesy of Salon’s Andrew Leonard, who celebrated the release of StarCraft II by announcing his entrance into the Abe Simpson phase of life:

“I retired from playing video games three years ago… It’s been at least three years since I’ve played as much as a game of computer solitaire.”

Yesterday, a FedEx package with “Starcraft II” nestled inside arrived at my home, an unexpected birthday present for a man who just turned 48. And I find myself sorely tested. I want to play this game…

But I also don’t want to play this game.”

Let’s pause to contemplate that he just complained about having received a free copy of one of the most anticipated games of the year (or any year), then made the world’s best argument for playing it. What the hell is his problem?

“A compelling video game is not like a good movie or a book that captures a few hours or days of one’s available attention. [It] is a voracious invader that takes over your life and won’t let go…”

That sounds terrible! It’s an existential threat with zero redeemable value!

“I don’t mean to belittle games as some kind of inferior art form, either, unworthy of our attention. Quite the opposite.”

Oh. Ok.

“My fundamental problem with today’s games is that they are just too damn good, and if you have an addictive personality, which I do, they are too damn dangerous.”

Oh, I get it. Despite being a former game reviewer who actually got what makes a good game good, Andrew had to give them up because somehow, the video games of yore were a lot less “addictive” than the crack offered by our modern dealer game developers.

“I’ve got no one around who can impose screen-time limits on me. There’s only my own willpower… The sun will rise, and I’ll still be trying to beat that last mission on the hardest level.”

“I’m a little less likely to explain that I feel stained by the memory of how much time I spent playing games while my son was a baby and my marriage was falling apart. Killing aliens… is way easier than facing uncomfortable truths about real-world life choices.”

It sounds like Andrew’s personal life took a nose dive, and he attributes this to his gaming. But gamers don’t lose their home playing GTA. That’s where they play GTA. They don’t suck d* for memory cards they can buy at the store. They don’t lose their jobs, because jobs = afford games. They just…play a lot of video games.

Andrew sounds less like an addict and more like someone who caught herpes in Alcapulco and decided he was addicted to Love Boat reruns. Not only does this give ammo to the anti video game police, it also trivializes actual addiction. Epic Correlation FAIL.

Also, and here’s the main thing here: I have friends. I have more than one job. I cook most of my meals. I work out every single day. I write thousands of words a day. I also play video games like crazy. You know what I don’t do? Pat myself on the back for being incapable of managing my hobbies.

Andrew’s a smart guy. He has to know how hilariously stuffy this makes him look. I conclude he kind of wants to be mercilessly mocked, so I’m going to indulge him. I vow to play StarCraft II every day for the next week. And when I’m done? I promise I will not write about how tragic it was to have enjoyed the hellf***ingyeah out of it.

But only if it doesn’t cut into my porn and meth time.

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3 Comments on Are Video Games A Waste Of Time? Writer Says Yes


On August 1, 2010 at 3:01 am

I can understand where andrew is coming from to a extent, everyone’s different, I also have a addictive personality especially for new games, I often find myself spending 10 hours a day or even longer trying to finish whats ever out. I finished all of sc2 with only 1 break involved and its often the same for many games out there console or computer.

I work at home and my paper work often finds itself piling up tell I finish the game I started :(


On August 25, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I agree with that 48 year old guy.
But i will play a game from time to time.


On October 31, 2010 at 8:47 am

I agree that a lot of games can kind of be futile, and some of them especially stupid, and some don’t even have a real point, but there are some games, and you really do have to look for them, but games that teach you something, like bad things happen, and no matter what you try to do, you will have to face the consequences of those bad things in the end (GTA IV) or that war isn’t good for anyone, that it only brings suffering and pain and misery for all (Metal Gear Solid 4) or that the will and determination of a little boy to save a princess, is enough to turn him into a man, and fight a monster 3 times his size!! (Legend Of Zelda) Yes, I play games frequently, like left 4 dead, where guess what, there is NOTHING I learned from that game (except don’t shine the light in the witches eyes) but yah, it was a fun game, but it’s not a game I strive to finish, the games that make me think, the games that make me wonder if the way I live my life is right, the games that ask me at the end of the day “Well, what do you think?” those are the kind of games that are not a waste of time, those kind of games say something, and can mean something. Now, thats not to say that I’ve never personally played 10 hours straight on oblivion, but then again, I’m just a teenager, I’m allowed to play games for 10 hours with no consequence :) but anyways, games are fun! As long as you let the ones that tell you something dominate your life, and the ones that don’t either don’t play, or have in the background, then you should be a happy person! (Unless the lesson that is being taught is that everyone dies, and no one survives life) though that is the truth