Are Video Games Consuming Our Lives?

Are Video Games Consuming Our Lives?LockerGnome guest blogger, YouTube tech broadcaster, guitar player, and blatant vowel eschewer bllymcgvrn12 writes:

I have spent countless hours of my life playing video games. It all started when my grandfather bought my brother and I a Nintendo 64 and Mario 64. The never-ending game Mario 64 kept us playing for hours and hours. Is it weird that I still remember so much from that game — even specific levels, like the slide on the penguin level, or the fire browser level? Games nowadays are usually able to display the amount of time you’ve spent playing them; that’s the main point of this post.

A while back, @FourZeroTwo tweeted:

Wow. Modern Warfare 2 players have invested more than 1.75 billion hours (200,000+ yrs) of #MW2 gameplay on #xboxlive alone since release.

200,000 years! If the world put that much effort into something productive, I couldn’t even imagine what the outcome would be. We could probably teleport to Mars by now! I, myself, am guilty of putting days — maybe even weeks — into video games. Actually, if I were to be completely (and painfully) honest and add it all up — this includes arcades, friends’ houses, Nintendo, PS2, Xbox offline (single player etc.), and Xbox online — my video gaming time would probably total many weeks (maybe even months).

The four games I actually have an estimated time amount played are: COD4, MW2, FO3, and BFBC2. Call of Duty 4 runs in at about 15 days, MW2 runs in at about four days. Fallout 3 runs in at about two days, and Battlefield Bad Company 2 runs in at about one day. All together, that is 22 days! 22 full days wasted; though I was having fun at the time, I was completely unproductive with time that I can never recover. Take into consideration that these are only four games! Imagine what it would be like if I added in all the games I ever played. Reconsidering what I said before, I may have played video games for a full half a year of my life.

Even though we spend so much time on video games, it’s hard to deny that the stunning, virtual worlds that act as our playgrounds can be very impressive — and are constructed by very talented and creative people. But the time they spend building these worlds is far from wasted (at least not in the same way that passively playing in such worlds is, in my opinion). Game developers have one of the most impressive jobs out there. I always ask myself, “How the heck did a real person make this?”

Video games have come a long way from their pixelated and polygon origins — now it’s sometimes hard to discern video game footage from real life.

What do you think the world would be like today if all those hours spent playing MW2 — 1.75 billion — were spent on something productive? How many hours do you think you have spent? Comments welcome!

My name is Billy McGovern, and I live in Connecticut. Even though I am addicted to technology, I love to play sports such as lacrosse. (At the time of this writing, my high school lacrosse team was the defending state champ!) I have been using computers all my life and cannot remember when I started. My mother recently showed me a picture recently of me at age 4 using Windows 95.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by misocrazy.

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  • martin carr

    I did stop Gaming because it did become to much when I was young the only thing I wonted to do was play video games all day it used to drive my crazy

  • Mark Stebbing

    I love video games, they take me out of real life for a couple of hours or so. You can be or do anything you like, without anyone telling you what you should be doing. They empower me.

    • Bob

      You can say the same thing about reading. Reading and occasional YouTube has pretty much stopped all gaming for me. There’s just better things to spend my time on.

  • zeekiel

    i have 1881 hours on my games that i have registered in XFIRE since 2009 i use games as a stress reliever which helps me alot thats just my PC hours majority of them playing WAW zombies!
    most people just do too much just cause they have nothing better to do just have to keep gaming hours in check and you shall be good!

  • jhunwong

    Heck i was a teenager in the 90s, ontop of being asian. Thats when FPS really exploded and if you could not woop ass with a mouse and keyboard your useless. But comparatively I was never a hardcore gamer. I love CS1.6, Quake 3, Unreal, all the oldschool games. I probably since they released spent a few hundred hours on them. In recent time i’ve totaly lost that lust over games, even though i always have a high powered workstation / gaming rig. I’m at that stage of life where my career is very important that it’s eating up my personal life. I actually wish i had more time for games. I still have to play Prototype & Company of Heroes every week at least. In conclusion i sadly lost the desire to play pc games.

  • Jonathan Wakeman

    If I could count all the hours that I spent on any type of gaming it would be months maybe even years playing video games.

  • Anony

    I doubt you can call that time “wasted”. Humans aren’t capable of being productive 100% of the time. Video games can provide mental and physical rest and recuperation; actually, they can provide mental and physical engagement, all while allowing the user to play and be creative.

    To say something like “we could have invented teleportation if not for video games” is to imply that those 200,000+ years of manpower would’ve been channeled fully towards only productive ends, and (while this is hypothetical) that theory is dubious. Without rest and relaxation, people become less effective workers and producers.

    There are people who play far too much and work far too little, but you’d be surprised how necessary a little play can help someone recuperate.

  • Endraxial

    Compare video games to any other type of hobby or entertainment media such as TV, music, or books. It’s all equally a waste of time. We’re all kept from being “productive” because of our interests. It’s not just video games.

  • Kevin Sheppard

    For me it’s all about the escape. There’s nothing like coming home on a Friday afternoon after a long, tiring, stressful week at work and getting lost in my favourite video game world for a couple hours or so. It revives me and calms me down at the same time, allowing me to fall asleep easier and experience a more pleasant transition into my Saturday

  • Strkl

    It will take lot of time before the media consider the game industry for what it’s truly is… Modern Warfare, GTA, of course they’re violent, but do they really  know anything else about them ? Do they ever talk about Braid ?  Or about Limbo ? Flower ? Aquaria, eufloria, machinarium, vvvvvv, I could go forever…

    I maybe over reacting, but saying that Video games are a waste of time, is like saying reading is a waste of time, Or even Watching a painting is a waste of time if you think like that.

    But that’s the problem now, all form of art became simple Entertainment, and are used to sell fun, that’s it… (I’m talking about the mainstream industry in general)

  • scatterpic

    Yes, playing video games is consuming more and more time. 

  • Nathan Yianni

    I really need to stop gaming and do something constructive, maybe start blogging and taking up a hobby that I can actually get an end product with.

  • Maranda

    Do we have any stats on how much time people spend watching television? I would be it’s more,  and it’s less productive. No social interaction, learning, or other brain stimulus. Give me gaming as relaxation time any day.

    It’s overly simplistic to say “what could we have done instead?”. People need downtime, it’s healthy and necessary. Even if there were some life changing problem people of the world could unite to solve, it’s not realistic to think that people will come home from work and other responsibilities and work more. This is pageview mongering nonsense.

    • Yibble Naught

      Does anyone even watch TV anymore? And a line-up a mile-long outside Walmart from midnight until 8am for MW3 lends credence to the author’s points, not yours!

      Pretty-much curb stomps the typical reactions such as:- “Video game addicts are few and far between” complete B.S.
      – “People need rest and downtime” because sleeping outside a Walmart is restful
      – “Video gaming is my hobby” …where you don’t actually produce anything except dopamine in your brain, essentially equivalent to getting high.

  • Joey Giangola

    The question of productivity is all relative. If you have accomplished all, or most, of your daily tasks/responsibilities, there is nothing wrong with using the remaining time in your day to unwind with whatever activity it is that you enjoy, game or not. While “gamers” tend to foster obsessive tendencies surrounding their hobby, making their actions more identifiable, you could ultimately insert any leisure or entertainment activity into this headline and make the same argument/start the same conversation. 

    Of course if a persons goal is to leverage every waking minuet as much as possible, then yes, video games and all other forms of entertainment would be. 

    Personally, I am lucky to squeeze in 30-60 min a day of quality gaming time. Prior to parenthood, I would probably spend two plus hours a night gaming. 

    The biggest component that has been overlooked in this argument is how games deliver an ever increasing level of socialization. This element only adds to the appeal and lure to immerse yourself in a digitally created world. Not to mention, all of which can be achieved from the comfort of your living room. 

    Everyone reaches a point in their day when they will undoubtedly “waste time” doing some activity, allowing their brain to decompresses and prepares to start everything over again tomorrow.

  • Jeremy Riley

    I play about 8 hours per week. This has declined hugely since I became a parent but only because I no longer play games during the day. I’m happy to say that I think I have a good balance. I play with friends in person for a couple of hours on Monday, put an hour or two during the week into my 360 or arcade machine and then have a XBox Live gamefest with friends for about 4 hours on Friday nights. To accommodate this gaming, I have sacrificed TV almost entirely (maybe a couple of hours per month), so I think I’m about even.

  • Yibble Naught

    Yes, but physical play such as kicking a soccer ball around far-outweighs playing video games in health and recuperative benefits.

  • kamisetsuri

    I believe I have spent over 3,000 hours in video games (125 days!). There are a few games that I regret investing time in, others I wish I had kept. The deep stories in RPG games is what I like best. My most favorite ones are Star Ocean 3, Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria, Eternal Sonata, Tales of Symphonia, and so forth. The ones I hated, and wish I were forced to stop playing, are the “free to play” or “online membership” games. Specifically, games that make you grind or want to buy items. Their lack of purpose gets me ate up. I suppose that the Only reason why I played them is because I was under the illusion that I had “friends.” If you take away the people: There’s no challenge, there’s no goals, there’s no motivation to play. It just falls apart. The odd thing is, playing these games keeps us from actually thinking “logically” about them. Of course, people say that we play games to relax. Can you support that if you’re screaming and cussing at other players?
    I think that whenever there’s a school break around, that’s when I get more immersed in media. And really, it makes me depressed because I’m not actually being with my real friends. Doing the things I like isn’t enough. I’d rather be bored with a friend than laughing by myself.

  • Joe Cantin

    I have literally been playing since I was very little. I actually started on the same game, super Mario 64 hahaha. But seriousley, I’ve been playing games my entire life. And I definitely have more than half a year invested into playing video games. My social life was non exisitant until 8th grade, when I came out of my shell. I moved to another town, back in the shell I went! As I write this, I am currently doing my 4th play through of fallout NV. Later on I might play some cod, or Sonic dash on my ipad. Yea though, if I were to post the amount of games that I’ve played on both the PS2 and Xbox 360, I would run out of typing space on this comment. Longer still is the amount of hours I have invested. During school vacations, I normally wouldn’t go outside, I’d be on the video games all day.
    Here’s some games I’ve played for the ps2, ratchet and clank 1-4, jak and daxter 1-3, sonic heroes, shadow the hedgehog, god of war 1-2, dbz budokai 1-3, callof duty world at war front lines(?) gta sa, wwe smack down vs raw 1, Medal of Honor 1-3, monster jam, mx freestyle, and that’s all the ones I can remember at the moment.
    For Xbox? Halos 1-4, cod mw1-3, world at war, black ops 1-2, guitar hero 3 and 6, rock band 2, halo wars and odst, AC1-brotherhood, prototype, star was TFU1-2, Star Wars battlefront 2, battlefield bad company, oblivion, fallout 3 and new Vegas, skyrim, crisis 2, rage, gears of war 1-3, fusion frenzie 1&2, again all I can remember.
    Computer? Lots of flash games, Spore (countless hours on that game, trying to destroy the grow. Still failed lol) oblivion, fallout 3,1602 ad, runescape, VMK


    I am in the same boat as many. I play MMO’s, while I do go to work and do other activities, I am more and more realizing that I am wasting my life even playing 1hour of MMO games. The problem is stopping myself, its too easy to play games and I live in a northern climate, so we are in the house alot. I have been trying to use Tony Robbins and other methods to change not only my habits but my state of mind. I think it is working, but slowly. I am considering just going cold turkey and deleting all my characters and games and walking away completely. To get back on topic. I too want to find a better focus for my time and turn my MMO gaming passion towards a business. If I could find myself a business that gives me the level of excitement and drive that gaming does. I would be a billionaire by now.