Friday, July 11, 2014

Watching TV vs Playing Video Games


As far back as I can remember, I've always enjoyed watching an interesting TV show or a great movie. A universe to explore that is filled with characters that will grow and take your through a story. This is something people understand.

People also understand books. A longer story with characters that mature and take you on often an even more detailed story. They have more time to do this. The experience will often last longer than most TV shows and certainly most movies.

Now we come to video games. I spend hours and hours playing games. I love it. A story, a universe, characters, and an adventure that will span hours... sometimes 300+ depending on the game. Sometime I make my own story in open world games such as DayZ, yet other times the story is spoon fed to me and I merely serve as a vehicle to transition between parts.

The average American watched 2.8 hours of TV a day in 2013(source). You may be higher or lower depending on your habits. What impression does that give you of a person that watches an average of 2.8 hours of TV a day? Is that impression different than if that person spent 2.8 hours on video games a day? If so why?

I hold to the fact, that over the years since my childhood(when my love for gaming began), I have learned more and experienced more than I would have if I spent the same amount of time watching TV. You have to obviously bar "educational" TV from this. Those are specifically geared towards teaching a topic just as an educational game would be.

As a kid, I learned the following skills from video games(to name a few):

  • Map Reading
  • Inventory Management
  • Multitasking
  • Problem Solving, occasionally quite complex problems.
  • Task Prioritization
  • Mercantilism
As gaming evolved in capability, more and more knowledge became available. A few small examples are:
  • Physics involving realistic gravity modeling
  • How a car handles when losing traction
  • Making difficult choices(sending characters to their doom)
  • The difference between cover and concealment in a firefight
The teaching ability of even entertaining games should not be overlooked. As a father, I certainly prefer that my child spend more time gaming than watching non educational shows. Minecraft is the new LEGO.

If you think 2.8 hours a day of TV is normal but 2.8 hours a day of gaming is odd, it is time you start to change your opinion. Gaming is so much more than what you might think it is. Perhaps you should branch out into a new universe and go on an adventure. You just might find a new hobby as well.