I read an article a few days ago that made me ponder a little more about free time and how men use it. The thrust of the article written by Matt Walsh on the website The Blaze focused more on a few things men do in general that are damaging to their marriages. It’s a great article and well worth a read. I was a bit surprised by his fairly pointed scrutiny of men who play video games.
To be fair, he was highlighting men who are addicted to their games, and play for hours every evening rather than interacting with their family. To this point, I agree completely. Any habit taken to that extreme really would be unhealthy, and hurtful to one’s marriage.
Video games, however, are not the issue. Yes, they are addicting. Yes, people lose their lives inside their gaming console. Yes, the gaming world can have particular draws as an escape from reality. The same can be said for sports, movies, TV shows, hunting, tinkering with cars, flying airplanes, improving the house, or even serving God. Video games are just an easy thing to blame.
I completely agree with Matt as he writes, “…mature men should not be so obsessed with toys… that it takes over their lives.” I disagree that video gaming is the obvious fruit of immaturity, and neither are comic books, superhero movies, or cartoons. Tinkering with a ’64 Shelby Mustang can be just as immature as playing with your Legos if that toy controls your life. Playing a video game that challenges the heart and mind with your wife can be as mature an activity as reading a book together. After all, aren’t those two the same thing, entertainment and communication, but from different eras?
Are men choosing to be, or being allowed to be, immature long into their adulthood, letting their lives, and loved ones, be destroyed by hobbies? Yes. Is this new in the last 20 years since the beginning of the gaming culture? No.
In fact, I would argue the video games can be a step in the right direction.
Let’s consider a four hour chunk of time for both video gaming and watching a football game. While watching the football game you will also watch a fair number of commercials. You will have no control over the content of the commercials, aside from hitting mute, shutting the TV off, or changing channels. There is no mentally challenging interaction, unless you are really into keeping game and player stats on your own.
Take that same time and play a video game. Assuming you’ve chosen the game well, you will not be subjected to anything that you don’t want to see. You won’t be attacked by commercials. You are mentally engaged in accomplishing a goal of some sort, and depending on the game, you are possibly very physically involved as well (ever play Dance, Dance, Revolution?).
Which one sounds healthier to you, commercial inundation with uncontrolled content that is passively consumed, or controlled content that demands at least mental interactivity?
And now you know why I almost rarely watch movies or TV any more. Because playing a Lego video game with my wife is way more fun.
What are your thoughts? Is the gaming culture an expression of immaturity in adult sized boys? Or is it a growing and budding form of entertainment that, much like books or movies, can be used to make humanity better?