Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Everything You Know Is Wrong

Warning: The Following Video Contains Large Amounts Of Anti-Video Game Propaganda. View at your own risk.

I stumbled upon this video around two months ago. If you don't want to watch, this video is basically a guy using his admittedly good animation skills to blame video games for the failure his life has amounted to. In his own words, he is a fat, friendless, failure.

Now anyone who knows me in the least probably already knows my opinion on this particular subject. But forget that, I'm going to tell you anyways.

I'm a fun loving guy, or at least I like to think so, but this is a subject I'm dead serious about. I'm about to say something that may shock and/or offend some people, namely those who would see video games destroyed, and those who spout hatred and bile toward them claiming they are the work of the devil. So please, if you want to stay in your safe sterile black hole, stop reading here.

Are they gone? Ok. Good. Are you ready for me to rock your world? Video Games, are an art form. I know what you're thinking. "VIDEO GAMES? ART? HA! I DO NOT BELIEVE YOU SIR, YOU ARE CLEARLY INCORRECT!"

I could go into a lot of different tangents here, as to why Video Games are an art form, but that would take a very long time, and not be super productive. Suffice it to say, that anything that can make you feel something, good or bad, is an art form, in my opinion. Books can make you become attached to the characters, movies can do the same, and both can affect your emotions. Now, don't tell me that no book or movie has made you cry before. That's a lie.

Now, understand that I am not saying all games are art. There is a difference. I do not believe that all movies are art either, nor all books. I would hardly qualify, for example, "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" as a work of art. I thought that movie was decent entertainment at best, but not a work of art. However, to say that no movie is art is to bring down an entire form. The problem with games now, however, is quantity. There are very games I would classify as art, compared to movies. But that's to be expected. The form is in it's infancy.

But that's not what this is about, and I could talk about that all day. What this is about is the video above. That video troubles me for many reasons. The first and most obvious, or I would hope at least, is that he's blaming video games for his own lack of self-control. There's an old adage that says "All things in moderation." This is his case. He passed up on many opportunities in life, just so he could play video games all the time, and now he has to live with that. That's his own fault, not the fault of video games.

It's true, what he says, that you only get one life. It's yours to spend however you like, and you may waste it on video games completely. However it's not entirely true that video games can't help you in life. Don't forget there's an entire industry surrounding them. Not just developers, and writers, but even outside of that, journalists, reviewers, play testers, all sorts of stuff, all because of these games.

I'd like to point out the story of one Jeff Kaplan, AKA Tigole. Jeff Kaplan was an avid player of the MMORPG Everquest. And as many gamers, myself included, are prone to do, he complained about a lot of the things in Everquest. He thought he could do things better. Many of his complaints were pointed out to his guild (a grouping of players.), Legacy of Steel. Legacy of Steel was headed up by Rob Pardo, VP of an, at the time, small company, Blizzard Entertainment. The thing is, Rob really liked a lot of the ideas Jeff had, and so he gave him a job as a game designer for a new project, which some fo you may have heard of. World of Warcraft, the game that dethroned Everquest as king of MMOs.

Did you see that? A guy got a job, for playing a game. And not just any job, a really good job. Blizzard is one of the biggest companies in gaming today, and everyone who plays WoW, well, almost everyone, knows who Tigole is.

Not to mention, what he says about how long it takes to make a level 80 character in WoW, that's just a lie. It does not take that long. It takes a while, to be sure, but not THAT LONG. Not to mention, one of the things he mentions is reading. READING.

HARRY POTTER no less. Harry Potter is awesome, to be sure, but it's no more productive than World of Warcraft. The fact is, it doesn't matter which you choose, the end result is the same. Nothing is accomplished, beside the fact that you either have now read Harry Potter, or now have a level 80 character.

When I told a friend, a very good friend I made through WoW, and speak with every day, for the record, about this video, he said the following:
"If we weren't playing games, we would be watching TV, reading books, playing sports, watching movies, or I shudder to say, building model trains."
He's right. There will always be hobbies. If it weren't gaming, it would just be something else. True, it's possible to work and work and work, and yes, you would be more productive than someone who played some games, but really, what kind of a life is that? You only get one, in his own words. So you might as well enjoy the one you get.

Now I'm not saying you should play games all the time and never do anything productive, but again, it's balance. It's bad to take it to either extreme. If you work all the time, you'll work yourself to death, if you play games all the time, you'll end up like this guy, fat, friendless, and a failure.

So I guess what I'm saying, is that this video is an example of, not the negative effects of games on peoples lives, but of the negative effects of lack of self-control on people's lives.

It's sad yes, and I understand why people try to find things to blame, but the fault lies in the individual, not the object.

What troubles me is the propaganda surrounding every new generation's new thing.

When Jazz was new, it was hated by the generation before. When movies were new they were to blame for kids wasting their lives. Comic Books took the blame for many school shootings, and now it's video games turn in the hot seat.

I can't expect our generation to be any different, I'm sure something will be hated as much as video games are now, that our kids love. But I do hope that I at least, will be sensible about the whole thing, no matter my personal feelings on the new object of hatred, and to those my age, I ask that you do so as well.


  1. Hm. This is a very interesting post. Surprisingly, I actually agree with most of it. I didn't think I would, but you make a good point about how you get to decide what you become addicted too of obsessed with. I do, however, agree with the phrase "All things in moderation." Wouldn't you agree that what you're saying here, in a nutshell, is exactly that??

  2. Yes. That's exactly the point I'm trying to make.

  3. Oh. Well see, we had a conversation earlier where it seemed like you strongly disagreed with that phrase, so when I read this I was confused. :P Guess I got the wrong impression in that conversation.