I think anyone who grew up with a PC or video game console in their home has, at one point or another, muttered something under their breath as their parents asked them to stop playing and do something “useful” with their time. We’ve all heard arguments about the development of hand-eye coordination and how beneficial gaming can be as children develop their motor skills. To a point this makes sense, but are video games a waste of time for adults?
MMORPGs and immersive gaming environments such as World of Warcraft have a strong reputation of sucking every second of free time someone has and and turning an otherwise sociable person in to an albino cave dweller that never leaves the comfort they find in the warm glow of their monitors. Frankly, the same can be said for any activity that takes time to partake in. People can become addicted to food, chat rooms, watching professional football, and even activities with more positive reputations like exercise.
One thing that is true, is that gaming is big business. Companies like Blizzard, Electronic Arts, and Activision make as much on the first weekend of a game release as the movie industry does on its biggest blockbusters. At often $40-60 per copy, this industry is beginning to be taken more seriously as time goes on. It would only stand to reason that game makers are spending considerable time researching ways to not only make the initial sale, but keep users hooked long enough to sell expansion packs and monthly subscriptions. Everything from how a game looks and sounds is taken in to account when determining what it is players will stick with.
So is it a waste of time? Some would argue that any activity that serves the purpose of helping you unwind after a long day has inherent benefits to anyone taking part in it. Others would give examples where users have become addicted, and that addiction has served to the detriment of the player and those around them. Just like with food, gaming can be good in moderation. Too much of a good thing can cause problems down the road. If you are one of those dedicated gamers who spends upwards of eight or even 16 hours a day, every day, hooked into these virtual spaces, you might want to consider whether or not you are actually wasting your time.