The question of whether or not there is a place for video games in a man’s life is something I have wrestled with for a long time. There are two traditional answers: yes and no. I don’t know if I accept either of them, so I have done some digging to see what I could come up with.
Video games have been around for decades now and have progressively astounded the world with graphics and gameplay experiences. The latest technological marvel is virtual reality and augmented reality. There is no debate on how cool the technology is. But should a man spend his precious time on it? Every hour spent playing is an hour that could have been spent exercising or pursuing a goal. Many men say that they just don’t have time for video games. I have been one of them. This is a popular opinion and it’s absolutely true; however, there is more to it than that.
Men need stress relief. One outlet is through playing video games. This is an often-cited positive benefit of video games in a man’s life. Exercise and other hobbies may be better for stress relief (certainly exercise is), but video games are an arguably legitimate outlet. Proper rest and leisure can allow men to be more efficient in the pursuit of their goals and in fulfilling their roles. If a man chooses one of his outlets to be video games, and is aware of all aspects of this choice, that is his right to do so. The question then becomes, “Should he exercise that right?”
The true issue is when it begins to cause direct or indirect harm to other people in any way. In my research, the number one problem with video games in a man’s life is that it is becomes a contributing factor to marital dissatisfaction.
According to a study published in the Journal of Leisure Research, researchers surveyed 349 married gamers. The results of this study determined that, “overall, researchers found that 75% of gamers’ spouses wished they would put more effort into their marriage, and when one person spent a lot more time gaming than the other, it usually led to dissatisfaction and arguing” (TIME, “Is Online Gaming Messing Up Your Marriage?”).
I wonder if the results would be the same if instead of studying gamers, the researchers studied married men who played billiards or built miniature ships in their spare time. Perhaps this is an issue of the individual man’s choices, rather than video games being the issue in general.
In an article published on “Muscle and Fitness Magazine’s” website, a survey of 20 women determined almost unanimously that gaming is only an issue when men choose to ignore their partners in favor of more game time, or when it prevents them from fulfilling their duties.
Colin Gray of Fable Beard Co, a beard oil and balm company specifically for gamers, shares his thoughts. “A man is only as good as his family. We now have the ability to bond with our children in ways my parents would never attempt. Playing games in 2018 has opened doors for men.”
Colin raises excellent points. What kind of man would any of us be if we neglected our loved ones in any way? Video games certainly are an exciting and engaging way to bond with your children. It can be a valuable tool in our arsenal to develop our relationship with our kids.
I am part of the first generation of people that lived with video games as a commonplace thing. My incredibly cool grandmother first introduced me to the original Mario and Donkey Kong when I was 4, and then changed my life with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the N64. It allowed me to bond with her in ways I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Some of my best memories of her are us beating dungeons together, or stomping goombas.
Beyond that, video games also allowed me to bond with my father and brothers. I am quite different from them and always have been, but an interest in video games is something we shared. I remember staying up late with my dad, watching him play Baldur’s Gate or Neverwinter Nights. When World of Warcraft came out, we played that together. I have fond memories of this.
There is a downside to this medium. When I grew into an obese and depressed teenager, I used video games to feel excitement and a sense of worth or accomplishment. I developed a dependency on them. Aside from having fun playing Halo or Rock Band with my friends, the games served to validate my existence when the rest of my life was not as rewarding as I needed it to be. Yet, I remember them being a happy thing for me. It got me through tough periods of life. I still don’t know how to feel about this. Would things have been different if I spent more time on other things? I will never know.
Technology is the physical manifestation of the imagination and capabilities of the human mind. It contains the essence of humanity. We are capable of amazing things, but also acts of unspeakable horror. It’s only natural that technology is a reflection of this. It can be used for good, but it has a darker side that must be considered.
So, we come back to the question:
Is there a place for video games in a man’s life?
The answer is anticlimactic. It depends on the man. Video games are designed to be addictive, just like cigarettes, social media, or the casino. It’s up to the user to moderate their experience and exposure. Ideally, they wouldn’t be designed that way, but this is not our reality. The man must determine their role in his life. The man must take personal responsibility for his actions and the consequences of them.
A man can play video games and not be less of a man because of it. If he were to neglect his roles as husband, father, or leader, as primary examples, then he would certainly be lesser for it– not because of the gaming, but because of his choice to spend his time on something else that resulted in neglect. It wouldn’t matter if it were video games or bird watching.
This is a cursory look at the issue and by no means a definitive response. Is this topic even on your radar? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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