And before long it became hard to miss how the game was changing me. It wasn’t just that real time had a way of evaporating while I was playing. If I was sleepy, the game induced a kind of hypnotic fervor, an agitation in body and mind as I tried to keep Blinx from being killed. If I closed my eyes I could feel the psycho- spatial dimensions of the world he was navigating, as real in its own way as the world I navigate every day. And by the time I’d finished a session, my eyes were exhausted from rapidly scanning back and forth, eyeing attackers, searching for time crystals and trying to find ammunition. Yet no matter how tired I was I never got tired of playing. I began to think of this as the inner autism of video-game playing, the inescapable gravity of a self-contained universe.
“I would get more satisfaction out of cleaning the barn, or rereading Dickens, and have more to show for it. But there are dozens and dozens of games like “Blinx” being played obsessively by millions of gamers worldwide. In one sense, the billions of hours spent playing video games annually means that much release from the cares of the world. At the very least, it means billions of hours spent doing nothing worse. But it also means billions of hours spent doing nothing better.”
Why is it that this type of condescension towards a pastime is applied almost exclusively to television or gaming? Dickens is great, but if I spent hours reading Tom Clancy is that better spent than shooting things with a vacuum cleaner? Why isn’t filmgoing regarded as the complete waste of time it usually is? Or spectator sports?
At the risk of dragging that horrible ongoing Are Games Art discussion out again, he thinks he didn’t “have anything to show” for playing Blinx because the game is just coordination. It’s enjoyable, but it’s on the boardgame/playing basketball side of the debate, a transitory bit of entertainment. If he played PS:T he might not consider it “doing nothing better.”
Not that playing DAOC has thrown these issues up into stark relief for me; oh no.