A tweet was appearing whilst I scrolled through Twitter a lot just after New Years Day. Yeah nothing new there. I get that but this tweet has reminded me why I sometimes don’t understand why people can’t be left to live their life with their hobbies.
The Twitter user @CurtisScoon posted on the 31st December 2017 “I’m sorry but this whole “gaming” trend is weird to me. When do adults have the time to be “gamers”? If you’re over 25 and doing this shit you better be making a living from it.”.
So I guess a lot of us better hang up our controllers because we are over 25 and obviously can’t find the time and aren’t being paid for this. /sarcasm
For starters, gaming is not a trend. You have a couple of options for what a trend is. You have the data analysis/statistical trend. Now I don’t think this is exactly what @CurtisScoon was referring to. I mean data analysts and statisticians look at long term trends in time series analysis which can look at things like global temperatures, employment figures, price indices, pollution levels and so on. Not exactly similar to gaming. Another idea of a trend would relate to shorter term things, like fashion trends which last a season, daily social media trends, trends in visitors to a website or blog, trends in hobbies can occur like crazes (Pokémon cards back in the day for example, highly popular and then fizzled to the collectors and those interested in trading card games). Games within gaming can be a trend but I don’t believe this is the context in which the tweet referred to. I mean games popularity comes and goes, there is a trend and a popularity which changes over time as people move on to newer games, or games which are perceived to be better, or just new releases which have been hyped prior to release. So I believe in trends within gaming, but not that gaming itself is a trend.
Next bit, time. When do adults have the time to be a gamer? Well, I could ask when do adults have the time to do any hobby? When do adults have the time to read? Go to the gym*? Paint? Do arts/crafts? Do DIY? Watch the latest TV show? Go to see a film? Why are these hobbies any more valuable than gaming? If you enjoy something, then there is no reason to imply that your hobby is better than any other. Let people enjoy what they want to. I enjoy gaming of the video and board variety, but I also enjoy cross stitch as previously mentioned as well as other crafts. I read, I go for walks, I take photographs, I volunteer, I watch films and TV programmes. At no point do I criticise someone for having other hobbies as long as they enjoy it. I don’t expect everyone to like what I like as that is personal choice and preference. Just respect the choices. I find the time because I want to do something I enjoy. Ok some of the time it is difficult to make the time, but even 30 minutes here and there is something and can make you happy. That is important. That thing called work/life balance is pretty important and gaming forms part of my balance part. I may not be great at work/life balance, I realise looking at my life from time to time, but this helps give me some balance.
Lastly, if you are over 25 and doing this you should be earning a living from this. When did a hobby have an age limit? An upper limit to be specific. I mean certain things have lower limits which is fine. I mean you can’t go skiing as a baby, you shouldn’t play with Lego too young as it is a choking hazard, DIY is realistically only sensible if you are old enough to operate the tools you need. Why should there be an upper limit for being able to be involved in gaming assuming you aren’t paid for it? I enjoy games and gaming enough to play them and write this blog and just in general talk about them. I’m definitely not making a living from it but I enjoy it. That still makes me happy. Besides which the average age of a gamer in the US is 35, with 72% of the video game playing population being over 18 years old (Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry).
I am an adult who finds time to be a gamer. I am unpaid financially for it and, therefore, not making a living for it. That doesn’t mean it lacks value. I get value in a different way. I get to experience stories and characters which can bring joy or sadness, show me fear and overcoming it, show me love and show me family. Games and gaming can have various positive effects (some references at the end), despite the reports of negative effects which have plagued the media in previous years. Positive effects include social benefits, improving of reaction times and co-ordination, spatial visualisation improves as well as improved perception and attention. I can increase these skills by gaming, and by enjoying myself in my hobby.
So Mr Twitter User, I should give up gaming because I’m old (since 25 is the limit for gaming here) and not making a living from it? According to him, my answer should be yes. Am I going to? No. I’m an adult. I can make my own decisions, make my own choices and I can find the time. Will my priorities change in time? Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean I will give up gaming at that point either. It may change the time I spend gaming, in fact it probably will as that has happened before, but that doesn’t mean I will necessarily stop gaming. Hobbies have a value no matter what age you are.
* I’m defining going to the gym as a hobby here in terms it being something people spend time doing, time which is found somewhere. To be honest, I am not really sure on if it would be defined as a hobby elsewhere but I hope you understand my point.
Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, Entertainment Software Association. Link.
Chiappe, D., M. Conger, J. Liao, J. L. Caldwell and K.-P. L. Vu. 2013. Improving Multi-Tasking Ability through Action Videogames. Applied Ergonomics 44: 278-84.
Eichenbaum, A. E., D. Bavelier, C. S. Green. 2014. Video games: Play that can do serious good. American Journal of Play 7: 50-72.
Green, C. S. and D. Bavelier. 2012. Learning, Attention Control and Action Video Games. Current Biology 22: R197-R206.
Li, R., U. Polat, W. Makous and D. Bavelier. 2009. Enhancing the Contrast Sensitivity Function through Action Video Game Training. Nature 12: 549-51.
More references on the benefits of gaming can be found in journals if you search.