With video games on my brain as I anxiously await my original NES to come in the mail (which I recently purchased on Ebay) I ran into this online ad for Sony’s newest product, the PS VITA, and was struck by their slogan: “Never Stop Playing”.
This immediately brought flashbacks of skipping class my freshman year at Cornerstone to play Madden 2002 on PS2. We’d have 4 guys in the same season, all controlling a team within the same division, so if you were the last guy to play your game for that week of the season (the other guys couldn’t play their next game until you played your game), it was all but assured that the door would be barricaded and you would play that game, rather than attend class. And no, it never did take that much coercion. Though we had tons of fun that semester, my low GPA reflected what video gaming can do to your reality. I had to give up gaming in the 2nd semester (much easier since it wasn’t football season) and pull a 3.9 GPA in order to bring up my cumulative GPA to the necessary balance to keep my academic scholarship (and thus, to afford / stay in school).
A related flashback is my Slovakian friend Juraj (pronounced “Yer-Eye”) from the CU cross country and track team lecturing me about how playing video games was a waste of time and a waste of my life. Juraj was a pre-med student at CU and is one of the single hardest workers I’ve ever met. Of course I told Juraj he needed to lighten up and video games are no big deal.
As video games have gotten better and better, as well as more and more accessible, one does have to wonder where it all is headed… or at least one should. Should we really “Never Stop Playing” as Sony tells us to? I’m definitely not saying that video games in an of themselves are bad, evil, or wrong, but I do believe that “everything in moderation” definitely applies here. Video games are getting so realistic and addicting that it’s quite possible for a person to live their entire life inside of a game, and in reality, have no life at all.
I think this also applies to the constant upgrades in cell phones, tablets, etc. (all of which, conveniently, you can play video games on as well of course). Just because you can invent something better, doesn’t mean you necessarily need to. And just because something is “better”, doesn’t mean it’s going to make your life a hill of beans better than it currently is. In fact, I’d argue than in many cases it makes it worse.
I haven’t played my PS2 in over two years — Juraj would be proud. I realized if I stopped buying the newest Madden game, I’d eventually stop playing altogether. It’s like what I instruct my wife: if you buy donuts, I will eat donuts, so don’t buy donuts. I think it was the empty gut feeling I’d get after playing Madden one more time (I will never get that hour of my life back)… as well as the realization that every “new and improved” version that came out really wasn’t much improved from the previous version and that at this point in video gaming there really isn’t much new under the sun. And that is exactly why it’s time to go back to the roots. To Ninja Gaiden, Metroid, and Castlevania. To Blades of Steel, Double Dribble, and Excitebike. Yes NES, you can’t come soon enough. Looking forward to playing games that are meant to be fun, not meant to replace your reality.