“So, what is it that you do with computers?”
“I make video games.”
“Oh! … cool!”
“Yeah, I think so…”
This is why I got into computer programming. To make games. Any nerd worth their salt in high school wants to make video games. It’s nerd currency. You make games for a living, and while the life of the indie game developer may consist of working for mana during the day, we spend nights, weekends, and 3 am working sessions at Perkins crafting our vision for the glory of nerd riches, that is, players spending quality time with our creation. We want them to love it, spend time with it, discovering the jewels we lay into it. We want them to have fun. We want it to have meaning. We want the badge; “Achievement Unlocked: Game Developer.”
And yet, any further conversation with said Friend invariably unlocks another attribute: Gamer Bias -12.
“Do your kids play video games?”
“No, we don’t have video games,” parent interjects. ” and we don’t really watch TV.”
“Oh? why not? Is it personal preference, or…”
“I mean have a Wii, which, you know means they’re active, but we don’t really play video games, too addictive.”
Ah, the proverbial goat in the room. Video Game Addiction. The picture of all that is wrong with the world: Unemployed grown men playing violent games in their parents’ basement, bag of Doritos, empty pizza boxes, big mouth Mountain Dews strewn about the room, wasting their life; wasting their time; wasting their talent; wasting away.
I’m 30 now. I have 3 young sons; a fourth on the way.
“Hey Dad, what’re you doin?”
“I’m making a game.”
“Yeah buddy, for you. I’ll let you know when you can play.”
“Are you going to be done soon?!?”
Am I wasting my life? Am I feeding them junk? Am I contributing to their spiritual and emotional obesity? I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently.
I’m a believer that most addiction (aside from physiological need) stems from unsatisfied hunger.
Humanity feeds this hunger with empty calories that never really fill us up. We drink too much, sleep with virtual strangers, virtually escape into fantastic worlds and ignore our families. We watch six seasons of Lost back to back, read trashy romance novels, spend long hours with pornography, spend long hours working, longing for something that’ll tell us these hours aren’t wasting our lives.
We want meaning. We want be good at something. We want companionship and for someone to see us. We want purpose. We want order. We want to feel that our lives aren’t ruled by chance and happenstance. In short, we want love, and well, we gotta eat.
It’s been said that “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Perhaps games aren’t the problem, you just can’t live on them alone. And, you know, I don’t really think addiction is either. Addiction is bad and hurtful, but I think it is only a lens to see true hunger. The question is, are we going to feed ourselves only cheeseburgers the rest of our lives and die of clogged broken hearts? Or, can we feed ourselves something more healthful; Something that still tastes good; Something that satisfies the hunger a little better than the junk we’ve been eating.
Play is good. Food is good. Sex is good. Relationships are good. Stories are good. Love is good. God is good.