Alright, don’t get this title wrong. It’s not that everything that is fun is not a waste of time. Some fun things definitely are. Like, if the fun thing was getting wasted and you don’t even remember the time you wasted. Also, there are legal factors and the law to consider and responsibilities and… really the headline only works in a gaming context. But even then, gaming can be a waste of time and, yes, I am looking at you St0nerB0i420. Nothing is gained with you taking hit after hit, while taking hit after hit in the game.
Hear me, passive, stoner gamers: You are what is giving gaming a bad rep and I’m tired of it. Things have to change. I’ve had plenty of talks where I talked to people about the value of gaming and the key point I kept coming back to is one I will dedicate an entire paragraph to, while channeling my inner Bruce Lee:
Be active, my friend.
Also, be water. Or any other liquid that suits you.
Game actively. That’s all there is to it. What do I mean by that? Well, imagine you’re playing FIFA, right? Or Street Fighter. Or LoL. Or literally anything other than Fallout 76, because that is always a waste of time and did I just plug our video? Yes. Yes, I did.
So you’re playing these games, day-in and day-out, week after week, month after month. What happens? You gain weight, yes, but what else? Your girlfriend, yes, yes, she leaves you, we know all that, but what really happens? You get better. That’s what happens. You compete, you learn and you improve. You acquire skills and light your competitive fire. That’s what it’s all about, but allow me to defer to Will Smith here and cheese a free paragraph off him:
I have good kids and I was blessed because they have the fire. That’s the one thing, I think, as a parent you gotta feed the fire. Like with video games: Parents tell their kids ‘stop playing video games’. If that beast is coming out and they wanna win really bad, like that’s the zeal and joy for life. You gotta use that to teach them about that fire and how to attack life.
As long as you game or do anything, actively, with a desire, a fire, to improve… Nothing is a waste of time (well, except actively getting really wasted, but we had that before…)
All the better if that very thing is something fun to you. It is when we passively consume, or just let media serenade us with its nonsense that we lose. Nothing is gained from passivity, which leads me into this statement:
Reading is so overrated.
You see, it is borderline impossible to actually read a book passively. To get through it, you have to, consciously, slug your way through every word and every page. Thus, the value gained from books is obvious. With movies, music, gaming and TV, though, you can just kind of be there and not be there at the same time. You can watch a movie without paying attention – while scrolling through Instagram and swiping through Tinder. Not so much with books.
So when people get all embarrassingly excited and braggy about their "book a week" mentality, it is mostly the fact that this person actively sat down and used his or her brain matter to complete this task that they’re trying to impress us with. We automatically know that they got something out of it because they consumed a lot of content and they likely learned something from doing so.
With movies, though, you can sip on a beer, smoke on various items, Netflix & Chill or really just do whatever else you want to while the movie is on. In fact, friends of mine regularly watch movies while engaged in What’s App conversations or browsing or doing other activities that divert their attention. You can give them the best movie and they won’t really get much value out of it other than passing time in a more enjoyable fashion. They’re not watching actively. They are seeing, not watching. Hearing, but not listening.
To be fair, though: That is the majority of people. Not everybody is going into movie sessions phones-off, distractions-away and bladder-emptied. That’s the only way to explain why popcorn, the single noisiest food, is served in movies in the single-noisiest packaging. Seriously, what’s up with that?
When watching the right movies the right way, though, you consume just as much, if not more than your book-savvy friends. After all, many of these movie writers are book-savvy and guess what: All that knowledge, all that Art of War and Siddhartha stuff flows right into their movies. They convey the same messages, just with less density and in different packaging. The only problem is, it’s all too easy to miss the message unless you’re watching the movie with an active state of mind.
So let’s swing this back around to gaming: I learned something playing Red Dead Redemption 2. I also learned something playing The Last of Us. I also have numerous quotes from the Final Fantasy series written down, that I quote to this day, and I am convinced my competitive video gaming nature and the skills I’ve acquired, made me better in many areas of my life. Yes, I’m having fun while I’m gaming, but I’m also improving other skills: My coordination, reaction and perception, my memory and my ability to follow and process information.
So go on reading your book a day for the joy of the accomplishment. I’ll continue watching my movies and playing my games for the joy of joy itself. You read, I watch, listen and game and I’m not wasting my time.
Because I do things actively.
EarlyGame Talk: Games are turning kids into killers
EarlyGame Talk: Game more, love more, hate less