I used to love video games. I used to defend gaming in any way possible, against anyone who said anything bad about it. I can't do that anymore and I beg you, if you have some time, grab a coup of tee and allow me to be just honest.
I've been playing games since I can remember, some of my earliest memories, that I haven't lost yet, are related to video games - mostly it's me playing video games - and when I look at these games, (I still have them on my shelf) I get overwhelmed by nostalgia.
But I have changed. Sure, I'm just a teenager and I'm not trying to act like an old wise man (because I'm not), but even in the short 15 years of my existence I've been going through a lot of changes and the strange thing is, my interest in playing video games should be larger than ever, but that's just a stereotype - the anxious teenager who plays MW3 all day - and it's not true in my case. In fact, I'm very close to abandon gaming, because I've discovered a world that is far more rich and that is actually worthwhile as opposed to gaming.
That world is literature (authors like David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, Don Delilo etc.), but what actually makes literature so much more valuable than gaming? Or why do I consider games to be not worthwhile?
Now I can hear a voice in my head that laughs at me, because of what I'm going to say now, in fact, I imagine that you will laugh at me aswell. I'm going to step into a very difficult position that is easy to misunderstand and to laugh at (I've only chosen such an offending, and seemingly definite, head line to make people read this, because you have to upset people to make them read nowadays).
So here it comes: Gaming is anesthetic. It's merely an acticity that distracts you from your life, that lets you escpae (even Jim Sterling says that in his Jimquisition "Why big dumb shooters are better than art games" which is art for him). It distracts you from what it means to be alive, to be human. It's all easy fun all the time, it has to be loud all the time. There is no room for silence, for introspection and confrontation. Instead we have violence and sex, or some kind of reflex challenge, perhabs in a cute, but in the end empty box.
I'm not pretending that I'm not attracted by violence, sex and entertainment, we consumers as a broad mass are attracted to that kind of stuff and who doesn't like to be entertained? But we are not interesting as a broad mass, we are interesting, special and human as individuals and we are often radically different from each other.
Those games that just entertain are often pretty good games and a small dosis of entertainment is fine, but as a lifestyle? I think it's pretty bad, almost dangerous in a way. We seem to be addicted to having fun, we are afraid of boredom and silence.
It's often very, very lonely to play video games, you sit in front of your monitor/TV, you stare at it, at a flat screen, you pretend you're someone else (preferably someone who kills a lot of enemies) and you press the buttons. You don't communicate with anyone, not with another person, nor with the creator. The communication in multiplayer games mostly consists of insults, bad jokes, smilies and the like. It's terribly lonely once you become aware of that.
Also, there seems to be a very strong reluctance against video games that are not fun, that are difficult in different ways (Braid, Passage, The Void etc.), if you're someone who likes some of those games then you're made fun of immediately, words like "Hipster", "pretentious", "Fag", "Emo" etc. will be thrown at you.
What these people don't realise is, that you can actually benefit tremendously from putting work and thought into a game (this counts for other stuff aswell of course). Yes, you can benefit from hard work! You could become a better person.
The only video game experiences I had that were transcendental for me, were the games Braid and Between. I felt sympathie for the creators, I felt a strong connection, it was a kind of magic. I didn't felt alone.
I can only think of two games that made me really feel like that, the creators behind those games and some other creative people in the medium (Jenova Chen, Chris Hecker, Kellee Santiago etc.) are the only reason why I still give a damm about video games, and those are the people that keep my dream of becoming a game designer alive.
What do you think?
EDIT: I think I have failed once again to make a point. Judging by the comments, this blog post is just shit. I tried to write honestly and from the heart, but I failed. God this is so frustrating, but if you would like to know where I'm coming from, grab another coup of tea and watch this (all parts) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5IDAnB_rns
EDIT 2: Ok, after I've reread some of the comments (I've also replied to a few with PMs), I would like to clarify that I still love games, but I'm simply not interested anymore in the majority of the stuff that's out there, because it all seem to be stuck in a strange kind of loop. There are some people in the industry who do fascinating stuff.
As for the loneliness stuff, it seems everyone looks a little bit different on that, and it's a bit difficult to explain for me, but I still appreciate the comments here. So, I'm still not entirely conviced that I really made a point, but at least I generated some discussion.
So thanks everyone so far for the comments! read