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The Silent Protagonist avatar 9:05 PM on 01.01.2012  (server time)
Never say video games aren't productive, OK?

You know, they say there are no stupid questions. I don't know who "they" are or how they got the authority to say that, but they're wrong. There are stupid questions and things you probably shouldn't say, lest you want to prove you're a moron to other people.

For a gamer, that wrong thing to ask or say amounts to "Wouldn't it be better to do something productive rather than play video games?"

My knee-jerk reaction would be to say this to such a person:

"Allow me to find out what your pastimes are and diminish each one as pointless. Do you like sports? How is watching it on television productive? What does it produce? In fact, how does your favorite team become a possessive to you? How is it 'your' team when you're not even on it? Hm? I don't see you in the NFL replays."

Watching sports on TV is a passive activity, you've produced nothing by watching it, save for perhaps gaining some intellectual and emotional satisfaction from viewing it. Maybe you're into the statistics, seeing the strategies play out. In other words, you might be getting out of sports what I get out of Zelda or Skyrim when I play them.

But neither produce anything outwardly, so by their own logic watching sports is just as pointless as playing a video game - but they wouldn't admit that to themselves.

"Oh, but going to a sporting event can be social," they'd say. "And sharing your knowledge on forums can be beneficial and enhance other people''s appreciation and understanding of sports. That's productive!"

To which I'd say that that's really no different from video games. Arcades were a social environment, knowledge of games can be shared with other people to enhance their understanding and enjoyment of video games. We've watched entire communities constructing wikis for Dark Souls, Call of Duty, Skyrim and every game under the sun from scratch, which if anything is more of a labor of love than something you get paid for. Discussion on forums might turn people on to different games they might not have otherwise tried.

If I post on these forums, write a blog or vlog or whatever, I'm being productive, aren't I? I'm doing something that may benefit another person. I might meet new people and make friends and I quite honestly have. I've written guides, been a guest on a podcast every now and again and I'm about to start being a regular host for another.

And that's before we even touch on the online communities for multiplayer games, be it Street Fighter or Gears of War or DC Universe Online. I've made friends, hell, I've known people who met their husbands or wives through an MMO and went on to have a happy marriage. Can we just drop the zoned-out zombie image of gaming, please? Its a social thing.

All pastimes are valid pastimes, whether they produce something or not - they would not be pastimes if people could not derive some kind of enjoyment from them. Playing video games is part of what keeps my mind nice, balanced and refreshed so I can go on doing other things that are productive. If some guys didn't start writing about hobbits or Jedi one day; if some guy didn't figure out something else to do with his UHF channel the world would be just a shade less interesting. Science fiction, fantasy and video games might be lost on some people, but that doesn't mean any of them are devoid of value.

I can find plenty of things other people like that I couldn't be driven to care about, but that doesn't mean those things lack value to everyone. Who am I to question what pastimes make other people tick? Some people dance, some people do woodworking, collect baseball cards or go hiking - do these things get deemed unproductive? Not all of it makes something, but it does help people find some contentment. Its just lame to disrespect something because it doesn't move you personally.

So I'll play my video games and you just do whatever it is you do, okay?

I put up with this kind of talk from my parents and people their age because they're baby boomers. I expect it, they're never going to give us the benefit of validation so long as they're still in charge and I accept that. The generation before them was that way, too. But from anyone my age or even slightly younger... that kind of talk just makes me think less of you. Old people are old, but those that don't want to look like old fools would do well to be a bit less judgmental.

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