SONG: Cee Lo Green – Forget You. “I guess he’s an Xbox, and I’m more Atari, but the way you play your games aint fair.”
When I was little, I used to wish Spyro the Drago was real: FACT.
I played it all the time. I was incomparably rubbish, but I enjoyed the challenge, and all the whooshy jingly noises.
Nowadays, I don’t play video games. Not on my own – although I occasionally spend half an hour or so with my family madly waving the Wii remote around my head like I’m trying to swat an invisble giant hornet, all in the name of tennis.
To tell you the truth – and I’m just going to put this out there – I think video games are the most pointless waste of precious lifetime hours ever. And I say this despite my acute awareness of the Twilight books, so this really is saying something.
The truth is, I just can’t reconcile myself with the fact that you don’t actually get anything out of it. Sure, if you’re leading an imaginary army to an imaginary battle, I haven’t really got much right to expect a real-life Victory parade or collection of horrific anecdotes with which to scare the shit ouf my future generations. Nor should I expect a real million quid for completing a quiz with the help of my imaginary phone-a-friend. Although, I’m told you don’t get actual vet bills on those pet games either. Bonus.
The fact remains that when I’ve played this video game for however many dozens of hours, and won whatever prize I was aiming for, I don’t feel I’ve achieved anything at all except shamelessly wasting the time it would take to read an actual book, learn an actual skill, or at least go to a real pub and get shitfaced with actual people. On a less fun but infinitely more productive scale, I could have genuinely spring-cleaned my cupboards or definitely cooked an actual dinner: not giving me quite the same level of fun, granted, but it does benefit me at some point, which is more than repeatedly clicking a button while screaming ‘Die! DIE!!’ at a screen for a few hours would.
My issue is I definitely don’t have time to do all the stuff I should be doing in a day anyway, without filling half of it with a load of imaginary tasks as well. As kids, this isn’t such an issue – they don’t need to search for car insurance or wax unsightly hairs – but surely we’ve all got better things to do? Aside from the chores, we could even do stuff that’s fun nonetheless but actually worth something at the end? Life is short, and we only get one go at it, so you might as well fill it with as much experience as possible. You get lots of extra ‘lives’ before it’s game over on these games: not true of real life, I’m afraid.
Kids love these games, and why shouldn’t they? They are fun. And for God’s sake us adults need them to enjoy them sometimes. After I walked my niece around the room for the hundredth time yesterday so she could indiscriminately point at everything, I would pretty much have paid her to be friends with Sonic for half an hour. And she’s not even one yet. (Yes, I’m a bad person.)
But when you give kids awesome theme tunes like the pokemon one:
…I can’t help feeling you’re just being a bit mean. Sure, the kids will probably feel inspired to ‘be the very best like no one ever was’ like the song tells them, but ohhh the irony: bad news, sprog, you probably won’t – because if you keep playing this game, you’ll just spend your childhood gradually moulding your hands into the shape of the controller instead of actually doing something real.
My other beef is people using these games as an excuse not to talk to actual people. I genuinely had a fight with a friend a couple of weeks ago because he admitted he was too busy playing Football Manager to talk to me properly. It ended with me hysterically suggesting he could take his entire team from Football Manager to the park, or ice skating, or to a restaurant where they can do that thing with spaghetti where they eat it until their lips meet in the middle, except WAIT, NO YOU CAN’T BECAUSE IT’S NOT REAL PEOPLE. It didn’t go down well. I still thought I was right.
Yes, I know, I know you can play these games together and then it’s hours of fun. I still get excited every time I whip my brother’s ass at rowing on the Sonic Olympics game because, quite frankly, in reality he’s a monster athlete and I can’t even run for the bus. But I still can’t help thinking it would be both more fun and more worthwhile if we actually went and played football, or actually learned how to play guitar instead of learning how to press the yellow, blue and red buttons in sequence four hundred times in an hour.
The only concession I will make is that some games are genuinely beneficial as well as fun. I really did lose weight on the Wii Fit and learned how to do yoga moves properly (if I didn’t then my trainer – who sounded an unnerving amount like Jimmy Carr – helpfully told me I was ‘wobbling a bit’ which didn’t make me feel all that smashing), and I know plenty of people who feel remarkably sharper and better at maths since they started brain training every day.
And yeah, maybe the whole Football Manager thing was just sour grapes when I realised I just wasn’t as mentally stimulating as a video game. But I still can’t help feeling that playing video games is, in terms of achievement, a lot like being that little action character who’s got stuck in the corner and is repeating walking into a wall.