Monday, January 21, 2008

The Gaming Nerds

I've recently purchased a Nintendo DS. Now, before you get the wrong idea, it is purely for educational purposes. I've recently heard a lot of buzz about this game called Brain Age 2 and how it's supposed to keep your mind stimulated. Destined to not become a vegetable in my old age, I decided to get myself a DS JUST to get this one game.

Now, who would've thought that a Nintendo DS is so bloody hard to come by! I spent several days going from one store to the next in search of one. I looked at Best Buy, Future Shop, Radio Shack, and HMV (both online and in physical stores), but to no avail.Amazon sold them through their Marketplace, which was charging an arm and a let for one. I finally got my hands on one after a "let's just check here" visit to an HMV in one of those big box store plazas.

So I tried the game, and it's actually pretty good. I won't share my original brain age, since it's pretty embarrassing, but needless to say that after a few days, my brain is starting to run like a well-oiled machine. Hopefully it stays that way.

Determined to not let it end there, I endeavored to find more educational games. Within the span of a week I acquired Big Brain Academy, My Word Coach, My French Coach, and Rhythm & Notes. It adds up to almost $100 in software. I think I'm well-equipped now, and I've now got a good stock of educational games.

Now, my quest for these games was quite eventful. Populare games such as Brain Age 2 and Big Brain Academy are relatively easy to find. Games such as My Word Coach, My French Coach, and Rhythm & Notes are harder to find. So I had to resort to...videogame stores. Needless to say, it was a scarring experience. I swear that the people who frequent these stores have no lives. In this one store I went to, the sales clerk seemed to have a personal opinion on every games that customers asked him about. Clearly he hasn't learned about wonderful things such as going outside and getting some real exercise. The store patrons were just as freaky. One guy - who clearly lived in his mother's basement and had no sense of personal hygeine - kept asking about a Star Trek game. Now I am not afraid to admit that I enjoy Star Trek, but I learned to draw the line a long time ago between obsession and enjoyment. This guy clearly fell under the obsessed category. Needless to say, I felt VERY uncomfortable in that store.

I guess maybe I just don't understand the gaming types. I happen to think that role-playing games and first-person shooters are boring as hell. I guess since my parents always discouraged my sister and me from playing videogames, we never grew up into avid gamers. And quite honestly, I'm grateful. I don't own a Wii, a PS2, a PS3, or an XBox. Yes, I own a DS, but I'm doing puzzles, so don't get started with me on that.

I'm probably insulting some of my friends or even friends of friends by saying this (assuming that they read this blog), but quite honestly, I feel sorry for people who spend so much time playing these videogames. I see people's lives taken over by World of Warcraft and Everquest and I find it just sickening. I see people in their late 20s with kids who are still avid gamers, and I wonder, "What's wrong with you? Grow up already! Go find a more productive hobby!" You can argue all you want that RPGs teach you how to think/strategize and how FPSs improve your reflexes, or that games on the Wii make you exercise, but to me, nothing beats good old face-to-face human interaction and a good dose of fresh air.


peter said...

I don't know if non-educational games are always a waste of time. I suppose it depends on how you define "productive". Even these brain-stimulating games can be a waste of time if taken to extremes.

For some people, it's a way to hold competition with other friends (like with Streetfighter) and thus strengthen bonds of friendships. For some, it's about traversing through a story (which is what most RPGs are) and you can argue it's not that different than losing oneself into the story of a book. For some, it's a new community to meet people that hold common interest.

To be as obsessed in Star Trek as the fan in your story is admittedly pretty geeky and probably (most likely) over-the-top. But is it THAT different from english literature enthusiasts who analyse ad nausium over themes and details about the tiniest things in both classic and obscure works from the past?

The problem with video games isn't always a matter of whether it's a productive thing to do or not, since you can almost always find a way to make anything be considered productive. The problem with it is the problem like most other things, that if you take them to extremes, then they rob a person of balance in other aspects of their lives. It's just that video games happen to be more addictive than other forms of hobbies and leisure. And it's the responsibility of each person to learn control and will power.

peter said...

... and as a footnote.... I DO always read your blog. ;-)

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