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Friday, 9 June 2017

Slaying the Serpent and Disavowing Video Games

My House: Two TV's Two Console's One Problem

This may be considered a little bit of a short puffy piece, but I promise you it is substantial. I am writing today to tell you that I have been attempting to cold turkey my way out of the grasp of video games. 

I have spent most my life playing on these delightful programs and grew up with the old Sega Genesis before graduating to Nintendo 64, Playstation 2, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, (a little PC master race on the side as well: those Paradox strategy games, oh boy!) and I determined that my growing brain fog, lethargy, and flagging motivation to do anything productive necessitated I quit the horrible things. 

The real catalyst was my reluctance to write, the failure of my creativity, and the fact that I had virtually quit reading any significant quantity of books outside of the mandatory. I used to be both a prolific writer and reader (and loved every second of it) and I had a growing fear that video games were degrading this precious hunger. 

This quitting was more difficult because it had a significant social element. I grew up playing with friends constantly, as well as my father (who introduced me to the things in the first place and remains an avid competitive gamer of sorts), and with this level of ingratiation any rejection of these devices became something more. 

A good bye to memories. 
A good bye to nostalgia. 
A good bye to escape and immersion.

And I guess this quitting has come here because to put it mildly, its taxing. I have hidden the cables to the Xbox's (yes plural I own 2 Xbox One's) and they call at me all the time demanding to be played and loved.  

The urgency to quit games was compounded by the writings of the University of Chicago Economist Erik Hurst. Hurst who has spent much of his recent time studying the effect of video games on the flagging productivity of young men tells us 'Between 2000 and 2015, the employment rate for lower-skilled men and women between the ages of 21 and 55 fell by 7.5 percentage points,' and that generally young people don't mind. He attributes this change to the growth of cheap and immersive leisure the most readily available and appealing to young men being video games. Why compete aggressively in the world or focus on real achievement when you can level up your character or unlock one more gun in Battlefield or Call of Duty? 

Stephen King in his memoir and writing manual On Writing tells an aspiring author to 'read a lot and write a lot' if you want to succeed in the business, but why write something that you feel is important when you can just play Gears of War with your buddy on the couch? Its not that I think, or Hurst it seems, thinks video games are too toxic its simply that their opportunity cost is much too high. Young men including myself are just too dizzy in a techno haze. I don't want to be a statistic I want publishing credits, a public voice, ambition, a career, and a family. Video games do nothing but impede those goals.  

On the bright side I feel its working otherwise, I wouldn't be struggling to begin a new novel or writing on this blog! So for those who are wrestling those same demons kick them! hide the consoles, smash the PC delete your Steam account! and tell me how you did it!