Are video games a waste of time?

Should you play video games as a programmer? What do you think? Are games a waste of time? Can we learn anything from games?

Hands of a person playing a video game. They hold an XBox gamepad.
Photo by Sam Pak on Unsplash

Should you play video games as a programmer? What do you think? Are games a waste of time? Can we learn anything from games?

When is it ok to play video games

Have you finished all of the work you planned for today? Play the games if you want.

Maybe, better activities exist. Perhaps, you could do something to improve your health instead of sitting in front of a computer or a game console and playing.

However, if you don't procrastinate, do whatever you want.

How can we put video games to good use?

Video games can provide a distraction for creative people while we're trying to solve problems. Such a distraction helps us take a break from the problem we're working on and come back to it with a fresh perspective.

Did you get stuck on a problem?

Take a piece of paper. Write down what you know about the problem and where you got stuck. I know it may take some time. Sometimes, you don't need anything more. Writing the facts down is a tremendous problem-solving method.

However, if writing it down didn't help, place the paper near you and set a one-hour timer.

It would be perfect to go for a walk, but let's assume that you must stay at home for whatever reason, so games are the only available distraction.

Start playing a game.

If you have an idea while playing, write it down.

If you don't, don't worry too much about it. If you got stuck and distractions are your only hope, but you can't produce any ideas while distracted, you wouldn't do it while straining and focusing on the problem. So don't worry. Playing the games wasn't a waste of time.

What can we learn from video games?

Proponents of video games would tell you that games help you learn better decision-making skills, faster reaction times, improved ability to multi-task, and increased focus.

Maybe. I don't know. It doesn't matter. I want to talk about something else.

What do we do when we play a video game? We face difficulties that get increasingly harder to overcome. And we have fun while doing it!

I enjoy playing Rimworld. It's a base-building game. You constantly get attacked, and you are supposed to survive and build a spaceship.

Would the game be fun if my units got better, the base defense structures grew stronger, but the enemies stayed the same?

Would anybody want to play it if a base housing twelve people with machine guns were attacked by two dudes with a wooden spear and a bow? It would be fun if it happened once per game. It could be some joke. What if all attacks were like this?The game would be boring.

We don't enjoy staying in a virtual comfort zone while playing video games.

Can we apply this mindset to real life?

What would you say? Do you say, "Life is not a game?" What if? Perhaps life is a game, and we play it wrong? If it isn't a game, we have nothing to lose either. Seriously.

Whatever you do, you'll die one day. The only way to lose is not to take any risks. (Some exceptions exist. For example, if you may end up in prison or prematurely dead, the reward isn't worth it.)

Let's give it a try. Pick a goal and figure out the next step toward the goal. Pick something slightly above your current skills. Slightly! In Rimworld, we don't get attacked by eight angry robots when all we have are three people with knives. (Unless you choose the random gameplay mode. In this case, anything can happen.)

What would happen if you did it every day? You would get results. Results. That's what you get when you constantly achieve more ambitious goals.

Did you expect games to be a metaphor for a satisfying life? ;)