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When Is It Time For A Break?

game (gām) \noun 

 An activity engaged in for diversion or amusement.

gam-er (gey-mer) \ noun

a person who plays games, especially computer or video games.

Video games have become one of the most engaging and widely spread forms of entertainment in our society. Be it the hardcore FPSer (First Person Shooter), the social MMO player, or the casual enthusiast,  there’s absolutely no denying the fact that video games have permeated our culture and are here to stay. In our daily lives, most of us encounter the same daily struggles: work, school, family, and finances. For many people, dealing with the anxiety associated from these obstacles can be overwhelming without a way to relax and unwind. Many folks then choose to play video games. It helps them get away from those problems, even if just for a little while. Among increased hand/eye coordination and problem solving skills, studies have found that video games can provide an excellent outlet for stress. But what happens when the avenue for escape from tension becomes the source of it?

Video games were originally created as a form of entertainment and diversion. Today we see people truly investing themselves into video games to the point where it is hard to establish where their day job ends and their “recreational” job begins. During the day you go to work so you can provide your skill set that you were hired for; you go to school to gain additional knowledge that will help you get into a better professional position; you not only provide for your family but also work with them for the betterment of your relationships, and sometimes deal with confrontations; and you tie these things together into your financial position. After all this, baby it’s “Miller Time!” Grab some chow, put the little ones to bed, pop a squat infront of your computer…and do the exact same thing you did all day.

  • Work: Running daily quests/challenges so you can better fill the role you serve on your gaming team.
  • School: Leveling a character/practicing.
  • Family: Working within your guild/clan, and dealing with the drama therein
  • Financial: Gathering as many points/gold/supplies as you possibly can through the use of the previous three.

So why would anyone  choose to do this? Admittedly this in no way describes the average gamer, however the pursuit of this key things can quickly become a compulsion. People can start to feel like they have to work on these points (daily in many cases) because if they don’t they are somehow letting their teammates down. People will put hours upon hours into this, day-in and day-out. Devoting not only their precious personal lives, but their financial ones too.

For a great number of people, the challenge of attaining these goals is a fun challenge and very rewarding to them personally. In those cases I like to compare it to golf. I’ve spent way too much time and money playing golf over the years. It’s not due to a compulsion, but it’s just something I enjoy and have no problem sinking my time and money into. But this can become a slippery slope. At any time I may get pulled into stepping up my game due to a friend with the same passion. I might start spending thousands of dollars on equipment and spend all my free time at the driving range away from friends and family. At a certain point, I start to feel stressed out about the whole thing. I’ve taken this leisure activity and become so obsessed with becoming the best I can be, that it’s no longer fun. This same line can be crossed in any form of competitive activity. Especially in video games.

I don’t mean this article to serve as a, “[cue ghost voice] OOoooOOooo be wary of the dangers of video games. Be afraid!  They’ll suck your soul, and ruin your life, and give you cavities, and push your grandma down the stairs!” My point is actually quite the opposite (by the way, good ghost voice, right? Unless of course you were thinking the Demi Moore/Patrick Swayze vehicle Ghost. In which case, a shirtless Patrick Swayze leaning over Demi Moore while she learns to play Mario Kart may not appear as ominous as intended…sorry I got off the rails there).

The point of this article is to help folks remember why we started playing games in the first place: fun. There are so many ways that video games can take over our lives, just as it’s possible in any situation. If you’re sitting down to play what was once your favorite form of virtual entertainment and thinking, “Man, I gotta deal with this crap again today?” take a break. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time off. I’ve found in my personal experience, that this can not only provide relief but also make the experience infinitely better when/if you start playing again.

We all just need be sure we’re in it for the right reasons. Whether you’re pushing to be at the top of the leader board in your shooter, planting and collecting all the virtual farm items you can, or striving to get the best gear to become a dominating player, always remember to do it because it’s fun, not your job.

 

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Joel Polkinghorne
Joel spends his days sorting through the latest gaming news from around the interwebs. He has been involved in gaming his entire life and professionally involved with web media since 2001. Joel lives in Michigan, USA with his wife and son. Follow him on Twitter @sBj.
Joel Polkinghorne

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Joel Polkinghorne About Joel Polkinghorne

Joel spends his days sorting through the latest gaming news from around the interwebs. He has been involved in gaming his entire life and professionally involved with web media since 2001. Joel lives in Michigan, USA with his wife and son. Follow him on Twitter @sBj.

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