How video games shaped who I am
I’ve been playing video games for too long to remember a period when I didn’t play them. In fact, for as long as I remember, I played games. Back when I was 6 years old, I already had my first console (GameBoy) and my parents would threaten to throw it out if I had no good grades. Back then successes and achievements were already linked with not playing video games. What a time to be alive.
Since then? I’ve been playing video games years after years and eventually got good at some of them – read Minecraft. It’s probably the game I played the most. I must have 4000 hours+ in this game. And while it’s a lovely game, it also helped me learn a lot – and ultimately helped me touch the business side of the world when I was 13 years old.
Long story short, with a friend we built a server. Back in the time it was no easy task. To be fair with you, I think we were some of youngest server owners. Minecraft wasn’t that big. And if you’d tell me that I would write articles and answers some years after, I would’ve not believed you.
Good news being, my friend was the programmer guy. He learned how to run the server all by himself. How to code plugins… Me? I was the hardcore player. I learned how to play the game like no one else.
I would always play games related to Player Versus Player – see, I’ve always been very competitive. In these games, I was often taking down 2, 3 or even 4 other players all by myself. Some of my “big” achievements?
- Ranked top 250 in a 60,000-player tournament
- Had a series of 151
I don’t need to tell you that I mastered the game. I knew it better than everyone else. My friend and I decided to build a server based on our knowledge. Today it doesn’t matter anymore.
Obviously, our server was based on PvP (Player versus Player). Our players could create factions which were groups of players. The goal? Having the richest faction of the server. It’s nothing new, it has always existed – and there was several servers running with the same concept at this time.
Being young and ruthless, we grew up the server. At it’s peak, the server ran with over 30 players connected during the weekend. It was a great experience having all these people on my server. I felt quite powerful.
And then, we left the project. It stopped. Bang.
Again, I was stuck. I had nothing to do.
I spent so much time working on this project that after leaving it – not my own will. I didn’t know what to do with my time. I kept playing Minecraft a lot.
Then I switched to League of Legends – this wasn’t better. It felt like I was progressing due to the ranking system which continued to ask me to play more. I wasn’t progressing at all, just spending more time doing nothing.
I didn’t feel playing anymore. These games, they were both infinite games. I could have played for another 5 years one each of them and I would probably not see the end – that’s the goal of these video games.
Here comes the real trouble. I must be fair with you. Playing these games for years didn’t help me. I acquired no transferable skill.
Sure, I know how to manage a Minecraft server. How will this help me now that I stopped playing the game? Knowing how to play LoL characters? It’s even worse. It has no use, no purpose.
To be fair with you, this is exactly why I lost so many hours playing these video games. I felt like I was progressing toward a higher level while I wasn’t.
I spent many hours harvesting skills with no real-world use. And this sucks a lot. Because I lost some valuable years in my life not building the skills I really need.
Had I spent my video games hours on learning how to write words that’s selling like crazy. Or writing articles on this exact website. Even building a mailing list on self-control. I would be 10 times further than where I am now. Would probably make enough money on the internet not to worry about finishing school and have enough free time to launch a new Minecraft server for fun and profit.
Now, this is not me today. Yes, I’m writing articles. Yes, I’m answering questions. No, I’m not as advanced as I could be.
What happened? Something terrible. And I must take credit for it. It’s 100% my bad. I played too much video games for way too long. Think of it as being addicted.
If I had to start it all over, I would do it differently. I wouldn’t cut video games completely. They are still useful these days when I need to think about nothing. I play a game and it feels great. Then ditch and get back to work.
Most of my life this wasn’t possible. I would launch a game and play for hours on end. I would not have any finite amount of time. The more I played, the better I felt. Or so I thought.
These years taught me nothing… Except that it sucks to play video games. And I’ll be melodramatic, adding that it’s not living up to my potential. Playing games is a hobby but one that builds zero transferable skill.
Think of it like this; hitting the gym is also a hobby. While playing video games would not help me build any useful skill… Hitting the gym would net me real life benefits transferable to other area of my life.
By lifting heavy weights you level up your body – just like in a video game your character gains experience. Having a high level sounds attractive right? It’s why you lift weights in the first place. To get better looking, to have more muscle, thus increasing your strength.
Now, when you play video games none of this matter. You don’t play video games to help your real-life character. In fact, most people play games, so they can get away from the real world, thus making their problems even worse. Imagine having to deal with a trouble but being afraid of handling it… You’ll never find a solution. It sounds stupid written like this, but that’s exactly what you are doing playing video games.
Why did I play games? Because I thought that I had already worked hard enough in school to get a small – read big – rush of dopamine playing games. It was a reward. But this one was too big and took over everything else in my life – except biking, which was super important back in the time! I preferred biking over playing games, and it’s still the case.
The real trouble is that playing video games blocked my growth. And it’s probably stopping yours too, otherwise you wouldn’t be here reading this article.
When playing games, everything you do is hiding yourself behind a keyboard and screen, playing with a character that’s not you.
Trouble being that this character can become whatever you want him to become. The strongest man alive. The most fortunate character of its game… While you remain the exact same person in real life.
Worst, these games are usually built around you are playing a lot. To say the least, the games ask you to play for hours – and sometimes everyday – so you can grab some bonus and upgrade your fictional character. This is dangerous in the sense that it removes progress from yourself and put it on the back of your character.
So yeah, playing video games will not help you conquer yourself – neither will watching TV or scrolling down social network. The only difference is that video games put you in the universe, making sure you are acting in the game – you have an influence over the situation happening in the game. This is not true when it comes to other medium.
Watching TV puts you on the inactive side of the spectrum. Whatever you do, it has no effect on what you’ll see on the screen. You can scream and shout all you want; the character will not do what you want him to do.
Video games are different because your actions are creating results – in the fictional world. Bad news being, this is tricking your brain that you are progressing in real life, which is not the case. It’s as powerful as some people start living in the game rather than in their life.
They stop improving in their personal life. They start living to play in a game that’s not real. It’s a waste of time.