Culture Clash: Silly Rabbit, Trix are for Kids

Just as I was questioning the value of my interest in gaming, Matthew Sakey serves up the latest edition of Culture Clash, which addresses some of the issues I have been struggling with.

Despite reams of animal kingdom proof to the contrary, “play” is seen in western culture as childish and pointless. Zoologists and gamers both know that’s not the case, but to everyone else a game is empty entertainment: insignificant, worthless, something to be set aside in adulthood in favor of drearier and more mature pursuits like paying the bills and regretting things.

Still, I have to ask: Why is gaming not pointless?

  7 comments for “Culture Clash: Silly Rabbit, Trix are for Kids

  1. 8 February 2006 at 12:51

    Why play the game?…

    Over at Acid For Blood Brinstar asks a deep and profound question:

  2. 8 February 2006 at 13:10

    Why is any entertainment not pointless?

    Or is what’s really bothering you the question, “Is gaming excessively pointless?” Because that’s what bothers me.

    I enjoy playing Guitar Hero, but when I’m playing it I can’t help but wonder — couldn’t I be having as much fun and be more productive if I were practicing bass?

    I enjoy RPGs, but can I really justify spending that much time on them compared to a good movie, or a good book?

    At a certain point, I want to say that there’s value to be had from gaming. It’s fun, and it can be a social activity. But I have the creeping fear of crossing the line where it goes from being a quirky pastime to being a waste of time compared to the accomplishments I could be reaching.

    Man–what’s got us in such a mood of ennui? Is it the cold DC weather?

  3. 8 February 2006 at 13:23

    Yeah, I think that’s it. Lately it seems as if I could be expending my mental efforts on more “worthy” pursuits. It’s not that I don’t consider gaming to be fun or engaging, more that it doesn’t produce anything. I could be drawing or writing a story, and those pursuits are fun as well, but at the end of those projects, I have something to show for them. Generally speaking, after I finish most games, I just have memories, and perhaps a sense of accomplishment. Somehow that pales when compared to having read a book that widens my perspective or gives me pause for thought.

    I have no idea what it is. It’s only lately that it’s been so cold as well. The first half of winter was mild compared to now. There was talk of snow around the cubicles, but I haven’t checked the weather.

  4. 8 February 2006 at 13:54

    Winter blues perhaps. Can’t say I really identify because as far as I’m concerned, if I draw a picture at the end of it I mostly have a piece of paper with unrecognisable squiggles on it ;)

    I’ve been going off game-playing a bit lately too. Well, going off everything really. I get this every year around January/February where everything just seems like a waste of time. Mostly I just veg out in front of TV shows or read rubbish online and get myself wound up about gay-bashers and then I have to go lie down instead of kicking off a flame war.

    Don’t forget that a lot of books have about as much worthiness as, say, Doom 3. There’s nothing inherently better about spending 10 hours a week reading books than playing games. With both you have to pick and choose carefully and we all know how tricky it can be to find a really good book that gives you pause for thought. Maybe you should all get a copy of The Movies and get creative while playing the game. Plus, you’ll have your very own movie by the end of it! ;) Even so, there’s nothing wrong with an intangible sense of accomplishment – beats picking fights with flamebait at any rate :)

  5. 8 February 2006 at 17:55

    Because it’s been a real real long day, I’m going to answer this most excellent question with an annoying, zen-like, one sentence response:

    Games are like dreams.

  6. 10 February 2006 at 10:52

    Hm… I think I may have to make a post along those lines, Josh.

  7. 13 February 2006 at 12:26

    “more mature pursuits like paying the bills and regretting things”

    How poetic. :) Games are fun, what’s to regret? As long as they’re not the only thing in your life they’re healthy and worthwhile.

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