Ever since Mortal Kombat came out in the early nineties controversy has grown around video games. Many of the early arguments against video games contended that these games glorified violence and desensitized young children to graphic images. These days video game opponents argue that games increase the risk of depression, agression, and addiction in young kids. As a former gamer I am going to address each of these issues in light of my own gaming experiences in a three part series. Part one will detail my own history of gaming to the present day. Part two will focus on my observations of the available games today. Finally, Part three will delve deep into the benefits of video games and the valid concerns. I hope that this series will educate parents and children alike in what video games are all about and how to “game responsibly.”
Part One – The Personal Gaming History of Gordon Corsetti
The earliest game I remember playing is the original Mario on my most prized possession – the original Nintendo. I never beat Mario but I could never resist how much fun the game was. Smash the little mushrooms, dodge the ducks, defeat the giant turtle, and rescue the princess. I was a hero in sixteen pixels. Eventually I graduated to Paperboy and Duck Hunt. These two games required far greater timing than Mario and consequently took up more of my time to master. I will say with pride that I defeated the Paperboy game in impressive fashion but my experience with Duck Hunt was not as awesome. Try as I could I just never was very good at shooting the ducks unless I was six inches away from the screen. Each Nintendo game I played was mostly a distraction. I could burn thirty minutes to an hour engaged in my personal fantasy world after school then I would go play with my friends. It was not until I dived into the world of the RPG that I lost control.
A Role Playing Game, or RPG, is a game “in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting” (Wikipedia). Taking this concept a bit further for the non-gamers in the crowd, imagine The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now imagine that you are actually Frodo and you must personally destroy the ring in the fires of Mordor. That is the allure of the RPG. A player actually takes on the responsibilities of the lead character/characters in this type of game. My first experience in this fantasy was with an ironically titled game Final Fantasy 8.
In the interest of full disclosure, Final Fantasy 8 was my world for over a year. I thought about this game daily, pined for it during classes, and played it until my eye lids were too heavy to keep open. As far as I was concerned my mission in life was to beat that RPG. Looking back I had an actual addiction to Final Fantasy 8 but I was not old enough to realize it. What, you don’t believe me? What if I told you that I have empirical evidence of this addiction?
I played this game eight different times from the very beginning. This fact cannot be denied as I have the memory card to prove it. What I find scary now is how much I played this game according to the memory card. The first two times I played for a total of forty hours. The third and fourth combined for a total of sixty hours. The fifth and sixth equaled eighty hours. The seventh time I tried to play this game and beat it I spent seventy hours on it from start to almost finish. I say almost finish because the Playstation shorted out and fried the system. I was so furious that I did not play for about a week. Then the bug hit me and I dedicated myself to beating that game once and for all. Game number eight took a total of eighty hours to finish. Now (40+60+80+70+80 = 330 hours). 330 hours equals almost fourteen days of gaming on one game! That means I spent nearly two weeks attempting to beat a game that had no real bearing on any aspect of my life, but in reality it impacted every aspect.
Once I beat Final Fantasy 8 I had no real games to play until the Playstation 2. Oh what a glorious machine that was! The image quality on that piece of technology equaled the beauty and power of the Ark of the Covenant. I was hooked instantly. It would take far too much time to detail how many games I played on the PS2, Xbox 360, Gameboy, and my desktop so I will list them here:
- Final Fantasy 10 – 120 hours
- SOCOM – 60 hours
- SOCOM 2 – 40 hours
- Final Fantasy X2 – 80 hours
- Starcraft Brood War – 200-300 hour range over three years
- Diablo 2 – 150-200 hour range over three years
- Sonic the Hedgehog – 30 hours
- God of War 1 and 2 – 40 hours combined
- The Sims – 30 hours
- Sim City – 40-50 hours
- Okami – 50 hours
- Splinter Cell 2 – 20 hours
- Splinter Cell 3 – 30 hours
- Splinter Cell 4 – 40 hours
- Assassin’s Creed 1 – 20 hours
- Assassin’s Creed 2 – 30 hours
- Final Fantasy 12 – 60 hours
- Pokemon Red and Yellow – 60 hours combined
- Madden Football – 40 hours
- Grand Theft Auto 3 – 50 hours
- Medal of Honor 2 – 20 hours
- Tomba 1 – 20 hours
- Tomba 2 – 40 hours
- Final Fantasy 8 – 330 hours total
- Guitar Hero – 40 hours
- Halo 1 – 20 hours
- Halo 2 – 30 hours
All of the hours listed are conservative numbers but they give an decent range of total time playing games. When added together these numbers equal a whopping 1,850 hours! That turns into just over seventy-seven days of total gaming with conservative numbers. These numbers do not reflect time thinking about the games, strategizing in my off time, or daydreaming in class. So tack on another twenty days to reflect the times I was thinking about gaming and you have almost 100 days of gaming over a ten year period. That may not sound like a lot but imagine what I could have done on a lacrosse field and in school if I had those 100 days back to practice and study.
To be completely honest I am disappointed in myself, but I did not have the knowledge about what games can do to a young kid and neither did my parents. They saw their kid playing sports and hanging out with other kids so me playing games occasionally did not seem like that big of a deal. That lack of knowledge cost me 100 days.
I hope that disclosing my personal gaming history will open the eyes of parents and players alike. While it may seem that I am showing video games in a negative light I am not. I am just chronicling my own experiences and my own experiences with games took a decidedly negative slant because I was not educated to game properly. Because video games are part of the culture of young kids parents cannot ban them from the house entirely, lest your child become a social pariah because he cannot talk about the newest Wii game. To further educate parents and players, Part Two will focus on my take on the current gaming culture and how young kids can game without losing out on the world around them as I did.
Featured Image Credit – www.destructoid.com