Why do we play? A Gamer’s Story of Finding the Answer

A coworker and I were immersed in conversation during our shift together.  Him and I both avid gamers.  He brought up a topic I thought virtually unasked in the gaming world.

Do you ever get the feeling that gaming is just a waste of time?

I stood perplexed like a young child whose parents awkwardly unveiled to him the truth of where babies come from.  Much like babies the first word out of my mouth was “no”.  However, his question quickly seeped into my brain corrupting my thoughts with doubt.  Turning my immediate and emphatic “no” into a shaky and uncertain “actually I never thought about that”.  Our shift ended.  I went home.

Here in my home, with the imminent releaseof next gen consoles, I find myself no longer asking  “Am I going to get Battlefield or Call of Duty for PS4?”, but rather consumed by a simple “Why do I play?”.  I had begun to feel that the countless hours spent leveling, raiding, farming, fighting, camping, button mashing, spawn raping, trash talking, and gaining killstreaks were for nothing.  Just a waste of time.

That is, until I see my crimson PS3 controller on my entertainment center.  Like a Sony version of Dr. Frankenstein, the circular PS button brings the monster that is my PS3 to life.  I select my usual game, Black Ops 2.  I arm myself with my LSAT, decked out in gold with a target finder, stock, and fore grip to boot. The map is selected, carrier.  The match begins.

I sprint down the right side of the map, not meeting  any adversity. I then cut in and weave through the downed helicopter to find myself face to face with the entire opposing force.  Copulate my life.  Red names poof into existence, filling my screen with all the cliche gamertags.  Sweetskillz69, killer_assassin18, n00bzkll3r1337, and xXHottShottXx were the names that stood out.  I thought I would  become swiss cheeze for sure, but today is the day the stars aligned and the gaming gods came down to bless my itchy trigger finger.  For I full automatically popped a virtual cap in every single person’s virtual ass.  I was a Call of Duty leonardo Davinci and with bullets and bodies, I painted a bloody Mona Lisa.  This is gaming bliss.

I knew now why I played video games.  Why we all played video games.  We aren’t wasting our time. We are immersing ourselves in an epic story and delving head first into a spectacular adventure one can rarely achieve in everyday life.  I gripped the controller with one hand and pointed it to the sky, posing in a He-Man like stance.  Glaring up I shouted this:

We play video games because  headshot is our art, Slaying monsters our craft, fighting the forces of evil our career, our level being the only measurement of experience on our resume, and talking trash over our headsets is our idea of an interesting conversation!  If gaming is a waste of time than life is a waste of time!

My roommate, who also has been known to game from time to time, enters the room.  I remain as He-Man.  We share in an uncomfortably silent moment.  “What the hell are you doing?” my roomate inquires.  I search for an easy explanation.  However, when you’re posing like He-Man in the middle of the room with a PS3 controller hoisted to the sky, explanations tend not to be so simple.  I instead looked my roommate dead in the eyes and asked him gravely

“Do you ever get the feeling that gaming is just a waste of time?”

J.W. Grinnell

J.W. Grinnell