Humans are beings of attachment. We crave social interaction, and seek to surround ourselves with others of like mind and the ties of blood. Survival was for a long time the motivational factor in this display of human nature, and it is a trait that has survived and been passed down through generations. It is unlikely that many of us would find ourselves in a situation that demands increased numbers as a means of survival, but the attraction of others remains a dominant part of the human condition. So we go out with our friends, and reunite with our families when the occasion arises all in the attempt to satisfy our need for socialization.
However, as technology has advanced, so has our culture shifted in proportion. Culture changes, be it any region of the world or race of people, it is in a constant state of flux. Our culture is, of course, no exception to the rule. We are now more connected than ever with others through the use of copper portals encased in polyvinyl chloride, and electromagnetic gateways which allow us to peer into the lives of others from thousands of miles away. It is in this age of connectivity that we have somehow managed to lead more sedentary lifestyles, and in doing so have replaced social norms with those that don’t obey the typical criterion that we see in the larger community.
There is certainly a surplus of studies on the subject of entertainment as a replacement for social engagement. For our particular purposes it the substitution of video games for many young (as well as older) people. It’s really not surprising that the notion of wasting away in front of the boob tube has transferred to the interactive game medium. When I was younger the idea of sitting inside on a warm day in the middle of summer playing video games was almost inconceivable. The kids on the block were always playing baseball or football, there was always something to do and you never had to leave the street. Now, however it would seem that a large portion of the gaming community schedules video game play time before real play time.
Why is this? Is it a lack of motivation, are we just lazy? It would seem that more and more people would rather shoot zombies than go for a hike. Do not think that I’m preaching from a soapbox in this matter. I am surely guilty of spending hours with my eyes transfixed to a television trying to get to the next level. When I first got my hands on Final Fantasy VII I don’t think I saw the light of the sun for weeks. It is unfortunate that this perception of gamers has become popular, and while this generalization is by no means encompassing of the entire community it feels as though we are getting closer to being on par with that particular view. We are so concerned with our electronic society that we seem to be missing out on the real world.
There are a plethora of supposed explanations as to why this generation is so utterly enthralled with the development of a digital avatar rather than themselves. It might be that it’s more fun to play a game about football than it is to go outside perform the actual activity. Maybe many of us are using the games as a replacement for things that we could never hope to achieve. It could be that much of today’s youth has become so disconnected from reality that video games serve as a grounded compensation that they can rely on to always be there, or maybe headshots are just a lot of fun. Whatever the reason there is no denying that things just aren’t the way they used to be, whether that’s a good are bad thing I don’t know. What I do know is that I never see kids playing a pick-up game of stickball on the street, or a round of sting (wall ball) off the local school’s wall anymore.
There are games that attempt, and some have done so successfully, to replicate life experiences and diverse communities. If you have ever spent any length of time with World of Warcraft or The Sims you know of what I’m talking about. One of these games literally replicates the act of life, and has done so to commercial acclaim.
Now, before you begin aiming your cannons of tightly packed rebuttals, know this, I am not demonizing video games. Interactive games are only a small part of a society that has become obsessed with online relationships and bits of frivolous information about those we have not spoken with since high school. In this matter I offer only some words of warning and advice. Take everything in moderation, and try to spend a few days without turning on the small screen.
I’ve battled demons, fought with aliens, slain dragons, built civilizations, and lead empires to ruin. I’ve won wars, created stars, mastered the guitar, dueled with gods, and learned how to use magic. I’ve discovered new worlds, defended the helpless, escaped from hell, become a hero, and saved the princess.
I’ve never left my couch.