On the morning of my 38th birthday my mom sent me some money and a message. “Go get a PS4.” I went directly to the store, as giddy as if it was my eighth birthday (when she bought me a NES) all over again, and followed her command.
It’s time to admit that video games aren’t something I’m going to outgrow. But when I think about it, I can’t see why I should hope for that anyway.
After all, some of the things I get from gaming, are becoming more important to me with every year, not less.
First and foremost:
1) Videogames are fun.
I sit down, I turn on a console, a phone, or a computer. Voila! Fun, instantly. It’s nothing to be self-conscious about, and nothing to apologize for. Video games are one of the few things I always enjoy. As I grow older, my time means more to me, not less, and gaming has never let me down for pure pleasure.
2) They calm me down and help me focus.
I have an extreme case of Tourette Syndrome. In my case, this means I shout and twitch uncontrollably, which causes me severe pain and frequent embarrassment. Video games are one of the few things that always shut my tics off.
There are exceptions, of course. Really tense games — anything from From Software, fast-twitch nightmares like Super Meat Boy — might rile me up and make my symptoms worse, on occasion. But anything a notch below totally frantic is better medicine for me than anything a neurologist ever prescribed.
We’ve all got things we need to be distracted from. Video games are the perfect distraction.
Some of my best memories of my dad and I are sitting down when he got home from work and playing Qbert on the Atari 2600. Or going to the arcade with him on Tuesday nights and waiting in line for a turn at Centipede or Space Invaders.
My son is eight now, and he’ll have the same memories of he and I playing Minecraft, or Spelunky, or Guitar Hero, or browsing a store looking for a new indie. We both look forward to it. We’re always closer afterwards. It’s never wasted time.
4) The Satisfaction of Improvement.
It’s fun to get better at things, and when you improve at a video game, it’s always obvious. A higher score, a (finally) beaten boss. There’s nothing abstract about these kinds of improvement, and it’s hard not to feel more confident when you’re demonstrably getting better at something.
5) One More Way To Learn History.
Without Bioshock Infinite, I don’t know if my son would ever have said, “Dad, what’s the Boxer Rebellion?” He was picturing something less grim than the truth, something like an army of boxer shorts marching over the earth like cotton locusts.
6) The Health Advice.
The older I get, the greater my determination to age well and with health. Forget about your local doctor, Web MD, or the fitness trainer at 24 Hours Fitness. Everything you need to know about healthy living can be found in Video games.
If you’re unhealthy, according to Final Fight, all you need to do is find a full turkey leg baking beneath a stack of dirty tires and eat it in one bite. Full health!
In Bloody Wolf for the Turbographx 16, you can skip the gym in favor of “Muscle Emphasis Tablets.”
This article was written by Josh Hanagarne.