As a dude who's almost 30, I have mixed feelings about playing video games.
On one hand, I know a lot of people who are older and more successful than I am that play video games every once in a while.
But on the other, more judgmental hand, I hear adults from my childhood and cultural commentators of today lumping video games in with the epidemic of American males living like Peter Pan, never moving beyond dependence on their parents, avoiding responsibilities, voluntarily stuck in a state of "perpetual adolescence".
I have a job, a family, and a house, but on the somewhat rare occasion that I play video games by myself, all I can see is those cultural commentators wagging their finger at me for enjoying what's become for some an all-encompassing bugaboo, a grown man playing video games.
It's as if when I play video games, I'm not a responsible adult with a loving family and a mortgage, but a sad little twerp who lives in his parents' house (my parents' house in the country has a crawlspace instead of a basement, so this is even worse, because the ground is wet and moldy and the bugs are friggin' huge!) and my wife has to roll our small children to the grocery store in a wheel barrow and beg passersby for change because her good-for-nothin' husband can't take care of his own kin because he's too busy playin' them vidya games! (It's OK though, because after playing Oregon Trail for 10 minutes I can take down a 1-ton buffalo that will virtually feed my family for a month.)
I know; I know. It's weird. If you're still with me, you're likely saying to yourself, "This guy is really overthinking it!" I probably am, and as someone who thinks abnormally slow, I waste a lot of time thinking about how I'm wasting time playing video games!
But it's OK because now I know that video games are good for my brain, according to smart people who either A) study the brain and video games or B) people who know how to appear smart while discussing video games as a sort of therapy and have started a business profiting from said therapy.
I found this out recently watching some Wired videos stretched out on the couch while my 3 year-old daughter pretended to be a cat and crawling up and down my body, kneed me in the forehead and then proceeding downhill and inadvertently crushing my "Grapes of Wrath" if you catch my drift.
First, I watched a video about the world record holder for skipping stones. (He reached 88 skips -- I'm surprised Elon Musk hasn't studied him to make an all-electric bullet train rocket that can skip across the ocean in half an hour, or at least start a company that claims to.) Then I watched a video about the effects of video games on the brain.
You can tell there's legitimate science in here because celebrities are lecturing us about how we should live our lives.
Ha, ha, just kidding! You can tell it's legitimate because they treat the two guys in the video like lab rats, subjecting them to tests and measuring brain activity with electrodes on their heads. You can watch the video, but basically, the gist is this: Mature males shouldn't have an anxiety attack for spending some of their precious free time playing video games.
At least that was my takeaway from it. I think the lesson with a more broader application is that video games, in limited amounts, are good for the brain.
Whew! What a relief! Now I can go lookup my old elementary school teachers and tell them my brain hasn't deteriorated into a pile of pureed garbanzo beans from playing too many video games.
There's other evidence that video games can help your brain, too, like this article from the Wall Street Journal.
Proponents of eSports have said for a while that gaming, paired with physical activity can be beneficial, something I've written about before.
Of course, I'm typically not playing video games by myself; it's usually with my friends or with my daughter. But still, it's nice to know that if I want to play some on my own, I don't have to feel guilty about neglecting my responsibilities, or my brain.
This is a big step for me, accepting video games can bring something of value to your life. Some people would go and cry in front of Oprah, or make a narcissistic, self-obsessed video and post it on YouTube. I'll just share it with you all, and then move on with my life.
Video games can be a healthy hobby for me. Now, if I can only justify my "weekend doughnut" hobby. I wonder if Wired has a video for that ...