On Video Games

One Take from the Week #12: On Video Games

I grew up playing video games. It started with Atari, then Intellivision, Nintendo, Sega, PlayStation, and finally X-Box. After almost three decades of playing, I gave it up. I looked at how much time I wasted and all the things I could have done instead. I looked at where I was in life, my shortcomings, and I placed the blame on the video games.

As a reformed gamer, I started to look down on others who played. How could they fall into this trap? Don’t they know they are wasting their time as well? I could understand the lure for the younger generations. All their friends play. To not play would not be normal. But the older people? Would they ever grow up?

Last week, I had a cup of coffee with a former teammate. In time, the conversation turned to video games. Uh-oh, please don’t waste a good opportunity for meaningful conversation on such frivolities. But then my friend caught me completely off guard. He started talking about the community he was building through games. How is this possible? He went on to elaborate how he streams his games online. He answers the questions his viewers ask covering a wide range of topics. These include the games of course, but also on technical setups and general life questions. He admits he is not the best of players, but this does not matter to his audience. They are there for the experience, one in which they pay him a $5/monthly subscription. He said he makes about $300-400 a month for his services.

I was in shock. My views on gaming totally changed. Maybe not enough to start playing myself, but enough to appreciate what he does. How is this any different from some of the coaching I do?

Tonya, my partner at work, and I have been conducting a social media experiment. We are trying to become more influential in our specific niches. We have been doing our research and applying them to our posts. Though the niches are completely different, our strategy is similar. Therefore, when we collaborate, it is to our mutual benefit. This has been an exciting experiment as we are both continually learning and bringing to the table new ideas.

After my conversation with my gamer friend, what Tonya and I are doing is essentially playing a game. Though we are not making money at this, we are no different than the gamer. We are using our platforms to share information. The goal, like the gamer, is to get more subscribers. This goes beyond mere entertainment and into a realm of providing value to our viewers. I guess it turns out, I am still playing games.

Yes, my viewpoint has changed. How is it any different than reading, social media, or any other activity I find enjoyable? Like any other endeavor I engage in, I must consume in moderation. If it is solely for the purpose of entertainment, I am wasting my time. However, if I can use it as a tool for creativity by providing valuable content, then it is a worthwhile pastime.

Feature photo by Onur Binay on Unsplash

A Break from the Socials and What I Learned

I picked up my phone and looked at the screen. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stared at it. There was one folder on my phone that was off-limits. In that folder were all my social media apps. I already checked email. I didn’t feel like opening up the Kindle app or reading an article. There wasn’t anything really productive that I needed to do on it. Why did I even pick it up in the first place?

Photo by Szabo Viktor (Unsplash)

 Before Christmas, I made the choice to take a social media break. Did I have a problem? I don’t know. I’m still debating it. I went a little over two weeks and here’s what I learned about myself:

  • The habit to pick up my phone is strong. Any downtime, I pick it up. Have an iPhone and curious about the amount of times you pick up the phone? Check the stats on Screen Time. A person that sleeps 8 hours a day and picks up their phone 48 times through the day averages one pickup every 20 minutes. The week before I stopped social media, I had a Tuesday with 61 pickups. I wonder how many times to check notifications? I get it for messages, but are likes really that important? How many times was I scrolling mindlessly?
  • Thinking about mindless scrolling…How is that really being sociable? Am I looking for content that I can engage in or am I just wasting time swiping up? And if there is no content in my feed worth engaging with, maybe I need to change my content. If I don’t, what’s the purpose?
  • You only get so much time in this life. Killing time on my phone is a crime against this gift. I did this trial during the holiday season. How many family gatherings have you witnessed where the family members spent more time on their phones that they did in fellowship with the rest of the family? When I got past the habit of constantly picking up my phone, I found that I was more attentive to those around me. This was a worthwhile trade-off.

Social media is not bad. Used properly, the benefits are enormous. Without balance, it could suck the very life force out of you. I’m still struggling the find the balance. If I can stay mindful in my daily practice, I can win this battle. This may mean taking regularly scheduled breaks. So if you follow me, and I go dark for a while, you know why.

Have a best practice? I would love to hear about it.