Gaming is an enormous cultural and generational phenomenon. Appearing relatively recently, games have swept the world. One may now attend massive E-Sports events which fill a World-Cup Stadium. Pretty impressive, huh?
The same place that these esports are largest, however, is also where they are also widely regarded as detrimental to one's well being, mostly by the older population. In Korea, they even have Doctor's who specialize in rehabilitating people addicted to gaming. In a place where one can find a "gaming bang" (a place full of high-end computers capable of playing video games, often open 24/7) this isn't very surprising.
To me, games are marvellous. They are a wonder of this time; full of complex physics, art, and music--games are a culmination and combination of both science and art. I absolutely love them. They put you in the drivers seat bringing your character to victory and greatness; or they make you feel hopeless and fear for your life (That's you, Amneisa: The Dark Descent). Two weeks ago, however, I gave up games. For good (smartphone games don't count, OK?).
Why would I give up such a wonderful medium? Put simply, spending 6+ hours daily grinding your character in League of Legends isn't the best way to spend time. I came to the conclusion that I was grinding for virtual pixels and instant gratification rewards made to keep me playing. Fake status (unless you're an E-Sport gamer) among a community of people I don't even know. I began asking myself if it was worth it.
I based my decision on one of the basic principles of Economics: Opportunity Cost. Put simply, Opportunity cost of a choice is
[blockquote source="Wikipedia"] the value of the best alternative forgone, in a situation in which a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources[/blockquote]
In other words, if I played 5 hours of League of Legends in one day, and it takes me ~1 hour and 30 minutes to write a quality article, I would be able to write approximatley 3 articles in the time that I spent playing League. What would I gain from playing League of Legends?
Assuming my winrate was around 60% (it was lower than this), and it takes ~45 minutes to play a game in which I earn ~300IP for a win (I always used IP boosts. Each IP boost costs ~.5$) I would gain around 1200 IP and loose 2$. What exactly is IP? In the game, they are known as Influence Points and allow one to buy champions and items which improve a character. What does this accomplish? Well, it keeps you playing. You want no you need that next character, the next item, so you can totally PWN your enemies! After having a bit of a Sartre-esque moment, however, I realized the obscurity of the situation.
I was indeed playing 5 hours a day in order to make virtual currency with which I would buy virtual pixels in order to further my virtual status and PWN other virtual enemies without having the least bit effect on the real world.
Some of you may say my time management was off, and I can't do much but agree. Spending 5 hours a day on gaming is crazy, and it had to stop. But even so, it's the game companies job to make you play. They want you playing as much as possible so that they can make as much money as possible. They feed off of the time of gamers. The more time gamers spend playing their game, the more the gamer wants characters, the more likely they are to buy IP Boosts, and the more likely they are to dish out real money in order to purchase other items. Some of these items are inconsequential to the flow of the game (EX: skins which just make your character look cool). So not only does it become intensely attractive to keep playing, but the game encourages it along with the virtual friends you make along the way.
In effect and accordance with Opportunity Cost, then, one could argue that I was losing 2$/day and 3 articles playing League of Legends.
If I were instead to relate this to a job, I would be losing $43.25/day playing, amounting to $302.75/week. Not such a cheap habit, is it?
Maybe my choice in games was wrong.
Maybe. There are many games unlike League which one can put down and pick it up where they left off. I played these games too, and they too were amazing. Yet, it's still the same progression of virtual pixels in order to achieve a virtual goal.
So, my decision to give up games was a direct result of my own realization of what I was losing. I urge anyone reading this article to make the same observation: is there anything that one would rather do?
I figured I would be able to spend more time doing other things: writing articles, reading, studying, exploring the mysteries of programming. I loved games, and I still do. I don't expect to stop loving them anytime soon--I just love some things more.
Article Idea Credit: Philip Turner | Twitter
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