Are Video Games Really A Waste Of Time?

If anyone came up to me to say video games are a waste of time, I’d argue with them. Anyone who laughs at my hobby, then wanders off in their football jersey is a joke to me. So when one of my favorite entertainers, Joe Rogan, was quoted as saying video games were a waste of time, I took it to heart. Yet after listening to the podcast entirely I believe people have it all wrong.

First we need to uncover the fact that Joe Rogan is a gamer. He’s talked about video games countless times on his podcast and has had multiple gaming industry guests on his show. He’s even had a podcast before explaining his addiction to video games and how he had to overcome it at one point. When he talks about video games it is clear he plays them. He isn’t just some sports dimwit that pretends to know about video games by hitting a few key words and moving on.

I mean let’s face it, as gamers we have seen countless celebrities and news “journalists” pretend to know about video games, and it becomes quite apparent very fast they know nothing. Between celebrities who couldn’t explain anything about a game their movie is based off of, or Fox News hosts who make up random facts to push their “violent video game” mantra; it’s never ending. It’s very easy to tell the difference between Jimmy Fallon (who seems to love games) and a news reporter who’s never touched one. So if Joe Rogan is faking it, he’s doing a fine job of it, but I don’t believe that is the case.

But What Is A Waste Of Time?

Next we define what a waste of time actually is. The best example of this is an article I read that basically defines what a waste of time can be. Here they explain the simple concept that a “waste of time” is something that “is neither enjoyed, nor spent in pursuit of some larger life goal.” In theory as long as whatever you are doing benefits you or brings you happiness in some way, it isn’t a waste of time.

Yet a “waste of time” is entirely an opinion, it isn’t fact. Anything could, in theory, be considered a waste of time by one person or another because not everyone sees value in everything. For example trash is still considered trash, that concept doesn’t change because a recycle plant uses that trash to create energy. It has its use, but it’s still considered trash to everyone but that recycle plant. Same concept here, one person is wasting time, while another see’s it as enjoyment. In theory you could justify absolutely anything as not a waste of time in some way. You can literally justify watching paint dry…..It all depends on the context in which you use the term.

So now we look at the context in which Joe Rogan said “games are a waste of time.” Perhaps not the best words to use in that statement, but he goes on to explain himself. He uses Jiu Jitsu as an example where someone could look at that field, train in the field, and one day open their own class to have a job doing something they love. What stands in the way of it? Well video games.

I mean let’s face it, this can be the case with pretty much anything. Someone who sits around watching too much TV, a sports buff that is too intertwined in fantasy leagues, or a movie buff that spends way too much time following celebrity gossip. You simply are wasting effort here that could otherwise be used to better yourself, and that’s all he’s saying. It’s easy to keep playing video games because they are fun. It’s a short term reward, but in the end benefits really nothing because new games come out and you start all over. Last I checked, you couldn’t put your Fortnite stats on a resume to impress any potential employers.

If you can’t see this simple fact then it’s an issue. Defending your habits is a first sign of addiction. Which is what I’ve come across while discussing this topic across various forums. It’s not that Joe Rogan is saying “Ban all video games! They are evil!” He’s simply suggesting that the generation growing up today would rather play a video game for hours on end, instead of bettering themselves for the future. You can argue that video games increase hand eye coordination, you can argue they are entertainment, you can argue about esports, but at the end of the day THAT wasn’t his point. Plus video games will only get you so far. Playing 100 hours of Call of Duty isn’t going to improve your critical thinking skills beyond a certain point, yet you continue to play.

But What About Jobs!

Then we had some streamers like Ninja, who wasted no time in trying to defend against the statement. They, of course, stated that gaming leads to many outlets like esports and streaming, and can be a fulfilling career. But, again, not the point Joe was making. Streaming for example requires that extra effort. You are not just plopping down and playing games, instead you are editing, being entertaining, learning advertising and probably graphic design. You learn how to build an audience, how to expand your reach, etc…. streaming is your Jiu jitsu. There is as much time away from gaming as there is gaming in order to be successful here. The problem is many people that tried to stream and failed thought gaming was all they needed to do, which is where the issue comes into play. They didn’t want to step away from the game to go build an audience.

People also want to defend the statement by saying they will become some esports prodigy. Sorry, but how many people that can throw a football will even make it to a college team? Not many. I’ve been at the top of Call of Duty’s leaderboards, I’ve spent 100s of hours in Overwatch, yet here I am… not an esports legend, and I bet the people reading this have yet to enter a single competition too. The rarity of that happening is about as common as becoming an actual athlete on a sports team. It not only takes talent, but pure luck to get noticed. This is like saying you still work as a cashier at McDonalds for 20 years because you like to go play catch and will one day be an NFL star.

That’s because it is a waste of time in this context. Just like wasting your time working hard for a corporation. Wasting your time watching movies. Wasting your time scrolling on facebook. It doesn’t mean you need to completely stop these things, and it doesn’t mean these things are not enjoyable. It just means you need a life balance between bettering yourself and playing games.

What Joe was mentioning was the fact kids would rather run home and play Fortnite (or “insert game here”) instead of learning something new, or becoming inspired to do something else with the game. For example learning how to work on cars, new hobbies, or working towards a career gets in the way of their battle royale. They are not inspired by certain things because their world revolves around playing games, and nothing else.  Why? Because games are “fun as hell” and so easily accessible. It’s a quick reward that makes you happy, and you continue to be happy as long as you play it and focus on nothing else.

Look at Joe Rogan. He started in comedy, branched out, and learned to do more. He now runs basically an empire under his name and is getting paid millions for something he did on his own, secondary to his career as a host/comedian. What if he never bothered? What if he just spent all his time in Warcraft, went to his job at UFC, and went to bed?  Which in a previous podcast he explains is exactly what he was doing for a period of time and was a cause of his addiction. Eventually those long gaming sessions were not as enjoyable to him and became a waste of time.

Poor choice of words? Perhaps, but at the end of the day in the context he used it, yes it can be a waste of time. It doesn’t mean video games are bad, and it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them.