Are Video Games Stealing Thunder From the Out of Doors?

It seems like it has become easier and easier to sit down in front of a video game instead of getting outside a.k.a the real world. It used to be that video games were hard, you had to have great reflexes and timing to get far in them, and if you died (anybody else still have that depressing music from Mario stuck in their head?) they started you all the way back at the beginning of the level. Back then it didn’t take long for someone to get frustrated and decide to put the game down for awhile; turning to other activities like going out into the real world and playing on real things.

Now the levels have checkpoints where your progress is saved every five minutes (or more). So if you die, no big deal, you only have to go back a little bit and repeat a small section of the level. It’s easier to die and still keep the motivation to play. Plus games now have crazy good “realistic” graphics to suck you into a new world they want you to think is better than the real one. So, in short, yes, video games are stealing the thunder from the outdoors!

On top of that most video games now have experience points and character levels. So you become more involved with your character. You can now have goals for it that are far easier achieved then goals you set for yourself with a portion of the reward. In only a few hours of gaming you can earn your character new abilities and skills. Compare that to going outside and trying to improve yourself in an activity such as mountain biking, or climbing. It can take weeks to solve a new climbing problem or ride up a difficult part of a trail that seems like scaling Mt. Everest. While the actual reward is far greater accomplishing that real feat, it is also far more difficult, and your couch starts looking real nice.

This is how the game designers want it though. They want you to be able to easily sit down in front of a game and accomplish petty goals that you keep playing. And then you finish their meaningless game. They somehow make it so that you want to buy their next one. Whether you get suckered into buying the next copy of Shoot that Guy 7 or not, be sure that you’re spending a little time in the real world, too. It’s better for your health; both physical and mental. Get out there and use your body to play on an actual skateboard instead of a pixely Tony Hawk avatar on a fake one.