Why Do Guys Spend So Much Time Playing Video Games?

Women believe men are mysterious beings. The things men do in the course of a normal day cause women all kinds of concerns. Not only do they have concerns, they have questions:

  • Why did you eat that ghost pepper if you knew it would make you throw up? (answer: a guy never backs down from a dare.)
  • What smells? (answer: you don’t want to know.)
  • Did you really think the Super Bowl ads were funny? (answer:of course. I thought the talking baby with the hidden cell phone so he could trade stock was hilarious)

And the number one question these days: Why do guys play video games?

It’s a fair question when you consider all of the time and money guys spend on video games. Did you know the gaming industry made $23.5 billion in 2015? $16.5 billion was spent on games alone.

This has been going on for a while. The only thing that has changed is the location.

When I was a teenager, I had to go to an arcade when I wanted to play video games. In the little town I grew up in that meant The Orbiter or The Fun House. By the way, I’d be much closer to having my first million if I had back all of the quarters I fed into those machines. Now I know I was making the guy in our town who owned the machines a millionaire.

This was the early 80’s and home game consoles still pretty much sucked. Then came xbox, playstation and nintendo. Now game consoles are super computers. That’s one of the reasons the number of hours guys spend playing video games every week has gone up so drastically: 6.5 hours online and 5 hours with face to face.

BUT I STILL HAVEN’T ANSWERED THE WHY QUESTION.

I think there are several reasons

One is this generation of men, unlike their grandfathers and great-grandfathers, has no great war to fight. No World War II. No Desert Storm. Which means they don’t have an outlet for the warrior they have inside them. Football, basketball, baseball even Mixed Martial Arts are fun and combative but they aren’t a substitute for the adrenaline rush that comes with warfare.

But first person shooter games are so realistic they provide a setting where a guy can experience that which he is wired to engage in, combat, without suffering any of the consequences (pain).

Another reason is guys develop relationships by doing things together. When a guy hangs out with his buddies playing video games, he’s getting much needed relationship time with other guys.

Finally, video games may be how he deals with stress. It’s how he relaxes.

REWIRING YOUR BRAIN

There is a very dark side to video games. Playing too much can actually rewire a guy’s brain by supplying an endless amount of variety. It’s easy because anything is possible for a video game developers. They can make a computer or xbox game do whatever will keep a guy engaged and reaching for his wallet.

All of this means guy’s brains are being rewired to demand change, novelty, and the biggie, constant stimulation. How many of us pick up our phone when a commercial comes on or when we have a free nanosecond? Constant stimulation is rotting our brains.

Here’s the danger.  Ask any compulsive gambler, alcoholic or drug addict and he will tell you they need more and more of whatever their thing is to get the same buzz. That’s why a gamer plays more, moves on to more violent and intense games. Game developers know this and are happy to keep feeding the beast.

The problem is life doesn’t work that way. Success takes time. Delayed gratification is the key to contentment. A guy in his mid-twenties needs to be setting long-term goals but his brain is being rewired to only think about the next 20 seconds, not the next 20 years.

Why is this a big deal? Here’s what one guy said “The excessive use of video games is creating a generation of risk-averse guys who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school and employment.”

And that is why there are so many guys in their twenties and early thirties living in their mom’s basement who don’t think it’s weird. They aren’t ashamed of the fact they have become boys who can shave. There’s even a label for it “prolonged adolescence”.

What I do now?

Guys, like a lot of things in your life, video games aren’t always bad. Play them, hang out with your friends, whatever. But remember this phrase from the Roman comic dramatist Plautus (c.250–184 bc),

‘MODERATION IN ALL THINGS IS THE BEST POLICY.’