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Video Games: Friend or Foe?

Gamers used to be perceived as losers and incels (and some still are), but it's 2022: a lot has changed.

“Put that controller down–those video games will rot your brain!”

Most of us have heard this quote at some point in our lives, whether it was directed toward us by a concerned parent, or said in a movie or TV show. There are common perceptions of people who play video games (or “gamers”) shown in the media, and the vast majority are negative. Gamers are typically shown as reclusive, unkept, lazy losers. There are even many who believe that violent video games are the source of a lot of the violent behavior that is present in today’s youth.

I am here to advocate for the gamers, to change the negative perspective, and to fight... for our right... to lan party.

Reason 1: Gamers Are Smart

People have often perceived gamers as lazy individuals who don’t have time or the will to study because they're so focused on getting to the next level in the game, or increasing their KDR (kill to death ratio). But there are many studies that show that people who game tend to have higher grades in school, better reaction times and hand eye coordination, and increased cognitive function. Most games serve as visual puzzles that help the individual playing make fast-paced, cognitive decisions based on a presented set of variables.

This quick, decisive decision making helps stimulate cognitive function. Think of a video game as a daily mental workout. We could all learn from the gamers and work our brains out.

Reason 2: Gamers Make Better Employees

Along with generally being more intellectually adept, gamers exemplify many qualities that would benefit any work environment. Gamers tend to be team-oriented individuals who are used to serving specific roles to get jobs done, which is an invaluable skill at work. They're creative problem solvers, as many quests and puzzles in video games require a different angle of thought to accomplish them. Gamers are natural leaders: whether it's through a clan, guild, or squad, there are many opportunities during gaming to develop leadership qualities, and those can definitely translate to the workforce.

Gamers also tend to have better vision, both metaphorically and literally. Studies have shown that people who play first person shooter (FPS) style games are better at seeing objects in cluttered environments. Lastly, gamers are typically more loyal. Similar to bonds formed in traditional sports among teammates, gamers hold strong bonds with fellow players. Loyalty is always a valued asset to any team, whether it’s in cyberspace or the workspace.

Reason 3: Gamers Have Friends

Gamers are nerds and losers–that seemed to be the stereotype observed in all of the John Hughes films, at least. Over the decades, somehow the nerds and losers got popular, and a community was born. In today’s day and age, gaming has developed a culture of its own. Video games are bringing together people and connecting them in the same magnitude as fandoms for TV shows, and are even on par with some of the biggest sport fan groups. There are huge followings for various games.

In today’s increasingly connected world, gaming has also become more connected with MMOs, or mass multiplayer online games. During the pandemic when people were isolated in the world, many turned to MMO games to connect with their friends and maintain their now-quarantined relationships. Games such as Valorant, Among Us, Fall Guys, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons accelerated in popularity during the lockdown period, and served as many people’s only outlets to stay connected to their friend groups. Whether it was accusing people of not being in weapons doing their assigned tasks (labeled as “sus”) or asking friends what is going on in the economic world of turnips, people found ways to normalize social interactions through MMO video games.

I personally am able to connect better with my cousin, who is constantly busy in medical residency, my brother who lives two time zones away in Illinois, and my other friends that I don't interact with on a regular basis, all via weekly gaming sessions. We talk on chat via Discord (a popular messaging/phone/video chat app for gamers), often about the game, but also about what is going on in our lives and what the latest gossip is. Gaming has become probably the most consistent form of regular social interaction that I use to remain connected to a lot of my friends. People who say gamers are antisocial and don’t have friends probably themselves are antisocial and don’t have any friends (aka: losers).

Reason 4: Gamers Are Rich

Let me preface this one by saying that not all gamers are rich... but they can be.

The previous misconception about gamers is that they would never amount to anything through the useless act of gaming. There are several ways to make money in the gaming industry, and when I say money, I mean MONEY. First is the obvious occupation of “professional gamers.” These individuals are usually part of a gaming team. Similar to sport franchises, these players are recruited and paid money to play on professional video game teams. Usually each franchise will have a team for each major competitive game, such as Valorant, Dota 2, League of Legends, or Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CS:GO), to name a few. These teams compete in various tournaments and play for prize pools tournament style. Typically, teams face each other head to head through pool play and then single elimination tournament style, not dissimilar to other “traditional” competitive sport tournaments.

The prize pools awarded at these tournaments can be huge. Last year in 2021, Dota 2 hosted the yearly culminating tournament named “The International.” The total prize pool for the tournament was over $40 million, and this reward has been growing year after year consistently since 2015. There is also the case of the 16-year-old (at the time of winning) gamer Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, who made headline news byraking in nearly $3.5 million after winning one Fortnite tournament.

Additionally, most professional gamers “stream” or broadcast their daily lives for the public to see. Through this live media, they're able to get money from supporter donations, as well as through paid sponsorships for gaming. There are various streaming website such as Twitch, YouTube gaming, and Mixer, who also pay streamers to use their platform and attract new audiences. One of the most famous streamers known as Ninja, real name Richard Tyler Blevins, has reportedly made over $20 million streaming on Mixer in the year 2021. Diving into the peripherals of esports and gaming culture, there are now esport agents, marketers, game designers, and more. You can earn gaming degrees at various universities across the states. It has become so lucrative that many celebrities have begun investing in their own esport teams–some include Diddy, Steve Aoki, Rick Fox, and Shaquille O'Neal. So whenever your parents tell you gaming will never amount to nothing, just tell them “shut up, I’m working.” 

Reason 5: Gamers Are Cool

We're not the losers anymore. Gaming has been integrated now into the mainstream and pop culture. Through games like the NBA 2k or the Madden series, major athletes have joined gaming culture and are often praised for their skills with the “sticks,” a colloquial term for gaming controller. Celebrities and actors have joined gaming culture, such as Norman Reedus’ (Daryl from walking dead) portrayal of Sam Bridges in the game Death Stranding, or Kit Harington’s cameo in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. The coolest celebrities are joining gaming culture, whether through ownership, cameos, or even starting game streaming channels of their own. T-Pain has become one of my favorite celebrities to watch on Twitch. Not only is that sweet, sweet voice great to listen to, but he also has some great commentary on what he's doing in the games that will either inform you on new strategies, or just flat out make you laugh. Gamers are no longer the losers–we're the trendsetters and the popular kids.

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September 2022
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