Increasingly over the past few years, as more people are introduced to and are playing games, there has been a widespread emotion felt by many gamers called Gamer’s Remorse. Gamer’s Remorse is something we have all heard of, or possibly even experienced. It is the feeling that all the time a gamer has just spent playing a game, or played in the past, has been a waste of time. That the time could have been better spent in some way. That is a tragic attitude to have toward something that is a hobby for many people.
Unfortunately, this is an idea perpetuated by both the media and gamers themselves. We have all surely spent an inordinate amount of time playing a game and felt as though that was a little too excessive. Pair that with much of society’s idea that games are meant for children and are largely a form of entertainment void of any kind of value. In a great many cases that can be absolutely true, but this is not a phenomena unique to gaming.
All forms of entertainment have their own inherent value and also have areas lacking in value. Can we all honestly say that time is better spent watching Netflix rather than playing games? Going to the movies? Reading a book? The only real difference in many forms of entertainment is the societal perception. Movies, TV, books, music, and everything else have already been accepted and largely integrated into most everyone’s daily lives. Gaming, on the other hand, has not. That is beginning to change with the wide use of smartphones and gaming apps, but that is just scratching the surface.
Calling yourself a gaming aficionado when you only play iOS or Android games on your phone is like calling yourself a cinephile when you watch only, or mainly, blockbusters. This is not to be condescending, but it is to say that you have to really immerse yourself in a medium to consider yourself knowledgeable about it. In other words, I only point this out for accuracy’s sake – not to give myself or anyone else some kind of air of superiority. I don’t call myself an astronomer because every once in a while I break out my telescope. I haven’t immersed myself in the subject, but have just scratched the surface. I am just fine not calling myself, or being identified as, an astronomer. My interest is superficial, and that is just fine. It would be unfair and inaccurate to call myself an astronomer.
I say all that to point out that the recognition of gaming in the form of what most people are exposed to, apps, is not recognizing what gaming is as a whole. We won’t be at that point until society’s perception of the moniker “gamer” is changed. As it is now, “gamer” is an exclusionary word to point out difference. When people use the word “movie buff” it is not scornful, but descriptive. When gaming is considered in that same light we will know that the stigma will be largely gone, which won’t happen until society gets a good grasp on gaming culture.
As it is right now, society scorns what they do not know, but that is fortunately beginning to change.
Understanding that, it becomes easier to reject the idea of Gamer’s Remorse. There is no legitimate reason we should view gaming as being more of a waste of time than any other form of entertainment. They all have the same end goal: enjoyment, and all offer some kind of benefits along the way. In all forms of entertainment the idea of love has been explored, of courage, duty, friendship, depression, individualism, conformity, and a limitless amount of other issues. The same subjects that books or movies explore are very similar to what games explore. The only difference is the presentation. There is no reason to feel remorse when you enjoy the way that Telltale’s The Walking Dead taught you about responsibility and sacrifice, largely in the form of Clementine, more than A Tale of Two Cities.
Gaming is just another medium for expression, and experiencing something that another person has created is by no means grounds for any kind of remorse. You may enjoy the way games express ideas or emotions better than other mediums, or just play them for their inherent entertainment value. Pure entertainment exists in all mediums. Other mediums may be better at some things, like if I were going to learn about a complex subject I would probably turn to some books rather than a game or movie. Different mediums serve different purposes. There is no reason that idea does not apply to gaming as well.
I hate putting this in here because for some reason it makes the cynical side of me roll my eyes, but all this is getting at is this quote: “Time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time.” As long as you are enjoying your time while playing games, why should you care what other people think? That is a large part of the issue. We somehow feel as though the rest of society will judge us for spending our free time playing games. That is where at least some of the remorse comes from. Surely, some will come from a remorseful feeling that we feel that our time could have been better spent cleaning, learning, working, etc, but a lot of it stems from the judgement of society. The quote is especially true if you are playing games solely for their entertainment value. When that is the case, who should care how time you set aside for entertainment is spent?
As discussed before, once society warms up to the idea of games and it becomes more accepted, the feeling of remorse should slip away from many people. What should that mean to you if you play games? That your feeling of remorse, if you have or have had it, is not your fault. The stigma of society has created that remorse, not anything inherent in yourself. Working to remove that stigma will remove the collective feeling of remorse that many gamers share. Realizing that, all should know that there is no reason to feel remorse at all.
I’m not arguing that gaming is the best way to spend your free time, but that it is okay to spend your free time playing games. As said before, all mediums provide something different.
The other significant issue, where a great deal of remorse also likely comes from, is knowing just how to balance the time playing games with other things. It is probably not okay to play games for six hours plus a day regularly. Just like it would not be okay to watch movies or tv for that long in a day regularly. Again though, I must stress that this is nothing unique to gaming, but something that everyone in society approaches. One person’s issue with playing games too much may be another’s issue with tv, reading, model building, collecting, Facebook, and literally thousands of other things.
Nothing inherent to gaming should evoke a feeling of remorse; it is just another way we as people spend our time. To those that say there are better ways to spend your time than gaming, is that not true for most of everyone’s life? We all waste time and in different ways. Gaming should be one of those accepted ways.
So start to reject the idea of Gamer’s Remorse now and stop feeling remorseful for something you shouldn’t feel remorse about at all.