Unpopular Opinion: Video games are not a complete waste of time

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It took me a while to admit this, and I’m still not 100 percent sold, but I’m ready to acknowledge that video games are not a complete waste of time.

I should know: I’m an Original Gamer, harkening back to an era when playing video games was absolutely and unequivocally a complete waste of time.

The skills required to complete the elevator level on Donkey Kong or navigate Atari’s Adventure in its entirety have absolutely no real-world value, except to answer obscure trivia questions and impress nerdy teenagers.

Back then, they were worth even less.

Even more so, I can remember the hours it took for me to master Tecmo Bowl and Super Mario Brothers, hundreds of hours I’ll never get back, with nothing to show for it but hazy memories. I can’t even remember how to get to the warp area.

Like a lot of parents, including my own, I am convinced that my children spend way too much time playing video games, time that would be better spent, say, learning an instrument or reading the great works of literature, or even watching all the episodes of “Seinfeld,” as important in its way.

But then one of my kids’ friends became unbeatable at Dragon Ball Fighter Z, placed in a tournament in Las Vegas and, according to my child, “went pro,” which seems to me to mean about the same thing as a surfer or skater got “sponsored,” back in the day: some free gear and paid entry into tournaments, with a few other perks.

I know that it’s important for a kid to be really good at something. Anything. And if they show aptitude and interest, it must be explored.

I recognized that today’s video games are a far cry — no pun intended — from the ones I grew up on. I’m pretty sure they learned more about the American Revolution from Assassin’s Creed III than any classes they’ve taken. They interact with their friends and make new ones, albeit online, and are experiencing a huge cultural movement of which most of their generation is a part.

So fine. Pour your hours into your video games, kids. In the long run, it’s probably a least as valuable as watching TV or reading comics. And if you’re anything like my kids, you don’t care what I think anyway.

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