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Commentary: Video games aren't a waste of time

"League of Legends" by flickr user changement dans la jungle 2015/used under CC license / resized and cropped
League of Legends

I spend about seven to eight hours gaming everyday. My favorite game, League of Legends, is played by 10 different people. Each player controls a character called a champion and each champion has four different skills. For example, one character shoots spikes out of its back and explodes on contact with an enemy.

Depending on your playing style and their skill set, they can do different things. My favorite champion is Vayne, the night hunter. Vayne is an amazing champion that can tumble around and can cause a lot of damage to her opponents.

The objective of the game is to use champions to break towers called turrets until you get to the the nexus, a big crystal surrounded by wizard statues. Destroy this and you win. I like this game because I get to meet different players and chat with them in the game. Every new message in chat makes a tick sound. And because the game is so big, a lot of my real life friends play it, which makes it way more fun because we can all laugh together when we do stupid things.

Although I really enjoy playing games, my dad is against it. He thinks I can’t control myself when I play, and that I literally go crazy. I understand the crazy part because when I play games, I sometimes talk to my computer. But, I don’t understand why my dad thinks I can’t control myself. After playing, I stop, eat, rest, and maybe sleep.

Because my dad feels like games are a bad thing, I wanted to show him how it can actually have a good impact on a person’s life. So I went to the GaymerX2 convention in San Francisco, where people come together to talk and play games together. I asked some of the people there about how games have impacted their lives.

“For all the bad rap that games get, there is a lot of positive potential to them,” says CJ Handy.

Handy is a World of Warcraft player, more commonly known as WOW.

“WOW for example has a great deal of social potential actually meet a number of my real life very close friends,” says Handy.

Oz Montoya, another gamer I met, says it’s all about being a part of a team.

“You can’t do the game, on your own, by yourself, you have to find people, along the way on your journey and together you will defeat the boss,” says Motoya. “And, to me, it’s really about if you can correlate this to real life. It really speaks to the idea of living your life the way you want to live, but along the way, meeting really awesome people and having connections that you will have for the rest of your life.”

Pell Riverclaw, a preschool teacher from Berkeley, agrees: “I meet a lot of the people I know now through games and playing games, board games, live action games.”

In my opinion, a person can’t go through life all alone. Friends you meet in your life will always have a big impact. For some people, video games are places for people to fit in.

Cassandra Swaney is a transgender woman I met at the convention. She turns to games “to tune out and be in part of a world that is just easier to live in. I am, I think, a transgender woman – I'm still figuring that out, and I'm also looking to maybe work in the video games industry. And I also enjoy playing video games. So its just a really good intersection of all those parts of my life. And just to see how i can be happy in this life.”

In some ways, games help me escape into a world where nobody knows me, where I just get judged by how well I play, and not as a person. Escaping into that virtual world helps relax me and I don’t have to worry about life in general. Maybe things like college apps, or AP exams for senior year, all my worries just vanish when I enter the virtual world. When I heard all these people say good things about games, it taught me that people see things in different ways.

My dad thinks that the games I play are bad, but other people see them as a good thing. If you only focus only on the bad, then you can never see the good.

Lawrence Chan spent the summer of 2014 with KALW News as a student reporter. This piece first aired on December 11, 2014.