Oh my. Where to even start on this.
I have played video games for longer than a great majority of you have lived. There are a few I know near my age, a smaller number of people older than myself. We were, to steal the phrase from @Alternativechat. Pioneers. We did not see advances in technology, we saw a great deal of it when it was created. We spent our time with those early games on Atari, spent hours dropping quarters in Arcade games. Had that one game or machine that was our favorite. The one where the top scores were all our name. So I get the need to compete. The need to be a server first, top server raiding guild, best arena team, top player in the world. I get it. I’ve been there. I remember all too well being in that place.
And I wonder if maybe there is something flawed in us, not so much in the need to compete, to challenge ourselves. But in how we encourage it from such a young age. Pee Wee baseball, getting our kids playing football at 8 years old, pushing them in to the competitive aspect of everything at younger and younger ages. I was involved with sports when I was a kid. I played Lacrosse, I was a part of our High School track team for 4 years, all 3 seasons, played golf, even tried football. And you know what was most enjoyable to me? None of the organized team competition. But playing stick ball or touch football on the street. Yeah I guess we picked teams, but it didn’t really matter who was good or bad, we all played. We did not sit out one person, did not tell someone no you are not good enough, or sorry there is no room on the team.
I look back on my life and things I have accomplished. And feel that the most fun I have ever had was when I just participated because it was enjoyable. When I ran cross country, where I would run 10-12 miles a day in practice, I did not do it to be number one. I did it because it was enjoyable. It was relaxing in its own way. I was not the best on the team, nor did those that were put me down for not being the best. We were a team yes, we did compete to win, but if we didn’t there were no fingers pointed. We all just collapsed in exhaustion and went home to do it all another day.
I recall in college playing a game called Robotron 2084. I can recall how good I was playing it. Being able to play an hour on one quarter. That was what we did. When our allowance was only a few dollars, we learned to play the best we could because it was the only way to keep playing. And you know what the best moment I recall from back then was, seeing the young kid standing next to me, watching me play with amazement and wonder in his eyes. And the look of astonishment when I said here take over. It’s all yours. I know it was one of the best games I had ever played. And knew he would have the high score. And it did not matter. I knew I could probably play for hours. But that meant someone couldn’t. And I think that may be a defining moment in my life. I realized that the best part of playing, or competing in anything, is when you let someone else play too.
So I wonder, as we encourage our kids, to be the best at all costs, be number one, are we pushing too much to be number one, to be the best, and if we do reach that level, to put others down, so our status will mean that much more. I wonder sometimes what ever became of the kid I handed that game off to, did he go on to bigger things, did he become a world class gamer, or game designer. Or did he keep that kid inside of himself and just play games to have fun. I know some will say I am just calling for an I participated trophy, but I’m not. All I am saying is we should all play games to have fun, because they are games, when we take it to a level of not only competitive sports, but to a point where people are doing it as a job, something gets lost. It is no longer a game, it is now a job. We all have enough work in our lives, some more than others. Maybe it is time to step back and just say, Some times a game just needs to be a game, for no other reason than, just to have fun.