Man Talk Now's Blog

Testosterone Ain't Hormone Pollution
SEPTEMBER 14, 2011 6:16PM

Video Games Make Men Shiftless, Boring Wimps

Rate: 18 Flag

World of Warcraft 

 

Every now and then, I get together with a bunch of college buddies. It usually happens for no particular reason. One of us decides that it’s been too long since we’ve gathered to drink, laugh, boast and lie. So we meet. We eat and imbibe.  We flirt with waitresses who pretend to enjoy the attention. We are loud and borderline obnoxious. And the food and beverage industry loves us, because we overspend, over-tip, and help keep America’s bars and restaurants afloat.

 

Last week we met up for another evening exactly like our last one, and the dozen before that. As usual, we took turns savaging each with whatever blunt instrument our respective lives left close at hand.

 

One of my best friends, Rodney the human oak tree, is one of the largest, strongest specimens of homo sapiens you’ll ever encounter. He’s also fighting a losing battle against his wife Celia’s excellent cooking. His expanding gut provided excellent fodder for fun – fun that will last until the next time he flattens one of us like a bug on the basketball court. For my part, I took hostile fire over my bizarre on-and-off (and on-and-off again and again) relationship with my bizarre girlfriend (?) in England, whether she might be sharing a bed with someone else, and whether that someone might be male or female.

 

And then there was Ted. Ted doesn’t play sports anymore. He doesn’t go hiking and camping with his wife the way he used to. He’s quit playing in his neighborhood garage band, doesn’t help coach his son’s teams, and no longer calls to kick around ambitious new ideas he wants to implement at the company he works for.

 

Ted has become a toad. A boring, video game-playing toad.

 

At last week’s dinner, the first time he brought up the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) to which he’s so devoted, the rest of us nodded and made meaningless grunts of non-interest. The second time he tried to trumpet his video game prowess, we shifted about a little uncomfortably. We like Ted, and he’s been a friend for a long time, but…

 

“What are you, thirteen, dickhead?” said my tiny pal Robert, a terrifying attorney. “Nobody cares about video games. Can we get back to baseball, politics and sex?”

 

The gang got a good guffaw out of that, but Robert was wrong. Some people care about video games. Ted cares about video games. A lot. Too much. In fact, too many men care too much about these electronic time-wasters.

 

According to industry estimates, Americans spent in excess of $25 billion last year on video games, hardware and accessories. More than double what we spent on either music or movies. That’s a lot of kids blowing a lot of their allowance, right?

 

Wrong! The Entertainment Software Association shares a lot of carefully-sifted and massaged data designed to offer a rosy picture about the business, but a couple of items are inescapably scary.

 

·         The average video game buyer is 37 years old.

·         The age of the most frequent video game buyers is 41.

 

For the love of God! If you want to know what’s wrong with America today – and particularly American men – why not start right here? I saw some statistics showing the average adult video game weenie is spending between 20 and 25 hours per week on this foolishness.

 

Let me ask this: While these dolts are blowing their money and time refining their ability to blow things up online, what are they not doing?

 

I’ll answer my own question. I’ll tell you what they’re not doing. They’re not:

 

·         Working - which men are supposed to do.

·         Looking for work, going to school or completing training - which men are supposed to do if they don’t have work.

·         Playing sports, running or doing other exercise - which men are supposed to do, to remain reasonably attractive, physically fit, mentally fit, and capable of fighting off criminals, wild animals and Scientologists.

·         Playing with their kids, doing homework with their kids, reading to their kids, and coaching their kids – which men are supposed to do because it’s the most important thing in the world.

·         Enjoying normal leisure time with actual friends in the real world – which men are supposed to do, because it keeps us grounded and requires us to bathe occasionally.

·         Talking to women, flirting with women, and above all making love to women – which is what men are supposed to do… because we’re men!

 

My buddy Ted is becoming a loser. He likes to call himself a “gamer”, because “gamer” sounds better than “pathetic, 36 year-old man with a stalled career, unhappy wife and neglected child, because he’s addicted to stupid video games”.

 

Here’s another sad anecdote. The 50 year-old husband of a friend of mine just lost his family and house in a divorce. As far as I can tell, it’s pretty much all his fault. She begged and pleaded, but he had no time for her or their child. No time for walks, to ride bikes or have a picnic. No time for romantic dinners or shared activities. But he had endless hours to spend on World of Warcraft. It’s very hard to find much sympathy for a guy like that.

 

Closer to home, I’ve got a rule at my office. I’d better not catch you “gaming” during business hours. If I do, you’re on the way out. Because you’re stealing from me. And, since everybody gets a bit of profit share, you’re stealing from the rest of your colleagues, too. I’m far from a hardass boss, and I turn a blind eye to a bit of petty larceny - whether it’s a few pens, or a few minutes on Facebook, or with your friends on the phone or email, or even if you absolutely must sneak out for a smoke break. But playing games on company time is grand theft – and grand theft is a firing offence. I’ve got my eye on one of my men. He’s an adequate researcher, but I walked in on him once in the middle of some furious online firefight. He got a warning letter. Next time, he’ll get the door.

 

Now the video game apologists try to argue that there are benefits to (ugh… I hate even saying it) “gaming”. They claim it can improve multitasking and hand-eye coordination, among other things. I say it’s all BS. Multitasking means you’re doing several things badly at once, rather than focusing on doing one thing right. And you know what’s good for hand-eye coordination? Actual physical activities that require hand-eye coordination!

 

And I know there are economic arguments, too. Apparently the industry supports something north of 100,000 domestic jobs. Well that’s fine. But why don’t we keep the jobs, restore American men to their proper condition, and ship all the dumb games overseas? Just export them, so they mostly hurt foreigners – the way we like to do with other destructive things like tobacco, Baywatch reruns, and war.

 

I realize America has lots of other problems, many of them political. But plenty of other people are already screaming at each other about those things. This one’s mine (at least today). Grown men have better things to do than play video games. These kids’ toys on steroids are one thing that’s sucking the will, pride and productivity out of the American male.

 

I swear, the next time I see an adult man buying a video game, I’m going to ask if it’s for his kids. If it’s not, I think I’m going to twist the twerp’s arm behind his back and give him an MPRGCI (Massively Painful Rectal Game Console Insertion).

 

Thank you for listening. I feel a little better now. J

   

 

 

Now saying odd things on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ManTalkNow

 

 

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I understand there are allegedly also women who do this. But I haven't met them. If I do, I'll tell them they're huring America, too. A bit more gently, because they're women, and it's possible they might be pretty. You never know.
Video games are boring and the men who play them ARE boring. The age statistics were very surprising.
Lies! All Lies I say! I better not catch your avatar in WoW, U skrany lil gank, or I'll rip yer xxNIGHTELFxx in half and bone the other end wile yer frends watch.

I don't agree. I've been gaming since before it was on computers. I still work, I paid attention to my kid (before she left for her own life) I was a dutiful and attentive husband (still am, actually) and I had time for the things that make life livable.

I never played games like that at work. I'm at work, right? However, these days, it's more fun to me and more mentally enjoyable to game on a computer than to go out and drink with friends (mostly due to the fact that they're spread out all over the country) and talk shit with each other.

Then again, I am an admitted geeky nerd who also happens to be relatively physically fit (If I can just get out of this godawful Texas HEAT) who likes to hike, camp, play disc golf, paint ball, and other such things (bike riding comes to mind.) I also am my grandchildren's favorite grandpa (even though I have no genetic connection with them in the last 37 millennia) because I play with them and run around doing things with them.

I guess I defy your statistic. Then again, I am more prone to strategy games, mental challenges and games that require me to think things through, as opposed to having a click fest and see how many zombies, nazis or orcs I can slaughter in 10 seconds.

And, here's just a tidbit for thought, could it be your friend has descended into the gaming maelstrom out of frustration with a sense of his dead end job, possibly not being able to relate to his wife anymore and feeling like he's stuck, because he can't just quit and get another job that has more potential?

Gaming in many ways, especially when it takes over a life, is just another expression of addictive behavior. I strongly believe that most addictive behavior stems from a sense of feeling out of control, powerless and stuck or abandoned in some sense and that, regardless of the form that addictive behavior takes, it is nothing more than a symptom of the true underlying cause.

Maybe some true heart to heart talking and less jibing and jeering could do your friend more good. You think? And I applaud your stand on gaming in the workplace. Work is work. You wanna game on your lunch break, fine, don't use the company gear.

Meanwhile, perhaps a bit more digging into some of the more dedicated gamers and those who moderate them (as I do on Neverwinter Nights 2 Forums) could give you a slightly wider perspective on the fact that the demographics you cite are telling.

All those 37 -- 52 year old men can't all be unemployed, shirking work, life, family and the joys of being in the real world. Your perspective is, from my point of view, less enlightened -- and certainly less compassionate towards your friend -- than I would have thought it would be.

Still a good read and when someone takes a stand, it's so much better than being wishy washy about it.

-r-
I liked them when I was young, but never played them after I was about fifteen, save when I saw a Tron machine. Although, they say it's good for your hand eye coordination, which of course was the first person shooter application from gaming to military and back, since if you repeatedly shoot at a human silloutte, it no longer bothers you as much; see the book by retired Lt. Col. On Killing for the result.
He plays video games - you blog and comment on blogs you’ve read.

The difference?

(*Aside from personal choice, of course*)

Me thinketh the pot calleth the kettle blacketh.......

.
I'll come back later and answer any comments, but for now will just add this: I have a tongue and I have a cheek, and they're sometimes spotted together.

Also, I never overstate the case, except during the day, or when it's dark.
This better get an EP tomorrow! This is frightening. I had no idea...I am going to send the link around!! You are a really funny story teller. I hope you are working on a book...
grown men "gaming" is an evolutionary mutation
that maybe will be "selected"...
soft lonely guys with the skills of Warriors,
for when the Apocalypse comes,
in, uh, a few months/weeks/days/years/eons.

they are natural born heroes.
I felt disgust when I watched my grown sons and their friends shooting Nazi zombies or some such endlessly in our TV room - but then I found out that's how we're fighting wars now. Guys sit in darkened rooms in some nondescript building in New Mexico maneuvering "joy" sticks and firing real drone missiles at "hostiles" in third-world countries. Now I watch my sons and their friends with a concern they might be practicing for real firing offensive jobs.
Man Talk Now,

This is spot on and hilarious. "I have a tongue and I have a cheek, and they're sometimes spotted together." Good to know. I would be quite concerned if they were spotted very far apart. :)
Thanks, dunnitowl for speaking up for gamers. I'm not a gamer myself, but my husband is one. And yes, he does work and gives me plenty of attention. As for a military career, that's out of the question considering the fact that my husbands's physically handicapped. So he couldn't go out and play sports even if he wanted to do so. All gamers are not alike and neither are all video games. My husband prefers Japanese RPGs to most Western shoot-em-ups.
yeah whatever. look "dude", how much time to people waste on television? or movies? games are certainly more intellectually stimulating and engaging. and maybe people do not spend more time on games than tv on average. now if you do a lot of all of those things, then maybe thats overkill. but if you just do a lot of one category, then you can still be a healthy adjusted adult. right? you could subtitute "movies" or "tv" with the word "games" in your essay and probably most of the statistics would still hold, and the same points too. as for americans being fat lazy asses who dont exercise, well like the fat dude you lampooned--thats a legitimate point there too. I dont recall you ranting about that either.
for those who arent aware, ManTalkNow is most likely a female man-hating troll. the evidence mounts with every post. ah but she is a good writer, and good at pretending. Ill admit.
To rinsmith first:

My apologies to you. Obviously, I wasn't thinking about gents like your husband, and I hope I didn't put a damper on your evening, even for a few minutes.

dunniteowl, what a thoughtful, persuasive and beautifully written comment. Are you *certain* you're a gamer?

I'm kidding, I meant what I said. Thanks for such an awesome comment. I wish my post reached the quality of the comment! It was just a bit of fluff and fun because I had a spare hour or so. Who knew it'd inspire an interesting discussion?

Don, I know what you mean about when you see a Tron machine. When I see some of the old school arcade games... it's even money I'm going look at my watch, check if there's time, and go change a couple of dollars into quarters.

skypixie0, are you claiming to have found hypocrisy on my part featured somewhere in one of my posts. I am shocked! Shocked! ;)

Susie, you are so nice to me, you know that? If you treat your friends and family like this, I bet everybody you know wants to hang around you all the damn time.

And no, I'm not working on a book right now. I'm not sure, but I think you might need more than a dozen people to read what you write, or a book might not make too much money.

James, you still give just the coolest comments on people's blogs. When you post one here, I always read it several times - then come back later and read it again. Don't think I know anyone else who comments in poetry.

Miguela, yeah, the extreme version of this - and to be fair, I have seen it a few times - is a depressing thing to behold.

Diary of a HSS, that's a point very well taken. I do find it's a good day when tongue and cheek don't get too far apart. I imagine the other kind of day involves surgery. ;)

Matt, it's funny. I had drone warfare in the back of my mind before I started writing this. But it would take a better and more serious writer, and not a half-assed blogger to do justice to that topic. It's a troubling and complex one.

Hey, vzn! Good to see you again.

1. You're mad at me again, aren't you? Come on, tell the truth.

2. Are you still on that theory that I'm a man-hating woman? I LOVE that! I'm fascinated that you think so - and you're not the only one to have suggested it.

Can you tell me what makes you suspect I'm not a man? I find that I'm really eager to know!
fuck off! (but still rated, because, well, because)
...anonymous female gamer
I remember when going to the local arcade meant a night out, having fun with friends, maybe meeting a guy as I spent quarters on DigDugg, Caterpillar, Ms. Pacman... or playing Intellivision and Pong with my brother during the winter, after school and sports. Now, it's not so sexy. My sweetie plays WoW. Not a lot, just some. I suppose its better than him doing lots of other things, though I think I'd prefer a night out to the arcade.
I guess the real test would be if a guy were offered some really bitchen thing (like screaming great sex or tickets to fab music thing right now or fill-in-the-blank) if he would stop playing WoW and he wouldn't stop. There's a loser.

I loved the way you wrote the part about your rowdy friends. Was hoping for more of that.

And someone thinks you're a female? Really?
Ok, I know there is no need (or desire) for me to be serious, but I'm gonna anyway. My world is very uncertain. One wrong step, or brain fart, or freaking even forgetting to document something has my boss (and myself) coming down on my head like a load of bricks. It's a career I've chose of my own free will- not crying over it, BUT
and it's a big but... it's exhausting and more willy nilly than I'd like. Games offer a way to interact within a world where I know the rules- all of them. If I do it a certain way on Monday, that move is going to work again on Fri. Life is not like that. I need that stability right now. I need a place to go that makes sense, and is conquerable. Real life is not, and never will be in this niche, at least not in my lifetime. I give meds to people and the meds will work one day and not work the next, and they are people I actually care about, not random strangers. This bothers me. Banging away in a very limited world with boundaries and rules helps me heal.
Unfortunately, this is an epidemic, and my son has fallen victim to this virus. I am at my wit's end trying to find a solution. And it's not just him -- it's all his friends, too.

As for this: "Multitasking means you’re doing several things badly at once, rather than focusing on doing one thing right. " Amen, brother, and the very worst place multi-tasking goes on is behind the wheel of a car.
Wow, this is SO right on. Best thing I've read on OS in a while. I've often thought if men don't want to become irrelevant, they might try switching off their video games and paying some attention to their wives and children.
A columnist for the Baltimore Sun was excoriating the young men who were waiting in line for hours to buy the latest version of PlayStation (or whatever the fuck it's called). Said he: "Go coach a Little League Team. Spend some quality time with your grandparents before they die. Amd if you really want to "Experience the most realistic combat ever," then sign up for the Marines and go to Fallujah!"
You know what MMORPG stands for, doncha? It stands for Many Men Online Role-Play as Girls.
I am surprised that this demographic tracks older. You paint an accurate picture here of the consequences and I agree with you that multitasking is overrated. When I was growing up we call it distracted by too much stimuli.
You nearly wounded me, sir, with your Sling of Verbal Condemnation. Fortunately I was wearing my +5 Armor of Thick Skin.
"2. Are you still on that theory that I'm a man-hating woman? I LOVE that! I'm fascinated that you think so - and you're not the only one to have suggested it. Can you tell me what makes you suspect I'm not a man? I find that I'm really eager to know!"

ah well mantalk, since you ask, it took me awhile to realize it and I would have never guessed until someone else blew your cover. but my suspicion was aroused trying to figure out if your stories were real or fiction. which of course all people do when reading whatever. but I also play a game, I like to read articles on the internet, and sometimes I detect a whiff of a gender bias, and then I try to guess the sex of the author. Im getting better at it. I cant do it with all writing. only some. & cant do it with short pieces either. its an interesting exercise. no, I cant really point to any big giveaways, you're too polished for that. its just little subtle cues here-and-there.
as far as calling you a manhater, ok, I admit it-- well obviously its a little more complex than that now isnt it. just like a good multidimensional character in a novel. its a love-hate relationship. coincidentally, same as I feel about women.
ps part of my talent comes from studying the opposite sex, and sex roles, and esp evolutionary psychology, all over many years, which is an incredible field with amazing insights that few ppl are actually aware of.
ps also, Im into "connecting the dots" which of course some might call "conspiracy theory" but in fact is really just a sort of worldview/perspective/lens for interpreting reality that turns out to be quite accurate on occasion. and because of peoples natural aversion to it, someone who hones this talent has a greater potential for understanding reality, and ultimately, the truth.
its all a variation on socrates ancient, "know thyself". by knowing others one also knows thyself.
I do commend you on your choice of illustration =)
by the way you are a little out of the loop, and since the rise of the casual gaming industry years ago, there are now huge masses of females into gaming if you count the casual games, stuff like "bejeweled" or social games or whatever.
My husband used to spend a lot of time in front of the computer playing his video games, when he started to spend more than 5 hours/day on this activity I told him he must stop it. Now he plays only Jewel Quest a couple of times in a week and he has a lot of free time to play with kids, take them to the Zoo or practice sports.