Video Games Vs. Television


As I was playing Locomalito’s Verminian Trap on the Ouya, my Mother asked if this was the best use of my spare time. This is coming from a person for whom watches four to eight hours of TV a day; the TV that I bought for £300, with the cable service that I pay a monthly fee for that I barely even use. Putting aside the fact that I’m in a personal situation that I wish I had a damn place of my own. It made me think about what’s better, video games or broadcast television. My Mother responded something to the likes of “I get to learn something from TV”, but this made me think, TV just presents itself to you, whilst video games require interaction in order to proceed.

Think of it like this, a TV show, book or even film is what I call a “linear experience”, as in it’s presented to you, and you don’t need to do anything with it to make it end. If it was a recording you could simply rewind or fast forward it, but that’s the only amount of interaction there is. You could be watching a documentary about a historical event, you could sit there and be diligent, writing notes, and learning from the presentation. Then again since it’s just presented to you, you could just turn your brain off and let the documentary play without paying attention to it.

Let’s put that same analogy to video games. It’s presented to you, but you have to “play” the game in order to proceed, so you develop tactics, figure out puzzles and learn to respond to actions in front of you. Now try playing a game with no attention to it, and you’re going no where. Imagine playing Space Invaders as if you’re watching TV, you’re just watching the game play out to you but you’re not playing it. You’ll pretty much watch the invaders pace back and forth and eventually the tank at the bottom of the screen will get shot down enough times for a game over. There’s no progression…

Dara O’Brian makes a good point about how you can’t be bad at watching a film or listening to music, but you can be bad at playing video games. He continues to make the point of how a film or a TV show doesn’t just stop and asks you questions about the character development half way and won’t let you watch the watch unless you answer correctly; whilst video games need that level of attention to detail to progress in it and get to the end.

…Granted there are things called cheats that can make a game easier, but there are more and more games now that don’t have cheats. Plus the difficulty in games have increased in many ways, look at Dark Souls as an example, an unforgiving game indeed! But as Dara says, a music album doesn’t mock you at bad dancing skills, whilst games tell you that you’ve failed at it if you’re not good at said game!

What I’m saying is, as much as television as been the norm in western society for a long time now. I find it funny how people honestly think that video games are “Unproductive” when TV is “less productive” than video games. We need to stop this silly stigma about treating video games as a waste of time, when there are many other things we do our our spare time that are as much of waste of time, or even worse, than playing video games. At least a person has to think in order to play a video game, where watching TV you don’t need to.