28 December 2008

Why I Hate Computer Games

I've replied to some recent comments to the effect that I prefer tabletop games to computer/video/console games. This might leads someone to conclude that I don't like computer games, and nothing could be farther from the truth: I love computer games.

More than that, I tend to obsess over them. I have had to set some games aside, never playing them again or refusing to buy them in the first place, otherwise I would spend all my time playing or thinking about them. Games in the Civilization, Warcraft/Starcraft series are maybe the most recent examples of this, but there are plenty of others (Doom!, Quake, etc), and the next one is calling to me from underneath the Christmas tree where I stashed it along with other gifts.

I wrote about Gran Turismo 2 a while back, and how I set up spreadsheets to calculate optimal gearing ratios for my cars in the game. This is something a serious gearhead or racer might do, but for a game? Objectively I'd have to say this is just way too much effort spent on a game. On the other hand, I think this is part of how I like to play a game - I really want to understand at a very basic level. In this case I actually learned a lot about the application of physics that I had never really thought about before. I had a lot of fun creating those spreadsheets tinkering with the real world physics as it applies to automobiles, both real and virtual. (This is also a real testament to the physics engine driving games such as Gran Turismo, it's so good you can study the real world by studying the game!)

I also spent a lot of time alone playing and working on Gran Turismo 2 (or Civilization, etc.), and contributing little to my household, my family, and my life in general. Those are some great games, enormous fun and I can play them for hours or days, but they tend to leave me feeling like I've wasted my time when I am done playing. I hate that feeling. Therefore I now budget my time to those games that give me back the most socially, creatively, and intellectually. For me, the games that give back the most are the tabletop games, and that is why I tend to focus on them in this blog.

So not to dis computer games, it's just that I love them too much.
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