Leisure: Don’t tell me how to waste my time!


So after my Wii post from yesterday, I wanted to clear something up. This post really has nothing to do with the Wii, but the response to a statement I made about the Wii got me started on this train of thought.

In the post, I said that Nintendo is doing very well with what I call their strategy of selling “checkers instead of chess”. Although it was not intended to be insulting, apparently it came off that way. For me, I don’t care if you enjoy checkers or chess, there’s no qualitative difference, they are both just games. Some people like to read books for leisure, while I don’t usually find anything about reading books to be leisurely. People have different tastes. It is great that Nintendo wants to push to create games for people who don’t want to literally invest time in a game.

This brings me to my point, I am sick and tired of other people judging my (or anyone else’s for that matter) use of leisure time. Why is it that some people view someone like me (late-20s grad student) as being lazy because I will play a video game for an hour. Yet these same people will watch a couple of hours of The Apprentice, Grey’s Anatomy, and then end it off with the local news. I spent 60 minutes on leisure, they spent 150. Can you smell the hypocrisy?

“But think of how much more productive you could have spent your time.”

My response? Why do I have to be productive all of the time? When I get home from a day of work, frankly I need to unwind, and TV doesn’t do it for me. Games actively distract me; TV is too passive. A synonym in the dictionary for entertainment is diversion; and that is precisely what I need. Fortunately, after a few years of marriage, my wife started to get it. She used to hate it if I played an hour of Halo, but I could watch 6 hours of TV and not get a single comment. She realized, like I hope more will, that entertainment is inherently not actively productive. I believe strongly that you can be more productive by taking adequate breaks, than you can by working until your eyes cross.

Hopefully, one of these days video games will actually be recognized as a legitimate and acceptable form of entertainment. Too often it seems that gaming is judged by its lowest common denominator (Manhunt 2?), and not by its more cinematic masterpieces (Metal Gear 2). If movies were regarded in this way, people would look at moviegoers with disdain because the latest “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was too violent and tasteless.

Bottom line, it is my time, and I will do with it as I please. As long as the average American is still watching 2.6 hours of television a day, I won’t feel bad spending an hour on Halo. Just get off my back.

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