Why gaming can make you a better person

MELD columnist and ex-gamer Marcella Purnama shares her thoughts on why video games might actually be making you a better person.

When I say I was a gamer, I really was, and not just a mild one. Was I hardcore? Perhaps. You be the judge.

I once finished Final Fantasy VIII five times just to have all the limit breaks, get all the characters’ level to 100, have all the Guardian Forces, finish all the side missions, collect all the cards, download the four different walkthroughs and fall in love with the main character, without ever touching a thing called a gameshark. After all, my dignity and pride would never allow me to cheat.

Sounds extreme? Well, I’ve done the exact same thing with Legend of Mana, Legend of Dragoon and Final Fantasy VII, to name a few. And I’ve tried to marry five different girls in Harvest Moon. … okay, that sounded a bit wrong.

I’ve also perfected the art of Chocobo Racing. I’ve played a bit of Gran Turismo, Tekken and Final Fantasy IX (because disc two keeps freezing and no stores sell Play Station 1 games anymore…).

I’ve gone weeks with minimum sleep. Snapped at anyone, and I mean, anyone, who dared disturb me when I was battling the bosses. Endured my mum’s wrath when I skipped dinner… yet again.

When Nintendo DS came along, I (humbly) self-proclaimed myself a good Mario Kart player, even though I didn’t actually own a DS. I even battled my (male) peers in high school and gained a respectable (if not questionable) reputation for my skills. There was only one person who I couldn’t beat. But I still kicked ass without spending hours playing the game and without drift.

Yes… you read that right. I am a Mario Kart player who doesn’t do drift.

While I didn’t think I had a problem, my parents obviously did because they refused to give into my pleas and buy me a Play Station 2. I never did get to play Final Fantasy X, but once in a while, a friend would come to my house with her PS2 in tow and we’d play Fatal Frame and Devil May Cry.

If you’ve never played Fatal Frame, you won’t know how scary it is, especially when we vowed to turn off all the lights while playing it. Dang, that game was so scary, we usually wanted to just be an observer, not a player.

I am (or was) a good Dance Dance Revolution player, both with feet and the stick, and I took pride in becoming one.

There were benefits to being a gaming addict outside of simply finding something to fill the hours with. Socialising with the guys was easier because I knew their vocab.

Clearly, non-gamers would never understand limit breaks, cross-square-triangle-circle or some other combination, boost, magic, attack, heal, potion, junction, etc.

Most girls wouldn’t even care, which put me at an obvious advantage when I was looking for a prom date.

I played Time Crisis and Initial D at the arcade, although I never become good at them (too much money would be spent playing those).

And then, somewhere during my senior high years, I just stopped playing… everything.

Age caught up with me too soon, I guess. Since that day I haven’t played a single game. At least, none that requires serious effort and brain power.

Still, I am proud to call myself an ex-gamer. Those years spent gaming taught me perseverance and the importance of trying again and again, even if you’ve been defeated by the boss 20 times already.

These games forced me to think outside the box, to complete a mission and not give up because I needed to finish in order to go to the next level. They taught me to look at the details, to master the art of perfection.

Or at least, that’s what I believe.

Not to say that it’s cool to be ex-gamer. How many girls out there are, or were, gamers? Not many I bet.

Somehow with the creation of iPad and iTouch, games have lost their spark. When children become bored of one game, they switch easily. When they’re stuck, they never want to try more than twice to overcome the bosses. Of course, this is just a theory, but wouldn’t these actions then manifest in your ideologies and attitudes towards the rest of your life?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Of course, now I have become one of those girls who can’t stand guys who play excessive video games. Not at this age. If they play and still function at a normal level, good. But if they neglect everything else to just finish a game, then there’s clearly a problem.

When I look back at my youth, I am proud of what I’ve accomplished. Those hours spent gaming, contradictory to what you might think, were not lost at all. As Randy Paush once said, “Head fakes exist”.

I believe that I wouldn’t be who I am now if it weren’t for all those hours spent trying to beat the bosses.

And you know what? I had fun. I can share my gaming stories with others instead of recapping vague memories about studying and extra tutoring outside school. And if that doesn’t make it all worth it, I don’t know what does.

Do you agree with Marcella? Do video games teach us important life skills? Share in the comments box below!

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3 thoughts on “Why gaming can make you a better person

  1. eih. a good one! this kind of acts as a reminder for me on my abandoned FF XIII. :D.. btw, the same happened to my FF IX disc too. might be the game distributor’s trick!

  2. maybe you just havent got your hands on that PS stick lately. perhaps all the time and desire will be there once you do. at least that’s how things usually turn out in anime! :p anyway, good job ms. ex-gamer! keep it up! :))

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