Friday, December 17, 2010

The Only Thing I Know

Okay, I realize that this video has been on the web for some time now, since February of this year in fact, but I just saw it today. Now, I realize that the end of it shows "hope" for video games as not just things that entirely waste our time, but... it comes far too late in the video, is not nearly enough and really doesn't even begin to help. I will warn you that this might go on for a little while, as this really just makes me, well, upset.

First things first, one of the comparisons he makes to leveling a character in WoW to level 80 is to reading War and Peace, all the Harry Potter books, etc, basically saying that you could read a lot in the time it takes to level a character. Now, just with that, I have a problem. Somehow, the act of reading a book (or multiple ones) is better than video games. He says he spent so much of his life getting meaningless achievements that don't actually count for anything in the real world. Well, and I mean this seriously, isn't reading a book the exact same thing, well, maybe even worse? If you read through a book, how much accomplishment can you really ever feel? If the subject matter was dense, then you can feel proud at having navigated through it. If the book was long, you can feel proud at your perseverance throughout. A book really doesn't hone your reading skills. Sure, reading one book might make it easier to read others just by getting through that book. Still, all in all, what you get is absolutely nothing physical. Heck, there isn't even something you can show friends to show what happened at the end. You can explain the book, but even with all of that, you can't really prove that you are good at reading a book. Now, with a level 80 character in WoW, what do you get in the end? Well, you can feel proud for battling through tough fights, fighting tough creatures, defeating difficult creatures, finding magical items, etc. You can feel proud at your perseverance at getting through to the endgame of a long game. Now, while you don't get a physical trophy or anything, you can show off your character to friends, either in game, by running around with your level 80 character, take a screenshot of your character to show people outside the game, you can still do things in the game itself to improve your character, etc. My main point is that the end result of the WoW campaign in comparison to reading a bunch of books is much more rewarding than the books. Now, I still enjoy reading, but I'm not going to say that reading books is more important than video games.

Next point: Let's do one of my favorite comparisons because it always works. Sports. Now, I'll often see video games compared to sports, or nerddom in general to sports fandom. There are things I agree with and disagree with when it comes to the comparisons, but in general, in the mainstream culture today in America, sports are recognized as "cool" and video games, while gaining in popularity are not really at the same level, and other aspects of nerddom are even lower. Heck, even comic book fans aren't really cool, even though the movies are. Sigh... Still, the comparison holds pretty well that the two are similar. Let me just go with one for this though. He says that he has spent thousands of dollars and countless hours of time spent playing through games to get absolutely nothing in the end, that what was going on wasn't real and therefore (his words) worthless. Now, I'm a San Francisco Giants fan and have been for my entire life. My parents had game plans when the Giants still played at Candlestick Park, but when they moved to Pac Bell Park (which became SBC Park which became AT&T Park), we shared season tickets with another person, so that we get half of the games at home. Right now, our season tickets cost about $1,500 a year, more so if we get postseason tickets (like we did this year). This has been the tenth year we've had our season tickets for the Giants. Now, it hasn't necessarily been that much the entire time (ticket prices have been generally going up), but still, that's thousands of dollars right there. Now, baseball games are usually about 3 hours long. So with 40 or so games per season, that's 120 hours per season. After 10 seasons, that's 1200 hours, approximately, spent at the ballpark, not even counting the time to get to and from the ballpark and the time we spend there before the game starts (add about 2 hours per game). That's a lot of time. This also doesn't count the time I've spent watching games on TV, going to other ballparks and going to Candlestick before I went to their current ballpark. And hey, best example of all, the San Francisco Giants actually won the World Series this year, they were the champions of the Major League. Now, what did I personally get out of any of this? Well, on giveaway days, we get cards, posters, bobbleheads, hats or other random memorabilia. I personally have a San Francisco Giants jersey for my favorite player (Aaron Rowand) and a Giants World Series Champion shirt. Those were extra though, so that doesn't really count. What I really have is memorabilia that is just fun to have more than anything valuable I get out of it, and a feeling of satisfaction. Now, playing any number of video games, I get a feeling of satisfaction, digital memorabilia, and what's the difference? For the Giants, while I supported them, and cheered at games, supporting the team how I could, the players themselves were the ones playing the game. I was just there watching. In video games, everything depended upon me. Samus didn't run through Zebes by herself, I had to guide her the entire time. Mario didn't rescue Peach by himself, I jumped over Goombas, went through warp pipes and shot fireballs at Koopas with my controller. Lego Batman didn't put Lego Joker back in Lego Arkham by himself. He had Robin and Nightwing and Batgirl, and more importantly, I controlled them to punch the bad guys into pieces, which then bought me stuff. My point is that I didn't do anything for the Giants to win, but did something to win in my video games.

Now, I realize that he did point out that video games are merely entertainment, so I might assume that all entertainment goes under this banner for the poster of the video, so that books (even though they are one of his examples) and sports really would be just as bad for him. Okay, then, he says to do something that has value. Well, how much value can one really have? How many people today have made a lasting impact on people's lives? And by that, I mean people that really have done something that will be remembered in generations to come. Not really that many. Sure, a bunch of people were involved in a lot of things we use, or new developments of things, but really, not that many for big important things. I'm going to say that maybe 10,000 people have been remembered throughout time, so that in, let's say 100 years, those people will still be remembered. We won't necessarily remember the people like Steve Jobs (who really only gave us entertainment, so...) and Apple might not even exist. I think that saying 10,000 people have really affected all of humanity is probably a big leap, and that the number is probably much smaller. Still, let's go with it. Now, these people have lived all throughout time, but let's just put them all in the present, let's say everyone who ever made an impact on humanity itself lived right now. We have about 7,000,000,000 people on this planet. So, your chances of being one of those people is about one in seven hundred thousand. Look at the 6,999,999 people closest to you. One of you is a person who really made an impact on humanity. Now, this is of course assuming that there were 10,000 people (even though I think the number is probably lower) that made an impact on humanity and that they only all lived today. Really, the number that you have a chance at being an important person is much lower. Hey, if you're one of the people that really did change the world for humanity, good for you! It's highly unlikely, but hey, it still as a chance of happening. Now, man, look at the Earth. Pretty big, right? Well, compared to the sun, it's about 1 millionth the size of the sun. Now, something used to measure distance is comparing that distance to how far Earth is from the sun. An AU is a measure of distance about 150 million kilometers. That's how far it is from the Earth to the sun. Now, to get to the farthest planet away from the sun in our solar system, Neptune, it is about 30 AU away, or 30 times as far as the Earth is from the sun, which is 150 million kilometers. Now, in general, take a look at this image: IMAGE. It displays how big objects in space are. We've done what? We've done a bunch on our planet, sure, but beyond Earth? Traveled to the moon? Sent some robots to Mars? Just think about how big that last object is in comparison to the Earth. It's really hard to do, since at that scale, Earth doesn't even come close to showing up as a pixel. Think about how much we've done in all the space there is. It's laughably small how little we've done to affect the universe. Now, let's talk time. Earth is about 4 and a half billion years old (unless you're an idiot who believes that the Earth was created 6000 years ago). Now, humanity popped up about 200,000 years ago or about one twenty two thousand five hundredths ago in comparison to how long the Earth has been around.About 10,000 years ago, we got our first city. It is incredibly unlikely that anything you can do in your 80 or so years of living will matter more than the 4.5 billion years that have already gone by. And again, that's just on this planet, which is already insignificant in and of itself.

So, while you can do something that has meaning, it really doesn't matter much in the long run. The most you could possibly hope for is to be remembered by humanity as a whole, and by itself, that's a wholly insignificant task. That would be like an ant being proud that he found a piece of candy. Sure, you're well received, but it really doesn't matter in the long run.

My main point is that his entire video is bullshit. Just pure bullshit. Oh, and if your'e miserable playing games (as he says once), then stop. Why the heck would someone play games if it made them miserable?

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