I have probably spent more time playing games than I have reading. If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that for every four hours I spent gaming, I spent one hour reading. The narrative supported by mainstream media is that gaming has little functional value, meaning it is something that won’t help your future self. It is an interesting notion, when you step back, a game has much artistic value as a film or a book – they are but different mediums for creative expression. Yet, telling someone you play games as a hobby is more likely to elicit a negative reaction compared to saying you are a film connoisseur or a bookworm. It just doesn’t compute for me.
The biggest argument is that video games only provide an escape from the real world and add no real long-term value. My counterpoint would be that this argument applies to all forms of art, interactive or not. When books and the idea of reading for recreation became popular, there was a fierce backlash from a group of people who thought that it would take people away from tilling the fields and working. Time has since quietened the dissent. Perhaps it is because gaming is relatively early in it’s life cycle that this dissenting opinion against it exists with some vigour.
Another consideration is that every type of interactive art form has different sub-genres are serve varying purposes. While a majority of people will look down on people that spend days or weeks playing video games in a given year, certain types of book genres or film genres elicit the same type of behaviour. The most egregious offenders are perhaps is perhaps the romance or fantasy genre for books and soap-operas or binge-able TV series for film. They all are perceived as a lower-form of the medium, yet they manage to enamour the average Joe and Jane into endless hours of their consumption.
My prediction will be that by 2100, gaming will be as accepted and dare I say favoured over reading or film as a hobby. With the development of augmented and virtual reality, interactive experiences i.e. gaming will be more sought after than some words on a page, or a crafted 2D piece of storytelling. Interactivity will be the name of the game, an the dissenting voices will slowly become advocates.