Yesterday on FaceBook an old classmate of mine struck up a conversation about a trend she’s been noticing, wherein girlfriends/wives are banning their men from playing video games, in many cases either because they see video games as being childish kid stuff, or as being a stupid waste of time (despite the fact that most games published these days are aimed at adults, and that tons of studies show that video games are excellent for cognitive function, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and yes, even social interaction).
I thought I’d take this opportunity to say a few things about hobbies.
Playing video games is a hobby, just like watching TV, reading books, playing a musical instrument, writing, painting, bike-riding, or playing sports. And here’s the thing about hobbies: they’re things that we do in our spare time, things that we enjoy doing that allow us to escape from the things that stress us out in our daily lives, and the things that we choose to have as hobbies are 0% the business of anyone else as long as they’re not hurting anyone.
Here’s something you may not know about me: I think that reality TV is the scum of the Earth. I believe that it’s complete nonsense and in my personal opinion watching that drivel is the epitome of a waste of time. But you know what? I don’t go wandering into my friends’ and family’s houses and ripping their TV’s plug out of the wall when I see them watching Big Brother or American Idol. Because as much as I might not like it, what they choose to watch in their spare time is their own damn business, and all I have to do is (big revelation here) not watch.
To any women who are trying to ban their men from playing video games (or, for that matter, men who are trying to enforce similar banning on their women) I ask this of you: take a look in the mirror. Think about the things that you do in your spare time and ask yourself, honestly, if these things are the greatest use of your time. If you spend multiple hours a day on your smartphone, texting with friends about meaningless nonsense, you can’t say anything about anyone who plays video games. If you sit at your computer and browse FaceBook and Twitter all evening, you can’t say anything about anyone who plays video games. If you have any hobby at all, from reading to playing tackle football, that is something that you spend a lot of time on and makes you happy, you can’t say a damn thing about anyone who plays video games.
Ladies (and men), unless your significant others’ video game playing is chronic, to the point that he never leaves the house, is one inch away from being fired from his job, or he hasn’t so much as glanced at his kids in weeks, you have no right to try and stop him from doing what he enjoys. How would you like it if he told you that you were no longer allowed to do something you love?
That’s not how relationships work, people. Just because you don’t personally enjoy one of your significant others’ hobbies doesn’t mean you can try to take it away from them. And if you honestly believe that your attempts are logical and justified, you have a lot of growing up to do. Video games aren’t childish. People who think that they can take other peoples’ hobbies away from them are childish.