Thousands of hours spent on computer games: was it worth it

In 1994, when interest in computer games in slot machines had already died out in the USA and Japan and home video game consoles came to the fore, I was still happy if I could launch a wooden stick further than my friends in the yard. And what to do, the 1994 Murmansk region could not boast of a wide variety of geek entertainment. On the other hand, when my parents bought me a Dendy a year later, the number of stick throwing trainings dropped dramatically. Who knows, maybe otherwise I would not have become a programmer, but an Olympic champion in javelin throwing?

One of the first computer games is considered to be Atari’s Pong, which was released in 1972. Until 1995, machines with Pac-Man, Missile Attack gained popularity and went into the sunset, sixteen-bit consoles appeared and Doom and Doom 2 were released. While in the west the vice police were deciding how to ban the sale of computer games, and gamers were already associated with skinny and pale bespectacled people. in the Russian north it was easy to become the best friend of any teenager if you had Dendy or Sega.

Since 1995 I have spent thousands of hours playing computer games, although my parents controlled how much time I could spend in front of the TV or monitor. Do I regret this watch? Not at all, because, most likely, because of them, I became who I am.

Games and hard skills

Consoles spurred my passion for gaming, but the most important thing started with the computer. When I got it, the first thing I did was look for something to play. In the middle of the 2000s, the distribution of licensed computer games was not in the best condition, so often in my hands I ended up with various Akels or Fargus, the translation of which could pass for a Lynch script.

But these “crafts” taught me a lot.

English language. More often than not, I chose original texts in the game instead of “minced meat” from an automatic translator.

Calculus systems. When the installed game didn’t work as it should, Dial-up and manuals came to the rescue. I figured out which hex or binary configs need to be fixed in order to run it.

Burglars. A separate adventure when you need to run two or three game.exe files, first placing them in a tricky subfolder and deleting some conf file. And this was not yet a 100% guarantee that everything would work.

First local area network. The cable was dragged to neighbors and friends through the vents, the switch was usually at the one who often sits at home and is always in touch. I can’t say that this is a very useful technical knowledge, but I learned some base in IP addressing then.

The technical bonuses from the games do not look grandiose, after all, this is not an electrical or simulation circle. But at that time, all the little things led to the fact that you became the main technical specialist in the family, who would reinstall Windows and download the antivirus. And what to do with this knowledge, everyone decided for himself.

Games and soft skills

Less technical skills were also important to me.

Persistence and ingenuity. Many mechanics in games can be subtly combined. From the last: in Zelda: Breath of the wild, these skills came in handy in situations with regular fire on grass and long flights, freezing time for a tree and flying on it. Another game is Divinity: Original sin 2. It is based on D&D rules and allows you to create whatever you want.

Teamwork. This is taught in multiplayer games. In Battlefield 1942, I chose the Engineer – not the most resilient class in the game. I tried to find a place to apply the main skill – fixing the technique. And I succeeded: one player on the tank took up a position on the hill and quite successfully held back the siege. And I spent the whole game fixing his tank. The tanker earned over a hundred frags, and I, as an engineer, about five.

A rifle hitting an enemy moving in a car resulted in a huge release of dopamine if it was possible to hide from the passenger

But we won. It was nice to read in the general chat that the enemy team is devilishly indignant and asks at least someone to destroy our tank.

Ability to solve puzzles. Many games abound in them: Zelda, Silent Hill 2, almost all quests. Sometimes you have to work hard to solve them.

Desire to write. It was really the “golden” time of periodicals about games: they were released with applications on disks, game demos, programs, custom maps.

It seemed that the articles in them were written by gonzo journalists: they devoted very little space to the formal analysis of the game and shared more personal impressions. Partly because of them, I wanted to write something myself. By the way, my favorite magazine was already mentioned in the article, maybe someone drew attention to this.

Saw on the cover of Warcraft. I bought a magazine. I bought a pirated copy of Warcraft at a stall. I didn’t play it because the cracker doesn’t work

Games and life experiences

Games affected my perception of the world. I tried to play many representatives of the genre without getting hung up on one thing.

Although there were favorites.

Dendy and acid crackers with their 8-bit music prepared me for Crystal Castles better than the Rolling Stone charts.

Strategy taught to plan. Resources, units, time – everything is limited. You have to achieve the goal with what you have and not count on a sudden improvement in the situation.

Somewhere in the middle of this map, there are 500 royal naga sitting and waiting for you to come to them. I rebooted several times before I managed to destroy everyone

Shooters formed the habit of always being on the alert, looking around and quickly reacting to a changing environment. And also seek shelter.

Role-playing taught to play for good uncles and aunts, help animals and try to make the right choice. These games are believed to develop empathy. Of course, more often the plot assumes that the user is playing as the protagonist. But there are also games that are richer in opportunities, where you can even try on the role of a complete bastard, as in Fable or Divinity.

Quests and adventure games. Oh, this pixel hunting! Now I don’t feel ashamed to spend a few minutes if I need to measure 137 pixels with a mouse.

Full Throttle. Nice and brutal. I confess I didn’t make it to the end

Horror… Not. Walk. One. At night. V. Empty. The city.

Any game teaches you to plan. Many of them cannot be completed the first time, which means that each new attempt will adjust the plan and add more effective actions to it. It often happens that in order to achieve the goal of the game, you do not need to get all the most sophisticated improvements and levels, enough basic skills and resources, as, for example, in implementing the Zerg Rush tactics.

Good games can introduce history (Europa universalis), technology (IL-2: Sturmovik), culture and mythology (The Banner Saga). Of course, they do not pretend to be academic, but they can be a starting point for more thoughtful study.

Passion for games is a trigger for the beginning of immersion in a specific topic or even the emergence of a serious hobby. A seed to understand programming, algorithms, networks, whatever.

Games and today’s me

This is all a reflection on the hours spent. What do I have now? And not only that – I asked my friends how their hobby for games influenced them.

“At first, I wanted to become a computer game developer, like many other fans. In those years it was more about computer graphics than about linear algebra, engines and a huge amount of code. But the impulse itself was interesting. Since then, I have become interested in computers: they have become more to me than just another platform for games. Today I can write macros and 1C code without any problems, so much so that ordinary accountants dreamed of ”, – Vadim, financier.

“Every editor of maps, mods, and other things actually forced me to learn a new development environment. It’s like a framework, only in a different format ”, – Igor, programmer.

Morrowind fans will remember that this poor fellow can be found for very bouncy Icarus Scrolls. The main thing is not to crash yourself. On the other hand, the Morrowind editor allowed making scrolls like that

“Learning new things was not frightening. A completely successful approach was developed: you spend 15 minutes on a tutorial and go to consolidate the learned mechanics, adding experiments, ”- Dmitry, programmer.

Does gaming have a future for those who are just gaining their fourth or fifth thousand hours? I find it difficult to answer this question, but there are some observations.

  • Everything went online, even single-player games, which means VPNs, streaming audio and video are used more often than I do (only for work). I cherish the hope that among the users there are those who want to understand how it all works.
  • Firmware for consoles. Whole copies of consoles are no longer possible in our time, but firmware is quite. Let modern gamers not create them themselves, but some can apply according to the instructions if they press.
  • Yes, any abuse leads to disease, the already formed e-sports confirms this: joints, spine, eyes – all this is pretty much “worn out”.

Do I regret the approximately 8,000 hours spent playing games? Definitely not. Although, maybe, I regret a little that at that time I did not have access to D’n’D. But that’s a completely different story.

The games also formed my special vocabulary for important negotiations. It is applicable only in the relevant audience, but I also consider it a landmark:

  • Need more gold
  • Bfg
  • Rocket Jump
  • Astrologers announced a week
  • Zerg rush
  • Spent
  • Our princess is in another castle!
  • Flawless victory!
  • Even yesterday’s storm didn’t wake you up

Maybe you have your own?

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