15 Minutes

Financial, Relationship and Spiritual Growth. Personal Development. Leadership.

Starve the Bad Wolf: Video Games


ImageTo develop strength of character we need to feed the good wolf. But to eliminate flaws in our character, we also need to starve the bad wolf. “Starve the Bad Wolf” is an equally important half of the wolf-feeding parable; but would have made the title of my book too long for a 6 x 9 inch cover.

Everyone has heard the comparison that the human brain is like a computer. A computer is only as valuable as the input it receives. While we are loading quality programs into our computers, we also need to keep the negative from corrupting our hard drive. We should be just as careful of what we put into our brains as we are of what goes into our computers. If you never install virus protection on your computer and you visit a bunch of sites with dubious reputations, then you deserve to have your computer be sluggish, not secure, and prone to viruses. And if you don’t protect your brain from negative influences, then you generate negative thoughts; and your brain becomes sluggish, insecure, and prone to sickness.

The video game industry brings in more revenue than movies, television and radio combined; and has been doing so for the last ten years or so. Unfortunately, like movies, television and radio, many games feel the need to push the envelope of the rating system as far as it can go.

If man is a product of both genetics and environment, then how can anyone possibly think that it’s a good idea to spend any length of time in a video game environment surrounded by graphic death and destruction? I would be willing to bet that in a few years there will be an epidemic of video-game-induced PTSD; although it will have a brand new name so that a psychologist can publish a paper and take credit for diagnosing this “new” mental disorder.

But there is another aspect of video games outside of graphic content that is feeding the bad wolf. The allure of video games is that they create the illusion of achievement. In most games, you play a character that develops skills, acquires wealth, unlocks secrets, gains power, defeats the enemy. As human beings we are designed to be goal-striving organisms. We are happiest when we have a sense of purpose. Except that all that skill, wealth, and power exists only as electronic data bits that can all be wiped out by forces outside your control. You are spending hours and dollars developing a game persona that is both fictional and temporary.

Some men die by shrapnel,
and some go down in flames,
but most men perish inch by inch,
playing at little games

Video game companies are not your friend. They are just farming you for dollars and giving you just enough of a feeling of self-satisfaction to keep you logged in.

Author: Matt_S_Law

Matt S. Law is an author focusing on success principle and motivational books. He was born, raised and currently resides in Honolulu, Hawaii.

7 thoughts on “Starve the Bad Wolf: Video Games

  1. I have to disagree that video games create only the illusion of achievment. Many games require a high level of problem-solving, strategizing, and quick-thinking. Others are story-driven and could be compared to reading a fiction book in an interactive medium. Gaming is just as valid a use of leisure time as most other solo activities like reading, knitting, collecting stamps, or whatever you’re into.

    Research consistently supports the notion that gaming can improve many cognitive abilities. Video games can be an excellent stress reliever as well. I’ve played all types of games with a pretty high level of commitment since I was a child, and still managed to develop into a balanced, responsible, highly-educated adult. Anything is excess can be cause problems and games are no exception, but moderate gaming is definitely not a waste of time.

    • It probably sounds like I’m a hard core anti-gamer but I’m really not. Everyone needs downtime to relax. The key, as you say, is moderation. For example, I have a friend that was fired from his IT job for playing World of Warcraft. I also have several old high-school classmates that have become social shut-ins glued to their computers every night. I personally spent a lot of time playing video and computer games growing up, from the arcade to the PC to consoles. I also consider myself reasonably well-adjusted; but I have no problem stating that all those hours were definitively wasted. I would be hard pressed to think of a single skill, fact, or achievement picked up in a game that I’ve been able to translate into a real world benefit.

      That being said, I have an old friend that when he visits, I still pull my PS2 out of the closet so that we can play Medievil for nostalgia’s sake.

      • I guess it depends on your definition of wasted time. Is time spent reading comic books wasted? Time playing cards? Time playing with your cat? All of these activites arguably provide no concrete benefit, but like gaming, they provide relaxation, distraction, and moments free from life’s responsibilities. I don’t consider that wasted time at all.

        One real-world benefit I have gotten from gaming is that I have a freakishly good sense of direction, and I directly attribute this to gaming. Some games can be educational and enriching; for example, I learned a lot about the ghost legends of different cultures from around the world through a game called Nocturne.

        We might have to agree to disagree, because you’ll never convince me that video games have no benefits… to me it’s very clear, from personal experience, that they do.

      • That’s actually a good example from my own experience as well. I was raised on the dungeon-crawl game Wizardry and can navigate through 3d game mazes easily. Yet, I have a terrible sense of direction in real life. In fact, when my baby brother was born (half brother), at three years of age he would remind my family where we parked the car because he had a naturally good sense of direction (like his father).

        So I’ll agree to disagree.

    • No, I first heard it sometime in the 80’s from a California businessman named Al Gallo who told me he heard it from his pastor. Of course this was back when the internet was in its infancy and video games were not that big of an industry. If anything, back then, the poem referred to men who spend more time playing softball than raising their families.

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