I like to play, play
I like to play
I like to
I like to play, play
-Kate Nash ‘Play’ (Made of Bricks, 2007)
I like to play games. Computer games, online games, multiplayer games, MMORPG, whatever you want to call them. I’ve been playing games of various types and in different forms ever since I was a kid, as I’m sure many of you have to. The first one I remember playing was Barbie Fashion Designer when I was maybe about seven. A few years ago I bought this CD-ROM on eBay with the intention of reliving my childhood, forgetting until it arrived that I did not have a compatible operating system. I may be a Librarian and a digipres nerd, but I don’t always think ahead.
Playing games is fun. There are worlds to explore, quests to conquer, achievements to be had, and people to meet. For someone who was consistently bullied in school, the people I hung out with on Habbo Hotel were my friends. They were the names I wrote on my notebook. I often say that I grew up on the Internet and while my tone may be humorous, the statement is absolutely true. I was only allowed on the computer for an hour a day, so I would get up at 6am and go on there before school. I would use both my library card and my mum’s so I could have 2 hours on the public library computers after school before coming home. I was (and still am) pretty obsessed.
I play all day long in my room
-Kate Nash, ‘Play’
As an adult I have the ability to spend more time playing games than I did when I was a kid, which leads to “binges” of sometimes 5+ hours if I’m particularly invested in what I’m doing in that game. I definitely hesitate to mention that I play computer/online games to colleagues, or even in my professional network. I feel there is still some amount of stigma attached to gaming as not a productive or useful way to spend one’s time. And honestly, if you are here and think this, I’m going to tell you right now that is ridiculous.
Defining what is and isn’t productive uses of time is absolutely a habit I know I’m working on breaking, and even I feel shame of spending so much time playing games. But playing games makes me happy. It makes me feel good. Through games I have found community and friendship. By playing games I have set myself goals and reached them.
Since my study trimester ended on June 1st I’ve dived headfirst into playing Minecraft (I’m sure most of you have heard of), which is a game I first played in 2011. And I’ve felt such embarrassment in telling people that I’m playing it, because the response that I expected (and which I’m definitely getting) is “Oh, my kids play that.” And I know they probably don’t mean it in a rude or derisive kind of way, but that’s how it feels to me. As if me spending my time playing a game your children (but not you, never you) play is not a productive use of my time.
GAMES CAN BE PRODUCTIVE. THEY HELP US RELAX. THEY HELP US LEARN AND GROW.
In Minecraft I can build things. I can develop spatial awareness. I can be artistic. I can watch things grow. By rearranging 1s and 0s, I’ve created something meaningful and that has value.
It will always be a productive use of my time.