02/27/2012 11:59 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Am I Missing out by Not Playing Any Video Or Console Games?

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by David Cole, Quora Designer.

Reasons why you might not be missing out:

You consider art or recreation a waste of time in general.

If you believe this, then you can toss video games into the same pile with novels, films, sports, hiking, and chess. I don't think there's any way around this, some people just want to feel productive with everything they do.

You lack the capacity to derive meaning from video games.

I don't think there's a category of art where I haven't connected to at least one piece but I'd bet there are people for whom this is true. If you've given the form an earnest try and got nothing from it, I wouldn't blame ya for shrugging it off in favor of art you do find meaningful.

You don't want to deal with learning or skill-based challenge in your art.

Games are exceptional from other forms of art in that they often require skill to get through, or at least a learning period around the input methods. This can be alienating, and I don't blame people for being turned off by this. We've developed input and mechanical tropes (the platformer, the first person shooter) to help smooth out the learning curve, but you still need to learn one before you can play the rest.


If this doesn't describe you, it might just be a function of misconception or inexperience:

You think video games lack artistic or recreational capacity.

You're mistaken. We're witnessing the birth and rapid evolution of a brand new art form, dense with new expressive faculty. To be alive right now and choose to ignore this strikes me as a shame.

You think video games require a lot more of your time relative to other forms of art and recreation.

Many of the games that get the most outside attention (Skyrim, Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto) also happen to be massive time sinks. Good games can be found at any length imaginable from a few minutes (Passage) to a few hours (Portal) to the more typical 15-20 hours for your mainstream, large budget games. These are no less a time sink than a novel.

You haven't played a video game you connected with.

I'd bet this is the case for most people who dismiss video games. There's this myth of the "gamer", or that people who play games are a specific kind of person. Movie goers and book readers do not have an equivalent identity. This is problematic: people feel like they're either inside or outside the world of games.

In reality, games are more diverse than people think, as are the people who play them. If you don't want a game that requires hand-eye coordination and action-based challenges, you can play sim games, or turn based strategy games. Within the interactive fiction and experimental "art" game communities you can find games that lack challenge entirely.

Because it's a medium in constant evolution and experimentation, it's hard to dabble and understand what's out there. If you really are wondering if there's a game out there for you, consider asking a friend with diverse gaming tastes what they might recommend.

More questions on video games: