Cartoon owl holding up a controller. Pixelated red background. Text: Joe Rogan: Games are a problem

A famous American host, Joe Rogan, said that video games are a waste of time.

(Or more precisely, “Video games are a real problem”.)

His statement met an immediate backlash from gamers. They jumped to defend what we consider our dear hobby (or even work).

Many went for the easy retort, “Oh! It’s podcasts that are a waste of time!”

But let’s cool our hats for a moment.

I believe that the most important thing to understand here is that it’s way too easy to dismiss what Joe Rogan said about playing video games.

This is something that happens with us every day.

We keep dismissing valuable information and opinions.

This usually happens when we have blind faith in something that is being criticized. Whether it’s a hobby like games or sports, or a system like a religion or the governing style of the country we live in.

But this time, let’s not dismiss Joe Rogan’s opinion. Instead, let’s give it some thought.

It’s important to listen and consider

The moment you criticize democracy, you get labeled as a communist or a socialist.

The moment you criticize religion, you get labeled as a heathen or a follower of another religion.

That is all stupid.

We should cherish criticism, especially when it comes from within the group.

If whatever system we believe in can’t handle criticism from within and remain intact, its integrity is very questionable!

(This is also why most religions and oppressive systems have had to resort to violence and psychological mindgames to drive their ideals through.)

Joe Rogan’s opinion about video games came from his own experience as someone who has played and enjoyed them.

That is more than enough of a reason not to dismiss it.

If he’s wrong and there are good reasons to play video games, then surely we, as gamers, have good reasons to counter his point.

What is and isn’t a waste of time?

What exactly is something that’s not a waste of time?

Anything that makes you money? That grows you in some way? That prepares you for the future?

There’s a lot of subjectivity in that.

In the western culture, we tend to view certain activities in a positive manner: physical activities (sports), studies that prepare us for a good career and successful business endevours.

Joe Rogan continues with saying that you could learn martial arts, for example jiujitsu. And in a three years time, you could enter competitions, or maybe start thinking about opening your own school.

Then you have your own school and your students are paying you lots of money and you can drive around in a mercedes.

… Alright.

Equally as well he could have mentioned starting your own business and making loads of money that way.

Likewise, his example fits well into gaming as well. You can get passionate about games and either start entering tournaments or stream to make money.

There are many who have done that.

In fact, Joe Rogan acknowledges this. But he mentions that not everyone can do it, and you need to be really good at it. You need to be adaptable and play multiple games.

That’s… not any different from his example, isn’t it? Not everyone can make it as a jiujitsu teacher. You need to be adaptable and work hard in any business.

Another thing is… can’t you have a business (even a martial arts school) and still play games on your free time?

I have always studied and worked while still ending up with a good couple of hours a day for gaming.

Joe Rogan’s example on video games is a bit lacking

So look…

Joe Rogan isn’t exactly wrong about video games. But his example isn’t exactly convincing either.

I think he has a good point without necessarily realizing that his argument doesn’t hold up.

Video games serve multiple purposes, including:

  • relaxation
  • experiencing worlds and situations not possible in real life
  • learning through virtual experiences
  • being social in ways not possible in real life

If you have need for any of these purposes, gaming can offer them to you.

They also offer you plenty of ways to make money, assuming you have the necessary skills and business mindset for it.

One actual problem with games

I’ve written quite a few articles about things we can learn from video games. (And thought about quite a few more.)

But naturally, there are also downsides to playing games.

Joe Rogan mentions that games are “a problem“.

While his example was lacking, he does come close to speaking about one thing that could actually be a pretty big problem with video games:

You feel like you’re getting things done, without actually getting anywhere (in life).

Let’s rephrase that into what the actual problem is.

Your brain is getting signals that you’re accomplishing great things, without you actually making any relevant real life progress.

This, I think, might be the biggest downside of video games.

They are addictive and deceptive.

I don’t think there is that big of a problem with most single-player releases. The major problems are MMOs and mobiles games.

Because they are specifically designed to be addictive and time-consuming.

MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) add addictiveness by pushing social obligations.

Mobile games are designed so that they give you dopamine rushes as quickly as possible.

Both game types are designed to be very time-consuming to make sure that you have to play them for a long, long time to achieve anything seemingly significant.

Playing them means getting excessive amounts of dopamine pushed into your brain.

This makes you resistant to dopamine.

And that, ironically, makes you depressed.

My experience

I spent 10 years playing World of Warcraft.

I could have spent that time learning how to play music.

Or putting more effort into studying.

Maybe starting a business.

Or whatever else.

But I was an awkward introvert.

And that was my way of experiencing social life.

And a wonderful world, with its ups and downs.

I would be lying if I said I don’t regret not spending that time differently even a little bit.

Still, those experiences were invaluable to me.

They helped me grow as a person. I got to meet many people and hear all sorts of view points.

But also see weakness, in both myself and the people I met.

That helped me come to the conclusion that I should strive to be better and try to understand others more.

And, given the chance, I don’t think I’d want to exchange those experiences for any other.

Gheralf H. Swiftwar

Gheralf H. Swiftwar

Crazy owlmister. Eternally attemps to find ways to prove that his thousands of hours put into video and computer games has not been just an utter waste of time.

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