“Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!”
This is the moment we all have been excited about. We go back to our homes, have a great dinner together with our families and enjoy a four day weekend. But, I don’t have a home in the states, and I can’t travel back to Korea just for four days. (Roundtrip flight time itself is over one day from here. Great!) Still, I am happy that I am liberated from schoolwork for four days (five days since I skipped all of my classes on Wednesday, pretending that I went home). I feel relaxed and comfortable. Hey, but what should I do now? I never had this much free time during the semester and I can’t think of what to do. I have some time to kill. Seriously. Hmmm. Movies? No, I have to save money for Black Friday. Alcohol? I’m down, but not many of my friends are staying here, and I am certainly not an alcoholic who drinks four days in a row. What about League? Sounds awesome! For a broke college student who has nowhere to go on Thanksgiving, League is a God-given blessing.
Just for those who don’t know League of Legends yet, I will give you a little glimpse. It is a computer game in which a team of five fights the other. You can choose your character out of hundreds that have different skills for each game. Eventually, all you have to do, simply, is take down the opponent’s turrets and base. It is one of the most popular games in the world.
I remember the days when people were judged for their interest in video games. “Why do you even play those games? They’re just a waste of time. Do other things that are productive!” I still remember the time my teacher showed me a video related to computer addiction in high school. The video presented thousands of spectators watching a big screen. It was a Starcraft tournament. My friends were laughing at the whole scene; people were enthusiastically cheering and shouting for two players who were playing against each other in time-machine-like boxes, and you could hear commentators screaming when virtual fights were happening. “Funny that they are calling this an ‘e-sport,” my friends said. Well, I had the same opinion, even a little bit embarrassed by the fact that the video was from Korea. My school looked down on this gaming competition.
Today, however, perception on gaming is very different from five years ago. More and more people have begun to understand and play games, realizing that video games can actually be FUN. The players in League know the excitement of triple, quadra, or penta kill, and how dramatic a single game can be. These feelings magically eliminate all the accumulated stress you have. Just try it. You can play online games with friends and millions of other people around the globe without paying little or no money, only requiring a laptop and the internet. From my personal experience, video games make you smarter in space perception, imagination, and judgment especially because today’s games aren’t that simple, but involve numerous strategies. Most excellent gamers I’ve met were super intelligent. Many scientists agree on the argument; Dr. Daphne Bavelier, a cognitive neuroscientist based in Switzerland, claims that gamers are better in differentiating, spatial intelligence and problem solving. Ian Bogost, a Georgia Tech professor, states that “gamers become smart individuals because the games they play require them to team up with other players, in order to meet a certain goal.”1
On the other hand, gaming may lead you to addiction, which is a problem. To be honest, however, this is equivalent to drama or Netflix addiction on weekends! And no one stops using Facebook due to the possibility of addiction; the whole point of addiction depends on how people control themselves. If you can enjoy games without putting your assignments behind, it can become a fun hobby that helps you release stress. Gaming, in fact, also may grant you opportunities to exhibit self-control. So, if you can stay away from addiction and know how to enjoy games, you would gain more benefits than losses.
Now the gaming market has risen to a huge prospective industry. Gaming companies are becoming larger and larger, attracting more investment. According to Gartner, the worldwide video game market was around $93 billion dollars in 2013.2 Even the sizes of gaming tournaments are skyrocketing; cash prizes for Dota 2 and League tournaments are rising up to millions of dollars. Also, there are a lot of sponsorships provided for the players and the tournaments, like Samsung and Coca Cola. Players in the time-machine boxes get paid hundreds of thousand dollars.
It is undeniable that gaming is now a global trend. Five years ago, it was not understandable to many people, like watching TV a couple of decades ago. Its industry is growing exponentially, involving numerous huge companies in advertising and sponsorship. Don’t think of it as a waste of time; it can give you happiness, friendship and even intelligence. It can definitely invigorate your repetitive, mundane life. Don’t be hesitant or threatened; why don’t you try this at home during the Christmas holidays?