Fun With Numbers

At lunch the other day, a friend of mine said she "didn't like guys who played video games", claiming that there's a certain age in which we should outgrow them, and implying that continuing to play was a "waste of our lives". I found this to be very interesting. It's not a new claim by any means, so my mind immediately started thinking of the usual counters, such as:

- I don't really watch movies that often, choosing to play games instead (rather than in addition to); something I mentioned briefly in this post.

- What would you have me do instead? Work a job? I currently have TWO. Go out with friends? I do that on a regular basis. Go to sporting events? I was a regular attendee of UCLA football games for the past 4 years. Go to concerts? Did that too.

But a few days later, I saw a comment on a blog post that inspired me to look objectively at the amount of time I've spent "gaming" over the years. And to go further, I'll compare it against some other things, just for some context.

Interested? Read on...

I think the best way to start this is with the video game franchise that has claimed the most total hours of my life - Pokemon. I mentioned in my games post that I've kept up with the series since the beginning, and listed reasons why I still enjoy it today. No need to rehash them here, but I will point out quickly that my enjoyment of the games over the years is due to how they are as games - I don't watch the show or anything of that nature. So please try to suspend any claims about the game being "for kids".

So, how many hours have I spent on the games? Here's a rough estimate of the breakdown:

Generation 1 - 200 hours
Generation 2 - 300 hours
Generation 3 - 200 hours
Generation 4 - 200 hours
TOTAL: 900 hours

WOW, that's a lot of my life I've spent on these games, right? Well, not so fast. The US release date for the first Generation 1 games (each generation has a few different versions released throughout the generation span) was September of 1998. That's TWELVE (ok, 11.5) years ago. So how exactly does 900 hours break down over 11.5 years?

11.5 years * 365 days/year * 24 hours/day = 100,740 hours

So how much of my life over the past 11.5 years have I spent playing Pokemon?

900/100,740 = .0089, which is LESS than 1% of the time. Hmmmm. How much is that per week?

1 week = 7 days * 24 hours/day = 168 hours

0.89% of 168 = 1.5 hours.

That's my average. One and a half hours each week. Roughly 20 minutes a day. That's VERY little, actually.

But what about some other games? Certainly Call of Duty has to be up there!

Total time: 14 hours online play + roughly 20 hours campaign = roughly 25 hours (rounded)

I got Call of Duty for Christmas of 2007, meaning I've been playing for 2.33 years.

2.33 years * 365 days/year * 24 hours/day = 20,410 hours

25/20,410 = .0012

So over the last 2+ years, how much time have I spent playing Call of Duty?

168 hours/week * .0012 = .20 hours, or less than 15 minutes per week on Call of Duty.

I could keep going for other games (Mass Effect - 70 hours over 2.33 years, which comes out to roughly half an hour each week, for example), but I think I've provided a pretty good picture of just how much (or little) time I truly spend on gaming.

But just to really drive it home, let's look at something totally different; what some people might call the exact opposite of gaming. That thing is sports.

For all of middle and high school (7 years total), I was involved in some kind of sport. It was mostly Taekwondo, except for my freshman year of HS, which was football.

Football was roughly 6 or 7 hours a week (plus game time). The years after, when I was mostly teaching Taekwondo, I spent roughly 6-8 hours per week doing that (more when it came close to competitions). But in the years before high school, when I was competing regularly, and working toward my black belt, I would spend at least 2 hours EVERY DAY practicing Taekwondo.

Which means during middle school, I was spending more time every DAY on sports than I was in a WEEK on Pokemon (I was also playing other games on our N64, but as we've seen, NOT that much).

So next time you think about chastising somebody for the amount of time they spend playing games, ask yourself if maybe you are VASTLY overestimating the true number.


Anonymous said...

Wow, you just took that to a whole new level of nerditude.

I definitely think video games are nerdy, and guys should perhaps place LESS of an emphasis on them as they get older. But honestly, if you don't like guys that play video games, that doesn't leave very many guys.

I say let them have their fun on their own time. Also, this is reason #435935934597 men and women shouldn't live agreement about what should be happening in the living room.


Jeremy said...

There's a whole separate post I can (and probably will, sometime) write about the "emphasis" on video games. In a nutshell though, if I was playing Scrabble, or pickup Basketball, or something of that nature, would the same criticism apply as when I play video games? Probably not.

And, as odd as it may be, the presence of video games is one of the things that WASN'T a problem when I was living with girls over the summer. Again, because I don't play them nearly as much as people seem to think.

Anonymous said...

I think the issue (with dating) is that you would be doing something that consumed the majority of your time. Regardless of how you may have just disproved that, that's the perception. It's easy to imagine a guy so engrossed in his video game that he doesn't pay much attention when you enter the room. Again, not my personal experience (pfft, who wouldn't pay attention to ME when I walk in, anyway?), but that seems to be the concern.

Besides, lots of girls either a) like video games or b) don't care how often you play.

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