Gamer Regret…can you relate?

I can...sometimes. This is a pretty keen observation:

In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have looked.

I was 10 days into playing Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground -- a little RPG I reviewed here last month -- and I was poking around the "settings" menu. I noticed that it had a "time played" option, which shows you how long you've been toiling away at the game. Curious, I clicked it.

Thirty-six hours.

Upon which my heart sank into a fathomless pit. Thirty-six hours? How in god's name had I managed to spend almost four hours a day inside this game? I should point out that this was not the only game I'd been playing during that time. I'd also been hip-deep in BioShock and Space Giraffe, so I'd been planted like a weed in front of my consoles for hours more.

This is a missing-time experience so vast one would normally require a UFO abduction to achieve it.

Of course, as the author points out, it's not all bad:

Except, wait a minute. That's just stupid, Puritan thinking. Videogames, like crosswords, are a form of play -- and play is a key element of a healthy adult existence. As game theorist Raph Koster has always pointed out, our playful brains love to seek out patterns, to solve problems -- and there's something existentially joyful about doing this in an environment that doesn't have any stakes if you screw it up

So are video games the bane of your existence, or a healthy diversion? I know the answer has varied for me depending on when you ask, and which game I got last week. I haven't yet picked up a copy of BioShock, but when I do, and particularly after Halo 3 is released, I suspect my answers may be somewhat depressing.

Battle With 'Gamer Regret' Never Ceases

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Comments (3)
  1. kettch says:

    Although, if you consider that the average American spends more than four hours per day watching TV, it doesn’t sound that bad.

    In fact, playing video games sounds like it’s better for your mental health. If you spend that four hours watching TV, you aren’t really doing a whole lot of thinking. On the other hand a video game is going to force you to think and react. You are an active participant in your entertainment as opposed to a passive one.

    Or I’m just trying to justify all the time I spend playing video games. Actually, I haven’t watched TV much at all in quite a while. For some weird reason I feel better about not watching as much TV, even considering where my attention was redirected.

  2. DEvHammer says:


    I can identify with the justification thing. What little TV I watch tends to be home shows, which are easily justified as an investment in skills and/or project ideas.

    As for the "better for your mental health" thing, well, I suspect there are plenty of folks who’d disagree.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love gaming, but I don’t think I’m prepared to argue that hours of either TV or games in a given day are mentally healthy.

  3. kettch says:

    heh, I guess I didn’t mean mental health in a crazy/not crazy context. More of an increase in synaptic activity I suppose. TV tends to give you everything that somebody thinks you need in order to be entertained. Good video games only give you a portion of the equation and rely on the gamer to fill in the rest by shaping the experience in their own way.

    That said, I’d still prefer that some people spend a little more time with a good book.

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