Monday, May 16, 2011

Sports Vs Non-Athletic Gaming

Since my first blog post yesterday, I have been overwhelmed with this feeling that there is a terrible rumor floating around about me and worst of all, that I started it. I admitted to an ongoing gaming addiction, not a heroin addiction, so why is it I feel like my friends are already planning an intervention? Is non-athletic gaming (hereafter referred to as NAG) really so far removed from the widely admired varieties of athletic gaming (AKA sports)? Let’s stop and think about this for a second. I’m going to lump all kinds of NAG together, card games, board games, pen-and-paper role-playing games, etc. since I don’t want to focus this blog on video gaming alone. 

In the following comparisons I am going to leave out things that I consider to be based in perception, social bias, etc. (glamour, prestige, popularity) and stick to the more tangible similarities and differences, since the whole point is to try and debunk some of the societal biases. I am awarding either 1-3 minuses for things I consider cons or 1-3 pluses for things I consider pros.

Physical Activity

It is the number one difference and the source of most of the hoopla, so let’s talk about it first. Sports are good for your body, they build muscle, improve heart health, burn calories, etc. etc. There is no denying it, sports are good for your health. The only thing I can say that counters this is that there is a small chance that you could get seriously injured, left with permanent, chronic pain, or in some extreme circumstances paralyzed or killed. Overall, the vast majority of people who play sports do so with either the occasional minor injury or none at all. Non-athletic gamers do not generally get any exercise from what they do, well, unless the fridge is at the other end of the house. There is a whole variety of Wii games that encourage movement and activity, however, so I will knock off one of the three minuses I was going to slap NAG with.

Verdict: Sports +++ NAG --
No one ever looked like this after a match of Mortal Kombat

Boil it down to its most basic function and you see that the point of it all is to have fun, enjoy yourself, and compete with others. No one side can claim they do this better. Therefore: 

Sports +++ NAG+++

Social Interactions

Sports wins this round sure, but it isn’t the first round K.O. you might expect. People who play online games interact with people from all over the world and sometimes form friendships with a diverse collection of people. There are gatherings at local card shops, and video game stores that host tournaments and game nights weekly. These events offer real-world interactions. But while Dungeons and Dragons breaks the competitive mold, most NAG is about solo performances against others. In sports, more often than not, you are forced to learn to play well with others, and this can even lead to breaking down racial barriers. 

Final Verdict: Sports +++ NAG +

Mental Health 

I argue that NAG is at least as beneficial to its participants mentally as sports are physically to its players. NAG involves intellectually challenging activities such as problem solving, strategy, and understanding complex concepts. Due to all the reading involved in many roleplaying and text based games, NAG can build vocabulary. Games like DND use mathematics and encourage the players to cultivate their imaginations. Sports has its own strategy of course, but I think that is counter-balanced by the hits to the head and lack of reading. Verdict: 

Sports N/A NAG +++

Career Opportunities

In both cases, these chances are rare, but I would argue more so for sports. Both can mold our career paths, but in general, NAG has a larger and more easily accessible job market. It also teaches more useful skills for the working man in our increasingly white-collar society.

Sports + NAG ++

Stress Relief

We all want to step outside ourselves, get away from our lives, and focus on something else every now and then. Both NAG and sports have this going for them. Both can relieve stress, both can help keep us content with our lives. 

Sports ++ NAG++


My last point is probably considered minor, but those who know me well know that it is more important to me than most. I will get into why more as we go along in this blog, it is too long a story to cover here. Sports can be extremely difficult and sometimes impossible for people with even minor physical limitations. NAG is accessible to virtually everyone. 

Verdict: Sports – NAG+

                    Final totals: Sports 11 NAG 10

My goal here is not to claim that either activity is a better way to spend your time, I just wanted to point out that the two are not so different.

For some reason there is this misconception out there that gamers are all unhealthy, unattractive lay-a-bouts. It just isn’t true.
The girls from Team Unicorn beg to differ.

Gamers often participate in sports as well; in fact, my roommate is a skilled basketball player that even played at the collegiate level, and he is every bit the non-athletic gamer I am. I have two friends that are avid gamers and were stand-out football players in High School. It is not an isolated incident, follow a few players from your favorite professional sports team on twitter and you will see that many of them play video games quite often. Take Maurice Jones-Drew, my favorite player from my favorite NFL team, he plays Call of Duty online and does so quite well, and his skill at the Madden franchise really sets him apart, as he is a perennial force in player tournaments. 

NAG does not prevent people from being active and healthy; even I have gotten into biking for exercise these past few months and have begun a weekly weightlifting regimen. Now, there are those who completely avoid all physical activity, but it is like the myth that all pro athletes are so dumb that they are barely able to tie their shoes. Just because it may be true for some, doesn’t mean you should stereotype them all.

What do you think, did I miss anything? Did I get something wrong?

No comments:

Post a Comment