"Stop playing video games, that's not the way to get a real job!"
"Stop playing video games, that's no way to get a real job!" I can't count the number of times I've heard that line. As you can see, today I want to talk to you about one of my passions, video games.
In the minds of many people, playing games is something futile, which cultivates only one thing: idleness. Not to say that it's completely false, because there's a bit of truth in that, but I don't necessarily agree.
I've been a video game enthusiast since my childhood, I can't count the number of times I've played (probably in years). The purpose of this post is to explain that video games, in addition to the hundreds (or even thousands) of hours of entertainment they have brought me, have also allowed me to learn, to progress, to understand. I hope to allow a slight change in the way some people look at gamers.
Team spirit and taking the lead
I've always preferred games that are played cooperatively rather than solo. Not that I think solo games are any less good, but I prefer to play two or more. A game is based on an adventure made to be shared. While playing, I also learned to cultivate this team spirit, the fact that I don't win on my own, but by working together.
For that, the first game that comes to mind is Portal 2, developed by Valve, this game features one or two robots (for its cooperative mode) having to solve puzzles imposed by a psychopathic AI, GladOS. Portal is for me the archetype of the game requiring real teamwork, the co-op mode being impossible to do without a good cohesion.
On the group game side, and team spirit, I can also mention the MMORPGs (or meuporg for some), which with their raids also allow to put team cohesion in the spotlight, but on a larger scale. I have played World of Warcraft, Aion, Final Fantasy XIV, Tera, and Elder Scroll Online (to name a few) for many years, their common point is the same: to fully enjoy the game, it is necessary to play together with 10-15-20 or even 40 players.
Playing with such a large number of people with you requires you to develop your communication, but for me, it also allowed me to develop my lead. Indeed, I often took the lead in these raids to lead the group, tell them what to do and when etc... This allowed me to build good relationships with different people that I got to know, and some of them became my friends.
Learning to use computers
As I have already (extensively) discussed in my other article, I have no computer training, I am what is more commonly known as a self-taught person. I learned this discipline on my own. The first time I really got my hands on the infrastructure, scripting, coding etc... it was in 2005, I bought my first computer, and I found myself unwillingly administrator of a dedicated Counter Strike server. I tried to understand how this server worked, first by curiosity, but also to improve it, to make it more powerful, to make more people come on it. This allowed me to understand how Linux worked (in the main lines of course), my server was at that time hosted on a Debian server.
Then, I tried to create a community around this server, that's when I started to create my first website, in php, which was... very ugly, but had the advantage to exist. And that's when I really took as a passion all this universe, I loved coding, creating things, seeing applications come to life in front of me! One thing leading to another, I worked on optimizing my server, adding plugins (that I had to learn to code and compile), automating it as much as possible, putting automatic log analysis to detect cheaters etc... It's all these elements that made the passion that drives me today on these domains.
Like a lot of young people, I didn't have a lot of money, so I had like a lot of people to crack games. Cracking a game means circumventing the protections put in place to prevent its illegal copying. It's not necessarily something I'm proud of, but going over the fence allowed me to learn how to do reverse engineering and analysis of logs and application behavior. It taught me to observe how my computer was behaving, to understand how to get around these protections.
Finally, a few years ago, I had coded a damage calculator when Diablo 3 was released (the calculator is no longer online), this allowed me to really experiment a community experience, working in collaboration with people who helped me improve this tool, whether to refine the calculations or simply to test and verify the non-regression at each upgrade. I keep a very good memory of this experience that I would like to have the opportunity to reproduce in the future.
Learning from failure
Video games also taught me about failure and perseverance. I can't count the number of times we've had to start some fights again, dozens or even hundreds of times to understand, assimilate, adapt, and test to finally succeed in beating a boss!
I've been a League of Legend player for several years, without being a hardcore gamer, I like to spend time on it, and I appreciate its competitive aspect. When I started, I was really mediocre. I couldn't get up in the rankings, I could have (like many) blamed the rest of my team, but instead I tried to analyze, understand, learn, observe. To progress, to see where I was sinning and to improve.
Video games, a shared history we're all part of.
In everyday life, video games have often helped me break the ice. Indeed, it's quite common for me to rub shoulders with people who have at least played a game I know at least remotely. There's always an anecdote to tell about the plains of Hyrule, the dragons of Bordeciel, the jungles of Azeroth or the post-apocalyptic world of FallOut. Video games tell a story, just like a book or a movie, and are just as much art as they are, just look at the number of graphic designers, musicians and other animators needed to make a game. Not to mention another art, often less visible, the thousands of lines of code to make this game exist, the online servers live, the people who make it (almost) always functional. A game tells a story, the only difference being that we take part in that story instead of just observing it. Some games have chosen to create a world from scratch, like the titanic world of Elder Scroll for example, with all the lore that surrounds it. Others have preferred to focus on history, like the Assassin's Creed series, which revisits history with each episode, full of historical and geographical details (which taught me a lot).
The purpose of this article is not to show you that someone who spends 10 hours a day playing is always someone who progresses and learns, but passion sometimes allows you to do much more than you think. I will also add that even if in France, we are still cautious on the field, we must not forget that video games are becoming more and more professional, with the rise of eSport, especially thanks to some games like League of Legends.
Games have also given me a taste of the community spirit, I can't count the number of information gleaned from sites maintained by volunteer fans, the mods allowing to improve and modify the game, such as Redux on GTA V, and the number of contacts I've made during my long years as a player.
My dream is that one day, when you say you're a player, everyone will stop imagining a guy in his basement playing all day long, eating beer and pizza.
Personally, I consider that being a gamer is part of my personality and I'm proud of it, I fully claim my passion for video games.