Differing Pasttimes

This is not exactly a new insight, but I still occasionally find it odd that people find it odd that people spend X amount of time on games, when they spend >2*X amount of time on television.

Last year, I completed the 10×10 challenge, which is to play 10 board games each 10 times. That’s 100 games, and that would be an undercount in that you play other games (just not 10 times) and you might play more than 10 times. So that is way more than the average American plays board games, even counting “board games” broadly to include card games like poker.

But that is still just two games per week, and you are below the average American if you watch two television shows per day. Heck, I’ve known people to watch two episodes of Law & Order per day pretty consistently. It would not be odd to watch two movies per week, and most movies are longer than most board games.

Gaming is not exactly an obscure hobby these days. Everyone has games on their phones. I suppose treating any hobby seriously and intentionally is unusual.

: Zubon

8 thoughts on “Differing Pasttimes”

  1. Accessibility is the thing here.

    TV is insanely accessible. There is always something on, on one of 500+ channels. At least moderately entertaining.

    Gaming is not like that. First, you likely need other people to make it worthwhile, often times many other people. Second, you need a game that everyone agrees to play.

    There are many days where I play board games with my wife and 2 kids. But the actual game selected is the tough one. Having a shelf full of options took over 2 years to build up. It’s so much better no with local game shops, but still a nightmare to figure out how the game plays without research.

    Getting a TV and a streaming service can be done in 30 minutes and you’re set for years. Maybe I don’t like that show, flick, next.

    1. That “intentionality”: playing a game requires selecting and learning a game, and likely socializing although single player board games are becoming more of a thing. Television just happens around you in our culture.

  2. It depends what tv you watch. If it’s random filler, then fair enough with the “wasted time” comparisons. If it’s scripted narrative or “quality” documentary, then maybe not.

    I’ve been playing video games (specifically MMOs) at a steady rate of 20-40 hours per week for twenty years and I stopped watching tv in 1999. Not a co-incidence. I would not equate that gameplaying to thirty thousand hours of movie and quality tv. Nowhere even near. The quality simply does not exist in gaming to compare. Give it another century.

    And imagine if I’d spent that time reading the classics or studying…

  3. I also very rarely watch television, as my family and I don’t have any programming subscriptions. I’ll occasionally binge watch some series I rented from the library in a weeks time, but other than that my entertainment is gaming. I mostly play single player strategies because the vast majority of my friends have children with keep them busy, much like myself.

    I suppose technically I have amazon prime and therefore the ability to watch shows, but I don’t because that’s just not my thing.

  4. I hadn’t thought about this in a long time. For the last ~5 years it’s been rare for me to watch more than 60 minutes of TV in a day (I have to watch movies over 2-4 days), and most weeks I watch nothing at all. Sitting idle for long periods makes me restless and bored, no matter how much I enjoy what I’m watching.

    It seems can’t abide *passive* entertainment anymore. I load up my overflowing Netflix to-watch list, or I look at the piles of unwatched blu-rays, and feel a profound lethargy. “Sure, I could sit idle for an hour… or I could be reacting to something.” Then I load a game instead.

    1. I’m kinda similar. I do find it hard to just sit in front of the TV for a long period of time. I certainly never binge-watch anything, although when a new series I’m keen on drops on Netflix, I do like to watch one episode per day quite steadily until it’s done.

    2. I just don’t watch things, which seems a shame in a golden age of television. I expect to binge-watch some of the more acclaimed shows out there. That feels almost active: intentional gluttony of a medium. Like when I read Worm in 17 days.

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