I had a talk with an old friend last night about priorities in life, mainly correlating with how they relate to video games, but of course when you cover the topic of "life" you're in for just about any (subjectively) relevant you can think of.
Video games are pretty great: the youngest artistic medium and one of the most popular and engaging forms of expression that exist.
They're pretty versatile with that "engagement" factor too. Just as a shovel is great for digging a garden with the intent of growing life, there have been numerous accounts of destructive, violent, opposite purposes applied to the instrument.
To continue the illustration, you have a game like Batman: Arkham City, putting the player into a firsthand telling of a phenomenal story and being the flipping Batman, all whilst conveying deeply important moral questions, such as the limits and existence of justice a boatload of other themes prevalent throughout life and history.
Then you have what I call "games as sport" (think DOTA, League of Legends, or any FPS multiplayer), which have their benefits, I must say, for like any sport these games require communication and strategy with teammates, commitment, determination, and sportsmanship to truly master, and some great relationships can come out these types of games, (given that they're not entirely "lone wolf" competitions, but even then there are leagues and clans to train up on these sorts of things and get involved in. Maybe it's still a bit too nerdcore for a lot of people to imagine, but I say give it ten years and it'll be much more common).
But in my firsthand accounts within both my circle of friends and my encounters with these communities, I have to concede that "games as sport" have a tendency to hurt more than help when you consider the value of life-experience and relevance on a philosophical or metaphysical level.
The reasoning behind this is that the main goals of playing a "game sport" or even MMOs (incredibly similar in purposes here) naturally encourage you to simply progress, be it in a ranking, a character's level, generic/grindy side-quests... and this progression, be it a need of skill, time, or both (personal affliction: League of Legends, hehe), serves the player only within the world of the game.
So then it comes back to priorities.
What is your time worth to you?
What do you care about: virtual character and skill development, or real-world?
It's obvious which side I stand on, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this.
I fully support the potential in real-world benefit "game as sport", MMOs, and 20+ hour co-op RPGs can provide, they've opened doors to personal and social development I could not have otherwise achieved.
But truly, analyze the worthiness of your time.
For me, it goes like this in choices:
1.) Read Knightfall for its intense moral themes/it's the freakin' Batman and he inspires me to be a better person.
2.) Write and reflect on my moral predicaments I am currently experiencing in hopes that I might learn or teach someone something.
1.) Play League of Legends for 4ish hours, mostly talking about in-game happenings with my bud Jay, walking away with pretty awesome or horrible experiences to laugh and reminisce about later.
2.) Talk game design and life stuff, walking away really fulfilled and accomplished with my bud Jay.
Took a lot for me not to post the super-biased black-and-white choices, but that's about how things end up going on average. It does take a lot of effort for me not to get soaked up into the fun of the game, but instead to take whatever I can from that fun and appreciate it beyond merely that engagement.
Life is so much more capable than a series of fun times in-between inconveniences.