What kind of “play” is more work than work?

I had to write a short sample for admission into ecopywriters.com. It turned out so well, I thought I’d share it here.

My hobbies include time-travel, dragon-slaying, zombie target practice, and military command. As a child, such opportunities were afforded by books. But books, for all their greatness, have one major flaw: They are static, unchanging. I can add my own interpretation, but not my own ending. I can make the meaning personal, but I can’t determine the hero’s strategy.

This is why I turn to another art form, yet in its infancy:

They’re called ‘video games’. But I prefer to think of them as interactive books.

Stodgy authoritarians and controlling mothers decry video games as the scourge of productivity; unfortunately, they’re right. I can lose myself in other worlds for months, emerging bleary-eyed and slightly annoyed that my next novel isn’t finished and the house is a mess.

But any who’d claim that video games deny growth will face the full wrath of my nearest weapon, whether that’s a magic sword, a Glock .37 magnum or a bouncy rubble ball. I’ll grant that some games cater to the lowest forms of life, but there are games with plot elements so deep they’re as dear to me as favorite novels. There are online games which require as much teamwork and planning as any physical sport, and a higher degree of precision. There are puzzle games which force thinking around corners and teach what some claim cannot be taught: Intuition, creativity.

And there are games with undeniable real-world application, simulation models for managing city finances, raising children or building theme parks. Problems like attracting customers and allocating resources are common to the gamer, all wrapped up the pretend colors of play.

My favorite extra-curricular activity is “playing” video games, which is more work than you could possibly imagine.

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