Is Gaming A Waste Of Time (If You’re A Creative Person)?

Well, I still seem to be in a bit more of a computer/video games mood than usual at the moment, so I thought that I’d talk again about yet another way that this topic relates to things like making art, writing fiction, making comics etc..

This article was mostly inspired by this Youtube video which includes a quote from the author G.R.R Martin where he talks about how he lost a lot of writing time during the 1980s due to playing videogames. It was also vaguely inspired by hearing someone refer to games as “time bandits” a few days earlier.

On the surface, playing games may well appear to be “a waste of time”. After all, they usually involve sitting in front of a screen for a few minutes to a few hours, with no tangible real-life result from doing this. I mean, if you make some art, or build a model, or play a musical instrument etc.. then you’ll usually end up with something that other people can enjoy too. So, from this coldly utilitarian perspective, I can see why some might think that playing games is a “waste of time”.

But, by that logic, so is reading novels, watching movies, listening to music, going to the theatre, looking at other works of art, reading comics etc… too. And, yet, there probably isn’t a writer or artist out there who wasn’t inspired to start writing and/or making art because of something that they’ve seen or read. Likewise, there isn’t a single artist or writer out there whose creative works weren’t influenced or inspired by something else that they’ve seen or read.

For example, here’s a reduced-size preview of a painting of mine that will be appearing here later this month:

This is a reduced-size preview, the full-size painting will be posted here on the 19th May.

This digitally-edited painting was initially inspired by listening to various songs by the heavy metal band Cradle Of Filth. The settings in this painting were inspired by various gothic horror settings in movies, TV shows and computer games. Likewise, the ominous red/blue colour scheme was also inspired by similar colour schemes that I’ve seen in movies, games, comics etc… before.

At the very least, games are just another source of inspiration for creative people. A type of source material that, if it’s good enough, can be broken down into it’s most basic elements, re-interpreted and mixed with many other things in order to create new and original things for other people to enjoy.

But, games are much more than this. Another great thing that games can do is to help you deal with artist’s block, writer’s block etc.. too. I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the best ways to get into a more inspired frame of mind is to just play a challenging game that you’ve played a lot and/or are good at.

Since you’ll be playing this familiar game “on autopilot”, this gives you room to think and daydream. Your expertise at the game will also help to distract you from the feelings of frustration and/or inadequacy that can block your creativity too. Seriously, it’s a far more productive method for dealing with creative blocks than just staring at a blank page or screen and thinking something like “WHAT can I DO??!? WHY don’t I have any good ideas?!!?“.

This is a screenshot from “Reelism Gold” (2015), a thrillingly challenging, wonderfully nostalgic and hilariously eccentric fan-made modification for “Doom II” (1994). This is one of my go-to games when I’m feeling uninspired.

In addition to this, games aren’t a waste of time for creative people because playing even vaguely good games for a while will probably make you want to make games of your own. But, since making games is a complicated, expensive etc.. process, then you’ll probably end up channelling these new creative urges into things that you can make easily. In other words, art, fiction, comics etc.. So, playing games can (indirectly) make you feel more creative too.

Likewise, games can also be a good litmus test for how good your latest creative project is. If your project is something that you constantly find yourself procrastinating from making by playing games, then this is probably a sign that you need to change something about your project and/or start a new project (so that it is more compelling to make and, by extension, more compelling for your audience to read, look at etc..).

Conversely, if you feel more enthusiastic about making a painting, making a comic or writing a story than you do about playing games, then this is usually a good sign.

So, yes, if you’re a creative person, then playing games isn’t a waste of time. Games can inspire you, they can bypass creative blocks, they can make you feel more creative and they can also help you to see how well your current project is going.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

2 comments on “Is Gaming A Waste Of Time (If You’re A Creative Person)?

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more! A ton of my writing is inspired by video games.

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