Is this me becoming a gaming sympathizer?

3 different net/gaming cafes in Hamra.  All full on a Sunday night.

Lebanese net cafes

Here's one..

Lebanese net cafes

and another..

Lebanese net cafes

and yet another..

Everytime I pass one of these net/gaming cafes, I’m always shocked at how full they are!  Especially the second one, Net Cafe..  It’s like all of the guys go there just to play the same game with each other (it’s pretty obvious that they aren’t checking their email).. so focused are they, that they don’t even turn to look at someone who is quite obviously taking their photo.  😉

But maybe there is something bigger, more exhilarating going on behind those screens (and inside of their heads) that I’m not even aware of.  And maybe, just maybe…I’m not allowing myself to understand the appeal of these games just because they don’t appeal to me.  I mean, there has to be a reason that these cafes are full almost every night (I know bars and restaurants who would do anything for that kind of loyalty), and are beginning to mushroom all over the place..right?

Net Cafe Hamra

Net Cafe in Hamra is open 24/7 and only charges 2,000LL for an hour of internet.

Writing this post made me think of an article I came across the other day titled, Video Games: An Hour A Day Is Key To Success In Life.  In it, Jane McGonial, Author and Game Designer says,

“The single biggest misconception about games is that they’re an escapist waste of time. But more than a decade’s worth of scientific research shows that gaming is actually one of the most productive ways we can spend time.

Why are we increasingly turning to games? According to my research, it’s because games do a better job than ordinary life of provoking our most powerful positive emotions — like curiosity, optimism, pride, and a desire to join forces with others to achieve something extraordinary. Games also, increasingly, are a particularly effective way to bond with our friends and family — strengthening our real-life and online social networks in ways that no other kind of social interaction can.”

I still don’t know how I feel about people spending hours a day (or even 1 hour a day) hooked to these games like drones..but I realize that this statement is pretty hypocritcal as I spend 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week, glued to my computer myself..blogging, tweeting, facebooking, linkedining, socializing, reading, commenting, learning..!  And I can truly say that the time I spend online really does enrich my life.  So how exactly, does that make me any different from avid gamers?

Kid gamer

Can video games teach people positive life lessons that they will then utilize in the real world?

image credit

According to the same article,

“When we play a good game, we get to practice being the best version of ourselves: We become more optimistic, more creative, more focused, more likely to set ambitious goals, and more resilient in the face of failure. And when we play multiplayer games, we become more collaborative and more likely to help others. In fact, we like and trust each other more after we play a game together — even if we lose! And more importantly, playing a game with someone is an incredibly effective way to get to know their strengths and weaknesses–as well as what motivates them. This is exactly the kind of social knowledge we need to be able to cooperate and collaborate with people to tackle real-world challenges.

The good news about games is that recent scientific research shows that all of these feelings and activities can trickle into our real lives.

For example: kids who spend just 30 minutes playing a “pro-social” game like Super Mario Sunshine (in which you clean up pollution and graffiti around an island) are more likely to help friends, family and neighbors in real-life for a full week after playing the game.

People of all ages who play musical games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero report spending more time learning and playing real musical instruments than before they started playing the videogame.

And just 90 seconds of playing a game like World of Warcraft – where you have a powerful avatar – can boost the confidence of colleges students so much that for up to 24 hours later, they’re more likely to be successful taking a test at school… and more outgoing in real-world social situations.”

I'd rather be playing Call of Duty

aka. "I'd rather be playing Call of Duty"

get this shirt here.

Right about now, my 12 year old brother is reading this and laughing.  I used to watch him in awe when he would run into the game room the minute he got home (when I was his age, I ran into the kitchen to get a snack) to play Call of Duty, or as they call it, COD, with his friends from school.  I remember asking him why his name in the game was “yo momma“..he told me it’s because everytime he kills someone, it would show up on their screen as “you have just been killed by yo momma..” which, naturally..he thought was hilarious.  Somehow, I highly doubt he is internalizing positive life lessons from these games.

I don’t know..what do you think?  Is this me becoming a gaming sympathizer?

Are you a gamer?  Why or why not?  What is your opinion on games and gamers..and on the future of gaming in Lebanon?

Update:  Upon reading this post, one of my friends sent me a link to a game that is controlled by the movement of your tounge while have to see this!

Descrtiption:  The pleasure of kissing and the thrill of gaming, both rolled into one.  The Kiss Controller enables users to control a bowling game by moving their tongues while kissing. The controller requires one user to place a magnet on their tongue that provides a sensor input while the other wears a headset that acts as the sensor receiver. When the players kiss, the one with the magnet affixed to their tongue is able to control the direction and speed of the bowling ball by moving the tongue accordingly.

Thanks for this J.E.!


Filed under life in Lebanon

10 responses to “Is this me becoming a gaming sympathizer?

  1. Excellent post. As an avid MMO gamer who’s been playing the same game for 5 years, I’ve made some amazing friends from the interaction I’ve had and I even attended a meeting of gamers in Europe 2 years ago. It was an absolutely awesome experience.

  2. Well games have been elevating from a simple act of finger fiddling, to a legitimate form of art. Case is point: ‘Flower’ & ‘Linger in Shadows’. The question, however, is this: Is it that games have elevated in content, or is it that the technology has advanced in modern systems to allow visionaries to seek catharsis in video game mediums?

    At any case, Jane McGonial’s study is heavily based on Multi-player games and seems to neglect the demographic of the single-player. I am not an online player, nor am I the gun toting, head-shot to your face rootin’ tootin’ gunslinger on COD leader-boards. I look for games that offer me an experience. I look for games that tell me a story. More importantly, I look for games that embrace my need to escape and explore the world through another’s eyes.

    It’s because of people like Warren Spector and developers like ‘That Game Company’ that I am willing to throw myself in a molten pool as my hands muster a thumbs up for the medium.

  3. Henri

    Quick comment:
    1- LB gaming suffers from very poor ping times. Therefore LB gamers are significantly more effective than many of their counterparts who don’t feel the lag.
    2- Gaming in general can be very fulfilling emotionally and intellectually. I personally really learned a musical instrument (drums) thanks to Rock Band, which I didn’t think I’d actually be able to do at my age.

  4. Oh yes, big gamer here, it’s part of who I am. I blame my smartness/fast thinking on being a gamer 😛 I notice slow people around me and wonder “if they just played so-and-so game for a while”. No, this is not me being judgemental, some people are just SLOW.
    Gaming makes you think fast on the spot, improves hand-eye coordination, reflex times, strategy formulation, micro-management…lot’s of things that are good for the brain. Though you have to limit it, those skills are only useful in real life!
    Also, some games are becoming very immersive these days, like living a movie rather than watching it. Look up freeroam and sandbox games, those are just incredible.
    Everyone should try games, no need to invest in pricey hardware or consoles, just find a friend who has it or go to some crowded net cafe 😛

    About gaming in Lebanon now. Shit internet + pricey hardware = no movement forward. If we had these things I would definitely be taking part in online tournaments, winning cash, making many good friends and team mates. So much untapped potential due to bad infrastructure.

  5. Youssef Chaker

    I recently watch a movie called ‘Beyond the Game’ ( It’s a documentary about 2 professional gamers. It’s I wouldn’t say it’s a great movie or something worth watching, but it’s a free movie done under the CC so I watched it anyway. One of the dominant aspects of what the movie shows about these people’s lives was the anti-social behavior that results from gaming. These two players competing on a professional level makes it an extreme case, but spending 12 hours a day ‘practicing’ the same video game is ridiculous. I knew someone in college who spent an entire semester or year in his dorm room playing on his Xbox and never showed up to class or went to see friends and eventually failed all his classes.
    I used to be a gamer. I had a summer when I would wake up early in the morning (around 7am), turn on my computer and start playing games all the way till it’s time to sleep. I, like one of the commenters, like games that take you to another world where you live the story. Max Payne (the one Mark Wahlberg made a movie about) was one of my favorite games. In fact I thought it was so good, that I couldn’t enjoy playing any other game after that. I also put in some time playing COD in college with friends and some FIFA or Pro Evolution. I learnt the basics of American Football by playing Madden and now I’m a big fan of the game and have tried to teach it to my Lebanese friends.
    Gaming is fun. And when you have someone to share the experience with, then what the studies mention do hold true. And in some cases it could improve hand-eye coordination, quick thinking, etc. But like all things, it should be done in moderation.
    But, what this also shows is something not related to gaming. It gives you a glimpse to the lives of young men in Lebanon who have nothing better to do. No jobs, no money, no public parks to go do things like skate, bike, play bball or football (and the private courts/fields are too expensive and getting shut down to be turned into an ugly block of cement, like the one next to my home). Obviously the politicians are too busy with other things to care about the youth!

  6. Mom

    Interesting that just today you should decide to do a post on this topic. On the BBC news today there was a report about a Chinese man who collapsed and died after a 3-day online gaming session during which he did not sleep and barely ate!!! Soon there may need to be a “Gamers anonymous” organization or “rehab” for gaming addicts!!!

  7. -_-

    loved the post, and all the benefits mentioned in the post and in later comments are, each to some extent, true.

  8. AlainLb

    I could have written a novel, or read fifty during the time i’ve wasted playing video games; but I really like em; Where else can you make fun of ogres and weasel others out of hard earned “artifacts” just for the fun of it and with impunity. I get bored pretty quickly though and I don’t believe i’ve spent more than a month on the same MMO.
    In a related matter THANK GOD for “” i’ve probably downloaded thousands of dollars worth of software since I’ve first discovered that treasure trove of pira.. er sharing 😛

    I dare you to finish dragon age origins, you can download it from the pirate bay or whatchamacallit… b buy it ( HAHAHAHAHAHA ) and it’s only about 14 GB it took me weeks to download but it was worth every second, easily in my top five.

  9. Youssef Chaker

    Be warned: I may start commenting on your posts using poetry videos! You better get a fast enough connections to watch them 😛

    Game Boy: (Brave New Voices 2010)
    “All he could do with his memory card brain is think of the days when games were actually…………. games”

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