Which Hobby is Worse: Gaming or Watching TV?

Posted By Alex

Vidja games. For years now, gaming has had a bad wrap. Whether it causes aggressiveness or reclusiveness, gaming has had an uphill battle. One very much like rock ‘n’ roll and comic books had. Rock songs that our society thought were from the devil are now in mainstream movies and games. Comic books have now amassed enough popularity to spawn a few of the highest-grossing movies ever. Times have changed.

Luckily, so have games. To say that gaming is a mindless hobby is a very sad assumption. Even the games that have the most “mindless” fun (Call of Duty) still require you to come up with strategies, make quick decisions, anticipate enemy movement, and be skillful with different weapons. The thing people don’t understand is that when you are playing, you are fully engaged. It doesn’t matter what type of game you are playing, your brain is constantly working to solve problems, mysteries, or story twists. You are reading, learning, watching, and interacting, which is more than any other medium asks of its user.

Gaming to me combines the best parts of movies and books. You do a ton of reading in games as well as watch a ton of in-game cut scenes to move the story along, but the real kicker is that you have a personal stake in the story based on your own actions (something movies and books simply do not do). Sure, there are some choose-your-own-adventure stories but they pale in comparison to games like Mass Effect, where decisions can cost lives and consequences reign supreme.


For years now Gaby has sworn up and down that gaming is a bad hobby. She’ll tell me what a giant waste of time it is and then proceed to watch hours upon hours of television. She’s right, gaming is a waste of time—hobbies usually are—but watching television is even more so. Both are purely for entertainment purposes but gaming ask so much more of its user than TV does. Watching television is boring by comparison. Anything television programming has to offer, such as drama, comedy, action, or character development can be found in most video games.

Now, I’m not telling you that you should be gaming for 8+ hours of the day. Gaming, much like watching television, is a sedentary hobby and if done too much can have poor health consequences. Playing a violent video game at a young age should not be done as well. Like with any other form of entertainment, you can participate, but do so responsibly. Most people will claim that video games by nature are addictive but so are many other hobbies. Swinging a baseball bat will never get old for me and if I wanted to, I could stand there for hours at a batting cage. But I have responsibilities, and my hobbies should be done when those are all taken care of.

To say that gaming is not your thing is perfectly understandable. Not everyone is going to like video games just like not everyone loves to read books. They are there as an option and just another form of entertainment. So pick up a controller if you feel like you might enjoy it. Some of you may find gaming a more worthwhile hobby than watching TV. I know I do.

Posted By Gaby

Yeah, I’m going to lose this debate. Despite Alex’s very well constructed argument, I stand by my belief that gaming is a bad hobby. In my defense, I am married to a gamer and know several adult gamers that not only  have LAN parties at least twice a year, but have taken a day or two off to play newly released games.

My issue with video games has more to do with the ridiculous amount of time and energy the people in my life spend on video games, and less to do with whether or not they’re better than TV. Do I watch a lot of television? Yes. I watch a variety of TV shows and movies, everything from documentaries, reality shows like “Hoarders,” period dramas, mysteries, and sitcoms. Is it mindless TV watching? Sometimes, but I have as much fun watching TV as Alex has playing games. There are shows that make me think, and movies that expand my horizons to new information and knowledge. Yes, there is television that is mindless entertainment, and I can admit to watching some filth like “Toddlers and Tiaras” or “Dancing with the Stars.” Not all television is high-brow but it’s not all bad either.

I’d argue the same about video games. I’m sure there are great fantasy games and fun video games that help kids be active, like the Dance Central games we’ve played as a family. But there are numerous violent video games, and many tend to be rather sexist. In Grand Theft Auto, players are allowed to slap and even shoot prostitutes, and there are various games where women are scantily clad. Does the fact that you have to use your fine motor skills and quick decision-making somehow make it better than watching TV? The fact that some of these heroines on video games are fighting with little clothing and have perky boobs doesn’t make the video game progressive, in my opinion.

Eric argues with me that gaming has become socially acceptable and I agree with him to a certain extent. Many video games are popular among “non-traditional” gamers, but there are still many anti-social and socially awkward kids and adults who let video games become their whole lives. I don’t know that television has the same sort of escapism that video games do (except maybe the Kardashians and all those girls who now wear Infiniti scarves with brown boots over their black leggings while sporting a top knot. Seriously, stop. The Kardashians shouldn’t be what you aspire to).

Just stop.

Anyway, I digress. The reality is that video games, in moderation, aren’t anymore harmful than TV in moderation, and vice versa. I just feel that in their extreme, video games are worse than TV.

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24 Responses to “Which Hobby is Worse: Gaming or Watching TV?”

  1. wtg22

    I don’t really have anything against video games (well, except maybe the overt sexism and the super violent nature of a few of them). However, if you are going to make me choose, I’ll stand with TV. Even the most intricate video game story lines still pale in comparison (in my opinion) to some of the top comedies and dramas on TV. Nothing beats a great script delivered by a fantastic (live action) cast. For example, Battlestar Galactica…I just can’t think of a game that would top that, at least not now. Maybe 10 or 20 years from now, games might be able to compete. But at the moment, no. The technology of games still doesn’t do the CGI, costuming, and real-life acting of TV and movies justice.

  2. Amanda

    I feel that tv is a better option because my kids enjoy educational shows like National Geographics. My son loves to learn about animals and dinosaurs. It’s encouraged him to read more as well. Haven’t seen that from video games.

      • Amanda

        Do you know of video games that encourages science and animals in a educational manner?

        • alex

          In an educational manner? No, but that’s because I don’t play games for educational purposes. I just did a quick google search for games and got a ton of hits for the Nintendo DS, 3DS and Wii. I’m sure there are great mobile games as well.

          All of the games I play tend to challenge my mind more than anything. Once they are older, Portal and Portal 2 are GREAT puzzle games. Where thinking out of the box in order to solve puzzles is key. Also, the writing is brilliant. Some of the best in my opinion.

  3. Ozzy

    TV also offers escapism as well as in video games. Sexist? I’ve seen plenty of sexist shows. Violence? Yeah, video game violence is not nearly as bad as some of the violence on TV. Have you guys not seen The Walking Dead? The detail of violence in TV is much bigger than in video games. I’ve never been able to rip the skin off someone’s face and cringe when I do in video games as I did with The Walking Dead.

  4. Sisyphus

    First off, most of Gaby’s argument isn’t that TV is a more worthwhile use of time, it’s just arguing that gaming is bad because she doesn’t like it. This is a weak argument at very best.

    If video games are a problem for children, that’s the parents’ fault. 10-15 years ago people were all up in arms about kids watching TV too much. Learn to parent and these things won’t be a problem.

    That said, anything you think TV can give you, video games can give you in an interactive format. Animals and dinosaurs can be found in a litany of games in an educational format. Even these so-called “violent” games everyone loves to cast aspersions at are educational and worthwhile. Take Assassin’s Creed for example. There have been a ton of articles written over the years about the level of interest in the Renaissance that this game has generated. The latest game brought gamers into the revolutionary war. I haven’t played them really so I can’t speak to it at any real level of detail, but from what I’ve read the game is very historically accurate and has sparked the imaginations of countless gamers.

    Violence in games like GTA get into the news and people believe that they’re terrible corrupting influences. Yeah, you can kill prostitutes. You can kill everyone, why does it matter more that they’re prostitutes? I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve accidentally run over with a car in those games and I’m not some morally corrupt individual. It’s a sandbox world which allows people to do and act as they see fit. If your spouse is spending an inordinate amount of time in strip clubs and then killing strippers … this says more about him than it does about the game. The game just gives you the freedom to express yourself, you make the choices on how that plays out.

    Lastly, play games like Mass Effect, Skyrim, Star Wars The Old Republic, Knights of the Old Republic, and other games like this if you want intricate storylines and engaging plotlines. Hell, if you want stand up comedy you can go to a comedy club in GTA and watch real comedians on the stage. That’s if you can give up running over pedestrians long enough to sit through it.

    The entirety of Star Wars The Old Republic is voice acted and it’s extremely well done. Play that start to finish and then let’s talk about whether TV is better or not. In that game, and many others, you make decisions and you deal with the permanent consequences. In TV you’re passive, like a sponge. Gaming you’re active.

    Gaming is like anything else though, there are some bad games the same as there are some terrible TV shows. Some media is better, some is worse. If you want an even comparison, make an even comparison.

    • echavez

      I gotta call out Alex and Ozzy on this one, who claim to love stories in video games.

      Stars Wars the Old Republic is a great story and “I” played it to level 50 (loser status).
      However, they quit after level 10. Apparently a good story is not good enough for some ppl.

      oh, your welcome.

      • alex

        I gotta call out Eric on this one. Apparently waiting to play with your friends is not good enough for other people. You left us in the dust.

        Also, it was hard keeping up with the story when during cut-scenes all you talked about where Jedi Dicks and Yoda’s ho on the side.

        • echavez

          last i checked, i have the right to play without you guys. It is not like put a ring on it, if u gave me the green lantern ring i would have waited.

          i offered to start a new character and play. However, i will have to discuss Yoda’s hoe on the side.. sorry rofl

      • Ozzy

        You claim Star Wars has a good story two days after you had just told me you skipped all the cut scenes? Can’t really take your word for it.

        And, we stopped playing cause you went off on your own to play without us. Now that, my friend, was a dick move.

        • echavez

          i don’t play games for stories, but i heard the story is great. If you would like, i will start a new character and we can play. deal? cmon, u claim to love great stories.

          • Sisyphus

            I need to get into your gaming circle. I have no friends who play MMO’s irl. I just play on my own and hope to find some people or a guild I like. Need people to play with … especially SWTOR. I ended up quitting because I never found either. Playing GW2 now … really digging it actually.

  5. echavez

    They are both a waste of time. I rather game as I waste my life away. But i also enjoy TV sometimes.

  6. David Buchta

    Since when is watching TV a hobby? Hobbies are activities people engage in during their spare time. Watching TV is the most inactive, passive thing a person can do, second only to being in a coma.

    Video games can have their violence and hyper-sexualization, but what, TV doesn’t? C’mon. TV practically invented that shit.

    At least video games require interactivity. Players have to actually think, solve puzzles, work as a team. They’re not just sacked out on the couch as slop like Jersey Shore and The Big Bang Theory pours into their brains.

    You can watch education shows, sure. But I still favor an activity that is actually, you know, active.

    • Ozzy

      The only TV shows that are engaging are probably the ones people don’t really watch, such as Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, etc. But you better be quick and try to guess before the contestants do. That’s as engaging as TV gets, other than that, you’re right.. it’s all crap.

  7. Amanda Gonalez

    I dont think either hobby is “bad” for you. I feel like we all have our ways to de-stress and relax and if listening to music, watching tv, or playing games is that method than thats totally fine. My issue rather than whats “worse” is…When do you get to the point where ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I see too muc tv watching and too much video playing going on and I cannot stand it.
    I will be the first to tell you I am unemployed and watch tv shows religiously but i still get things done. There’s a time and a place and tv comes after my errands and duties. My kids will do the same and they will have a limit to how much they play video games.

  8. Scrabble Online Against Computer

    Gaming is somewhat interactive, and depending on the game, there are puzzles and challenges to solve. I guess the same could be said for TV, if you’re watching a game-show or something else with questions you’re trying to answer. But in general, I suspect that if you studied the brain waves or brain activity of somebody doing both activities, that you’d find a higher level of activity associated with playing a video game.


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