Addicted to the game: UB student gamer fears his life may end in his computer chair
Louie Mott plays, on average, 30 hours per week playing video games.
Mott, a sophomore undecided major, began playing semi-religiously at 6 years old with games like Pokémon Silver on a Gameboy Pocket. He’s been in a 30 hour-per-week routine since he started high school in Central New York.
Few things get between him and his games – he said the only major distractions are school or a job if he’s currently holding one down.
“If I have nothing going on I’ll sit in front of my computer all day – no problem doing that,” Mott said.
Video games have become increasingly prevalent over the last two decades, especially with latest consoles Xbox One and Playstation 4. These consoles serve as more than just a gaming center – they offer an all-encompassing experience.
According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), 67 percent of households have video games present. In 2010, the average gamer played for eight hours per week.
Mott’s roommate Joey Gugino, a sophomore geology major, and their friend Dave Pavone, a sophomore electrical engineering major, said they don’t have much time to play video games because of the difficulty of their majors.
In an effort to make the best of both worlds, they try to budget their time to the best of their ability.
“Electrical engineering is brutal,” Pavone said. “I manage to save a couple hours a day to play [video games] when I’m sitting around chilling with friends.”
Mott said although he plays the guitar and bass, playing video games is his most important hobby and what he spends a majority of his time doing.
He’s become sufficiently skilled at games because he spends so much time playing.
“Just to be clear, [gaming is] definitely an addiction,” Mott said. “It’s [not] like painkillers, but more like a TV show.”
Growing up as an only child, Mott played a lot of "Spyro," "Zelda" and "Megaman" until online gaming started to pick up and friends didn’t have to get a ride across town just to save a princess.
He finds that the benefits of gaming include not needing much to enjoy it other than your gaming platform, which is whatever projects the game onto the screen.
Mott describes himself as a self-declared “PC man,” or someone who prefers computer games, and other than desiring a more compatible controller, he’s content to enjoy what’s in front of him.
PCs hold the most versatility and though he owns all four models of Playstations, Mott can use an emulator, a program that will make his computer believe it’s any platform he wants, to play any downloaded game available.
With so many opportunities in the gaming world, he believes there’s a lot of work to be done.
Ian Carson, a junior economics major, also prefers to play PC games. He’s met friends through games such as League of Legends – people he will interact with both inside and outside of the game.
“It’s a whole community,” Carson said. “There’s a natural similarity because we’re all going to play the same game and enjoy it, so from there it’s easy to build friendships.”
Carson enjoys gaming, but tries to limit his time to balance it with his studies.
Both Mott and Carson believe that PC games have made significant strides over the last few years in both their graphics and their content.
“Hair used to be a picture you stuck on a character’s head, but now, with new programs coming out, you can design every single strand of hair,” Mott said. “[Game designers] really do make planets now. They really do make worlds.”
Over the past few years, there have been many speculations that claim graphic video games cause violence and lead to school shootings, but Mott believes this depends on who is playing the game.
“Video games contribute to real world violence in people who are already prone to be violent,” Mott said. “It’s not the healthy people, the large demographic.”
At UB, Mott spends his time playing video games in his dorm room in Greiner Hall and said the Internet works well while he plays. He hopes that one day UB builds a server for popular games among UB students, where they can compete.
“I don’t think they see it as a proper use of the money,” Mott said. “But, on the same token I don’t think schools understand how important relaxation time is. It’s something they could advertise.”
Matt Weiner, a junior business major, also lived in Greiner where he considers the WiFi optimal for gaming. He said it made gaming easier and that it was more tempting to play.
“If it’s hard to get onto the server or the game is lagging, you don’t want to sit there and wait to play for that long,” Weiner said. “When the WiFi is good like in Greiner, it becomes easy to go on binges since you don’t have to worry about losing connection or lag time.”
With so many games vital the identity of gaming, he did narrow his all-time list down to franchises, starting with "Fallout" at No. 1, "Elder Scrolls" at No. 2, "Battlefield" at No. 3 and "Call of Duty" at No. 4.
He believes that some games drag on while others can be endless. He said the missions and upgrades are too voluminous to ever complete.
Mott plays video games at such a high rate for pleasure and for a way to escape stress.
“Battlefield and Call of Duty aren’t exactly good stress relievers, but if you’re playing an RPG [role playing game] like Skyrim, you can really sink yourself into your character and live another life,” Mott said.
According to Mott, the hardest thing about video games is you can’t play them for the first time again. But there’s still hope because Mott has a lot of new games to keep playing, knowing outright he’ll be happy to press start and load up the last saved game for the rest of his life.
Video games have influenced Mott’s life in many ways – due to his excess playing, he wants to declare computer science as a new major. He also said games have influenced hopes of how to raise his children.
As soon as his kids are old enough, he wants to give them video games because the impact on his own life has been too positive to disregard.
“You can learn lessons from good games,” Mott said. “I just can’t see myself not doing it. I might have to lose a hand or something. I might die in the computer chair.”
Aubrey McLaughlin is a features staff writer. Features desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.