Do Engineers Play Video Games?

Do engineers play video games? Of course! All types of engineers play video games. Especially young engineers, who grew up gaming.

I find video games today, play a role in almost every engineer’s life in some form. Video games offer the following:

  • Challenging problem-solving opportunities
  • A lens into alternative realities, which like sci-fi books, inspire inventions
  • Provide a pulse on the latest technologies
  • Amazing entertainment, and a break from the grind of engineering

These are all beneficial perks to engineers, which often go unnoticed.

I’m a gamer for life

nintendo-super-mario-brothers-game-play
Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers (Photo Credit: Tony Bennett)

I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I started with the original Nintendo console. I played ‘Super Mario Bros.’ and ‘Duck Hunt’ religiously. From the first time I picked up the rectangular Nintendo controller, I was hooked.

Later, I advanced to ‘Mario 64’ and ‘Final Fantasy 7.’ Then, I moved to games like ‘The Last of Us.’

So, video games have a huge place in my heart. But, my gaming habits have certainly changed over the years.

I know most long-time gamers share a similar story. And if you’re like me and an engineer, you grew up with at least one of the following consoles:

Video Game Console NameConsole Release Date
Atari 26001977
Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)1985
Sega Genesis1988
Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)1991
PlayStation1994
Nintendo 641996
Dreamcast1999
PlayStation 22000
Xbox2001

Playing video games as a long-time engineer

I’ll admit, I don’t play today as much as I used to, and the following are the reasons why:

1) Time limitations

I’m juggling one too many things today, between family and work. I have very little free time to play video games.

2) Other interests

I like to build things now, and not only consume what others have built. Naturally, when I do play video games then, I’m more stimulated to build. This makes playing even more difficult.

3) Wasted time

The feeling I’m wasting my time creeps in the back of my mind more and more now. I say to myself,

“Why am I driving around in a virtual world chasing virtual criminals?”

I also know, game developers develop games to keep us hooked with the perfect dopamine hits. This fact alone now, makes me even more protective of my time. I now view each of my actions as opportunity costs, by weighing out the cost-benefit.

As a kid though, life was much more carefree. I pushed in my ‘Golden Eye’ game cartridge in my N64, and I played all night without a second thought. My sole focus was on blasting the bad guys and evening up the score with Alec Trevelyan.

Can you be an avid gamer AND a great engineer?

I define a great engineer as someone who leads projects and solves complex problems. While an avid gamer is someone who plays a lot of video games, say several hours per day.

Clearly, both are demanding pursuits. So, I can’t see how you could juggle both effectively. But, if you only play on weekends, I can see it working out. Instead of watching TV or going out, you play video games.

Keep in mind, you can be an avid gamer as an engineer. You just need to be okay with collecting paychecks as a regular employee. You’ll never become a 10x engineer or earn say over $500,000 annually. I know engineers, who once they get home at 6:00 PM, play until midnight. Also typically, they don’t have a family.

Future of video games for me

virtual reality 3d gear
Photo Credit: Stéphane Bernard

Despite playing less and less today, I’m still utterly fascinated with video games. Frankly, today is the best time to be alive as a gamer.

The advancements in the gaming industry today are mind-blowing. Then throw in the fact, of how many amazing and affordable games are at your finger tips. The following is a short list of what I’m excited about:

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo games are not only nostalgic, but they’re pure fun. Because Nintendo developers simply get it. They develop simple, yet addictively fun games. 

What’s more, you can get in great exercise while you play amazing games on the Switch. This is something I’ve been looking into, since I love both exercise and gaming. Thus, kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

Virtual Reality (VR)

VR will soon bleed into the engineering world to an even greater degree. Engineering will take a page out of video games with the various project simulations. For example, exploring a new engineering design from inside of your office.

On the same token, I’m excited to see the future of gaming, in 3D virtual worlds. I’m sure games will become insanely more immersive.

PS5 and Xbox Series X

I have my eyes glued on these next-gen consoles. Even though I don’t play much, I still love to follow the tech. The games are looking more lifelike, and in return feel more mesmerizing.

The shift in the types of games I play today

Only certain games today fit my lifestyle, when I do pick up a controller.

Linear versus open-world games

Open-world games are so expansive, where you have freedom to do what your heart desires. But, with a busy schedule, the freedom of these games, create intimidating experiences. This is why I don’t touch these games with a 10-foot pole.

I don’t want to search 4 to 5 hours for a key, only to open a castle door. Those 4 to 5 hours could have been better spent with my family, work, and exercise.

So, give me a great 2D game, and I’ll be a happy camper. No wasted time with exploration. Just pure action from the time I pick up the controller, moving from left to right.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still greatly appreciate open-world games. But, it’s just not my cup of tea anymore.

Multiplayer games

I loved playing competitive multiplayer games as a kid growing up. Talking shit to my friends, as I killed them over and over again in games like ‘Golden Eye.’ Or, racing endlessly all night in ‘Mario Kart’ race tracks.

Now today, I’m even more competitive. So, placing the smackdown on my friends is still pure enjoyment.

Plus, what better way to connect with friends, given how busy adult life today is. With online play, it’s easier than ever to play with anyone anywhere, while catching up.

Grinding in games to level up

Every avid gamer knows about grinding. It’s when you play the same level or mission over and over again, to level up your character. As a kid, I loved grinding. I remember playing ‘Final Fantasy 7’ for endless hours.

I traveled the open world, to find areas where the monsters gave me the most experience. Then, I played the same monsters over and over again. I wanted so badly to max out each of my characters. Even though, it wasn’t necessary to beat the game whatsoever.

These days, I find grinding to be pure insanity. I would go as far as to say, it’s torturous. As a kid though, the innocence surrounding the love for the grind is something to cherish. And now ironically today, I can thank my awesome OCD engineering habits, to my grinding days…

Video game selection

When I was a kid, there were only a select few games to choose from. Also, the sticker price of games was $59.99. For my family at least, the cost was very high back then.

Now, thousands upon thousands of games exist in every genre. Plus, on top of regular developers, indie developers crank out countless games too. It’s a gamer’s paradise.

And if you’re an engineer, you probably make great or decent money. So, you can buy any game you like. This is a double edged sword though. Because I find it ruins the magic of gaming to some degree.

Today, I have more unopened games sitting on my shelf than opened games. As a kid though, since I only bought one game at a time, I played it to death. I’d argue I prefer the old days, because you’re in the moment thoroughly enjoying a game. While today, you want to race to finish a game, to play the next new shiny game.

“Do engineers play video games?” wrap up

Video games are a great form of entertainment, and an escape from the stresses of adult life. Plus, it’s a nostalgic experience for most engineers, when life was more simple.

As engineers become more entrenched in adult life though, the less they’ll play. But the itch will remain.

Even more, video games are a great ice breaker in most engineering workplaces. Most engineers love to talk about their gaming experiences. We all have some nerd in us…

What type of video games do you play? Do you find many people in your workplace play video games?


Featured Image Photo Credit: Tony Bennett (image cropped)

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