Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Double-Edged Sword of Video Gaming: A Balanced Perspective

Playing video games captures the imagination, interest, and money of millions and millions of people worldwide, presenting a form of entertainment that blends interactive storytelling with visual artistry. On one hand, video games offer substantial benefits, enhancing cognitive skills, providing community, and serving as a stress reliever. On the other, they pose certain risks, potentially leading to unhealthy habits if not approached thoughtfully.

Exploring the Benefits

Video games are designed to entertain, offering players worlds rich with challenges and storytelling that can truly be rewarding. The fun derived from these games is palpable, as they provide a break from the routine of daily life. For many, games are a primary source of relaxation and a temporary escape from the stresses of the real world, effectively serving as a tool for stress relief. They can also give you a confidence boost if you are good at them.

The sense of community in gaming is also significant. Many gamers find not just camaraderie but also a sense of belonging and connection through online platforms. These communities often extend beyond virtual spaces into real-life gatherings at conventions and events, celebrating the culture and advancements of the gaming world. These social gatherings highlight the cultural impact of gaming, with events like E3 (may it rest in peace) and PAX pulling in huge crowds and fostering a shared enthusiasm for new releases and technological advancements. Retro cons like PRGE, Classic Game Fest, Game On Expo, The Midwest Gaming Classic, Corgs, and too many others to mentions are some of my favorite events each year.

Moreover, the educational potential of video games can't be overlooked. Strategic games encourage critical thinking and problem-solving, while other games have educational content embedded in their design, teaching everything from history to physics to money management in a fun and interactive manner. True story: I learned to type during the 1990s by playing Mario Teaches Typing on my Mac.

Acknowledging the Hazards

However, alongside these benefits are potential hazards. The immersive nature of video games can lead to extended periods of physical inactivity, often exacerbating unhealthy lifestyles. Long hours spent gaming can contribute to a sedentary existence, which is associated with increased risks of various health issues, including obesity and cardiovascular disease.

The structure of many games also encourages lengthy sessions of play, which can interfere with normal eating habits. Snacking and on-the-go meals become commonplace, often replacing nutritious meals, which can lead to poor dietary habits. I love my fellow gamers, but even many of them will acknowledge that they would benefit from more exercise and less junk food and soda (god knows I could certainly cut down on sweets).

Moreover, the addictive qualities of video games can be concerning. The rewarding feedback loops and the continuous challenges that encourage just "one more game" can lead to excessive gaming. This prolonged engagement can interfere with daily responsibilities, sleep, and even social relationships, leading to isolation and sometimes exacerbating mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Finding a Healthy Balance

The key to a healthy gaming lifestyle is not necessarily moderation but making sure you are taking care of yourself and those you love. Setting and adhering to limits regarding how much time is spent gaming each day compared to other stuff can help mitigate the risk of addiction and the encroachment of gaming on essential activities and relationships. Integrating physical activity and social interactions into daily routines can help balance the sedentary nature of gaming.

Encouraging healthy gaming environments also involves parents and caregivers being actively involved in the gaming habits of younger individuals, promoting a balanced lifestyle that values physical activity and social interaction as much as virtual achievements. In short, regardless of your age, use that pause button to take walks, shoot some hoops, go visit friends, and even do some volunteer work.


Video gaming is a multifaceted activity with the potential to both enrich and complicate lives. Understanding both the benefits and risks associated with gaming is crucial. By actively promoting and practicing balanced gaming habits, individuals can enjoy the vast positive aspects of these virtual experiences while avoiding their pitfalls. This approach ensures that gaming remains a positive addition to life, providing entertainment, education, and community without adverse effects.

I certainly love gaming and do plenty of it, but I try to incorporate it as a part of a well-rounded lifestyle, not something that takes over my life. I did a recent video addressing this topic. You can watch it by clicking HERE.

Best of luck and happy gaming!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

New YouTube Series from Brett Weiss - Mount Rushmore of Video Games & Consoles

Discover the Mount Rushmore of Video Games for Classic Consoles!

Hey gamers, have you ever wondered which games truly define each video game console? Well, you’re in luck! I've began a YouTube series where I unveil the "Mount Rushmore of Video Games" for various legendary gaming consoles. Each video dives into the top four most iconic games that have left an indelible mark on their respective systems. Whether you're a retro enthusiast or a curious newcomer, this series is your ticket to nostalgia!

Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

Years ago, before I had the idea to film a series, I did a Mount Rushmore of games for the mighty Super Nintendo. In the video, I explore four games that not only define the SNES but also helped shape gaming in general. From the platforming excellence of Super Mario World, the primary pack-in title, to the brilliance of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which was even better than the original Zelda, these picks are sure to spark debate and fond memories. Check out the short video to see which other two games made it on the list!

Nintendo 64 (N64)

To kick off the actual series, I tackled the Nintendo 64, a console that revolutionized 3D gaming. My Mount Rushmore for the N64 features titles that brought friends together and turned gaming into a shared adventure more than ever before, or at least since the heyday of the Atari 2600 and Intellivision. Remember the countless hours spent on Super Mario 64 or the intense multiplayer battles in GoldenEye 007? Relive these moments and find out the other two games that complete the N64’s Mount Rushmore by watching the video.

PlayStation (PS1)

The original PlayStation changed the game with its groundbreaking graphics and expansive game library. In this video, I delve into the four games that are quintessential to the PS1 experience. From the revolutionary Final Fantasy VII to the heart-racing action of Metal Gear Solid, these selections highlight the innovation and sheer mass appeal of the PlayStation. Check out the video to see which other games are immortalized on this virtual monument. Plus, I just had to include an honorable mention.

Why Watch the Series?

Each video in the series more than just a rundown of great games; they’re a celebration of gaming culture and the impact these consoles and their games have had on both the industry and players across the world. I blend fun facts, personal anecdotes, and a deep dive into what makes each game worthy of its Mount Rushmore status.

Join the Conversation

After watching, don’t forget to hit the like button, subscribe, and ring that notification bell to never miss an episode. Plus, jump into the comments section to share your thoughts. Do you agree with my choices? What games would you put on your personal Mount Rushmore for these consoles? Let’s get the conversation going!

What’s Next?

The journey doesn’t stop here! Stay tuned as we continue to explore more consoles in upcoming videos, including the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, and Sega Saturn. Which console should we tackle next? Drop your suggestions in the comments, and your favorite just might be the next feature!

Get ready for a blast from the past and celebrate the legends of gaming. Watch the series, share with friends, and let the nostalgia take over. Here's to the games that made us and to the adventures yet to come! See you in the next video! 🎮🕹️👾

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1988-1998 Writer Spotlight - Brian "Civicminded" Lesyk

A machine. That’s what comes to mind when I think of Brian “Civicminded” Lesyk. Other than me, he wrote the most essays for my most recent book, The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1988-1998, and he turned them all in well before the deadline. He’s also collaborated with me on several long-form articles when I was simply too busy to write them on my own, doing most of the heavy lifting and always turning the work in ahead of time. Not only is he punctual and prolific, he writes clean copy, and his words reveal just how much he cares and knows about the subject of retro gaming.

Brian is a bundle of positive energy and a fantastic writer, and I’m super stoked that he’s started writing for Old School Gamer, a gig he definitely deserves. And I’m sure he’s super stoked as well--he's extremely enthusiastic about every writing project he takes on. Additionally, listeners can enjoy his insights on the Pass the Controller podcast. More importantly, he’s a staunch ally for various marginalized communities, as you can see if you follow him on social media. If more people mirrored Brian's dedication and inclusivity, the retro gaming community would be an even cooler space to inhabit. I’m proud to call him my friend, and I always look forward to running into him at the next convention. See you soon, Brian!