They press my buttons, I press theirs

Jordan and Jesse journlaism

By Sam Chambers

When you give a young child a new toy, the chances are they will play with it until it’s worn-out. But the likelihood of that one toy leaving a lasting impression on their life is fairly slim.

So, when a five-year-old boy was given his first games console, he had little way of knowing the lifelong passion it would ignite inside of him.

Jordan MacIntosh is now a 21-year-old media and journalism student at Leicester’s De Montfort University and, by his own admission, is a video game obsessive, spending around 24-30 hours per week playing his favourite titles.

To many, this may seem worryingly excessive, not least to the countless number of healthcare professionals warning of the detrimental impact an immoderate amount time spent “gaming” can have on a person.

Not Jordan, though.

Despite once playing for so long he gave himself a nosebleed, he maintains that he is – and always has been – a very active person, and the amount of hours he spends gaming doesn’t affect his health.

He said: “Everyone is different. It comes down to how much time you play and how much time you set to doing exercise and other activities.

“I don’t feel it impacts on my health. Given the choice of going out and playing [games], I would go out.”

This appreciating the need to find time for other hobbies, he said, is something he owes to his mother, who ensured that he got enough exercise as a child.

“My mum was always encouraging me and my sister to do extra activities,” said Jordan.

“It’s down to the parents to instil that into the kids, so when they reach secondary school age, uni age, they know how to distinguish playing the games, healthy lifestyle, work, uni, college, school, whatever.

“I played for the local football team, I played for the school football team. I always did find time to play football. I would have taken up playing football over video games.”

Perhaps the biggest worry for Jordan, then, is how gaming impinges on his academic life.

He said: “Sometimes I’ll say I’ll play for another hour, and then I end up playing for, like, another two, three hours. And then at that point I lose the urge to do my work.”

Criticism, though, of the damaging impact of video games is not just limited to a person’s physical health, but their mental wellbeing, too, particularly in light of some high-profile murders being linked to the use of violent games.

Jordan believes that games are not to blame for peoples’ actions, and that the issue is more about the individual’s own existing frame of mind.

“I personally don’t see a link between violent video games causing mental health issues or making people go out and shoot up a school or something,” he said.

“Initially, it’s down to the person. If they were initially detached from life, a bit of an outcast or don’t fit in with other people, and you give them something that makes them feel different, they attach themselves to it.

“It makes them feel good but not necessarily making them feel good for the right reasons. They become more detached from other activities. It’s taken over their regular schedule.

“I’m not saying it’s responsible but I can see how it can contribute.”

Despite the plethora of health warnings, there are millions more people around the world that spend countless hours playing their games of choice.

But just what is it that compels them to do so?

In Jordan’s case, it was the detachment from the real world that originally attracted him to gaming, and still does.

He explained: “I like films, I like my TV shows, I like games. I get engaged with quite hands-on things, things that require focus and attention.

“I’ve been like that even from a young age. My mum and dad said I used to stand up and watch the adverts in my cot, so I think video games were the next step because I had control of it.

“Rather than being passive I was like actually taking part.”

As he’s matured, Jordan’s passion for video games has started to transcend being a simple hobby, and now affects his professional ambitions, too.

He said: “It’s influenced me and my career as well. I want to go into the journalism side of it as well as obviously playing.

“I’d like to play them, and talk about them and discuss it with others as a job. Travelling the world and trying out, maybe not even the new games, but the new technology behind the games.

“I think that shows how I’ve sort of matured in my passion for it, in that it’s no longer just about  the playing, it’s sort of about the appreciating it on a deeper sort of level.”

One thing is for certain – whether he realises his ambitions or not, Jordan’s gaming odyssey will continue for a long time to come.

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