: Interview: Gaming And The "Demise Of Guys"

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Interview: Gaming And The "Demise Of Guys"

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An article on CNN prompted quite the response from the video game community, as one might expect.

We at PSXE responded as well, challenging the assumption that video games are part of the reason why boys are slow to turn into young men. But we also wanted to tackle a few more difficult questions, so we approached the authors of the book, "The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling And What We Can Do About It" to see if we could get some answers.

Dr. Philip Zimbardo was out of the country and unable to participate, but psychologist Nikita Duncan was good enough to participate; the following are her replies to our relatively complex (and admittedly leading) questions, and we thank her for her time.

PSXE: Historically, video games have been seen as a "nerd" hobby. They're mostly mainstream now, but those who grew up with games were typically seen as geeks; therefore, would it be correct to assume that they were - based on definitions of nerds and geeks - smarter and less likely to be involved with vices and bad behavior?

Duncan: "If you're Generation X or a Millennial pretty much everyone plays or has played games and it doesn't make you a geek at all, rather gaming is normal activity. Gamers aren't necessarily smarter, different games attract different kinds of people and there's a game out there for everyone. It doesn't make you less likely to be involved in vices or other bad behavior except that physically you're most likely sitting down somewhere focusing on the game so your options for causing trouble are limited. Games can be a way to blow off steam, so in that way they'd be a good alternative to negative coping behaviors."

PSXE: The Atlantic's "The End of Men" article had a lot of merit, but didn't necessarily mention video games as a possible cause. What aspects of interactive entertainment do you believe hinders the maturity process?

Duncan: "We focus on the excessive use of video games and porn and the book is meant to raise awareness about the possible consequences of that, especially for guys that use both excessively. Porn and video games are also symptoms of a larger problem: that, as Jane McGonigal put it, reality is broken. If you're a young guy and you're literally being left to your own devices (i.e. parents are not parenting or father is absent, school is not interesting or challenging, no clear need for you in society), why wouldn't you engage in fun activities, and in the case of video games, a fun challenge that provides results?

The main problem with these activities currently is that in many ways they are socially isolating and they can be addictive, potentially undermining guys' abilities in other areas of their lives (such academic motivation and later succeeding and deriving satisfaction in a career, or socializing with girls and later being sexual with women). The sheer amount of time spent on gaming - the average teenage guy plays 13 hours a week or 676 hours a year or the entire month of February - takes away from exploring other talents or developing social skills."

6/11/2012 Ben Dutka

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Comments (45 posts)

LimitedVertigo
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 9:44:47 PM
Reply

I don't see the problem with someone doing what they want as along as it doesn't hurt anyone else. I understand that kids need to be guided by adults so that when they become mature enough to think for themselves they have the ability to make choices that benefit them. But I don't think playing a lot of videogames or watching a lot of porn is going to turn the common person into an isolated, antisocial freak.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:13:59 PM

And even if it did, that's a person who has found a place in a world that he probably doesn't fit into anyway. The modern age is not for everybody, I'd rather be a bad stereotype than a meth addict. Better to escape from the world through gaming than truly destructive behaviors.

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LimitedVertigo
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:16:19 PM

http://www.psxextremeforums.com/feedback-suggestions-support/13372-what-do-when-mod-whinges.html

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Axe99
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:25:38 PM

A very good point there World - the world (not you) is a mixed up, crazy, confused place, and more times than not the mainstream values and goals in the media or trumpeted by politicians to me seem to reflect a narrow-minded parochialism as well as a somewhat short-term view of the world (there's a huge amount of encouragement for people to sacrifice their long-term wellbeing for short-term gain, in advertising and by politicians, for all sorts of reasons, from shopping to messing the planet up). While I can happily interact with society, I'm more than glad to not be mainstream, and most of my mates are too. And being able to chill out and play games is deffo a good distraction from the trouble caused by many in the mainstream.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:51:19 PM

Wow LV, the forums have gotten really bad. I'm glad I got out before I got infected.

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LimitedVertigo
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:52:28 PM

I hadn't been on in forever. CH1N00K brought me back to play the hero, AGAIN.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:05:51 AM

But you play hero so well.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:20:41 AM

They forums are actually much better now. I've cleaned up a lot of crap in there; don't let Shak's BS taint the whole place.

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CH1N00K
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:26:06 AM

Thanks Ben, I was going to tell him the same thing. It's not as bad in there as it's being made out to be. It's not the same as when World used to be in there posting on a regular basis. (We haven't had a fictional story right-off since he left) But it still isn't like we're a group of gollum's in there protecting the threads like they are our "precious"....

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:29:30 AM

Okay I hear you guys. I do love fiction :) So much more exciting than slamming on people for their opinions.

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CH1N00K
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:34:42 AM



“Don't let the actions of a few determine the way you feel about an entire group. Remember, not all German's were Nazis.”
― Erin Gruwell,

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 2:26:06 AM

I just slaughtered a bunch of Nazis in The Saboteur.

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Temjin001
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 9:48:55 PM
Reply

It's a big scary world out there for those who have their priorities messed up, no matter the activity. I know several personally who have allowed poor behavior shape the person they are today because they couldn't say, "hey, this is probably a little out of hand." But there are many I know who have had confidence issues, and video games was a way to cope with the world. One friend, an old room mate, liked the story based games a lot. He despised competitive games because they put him a position to lose. If he was playing a Squaresoft RPG it was a world to get lost inside and not so much a game to win and lose at. I think our attitude and tendencies for certain behavior has a lot more to do with the context in which our activities are applied per individual more so than something that can be a generalization of an entire sex.

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LimitedVertigo
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 9:54:01 PM

Not everyone is going to be successful. We've become a society that puts blame on everything but ourselves when we underachieve or something goes wrong. Why can't it just be that there are some people that don't want anything better for themselves, but rather are fine with the simple choices they've made?



Last edited by LimitedVertigo on 6/11/2012 9:57:06 PM

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CH1N00K
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 10:08:04 PM
Reply

Before I got into gaming, I used to read a lot more books. I still read on a regular basis, but if gaming hadn't come along, my book library would be bigger. Books was a way to escape and relax in a world that wasn't your own day to day life. Games serve the same purpose for me. Like everything, these hobbies have to be done in moderation. Of course playing video games all day long is not healthy for you, just like spending all day at the gym working out is going to eventually ruin your muscles and body...But finding a happy medium will definitely lead to a happy healthy lifestyle..

There are a lot of people out who spend all their lives trying to figure out a way that they don't have to work for a living. Is that the fault of TV or Movies or Video games? No, these people are just lazy...and except for installing shock collars around their necks, there isn't a whole lot you can do about them...

Last edited by CH1N00K on 6/11/2012 10:09:18 PM

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LimitedVertigo
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 10:15:45 PM

Well if governments stopped allowing people to live off the system you'd see a drop in the amount of people getting away with it. No need to put on a shock collar, just stop sending that check in the mail.

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CH1N00K
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 10:44:40 PM

Funny you should say that, the government in canada is trying to pass a law that anyone on Welfare has to subject themselves to a drug test before they can collect their check. And people are making a stink about their human rights...which is ironic, because certain jobs I've applied for demand a drug test in order to work for them, but if I want to sit at home and collect taxpayers money I can be as high as a kite...

Last edited by CH1N00K on 6/11/2012 10:45:24 PM

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LimitedVertigo
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 10:48:23 PM

The same thing is going on here. Florida wants to impose the same policy. Of course the liberals are upset and claim the rights of those on welfare are being infringed upon.

Just one example of how entitlements are increasing the world's economy crisis.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:23:06 PM

In the end it's actually cheaper to let some people take advantage of the system than it is to let millions starve to death. We should do the greatest good for the greatest number in this regard.

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LimitedVertigo
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:27:09 PM

If I was running the show....wow....

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Axe99
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:28:46 PM

Aye, what World says - there are _always_ welfare frauds, and people that abuse the system, but there is waste everywhere (western democracy as a political system is incredibly wasteful - but it's also far better in other ways than all the alternatives) - the issue isn't that there is waste, but more is there a better way of achieving the current goal (which in the case of unemployment benefits is providing support to people who are, to a large degree at the moment, at the mercy of market forces far bigger than themselves).

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:31:40 PM

Folks shouldn't be worried about unemployment benefits either, historically every 75 cents put into it returns a dollar. I'd rather have that 25 cents in the economy than families pushed to the margins of society where people turn to crime and prostitution just to survive whilst billionaires ask for more tax breaks.

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LimitedVertigo
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:34:19 PM

Nope. Creating a system that allows people to live off of hard working people is never the answer. Taking that system and in a span of a few years magnifying how many are on that system is a step in the wrong direction. The fact that there are people like you that not only justify it but agree with it shows how screwed we really are as a society.


No longer do people grow up wanting or needing a better life when they can just coast their entire lives off the system and the best part is us working folk are the suckers!

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:44:44 PM

This argument shouldn't get out of hand. I'll just say one thing-

No society can survive if it reaches the point where the minority are trying to support and care for the majority.

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LimitedVertigo
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:45:33 PM

World started it.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:53:08 PM

Yeah I'm all done *takes deep breath* Willard sucks and teachers rule!

Okay now I'm done.

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CH1N00K
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:56:52 PM

lol, and I was just about to say that this would be a good discussion for the forums...just to see how many groans I get...that and try to avoid derailing the comments any further..lol

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:06:36 AM

lol, yeah it would be if we could bring gaming into it somehow...

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CH1N00K
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:46:22 AM

Hmm, you've given me an idea World...Everyone who is on some sort of social assistance could be required to beta test and report on games for glitches and issues before they launch...That way our taxes dollars are really going into the gaming industry. Games become better during launch and our government could ask for a percentage of games sales in return for offering this service and re-invest it back into our infrastructure...Recession over!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 2:26:42 AM

I would first assign them to Bethesda RPGs.

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BikerSaint
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 10:20:33 PM
Reply

Normally adjusted people know that gaming is just a game.....& that reality is "NOT".

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Metal Head
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 10:28:22 PM
Reply

I love video games becuase they are a fussion of art,science,literature,music,and more. Violence is in our dna, althought some people became psycopaths because they grow up in a violent environment. Psychologist need to grow up and stop blaming music,games,and more for the decay in humanity.

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Rogueagent01
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 10:46:56 PM
Reply

The last paragraph on the first page is one I have a problem with. Again games offer a social side be it side by side with friends and family or over the internet with other people. Many of these studies seem to ignore that little bit of information.

And even the usage of "other talents" is pretty close minded. There are people that are talented at video games and can make a living off of those talents, be it through competitions or getting involved with the industry. It's like saying someone who is too into music isn't exploring other talents. Sorry, but some people know right off the bat that they have found something they truely enjoy, and maybe, just maybe they can earn a living while doing it. Gamers in todays day are far more social than ever before and likely will become even more social as gaming continues to grow.

Many people have a self destructive personality and with no outside source i.e. gaming, TV, music, or any other hobbies will still find a way to self destruct.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, June 11, 2012 @ 11:29:31 PM
Reply

I think games are just a fallback position for guys, not part of the demise of us. We need find fallback positions because there isn't much of a place for "men" in today's society.

Do you think Don Draper would get very far these days? Hell no, he would be in jail. Nobody wants to hire men anymore, the number of men in college has dropped off, more and more guys are raised only by their mothers, and there just isn't much of a place for you unless you become a hipster. The world doesn't want us? Fine, we've got alternate worlds.

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reryan
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:25:26 AM
Reply

The internet, as well as popular opinion, has become a place that sees only in Black and White. Reality is more complex. I have been a gamer for much of my life and I am a champion for gaming when it comes to showing people the true artistry and brilliance in modern games.

As much as it pains me when I get crap from my girlfriend or anyone else who doesn't 'get' gaming, I can also see with my own two eyes friends and peers who neglect their own health and success because they are too wrapped up in games or other forms of entertainment. When I visit a friend who does nothing except drink vodka and play world of warcraft all day, it pains me. When I see an overweight teen who plays more hours of games in a day while in high school than I do in an average week as a working adult, I see why people think of gaming in a negative light.

And may I just say, the problem with Black and White thinking extends into all areas of society. The political conversation I saw unfold before me was kind of disturbing to me. The idea that everyone who is unemployed is scamming the system is totally wrong to me. It is very possible to be someone with a background rooted in hard work who has an advanced degree who got laid off through no fault of their own. Unemployment benefits exist as a temporary relief for people who are between jobs; the money lasts usually less than a year and you have to have worked full time for a certain amount of time to even qualify. You do not qualify if you were fired for incompetence, only if you were laid off or the company went bankrupt, etc.

'Welfare' as people think of it hasn't really existed in a long time. During the Clinton presidency most of what we consider welfare was shifted from cash payments into what is known as food assistance today (food stamps). There are fairly strict requirements on what kinds of food can be bought with food stamps based on cost and nutrition. I don't see why it should be looked on negatively that as a modern society that we don't allow the needy and the less fortunate in our country to go hungry.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:32:46 AM

The internet, as an anonymous identity supplier, does cause polarization. Thankfully gaming has the ability to bring people together. It's just a matter of exploiting that ability properly, otherwise you just get more polarization in the form of fanboys.

Vodka and WoW? That poor man...

Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 6/12/2012 12:38:07 AM

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Highlander
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:47:27 PM

What about football fans that lounge on the couch stuffing their faces and chugging beers? What about fans of any sport that do that? What about people that love to read and are equally sedentary, and snack while reading? Are books dangerous? Are Sports to blame?

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Warrior Poet
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 9:46:55 AM
Reply

Why are games and porn made out to be the same? Final Fantasy Tactics might make you smarter, but porn is always bad for society.

I definitely agree that men are at a disadvantage today. When you ask someone to talk about masculinity, they always talk about anger, violence, aggression, impulsiveness - those are the defining traits of a maladjusted teenager, not a man. Look at the wikipedia article on masculinity. It has nothing good to say. Never once mentioned are the qualities of a loving father or a loyal brother.

We live in a country where food and protection are pretty much available as long as you work. The traditional role of protector and provider is unnecessary. That's a really sore spot for most of my male friends, because that's all they really wanted.

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Highlander
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:38:29 PM
Reply

I think Duncan overstates something and misses an obvious point when she tries to establish a causal connection between video games and attention deficit problems. Attention deficit disorders and other associated disorders are believe to be - in part at least - a product of the reward center in the brain simply not functioning correctly. The person get's no sense of reward for their efforts and loses interest.

Duncan says this in her closing comment "Games have addictive qualities. Most games are perfectly in tune with a user's pleasure center because they have scheduled rewards like higher levels, weapons, or tools, reinforcing the user's desire to perform and keep them coming back for more. That's not to say gamers can't be well adjusted, most are."

let's take a step back and look again at what games do, and why it can be called addictive. Games provide pleasure - yes. But more than that games are designed to reward players for their effort. They constantly ping the reward system in the brain. ADD sufferers lost motivation because the reward - the gratification - for an action is too long term. The ADD sufferer needs more immediate rewards in order to maintain interest.

Call it instant gratification if you want, but it's more than that. If an ADD sufferer is doing something they are interested in, even if it's reading about their favorite topic, they can achieve a kind of hyper focus. That's because they are doing something that they enjoy and the reward system in the brain providing near constant positive feedback. But as soon as the task moves to something less interesting, that reward feedback is lost, and they person quickly loses interest, motivation and their attention begins to drift to something more interesting.

Often times ADD sufferers will zone out, and even fall asleep because they are literally bored by the topic at hand, and their brain could not find anything else sufficiently interesting to focus on.

My point being that video games do not cause this. Video games however are designed to ping the reward system which means that they are perfectly suited to anyone with even marginal attention deficiency. The addiction that we talk about with games is not a physical addiction to a substance, but it's more than a behavioral addiction because really what is happening is that you become conditioned to the very rapid reward cycles that games provide. So when that stimulus is removed, your brain feels an immediate change and you naturally want to restore the reward cycle. There is biochemistry involved because of the various neuro-transmitters and hormones that are involved. So in that sense it is a chemical addiction, that expresses in a behavioral manner.

The medications that help ADD/ADHD patients work on the biochemistry in the brain to better stimulate things like (but not limited to) the reward system and therefore raise the ability of the patient to focus on tasks that normally do not sufficiently engage them. ADD meds typically raise dopamine levels (as well as norepinephrine, and serotonin). Domapine is strongly associated with the reward system in the brain. The increased dopamine levels in patients taking ADD medication are thought to result in the reward system being more effective.

Duncan needs to take care in presenting this information and bringing topics like addiction and whether gamers are well adjusted, into the discussion. The reactions of ADD/ADHD suffers to video games - even those with symptoms so mild they are on the margins of diagnosis - are not based in addiction, nor do they reflect how well adjusted the player is.

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Highlander
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:45:19 PM

ADD linked to reward system;

http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/02/04/brain-reward-system-tied-to-adhd/11185.html

Dopamine and the reward system in the human brain...
http://wings.buffalo.edu/aru/ARUreport01.htm

http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/pubaf/pr/PR_display.asp?prID=998

How/why do I know all this? I am ADD, my son is severely ADD and suffered from a form of autism and my wife also has moderate ADD. I have researched and read, read and researched, and of course lived and experienced this all. I get tired of the misconceptions around ADD, and I found Nikita Duncan's answers did not really tell the whole story with respect to attention deficit and video games.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 12:55:30 PM

Now I wonder if I have ADD.

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Highlander
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 1:50:09 PM

Correction to my own reply above...

This;

"and suffered from a form of autism"

should read;

"and suffers from a form of autism" - Autism is not temporary, nor can it be cured.

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LimitedVertigo
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 1:50:31 PM

I would gladly sit in a park and listen to you talk for hours about anything.

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reryan
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 6:13:45 PM

I too was diagnosed with Attention Deficit, and far too often society associates ADD with laziness and childishness, or even stupidity. This could not be further from the truth. I have been successful in my life despite experiencing the problems that Highlander described above, and I agree that games stimulate my brain in a way that very few other things do. I love analyzing the crap out of games and completely immersing myself in strategy and the atmosphere.
In terms of the interview, the main point I was trying to make before, and Highlander makes very well is that if excessive game playing is linked with addictive or destructive behavior, it is because it is a symptom, not a cause, of the true problem. I've seen people resort to constant game playing as an escape from depression just as some might turn to drugs or alcohol. To me, blaming the game is clearly backwards.

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Temjin001
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 @ 6:32:19 PM
Reply

During school load I clock in around 5 hours a week in gaming.

Off school load? About 10 maybe 15 hours a week.

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