Nick Larson, 18, plays "Through the Fire and Flames" by DragonForce on "Guitar Hero 3" on Thursday at his home in Craig. Larson said he plays video games about 30 hours a week on average.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Nick Larson, 18, plays "Through the Fire and Flames" by DragonForce on "Guitar Hero 3" on Thursday at his home in Craig. Larson said he plays video games about 30 hours a week on average.

For the love of the game

Craig gamer devoted to perfecting his hobby

Statistics

• About 3 percent of gamers spend an average of 45 hours per week playing video games.

• These gamers have purchased about 24 game titles in the past three months.

• Video games can range from computer games and online games to those played on console systems.

• Console gamers spend an average of 8.2 hours playing video games per week.

Source: The NPD Group

Nick Larson sits in a dimly lit room, transfixed.

Flickering lights from the TV screen light his face. The image on the screen guides his fingers, which race and flutter across rectangle-shaped buttons on the black plastic object in his hand.

Larson, 18, a Craig resident, spends about six hours a day, or 30 hours a week, playing video games like "Guitar Hero 3."

The game requires players to follow along with various songs, playing notes displayed on the screen. Yet instead of strings, the guitar-shaped console Larson uses is equipped with buttons.

Other people take an interest in sports, he said.

"That's their thing," Larson said.

But give him a video game and he comes into his own.

Larson began playing video games at age 5. His first game was "Super Mario Brothers 3," which he played on a Nintendo Entertainment System.

These days, he plays using a silver Xbox 360.

The time he spends playing video games pales in comparison to more than 5 million avid video game players who devote an average of 45 hours a week to the pastime, according to a news release from The NPD Group, a market research company.

Each of these 5 million game enthusiasts have purchased about 24 titles in the past three months, The NPD Group reported.

Records from Movie Gallery in Craig, which rents video games and movies, indicate local youths have picked up on the gaming trend. The store rents at least 315 video games per month on average, Movie Gallery Manager Lynnd Hering said.

That number remains fairly steady through both summer and winter months.

"Craig is full of gamers," Hering said. "Our game sales and rentals are usually fairly steady."

However, video game rentals usually swell during the holiday season.

The reason: "A lot of our active gamers are younger," she said. "When school's out, they come in, and they'll rent three and four (games) at a time."

Larson doesn't have a lot of video games, he said. Instead, he splits his time between "Guitar Hero" and "Halo." However, the former remains his favorite.

"I picked it up about a year and a half ago, and I just couldn't put it down," he said.

He's not shy about broadcasting his skills.

"Nobody here in Craig can beat me," he said. "That's why I play online."

He's got a record to back up his claims. He's collected 22 gold stars playing the game, each one representing a song he's played with no mistakes.

Larson doesn't buy the argument that video games require less discipline and concentration than real-life activities.

"A lot of people say, 'Who cares? It's just a video game,'" he said. "But I'd like to see them do it."

Larson's hours of practice pay off eventually, giving him a sense of satisfaction.

"I love being able to say I beat the game," he said.

As he races through The song, "Operation Ground and Pound" by DragonForce, his wife, Cheryl; his mother, Cheryl; his sister, Dulsie; and his friend, Colton Doolin, watch.

Larson and his wife occasionally play Guitar Hero together, with one playing bass and the other taking lead guitar. Cheryl sometimes devotes weeks to perfecting one part of a song she's trying to master.

Other times, though, Cheryl prefers to watch her husband take a turn at the game.

"I like to watch him more because he's better," she said.

From Larson's mother's prospective, video games could become a detriment to Larson if he played them too much.

"I think they could be (overly-engrossing) if you didn't have other things going on in your life," she said.

Still, she believes the danger isn't specific to video games.

"(Video games are) no more engrossing than football could become or any other activity you do," she said. "You can do too much of everything."

Comments

Globe 5 years, 6 months ago

One can only imagine the sheer delight that coursed through my veins when I read this beautifully written article by Bridgette. While drinking my morning coffee, before I went to work, I could hardly wait to get on the CDP and post a comment. First, I would like to thank Nick for a couple of things. Thank you for keeping pizza delivery prices and the price of the Big Mac affordable. Second, I would like to thank Nick's mom for supporting his Passion for these last 13 years. Ya did good Ms. Larson - I know it will pay big dividends when X-box develops a game designed to cure cancer and Nick finally cracks the code. Third, I would like to thank the American people, our culture, and our pure complacency that has allowed Nick the freedom to do what ever he wants with his live. I know going forward, his family, this community, and our country will be enriched and blessed because of Nick's skills. Fourth, I would like to congratulate Nick on his new found success that has allowed him the financial resources to pursue his hobby while other unfortunate souls are left with the terrible task of working for a living. Fifth I would like to congratulate Nick's wife for finding a keeper - Don't let this one get away honey. Lastly, I would like to congratulate China, for putting the nail in the coffin of our economy. China, you will never have to fire a single bullet to strip our country of all it's wealth, all it has to do is keep making affordable game consul and come up with some kick but games and we will be more than happy to give you all of our money.

Keep up the good work my boy!

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psychoslash 5 years, 6 months ago

Hopefully, as you imply, people are not what their hobbies are. If you are correct about this than your hobby of sarcasm and unenlightened judgment points you out to be a human being of unimaginable disgust with most everything in life. He enjoys the games and not only that uses them to bring his friends and family closer together by joining with them. Whether it is church, sports or video games such activities bring a family closer. He has the courage to be proud of his hobbies and let everyone know and not just in text. Do you have the courage to say such hateful things to someone's face or are you only confident through the safety or random comments which only fuel your own superficial insecurities? I guess you are a coward since you do remain anonymous. You could learn a thing or two from this boy that you berate; courage.

Derrick Gorbet

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Globe 5 years, 6 months ago

We have a thousand "courageous" youth in Craig who are proud that they are couch potatos. That doesn't mean they are brave, it just means they don't care if you think they are lazy. They don't care that is until they have to have someone else in this world pay their way. While I am glad to see that his mom doesn't mind having him sponge off her, the rest do care that we are raising a generation of zombies who's soul contribution to society is making it to the next level of Halo.

Yes I am pretty good at sarcasm. If I was left to my own demise and didn't have a dad who told me to get off my but and get to work, I may have ended up a lot like Nick, glued to a TV 40 hours a week (the article says he games for thrity so I assume he spends atleast 10 hours watch shows too.) My favorite Farside cartoon was the one where a guy was going through the wantadds and all of the job postings were looking for people who had good nintendo skills or could get past a certain level of mario brothers. The sarcasm of the cartoon was that nothing he is doing is preparing him for the real world. The reality that great video gaming skills isn't going to help you get a job is something an entire generation is going to have to face. For Nick, a 30+ hour per week obsession isn't a hobby, it's what he does, it's who he is. It doesn't help improve him as a person. It doesn't draw him closer to his family. Just because they are in the same room playing the same game, doesn't mean they are communicating or building anything. It means they both like to play the video game. People who play video games don't even want you to talk to them because they are concentrating so hard. If Nick put even a fraction of the time he spends on video games into something constructive he could be building character, a life, a future for his family, etc etc etc. All he is building playing the game is realy strong thumb (which will come in handy when his wife leaves him for someone who can provide a future) and strong case for birth control.

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psychoslash 5 years, 6 months ago

I do not see the point in debating with someone who lacks the intelligence to even use the proper spelling when retorting. While your idea that he is a couch potato is very inaccurate. Not only does he have a job but he is also going through high school. Your ideas are so generalized that they insult your intelligence so I apologize for assuming that you can keep up with these debates; that is insulting to your intelligence. That assumption was as founded as your assumption about him watching ten hours of tv.Couch potato or not he was able to identify your spelling errors in both of your postings. I can hardly think that someons who hasn't even grasped the English language better than someone who hasn't graduated high school yet can offer any advice about being able to provide a future for his wife. I ask you how you can think you can provide a future for anyone with your pre high school diploma English skills let alone try to tell anyone how they cannot provide it. I'm sure he is well aware of the real world since he does have a job, wife, and schooling to deal with. He is also in the real world enough to know there is a balance between leisure time and work time. I'm willing to take a poll just based on your comments here and the story on who is the better person; you or him. With that poll I'm sure most people are smart enough to realize he's in reality enough to know that people have their hobbies without dishonoring himself by lashing out at harmless stories. Ask his family, they all play games with him. Please stop your ignorant assumptions.

Proud of his comments enough not to hide in anonymity,

Derrick Gorbet

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Globe 5 years, 6 months ago

Hey D'rick,

I'm sorry that I type fast and that I don't write it in Word and use spell check before I post it like you do (don't deny it). What I did do for you though, was to go through your sermon and give you some English lessons. I hope this helps out.

Per Deak,

I do not see the point in debating with someone who lacks the intelligence to even use the proper spelling when retorting. While your idea that he is a couch potato is very inaccurate (Sentence fragment. While what? You need to complete the idea. This is called a dependent clause). Not only does he have a job (need a comma here and/or get rid of the conjunctive adverb "but") but he is also going through high school. Your ideas are so generalized that they insult your intelligence (another missed comma) so I apologize for assuming that you can keep up with these debates; (what the hell is a semi-colon doing here? You don't have two independent clauses, regardless of what Microsoft says) that is insulting to your intelligence. That assumption was as founded as your assumption about him watching ten hours of tv (incomplete sentence). Couch potato or not (this is called a parenthetical statement. It should have been followed by a comma) he was able to identify your spelling errors in both of your postings. I can hardly think that someons (here is a misspelled word) who hasn't even grasped the English language better than someone who hasn't graduated high school yet can offer any advice about being able to provide a future for his wife (don't you ever separate you dependent clauses with commas? This is a run on sentence. Who was your English teacher?). I ask you how you can think you can provide a future for anyone with your (when using more than one adjective to describe something you should be using hyphens and commas. (Just an FYI)) pre high school diploma English skills let alone try to tell anyone how they cannot provide it. I'm sure he is well aware of the real world since he does have a job, wife, (modern rules would state that the use of the serial comma after "wife" shouldn't be used in this case) and schooling (you conjugated a verb when it should have been dealt with as a noun. When creating a list you should always keep them in the same tense and form) to deal with. He is also in the real world enough to know there is a balance between leisure time and work time. I'm willing to take a poll just based on your comments here and the story on who is the better person; you or him (sentence fragmentation here). With that poll I'm sure most people are smart enough to realize he's in reality enough to know that people have their hobbies without dishonoring himself (pay attention to your subject verb agreement. This should have been "themselves.") by lashing out at harmless stories. Ask his family, they all play games with him. Please stop your ignorant assumptions. Proud of his comments enough not to hide in anonymity, Derrick Gorbet

Good try though D'k

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Globe 5 years, 6 months ago

Derrick and Nick,

Three things: 1) Thanks for the Big Mac tonight, it was delicious. 2) Tell the people down at the alternative high school they need a new English teacher. 3) Look out behind you!!! (I'm pretty sure you and Nick are playing Halo right now, so I just thought I would give you a heads-up).

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Patrick Germond 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm not taking sides. However, that was one of the funniest things I have read in a long time.

Globe, you sould turn that kind of humor in to the paper.

It was a thing of beauty I tell ya.

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