As a young man (just entering my second decade in this planet) I disagree with those who said they are a waste of time.
You ask if videogames are hobbies or waste of time. Well, may I ask you, do you think movies are hobbies or waste of time? Do you think music is a waste of time? Do you think literature is a hobbie?
My point: Videogames are the new form of art. And is logical if you think about it. Almost any videogame use storytelling so they need a script (literature). They have their own and unique musical score and soundtracks (music). They obviously need graphics, they are viewed by a computer/T.V screen. And with today's graphics they certainly need talented hands & minds to do so (graphical design). And, as movies, they need storyboards and concept art so the designers have something to work with (drawing). They need editing, too. Editing, born and raised in the seventh art, is a valuable tool. A good editing can add a new feeling to the movie (just imagine that awkward screen angles in scary movies, and rapid camera changes in an action sequence). And videogames need editing too, the best proof of it is the cinematics in modern adventure games. Finally, videogames added their own card to the deck of tools for arts. They added interaction. Who, 50 years ago would have thought that you can enter a movie, for example, and change the ending and the whole world on your own? One must only need to name the Elder Scrolls and Fallout sagas or the 2005, inspired in ancient China's lore, Jade Empire. In these games your actions decides not only the items you get and the ending of the game, but also how NPC's (Non Player Characters) react to your presence, among many other things.
And in case you're wondering, yes. You can learn things from videogames. I'm not saying you're going to learn the three laws of thermodynamics or something to that extend. Let me give you some personal examples:
In the most basic form of the term "learn", I've learned some english. My native language is Spanish. And you all know by the now the importance of the english language. Well, I still remember my elementary days. I've being learning english since I began school (thanks mom, thanks dad), but as a kid there are many things of a foreign language you can't grasp. I can't tell you how many words I've learned playing my Pokemon Gold.
You know the game Assassin's Creed. Well, leaving all that conspiracy mumbo jumbo behind, and the assassin brotherhood, it is a prety easy and fun way to learn some history. The first game is based on the crussades in 1191. You visit historical cities like Jerusalem and Damascus and learned about their history, buildings, and of course all the cultures mixing in those cities. In the second, you are in one of the richests families of the Florence of the Reinassance, and you encounter real life historical figures and moments. In the third you are at the Independence of United States (sorry, but I refuse to call U.S.A America...).
Well, you can ignore all of the above and only read this. Videogames are kind of art. And as you can't say that a book like The Odyssey is a waste of time, but you can say that with many movies like Scary Movie, you can't categorize videogames like that simplistic logic. You just need to play authentic gems like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Elder Scrolls Skyrim, or the indie PC game Minecraft to see what I'm talking about.
Hobby. I enjoy games with friends near and far. It used to consume me as a kid, but I've found much more fun things to do in the past few years.
I say waste of time. They're addictive and time consuming. And how are they helping you in life, other than a way to relax (or rev up for some)? I used to like them as a kid and try to keep my daughter from wasting her life away with them. It's an ongoing battle though.
That's exactly a good point, my dear Betz. Many, and I mean way too many, people out there relate the term "videogame" with the unfamous stereotype of the midteen guy with a lot of cans and potato chips bags lying in the ground, playing World of Warcraft all day long.
I mean, there are plenty of guys (and gals) out there with a variety of hobbies. Do you like football?Baseball? Do you like playing it, seeing the NFL, the MLB? Do you spend all your day and energy in your hobby? So much that you forget about your education, your job, your friends, your girlfriend/wife?
Is it kind of close-minded to think that of someone who likes sports? May I ask you, why it isn't that close-minded to think that of someone who likes and plays videogames?
I think excessive sport watching is waste of time. Being a watcher with no plan to become a doer is a waste of time to me and unmanly. One of the essences of manhood in my opinion is to leave childishness time wasters behind and put the time and effort into creating something or bettering onesself. Spending all Sunday every Sunday watching NFL is no different than spending it playing a video game or on facebook, etc. A litlle of something you enjoy as relaxation is fine but when it takes away from what you could do or accomplish it is definitely unmanly.