Nerds, geeks. We call them all the possible names. Sometimes we even do not know the exact difference between these words. But they have an advantage over us artists. They have seen all, they have read all. If you ask them about any detail of a character or scene, they will be able to talk about it for hours, coming up with multiple timeline endings and eventually creating a new story aka almost new fanart.
Ok, they do not know everything, but let's be clear here, they know A LOT. So before we judge them, we might take them as an example for a brief part of our lives. I mean spending all days playing games or watching movies will not end up very productive, it's too much of a good thing, but with reasonable self managing we can gain some extras.
"Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one." - Bill Gates
So let's look at how games, movies and series can help us as artists to improve our artwork, being more open to the "screen world" and gain the bests out of it.
From my experience, I have something I call "nerd waves". These are the periods of time when I could just sit for hours and play my one of my favorite games or watch some cool movie. They usually come when I'm overworked for certain time or when I'm dealing with some personal hard situations. But then I have to be very strict with myself to not fall into that trap and don't spend all my free time on fun instead of being productive. It's fine to have a lazy weekend though, but it should start on a rainy Friday afternoon and end on Sunday with first dusk.
Our brain works day and night. It's basically 24/7 McDonald's drive thru. Depending on which kind of job you have, you can be more physically or mentally tired. Our mind needs to rest even though it's on a never ending shift. All you need is a challenge and to have fun. If you have nothing to do, you had a long day and your boss pissed you off, then choose a game you like, with some challenges. While engaging in a challenging activity, your body is feeling more energetic. After completing the challenge, you will get a rush which is caused by domapine increased in the brain. And that is the same feeling that motivates you to keep playing.
Video game rush
This game rush is smart to use on a different kid of stuff. Especially in the artist industry, we have a giant task list of things we have to do, draw and learn. But you need to be responsible and give yourself very clear boundaries. If you say I’m going to play for two hours, then you really have to stop and not go to another quest. Everyone has the little devil whispering into our ear: “You need to go for your reward. You need to go to the merchant. You are very close to the master armor set etc.” Just don’t listen to this red overheated dude. It’s always best to stop at the height of things.
So you can use this rush to take paper or tablet and start drawing. You had just left the virtual place and you are full of experience. You overcame the big boss or maybe you didn't and he "made" you to throw the controller out of the window (I do not suggest this option and it's a pretty heavy thing and nobody wants that to land on their head). Grab a paper or tablet and transfer anything you want or feel down.
Usually when we watch movies or play games, we are drawn into the story and the place or era where and when it is happening. We sometimes also become the part of one or more characters. Some we admire, some we hate. One day you can play The Witcher, cast amazing spells and meet many mythical beasts, and explore the beautiful nature (especially the Skellige islands reminding of somewhat of Scotland). The next day you can fight machines in the post-apocalyptic world such as in Horizon: Zero dawn. (These are my two favorite games where I can recharge and leave it whenever I want)
Being exposed to so many "worlds" can ignite our inner artist. In very good games or movies, we have all we need to work with such as different clothes, armor, flora and fauna, characters, monsters, weapons and even castles, towers, machines, spells and others.
I would say more you will visually observe, more you will expand your horizon. Your mental gallery will fill up with more and more pictures which you can later on use as references, combine them and create something new.
Improving dexterity, problem-solving skills
The benefit of playing video games with a controller is that you are improving your wrist and hand-eye coordination. This is even used as a form of physical therapy for stroke patients to regain control over their wrist and motor skills.
Open worlds, multilevel games full of quests, puzzles and complex missions are designed to be challenging, yet fun. You need to think outside of the box to solve certain problems. Even studies show that children who played strategy-based games developed or improved their problem-solving skills.
All things in moderation are usually great things. There is a game, movie or series for everyone out there and it's not always a waste of time. They are a lot of fun and fun is not a waste of time.
When people judge gaming, that's a value judgement. For some, sewing is fun. for me, it would be a waste of time as I do not enjoy it. I rather buy clothes.