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What's up with that?
I've always wondered the psychology behind that. What compels people to want to gain experience and become the highest rank in RPG games or get the highest score in the arcade or best kill to death ratio in online shooters? I know video games are there to be some sort of escapism from the ordeals of real life, but are you really escaping from reality, or are you just playing the game of reality very poorly? People like to play video games where the main character is heroic and strong and agile and overcomes any obstacle. Being the most fearsome fighter, sharpest shooter, stealthy stalker may make you feel awesome in a parallel universe, but whats preventing you from being the best at things in real life?
In my observations, I feel as though video games are a more attractive unit than real life because video games force one to focus on a few simple objectives instead of focusing on some objectives that every individual has to create for themselves in the complete open-endedness of reality. In video games, you acquire the identity of a protagonist. One with a predefined goal, agility, a respected title, no responsibilities, no consequences for their actions, and no ability to feel pain or suffering other than what the video game simulates, usually a flashing screen or a pain animation. Progress is presented to you in the form of rewarding music or exploding text, while life's rewards lie in how you perceive your own abilities.
In videos I see of young adults playing video games, let's say Half Life 2 for example, players start the game and jump around on all the tables like a bobcat with its tail on fire. Every person the player comes in contact with behaves as if not worthy to see the "real Gordan Freeman" as the player proceeds to pick up Chinese take-out boxes off the floor and throw it at their face. The player then jumps on top of trash cans and leaps on top of the heads of authority figures and runs away as they attempt to beat him to a pulp. Every lethal blow to the side of the players head with a police baton is followed by nothing more than a shake of the camera and a flash of red. The same players playing in this fashion would never behave in such a way in public but instead not resist portraying themselves with the audacity of a wild stallion in a video game setting that mildly resembles their own.
Video games tend to make obvious the rewards for doing things correctly to such a lucid extent, that people begin to see less and less the rewards of being good at things in real life. Unless the words "GREAT JOB" appear in front of their face every time they become slightly more experienced in a different field, there's no incentive to do anything.
What I think is missing here is that the keyboard and mouse that controls your hero in whatever game your playing is not the only thing you have control over. Your brain controls you. Question whether video games are your sole source of any motivation to be good at something. If you take a moment, considering yourself a character being watched by a third party, would you make a good video game hero? Do you have any skills or abilities that the average everyman doesn't have? Do you have any speed, agility, coordination, or intelligence that makes your life a video game worth playing? Maybe you should open your eyes once in a while and look at what you're capable of. Do a few pushups once in a while. Learn to play a sport. Eat healthy. Set some goals. Work towards those goals. Video games are not the only things you should be playing.
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I'll keep it terse: who honestly has the authority to judge other people's lifestyles and suggest that they're wasting time? Kind of contradictory to make elaborate posts on internet forums berating other people for not doing all the fantastic things you're supposedly doing or should be doing while you have the time, non?
People who are kind of a big deal like 40 oz.
Actually, as counter-intuitive as this may seem, the main draw of video games is that they are harder than real life, at least in a moment-to-moment sense.
It's okay, don't forget we have your title to make the context explicit :p
I've started listening to Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal (because I can't be arsed to read with my eyes anymore) and its central argument is that the primary draw of games is that they are hard work, but, crucially, work that we choose for ourselves, suited to our strengths, with clear goals and a clear feedback system. 40oz is on the right train of thought when he suggests we view our physical selves as video game protagonists, as designing your real life around a series of game-like objectives is an excellent way to stay motivated. Without clear objectives in life, we become stalled, not by life's difficulty but by its frustrating ease and open-endedness. Consider this: how challenged are you by a day at work? If you're tired at the end of it, that's not because your mental resources have been tapped, but because your abilities haven't even been tested.
But unless you work in the game industry, your gaming motivations have little to do with your immediate life necessities. As for difficulty, life is hard mainly due to how uncertain it is, because the many factors that affect our lives are beyond our control. Creating and environment that facilitates the controls of the available factors makes things easy to measure and tackle. Life itself does that sometimes. If you have the right brain type for a task and were born with the means to effect it, it is much easier than if your mind is not that suitable for the task or you are born in misfortune.
If you're tired at the end of it, that's not because your mental resources have been tapped, but because your abilities haven't even been tested.
Usually, being tired at work is due to stress from being under pressure. If everything were easier on you and you had less things conditioning you while you worked, you'd probably get less "tired" and get more done, your way and individually, which wouldn't necessarily benefit others, or even the whole organization.
How hard something is must be compared to the resistance offered to it, and can't be left to the general and decontextualized elaborate or "advanced" nature of a process or task. I mean, you concluded games "are hard" by eliminating a key aspect of what makes things hard.
I'd say the power and usefulness of video games depends on what they complement. They are an aspect of office and digital culture, and fit into those much more smoothly than in other areas of life.