Add.: What I believe causes a game to feel unfulfilling is if after the game is finished the player, and the world, is (nearly) unchanged. If there's nothing to show for it. No new philosophy, no useful talent, no object created, nothing to share with others. Most games are equivalent in their impact to a bad reality TV show, a distraction from progress, a time sink, a void.
The trick is to make sure that you resist the temptation to allow that empty time (like empty calories) to dominate your life. It's like ice cream... a little is great stuff, but don't make eating it the center of your lifestyle.
It'll burn some people out. I can't just read/learn or create things and see it as some kind of stress relief.
You'll feel accomplish and all great things but that's ain't relaxing at all for me.
Playing magic the gathering, just turn off my brain and watching a good tv show either comedy or scifi is my way to blow off steam. Video games can make me angry sometime or frustrated. Mtg can be challenging in term of stress and require thinking skill but I've learned to not over think it and play with my gut. My buddy who I play against over thinks and stress out often in mtg, it's enjoyable for the guy but after several rounds at his cube his brain is mentally exhausted, this rarely happens to me. He often chastize me for not reading the card carefully... though, I just kinda remember them if I play often with the cube a lot. Hell I thought one card had flying cause the creature seems to be hovering in the art once. Bad play mistake. While our style are different I we're pretty much tie in term of deck building skill set and winning rate.
Games can be enjoyed in their own right as well. If we play for pure enjoyment and can otherwise balance our lives then they are certainly a means to unwind.
Sorry, that's just not true. There are lots of interesting, rewarding hobbies that do feel like work, in the sense that they require a fresh mind capable of bearing a high cognitive load to engage in them. When my mind is fresh you're right, those hobbies are very satisfying to spend time on, but my "fresh" timeslots are mostly devoted to my actual job (phd) these days, which doesn't feel like work either much of the time.
Be careful, your attitude is a road straight to burnout.
What makes you believe that what reedlaw described is not to be considered mental downtime? I have made quite the opposite experience: when consciously reflecting and deciding about my mental downtime in advance, it turns out to be the most recreative. It's worth noting that I made bad experiences with: tomorrow from 7-730 I will be reading/running/cooking/medidate/watching an educational video for recreational purposes. The way to go for me is to predefine a set of activities which I support based on a principle. When in the situation for donwtime, I then choose from this set.
Many mentally challenging activities I'll start spontaneously, but it's typically small ones with direct, achievable goals, like write a little scraper in a new language or reverse engineer a single mechanism of an application.
I only have a few times a week when I have downtime that I feel like I can pick something off a list. The rest of my downtime I want something to do - and that's where games come in - and I'm quite glad for them, because without them I'd spend much more time watching TV, reading junk political threads on reddit, etc.
Those principles ought to be chosen as to align with my convictions and expectations from life. So you could say that I know that this list is the intersection of things I consider worthy doing (and immediately have a well-formed reason for their worthiness at the back of my mind) and recreation.
When a moment for recreation has come, there is nothing that makes me question whether I should do something from the list or not because I am reassured that I have thought of this sufficiently in advance to determine the best for me.
The vast majority of video games are either built around the principles of addiction, or require a tremendous amount of time in muscle memory training.
What you're describing seems like describing how enjoyable it can be to smoke one cigarette a month. (assuming that actually felt good). Could be true- but the odds are certainly stacked against people attempting that behavior.
My friends and I play Overwatch. It's a game with an incredibly high skill ceiling, and if we wanted to compete professionally, sure, we'd have to spend a ton of time in focused training.
But we don't. We just hop on voice chat, play in Gold/Platinum against people of similar skill level, and we have a good time with it. Sometimes we'll pick up new strategies, we learn different characters, our aim and game-sense probably improve, but that's all secondary to hanging out and enjoying the game.
None of us are ever going to be competing in Master / GM / Top 500 tiers, and the amount of time it'd take to train and get better is immaterial to us because none of us want to.
Not only is it quite pleasant after I've had a beer or three, but they're the ultimate social hack for introverted nerds. Are you at a crowded bar/party where it's impossible to have a proper talk with someone? Step outside for a smoke, and you can instantly have a nice, low key conversation with the other smokers. Lulls in the conversation aren't awkward cause you can just go back to taking drags; and once you're done, you can keep talking if you like the person- or have the perfect excuse to head back in if you don't.
So you use smoking cigarettes as a crutch when making real conversations with the non-smokers inside gets hard? Then you fill in gaps in conversation with more smoking? Most people cope with those naturally occurring conversation gaps without breathing in smoke.
Serious question - Are you, as you stand out there with the party going on behind you, slightly repulsed by the fact that you connected with someone because you're both doing the same disgusting habit?
The whole scenario seems so absurdly sad, and certainly not something I'd "highly recommend" to anyone.
I wouldn't "highly recommend" trying it, because very few people can keep it at that level. I couldn't, and my way of quitting was to remember all the other ones I smoked. To this day, on the rare occasions where I crave smoking, I'll just remind myself of the nausea, the bad throat, the smell, the dizziness and whatever else the other ones, the ones I would smoke after the good one, would do to me.
I don't see a correlation with cigarettes, which offer you nothing beneficial, are physically addictive on the level of heroin, and are one of the leading causes of human death.
Nicotine can have some benefits; see for instance https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6457772
> are physically addictive on the level of heroin
False. They're a bit above alcohol; heroin is much higher.
> and are one of the leading causes of human death.
I realize this is anecdotal, but I feel the need to point out that my father, a veteran ER doctor of over thirty years, has said more than once that based on his experience of patients, he thinks it is easier to quit heroin than nicotine.
Nicotine is quite often used as a form of self-medication - it's helpful for people with all kinds of issues, from depression to adhd, to weight control.
Even among doctors, there is very little knowledge on the subject of why people take up smoking, and usually it's assumed it's just a matter of bad habits.
So, if someone uses nicotine as an unwitting way of self-medication, it will indeed be extremely difficult to quit without fixing the core problem.
To some extent it's like calling SSRIs "hard to quit", because people who begin taking them often never quit, even when side affects are worse than those of nicotine.
Kind of like how in WWII the British improved the survivability of their bombers by increasing the armor in the places returning aircraft weren't damaged, theorizing correctly that those were the places the planes that didn't return were hit.
If a person with an addictive personality gets on heroin, they're probably visiting the ER very few if any times before they hit the morgue.
Edit: By the way, for an appreciation of "A bit above alcohol", check out an inpatient alcohol detox clinic sometime... it is no joke at all.
People who appreciate computer games as a serious hobby will tend to enjoy games on the complex end of this spectrum. These games are no more built around the principles of addiction than a good book, or a physical activity like skiing.
Well, define "vast majority of video games." Certainly that's true if we mean F2P phone games. For a lot of others I am not so sure.
When free to play becomes pay to win, writing your own cheats is the more fun and rewarding option.
EXACTLY! There is value in realizing that one is wasting time, but viewing a leisure activity as a waste of time simply because it doesn't result in advancement is not healthy.
Personally speaking, the important thing has been learning to recognize when I'm in a productive mood vs in a gaming mood. These fluctuate all the time depending on various factors. But I no longer feel like I should be working when I play games or vice versa. It's quite refreshing.
I think many gamers would envy, and aspire to, your ability to have confidence in self-set learning goalposts. But rather than despair at not being able to do so, if they can sit down on their couch and be spoon-fed goals, a process to get there, and Steam Trophies when they do... and they are truly legitimately happy (a local rather than global maximum, to be sure, but who ever achieves the global maximum of happiness anyways?)... who's to argue against that?
Efforts like Khan Academy and Duolingo understand this dynamic; they break things down into achievable interim goals, with flashy rewards as you progress. But it's hard for serious learning apps to reach the mental intensity and dopamine release of, say, a successful boss fight. A company that can figure that out would do a lot of good for humanity... but why wouldn't they just be a game studio instead?
One reason why AI is being employed for some problems is based on what we know about human problem solving. For instance, a human could come up with a near-optimal solution to the Traveling Salesman problem in under a minute. Long before a computer could get even close. How is that happening? What are we doing that's so special?
Which makes me wonder if we could gamify NP-complete problems and use gamers to come up with better solutions. Like a game to lay out circuit traces, route delivery trucks, or organize a warehouse.
Random reinforcement (giving out not just merit based rewards but also random rewards) keeps people coming back but it's a higher goal than beating a raid boss in a game that 95% of the human population has never heard of.
see "How online gamers are solving science's biggest problems" - https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/25/online-ga...
previous discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8815917
I've also found different games appeal at different times, I think they each answer different desires and I can often guess what I'm lacking by the kind of game I want to play - achievement, confidence, socialising, artistic outlet, aggressive outlet etc..
Perhaps in this way we can use games to realise things that we are lacking in our life so to find more constructive outlets or better life balance - or perhaps games are a beneficial occasional outlet for things like aggression.
(Disclaimer: I'm a huge gamer.)
Every once in awhile we would run into someone who would beat us. I remember one guy in particular. His driving was better than average, but to us it was basically garbage. Yet he was consistently beating us on the Advanced course. (It was infuriating, because the game would have the players select the course, but would always default to the easiest course selected. He couldn't touch us on Expert and new it, so always chose Advanced.) So I observed him for awhile, and I learned that he was absolutely killing the final curve of the course. I figured out how he was doing it, showed my friend, and we never lost to that guy again.
We were good. We handily beat a rather famous NASCAR driver one morning. His skills didn't translate. One friend left the state for awhile and came back bragging how he won a Daytona USA tournament. We destroyed him by a matter of about ten seconds (then showed him how we were doing it). Everyone who beat us had their techniques analyze and assimilated and never beat us again. And yes, I'm bragging, but my point is, our muscle memory and technique was basically perfect by the end. But we kept playing and it kept being fun.
The game was no longer about technique, or muscle memory. We all had that down. It was now a chess game. We had the same pieces, and we had to decide how and when to use them. The game was no longer trying to hit the turn perfectly. That was a given. The game was to figure out when to pass, whether to take a cheap shot, whether to slow down because someone is drafting and you want a third player who is more aggressive to come and take shots at him, etc. etc. Planning was basically the entire game at that point.
So, while Street Fighter is NOT my game, but I imagine for high level opponents, it's very much a mental game, too.
Take something like Civilization that requires tons of research, planning and critical thinking. Those types of skills are more applicable to other things outside of the game.
I get anxious when I've been working or cramming info into my head for too long.
It balances out. Besides, it's important to allow yourself rest periods between bouts of learning to allow your brain to consolidate the new information and subconsciously draw inferences and review detail. Otherwise you reach a point when you've bitten off more new information than you can comfortably chew.
I also tend to play games that involve exploration of worlds I will never experience in my own life, mastery of skills that require cognitive precision and dexterity, or philosophical rumination. I find these experiences to be a positive addition to my world and my understanding of people around me.
Now that we are seeing real potential for VR, this is about to reach a whole new level. The line between games and educational tools blend more and more every day. Imagine a war game so visceral that it makes you cry, gives you PTSD, and completely makes you rethink the wars you support. Or full job or skill training courses. The potential for video games to positively impact our lives has never been greater.
Care to share some of your favorites? I'd be curious to check them out.
For skill games, try Nidhog.
For a good recent psychologically engaging game, try Firewatch.
A spattering of other favorites: Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, the Jak and Daxter series, Antichamber, Dishonored, Skullgirls, all of the 2D Mario titles, Final Fantasy Tactics, Smash Bros, Minesweeper, Dwarf Fortress, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
Maybe in a tangible way nothing has changed, but for me, when I finish a good RPG or RTS, I feel like I have inhabited a different world for a short time. I come out of games like that with fond memories of how the combination of the story, game mechanics, music, characters, etc all made me feel. To me it's just as real and satisfying of a memory as going to the beach with my wife and son or completing a difficult programming project. Every game has a unique feel in my mind: Super Metroid feels different than Baldurs Gate which feels different than Mass Effect. I wouldn't trade the time spent on making those memories for anything.
Today i look back and think: if i studied and worked more, i would be much far by now. Probably rich. I´m creating an online business where i have to learn and create every day. And yes, i'm very happy doing it and not playing anymore (one year now).
But, what if ... ten years ago, playing World of Warcraft would lead me to a rich life today? What if it paid well to be a Counter Strike player?
I suspect i would be even happier. But that's not the truth of the world. Yet.
Or not. Maybe at the same place in life. Studies are not as important as a defining criteria for your life as sociocultural group, or class. I wouldn't get too hung up on it if I were you, what's done is done.
>What if it paid well to be a Counter Strike player?
If you're a pro player, sure, it does. There are regular tournaments with $1m prize pools, teams like Virtus Pro pay their players generously. There's money in it, if you can manage to be in a top 16 European team. Or top 4 North America because of level discrepancies. That's around 100 spots.
Whenever I think that maybe I could have had a better life if only I had done X, it always falls apart on closer examination. It wouldn't have been better, it just would have been different. I still would have been me, and that person just isn't cut out to be independently wealthy, or famous, or influential, or even noticed. In this kind of civilization, I'm a nobody.
In the end, it hasn't mattered whether I was good or bad at my job. The world simply does not care whether I pursue sloth or aresteia. It would have kicked me in the teeth just as hard if I was a driven genius or just a lazy smartass. You leave a lot of opportunities on the table when one of your major life goals is to not be the same sort of exploitative asshole that you have always hated dealing with.
So I have played video games, still play them, and don't feel even an iota of guilt or regret about what else I could have been doing instead. And I read escapist fantasy/sci-fi novels. And I indulge prurient interests. And I eat too much candy, and don't exercise enough. For me, working hard has always paid off about the same as coasting. If ever I lift a finger to do better for myself, someone comes along and eats up my efforts, leaving me with a pile of tasty crumbs. They're nice, but probably not worth all the effort and sense of moral outrage.
If the world wanted me to do more with my life, it wouldn't have filled itself with parasitic and predatory humans.
How so? Let's say you try to kick ass at your job (let's assume for a second that you're a software developer), learn the newest/hot technologies, do some side projects and move to a hot tech hub. Unless you've already done that, you can easily double/triple your salary in a matter of a couple of years. That's not crumbs.
Another example - working out. It's amazing how much more women are interested in me now that I have modicum of physique (and I'm FAR from the Men's Health models). That's also not crumbs.
The requirement that I move away from my home eats up an awful lot of my not-specifically-work-related efforts. Gain salary. Lose contact with existing friends and family. Pay extra salary in inflated housing costs, food prices, and taxes. Maybe also commute longer.
I have had annual performance reviews that say I kick ass, some that say I am just "meets expectations" in all categories. Either way, I only get a 2% salary increase. The jobs around here don't pay extra for superior competence.
The limiting factor on my nookie is spousal libido. My exercise and fitness levels have no observable effect on it. Nothing I have ever done seems to have an observable effect on it, actually.
I feel like a mime. No matter what direction I go, my nose smushes up against that invisible wall, and I can't find where it ends, so I can get past it.
It's probably not the world. It could be just me. The walls might be of my own creation, and now I just live in the invisible box I have built for myself.
But it could also be that I am surrounded by Homo economicus, and I am already standing at the local profit maximum. Nobody cares about who I am or what I do, so long as they can make the maximum amount of money from me. Nobody really wants the sprockets in their machine to grow extra teeth.
And your actions play a very important role in the outcomes. Sometimes different are better.
So not without violating my own ethical code, I can't. And if I compromise my own ethics, the change I create will not be for the common good.
It is not my world, anyway. It still belongs to those acting under the precept "might makes right". The systems of control still rest easy upon the foundation that humans are easy to murder, and their corpses are easily forgotten. In video games, protagonists can slaughter their way across a whole state, and get little more than little red, white, and green numbers for it. In reality, if you change the world, it might not be for the better, and you and everyone else will have to live with the consequences.
I know I could change the world. I have even identified some means of doing so. But when I assess the likely effectiveness of those means, the only ones that even cause a momentary shimmy on the global change-o-meter involve horrific atrocities. And in many of those scenarios, I cannot escape angry retribution from somebody. Changing the world is a punishable offense.
So I'll just eat the bread and watch the circuses, and try not to attract too much attention from the sociopaths, thanks.
It's sad that we measure our progress in life in terms of material wealth.
The first keeps you from sinking unbounded time with it, and the latter actually can be enlightening, informative (ie, bringing in mythologies or historical context), and ethically challenging. Stuff like endless PvP matches or MMO grinds never held much appeal to me.
As with most things, the key is moderation: finding a balance where you're getting enough relaxation/leisure to keep yourself happy, while not dedicating so much time to it that it completely takes over your life.
No, we are not all striving to have more happiness (although some people surely are). So long as you don't circularly define happiness as "that feeling you get when you accomplish your goals", then most people have at least some goals besides happiness, and some of us explicitly advocate that many or most goals should not be happiness related.
Also, I failed to mention why I replied to the parent post: the mention of moderation. I think if you are listening to how you're feeling, you can (one can) tell when a life strategy isn't working. The important things in life will make their demands known.
In the past year, I've racked up more than 400 hours playing RimWorld, well over two weeks just playing that. I'm sure I could have found something more useful and interesting to do than that.
Personally I think spending time playing games, reading, watching tv and other activities are essential to remaining productive. Not least because they are all interesting input to consider things in different ways. But also because they give me space.
I play slow online turn-based games when at home doing really boring work. I can context-switch, engage my creative mind for 15-30s, and jump back into page 57 of the design doc I'm reviewing.
As for intense gaming sessions, I have young kids = unless it's appropriate for them (more and more the case as they grow up) I don't have time for it.
Games like Hearthstone, Ascension, Sword & Poker, Carcasonne along with a bit of SF4 Volt. Turns need to be done in at most 1m or games should be done in 2-3m max.
- Built my own computer from parts, and squeezed more performance out of it through overclocking and tuning mostly everything that could be tuned
- Learned about networks, power grids and basic event planning setting up LAN parties
- Built a website for my team. Learned to program with PHP and to manipulate images
- Made many contacts, many of them software engineers, including the ones that got me my first jobs
- Lots of team related administrative tasks like screening and recruiting players for my team, creating strategies and tactics with fault tolerance in case of events such as missing players or reduced network connectivity
All this before I turned 18. All these skills and connections turned out to be incredibly valuable later on when I went through financial hardship during college, my former teammates showed up with job offers for programming jobs, which helped to sustain me and my family.
After reading about tracking your Facebook friends on HN, I pressed F12 on ARKServers.net, waited for a request, then right clicked this and copied the cURL link. This returns a JSON payload of user names and play times. I used this as the foundation of a Powershell static site generator, with an HTML boilerplate generating a report every 60 seconds. I registered a domain cheaply with Google and host the site with IIS on my home internet.
I soon learned that any Steam server will return a list of players and play times when queried with the correct UDP packet. The ARKServers site was just running a PHP application called SteamQuery that performs the UDP call and turns it into the JSON payload. I'm still working to port this to Powershell.
After some time, I expanded the website. Now, the static site includes an HTML5 canvas that combines 3 JSON payloads (server, tribe, map) to show tribe base locations on a rotating map background, with player and tribe listed in menus.
The project is pre-3.0, needing bug fixes and a true dynamic map. But making the site has actually been more fun than playing ARK.
Code on Github: https://github.com/Gilgamech/ARKScrape
Demo site (Currently inactive): http://gilgamech.com/ARKData/_Wiped_2_4__NoobFriendly_8xT_3x...
I'm also not advocating against gaming. A game with enough strategic depth can provide that feeling of learning and creativity when you can share and discuss strategy with other players.
I feel like the trend in online gaming overall has transformed the social aspect into a more robotic process---getting auto-matched against strangers who never talk. Part of this might be due to the challenge of managing trolls/griefers. But I don't like to feel like the game has served as a mechanical distraction and not something that made life more interesting for an hour.
I feel the same. I like games and still play them here and there (and enjoy them), but a couple points in the past I was clearly addicted to them. First it was DAoC that was like a second job, and then to a much lesser extent WoW.
I think if you treat games as entertainment/downtime things then they are fine. It's only when they start replacing TV, and then reading, and hanging out with friends, etc... that they really become an issue.
"Nationwide, there are now about 200,000 unfilled construction jobs, according to the National Association of Home Builders. If America were as simple as a lake, builders would just raise wages, incomes would rise and the problem would be over.
But that hasn’t happened. Builders have gone recruiting in high schools and elsewhere, looking for people willing to learn building skills, but they’re not having much luck."
Why would anyone go work on a farm or construction when they could play video games instead?
Every time someone talks about trades paying well, they miss the fact that the whole industry routinely goes bankrupt when there's a drop in demand and prices plummet once people start moving into it.
Short answer: unless you work one of these jobs already, you are really not qualified to be telling other people they should plan to take them.
Tangential to the point: also you'd generally find people who work in those industries play videogames anyway - because entertainment media has very little to do with America's employment situation.
Because I deal with abstract complexity all week, I build stuff around the house and do home improvements whenever I get a chance. It's great and rewarding feeling when building something and seeing it done.
I totally identify, and yet somehow I feel that because gaming is such an important part of how I grew up that I would be very sad and never quite myself if I gave it up altogether. To me, a lot of important culture has its roots in video games - characters, storylines, social experiences with other friends, etc etc. It's a definitely time sink, but for me at least, a very important and defining one.
I play a fair amount of videogames, but what can I say? I have never felt that way. There are some deficiencies in my life, but the main reason they remain deficiencies is that I'm not even sure how to resolve them.
I suppose I don't care much about learning skills because I know I'll never learn everything there is to learn, so I'll always have to defer to experts in certain domains.
Also, even though I like to think I can create some pretty cool things, I don't see how I could ever create anything as intricate, beautiful, or full of discovery as Jonathan Blow's The Witness. That was absolutely worth the 40+ hours I've spent on it so far.
To each his/her own, but to me, video games lost nearly all appeal when I started learning how to program. The only game I still play with any kind of enthusiasm these days is Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup. But all in all, if I have the choice of spending a Friday night playing a video game or programming, I'll go for programming almost all the time. (And roughly 99.999% of the programming I do in my free time is mainly to learn about something, not to solve some urgent problem.)
I still think video games have a huge untapped potential as devices for storytelling or education or as an artform of their own. But we've only been creating video games seriously for ... what? 30, 40 years? Books and theater have been around for millennia, and it took people quite a bit of work before sublime works of art emerged.
(Although I'll admit I was quite happy to discover that there is an open source clone of Doom, and I spent a few happy hours with it. Great fun!)
I enjoyed making the content and seeing reactions to it and trying to one up myself then I did actually playing the game. In fact it gets to a point where you've seen enough behind the curtain that it loses a lot of its charm.
Of course, if you pick a more challenging game, like an RPG/Puzzle, then the difference grows greater.
I also agree that it is more fulfilling to create something.
Which is the reason why I myself like to create ...
video games! :)
Win-win: you get to create it, and play it.
I never thought I'd ever know as much about 15th century ++ history as I do know thanks to Europa Universalis 4.
Often I find myself zapping through Wikipedia after a few hours of gaming.
And the game itself is very good.
>I wonder if other people share the same joy of learning that I feel
Yes, but... Most of my learning and creating has been inspired by games. I started with AD&D (pen and paper, not a video game), then historic tabletop miniature games. By middle school, I was reading 1000+ page college-level books about history because the games got me interested. School taught little or nothing about ancient civilizations, the napoleonic era, or the pike-and-shot era. There were also the WWII, Cold-War, and near-future games that led me to learn a lot about geography, geopolitics, and recent history.
By the time I got a PC (still before high school), I was playing some really complex detail-oriented games. There was a lot of paperwork to keep track of game state, tables to do lookups on, and rules details to remember. I learned how to program trying to make things that would ease the paperwork burden and let me focus on the strategy. (Coincidentally, that turned out to be a valuable career skill.) I also tried to make my own PC games, of course. As PCs got more powerful, PC games got better and more detailed (and better than I could make) and I mostly switched to them. Playing simulators like Silent Hunter and 688(I) led me to learn a lot about geometry and such. At the same time I started trying to make PBeM and PBW client software (again, useful career skills involving networking, client/server programming, and data processing/presentation).
As a fan of serious strategy games, I was interested in creating an AI player that could actually handle those types of games (which are exponentially more complex than chess-like games). I read a lot about AI and played around with different types of heuristics and other ideas. Nothing really came of that (yet) but it was very interesting learning about learning and thinking and planning.
Another genre that interested me were economic games like Wall $treet Raider and Capitalism Plus. That led me to many interesting books and movies to try to understand why companies did things like mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, spinoff subsidiaries, holding companies, etc., and how that related to the stock market.
Much enjoyable time was spent drawing illustrations and doing digital art, and learning a bit about 3-D modeling and CAD. That too was largely gaming-inspired, or trying to make art for games. While my skills have atrophied, I'd probably never have gotten as good as I did if I hadn't had inspiration.
Generally, my bookshelves are lined with books about topics that gaming got me interested in. My career is built upon foundations of things that I learned because of games. But I can't think of a single time when watching a new episode of _insert favorite TV show here_, or any other leisure/hobby, has led me to the bookstore to learn more, or led me to experiment with new creations, the way that a new game is likely to do. I'm happy with what I've gained from it.
Things like TF2 and OW are really just re-enforcing muscle memory, and an exercise in "how long can I last all this chaotic audio/visual vomit" (both from the game and juvenile player base).
Pushing near 40, I can understand why people saw them as just noisy distractions when I was a kid: more often than not a video-game is a noisy distraction.
Re-hashes of CoD and other FPS shooters really aren't teaching anything new. It's exercising muscle memory built up 15 years ago playing the first one.
- I learned to be goal-oriented and focused
- I learned how to lead and work with a team to succeed at a common goal
- I learned how to weed out shitty people that poison the environment
- I learned what it truly takes and how hard it is to be the top 1% at anything (even at a stupid video game)
- I learned how to negotiate contracts and balance budgets
I think being in the top-tier at anything gives a very specific outlook on things. Playing casually or "just for fun" never really appealed to me as I have a very competitive personality.
Leading raids in WoW was a great experience for me. Getting "server-first" took not only ability to play the game, but the ability to recruit and manage talent, practice clear and confident communication, and give constrictive criticism and praise (which is very important when you can't pay people).
Getting good at a video game is a form of learning, it's entertaining but challenging to master all the ins and outs (every patch, no less) in order to stay elite. Few other things give you the sort of near-instant reward for your efforts that video games offer. The ability to flaunt your talents in front of others, in a situation where it's socially acceptable to do so... it's a nice outlet for some drives that you just can't do in the work place.
That said... I generally can't play games "for fun" like some people can. When I play a game that doesn't have a level of competition to it... I get so bored. And when I play a game with competition and I don't have time to be good at it... I also get bored. Suffice to say I haven't been able to really enjoy a video game in years.
(XCOM is maybe the exception. It's good "mindless" fun, and I feel like I have to work hard for every kill. I'm about 1/2 way through the new Long War DLC... I can't place why I like it so much, sure the nostalgia from the original in the 90s, and the challenge, but for the last few weeks I do a mission or two a night and it's amazingly fun. Playing the game my hands get all sweaty, pulse elevated... the terror and frustration of watching one of my favorite troops get blown away because I moved him 1 square too far... They did such a great job with this game.)
We may've ran into each other online (I'm 29). I've played CS:S and CS:GO competitively and minor professionally, mostly under the team MM3 (Message Mode 3). I can't stress the importance of video games (especially on my industry skills). Typing skills, debugging, communication, economics, strategy, critical thinking, most of this on-the-fly decision making. It's been an immense help.
I now play RocketLeague Competitively at the higher ranks and always wonder if I'm wasting time trying to reach that final high tier. (already made GE in CS:GO/15 LANS). But I'm seeing it start to affect my personal life. I can't stop, and I don't want to stop.
Just some anecdotal experience, figure it may be interesting.
I feel like a good approach would be to find some consistent players and stop solo queueing, but I'd love to hear if you have any other advice. Also, what has been a good strategy for you to in weeding out toxic players? Definitely seems like an applicable skill in all aspects of life.
Your best bet is to stop playing competitive for awhile. Just play aim/duel maps on the community servers and demolition to practice your aiming. Once you go back to competitive with some actual aiming skills and spray control you will easily blow past to MG on technical skill alone.
Again, I highly recommend the aim maps or even a deathmatch server. Spectate whoever is at the top of leaderboard and try and compare to how you play. Silvers are so bad at the game playing with them is a waste of time. You have to play against people who are much better than you to get better.
The best advice I can give you is never solo-queue. Add people to your friends list as soon as you sense that they are a good communicator and are giving a modicum of consideration to the experiences of the other players. Once you've built up 40-50 such people, you should be able to always start a game by joining a lobby, even if it might mean a bit more of a wait.
The thing is that in a group of five people, having even two or three people being on the same page and taking the game seriously will tend to dictate the tone of communication. That alone will give your team a reliable advantage over others, particularly in silver and nova levels, so you should be able to rank up reasonably fast to at least nova 2 or 3 without needing to worry to much about your individual skill.
In order to spend vast amounts of time playing video games you have to be at a certain level of privilege. I feel as if video games have cheated myself out of potential as well as those that my privilege obligates to help.
As with other addictions there are people who won't be consumed by it like I was, and prohibition isn't the solution, not sure what is tbh.
I've since picked up a Nintendo 3DS as an experiment now that I take long train rides to work, and it's been an amazing, relaxing experience.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, there are many different ways to enjoy video games without being addicted or even playing a lot. Starcraft 2 ladder play may be one of the more stressful ways of going about it from experience.
These folks can come away with wasted college time, physical injuries, and hideous aversion to the sport they once loved. I guess what I am saying is that I feel like this is an athlete/esports thing, not necesarily a videogame thing. Without the lure of a career behind it, it wouldn't be quite so dangerous a thing. But as with all fun careers, the demands are super high and the number of people who make it is super small. Acting is like this too, without the physical injuries.
If that's the case, video games are probably one of the most benign things that a person can get attached to. Not harmless overall, just less harmful than some other options like certain drugs. A little more harmful with micro transactions. But a lot of games offer a social network as well, which might help in development of self-awareness.
It's sort of a recipe for unhappiness, as the entire system devolves into, "Who can find the most abusively unfair strategy first, and then exploit it." Since most of these games simply cannot have the time devoted to them to make them "balanced" at the breakneck pace the market demands, they never really achieve equilibrium and reward only the most heavily invested.
I'm not sure I agree with this. "Finding" the best strategy rewards you for a week at most, until the community absorbs the strategy. Then you're no farther than the people you were beating last week.
Most games have co-opted the word "metagame" to describe this phenomenon. Someone discovers an effective strategy, it becomes the metagame, and competitive play revolves around polishing understanding and execution as it pertains to the metagame.
Imbalanced games tend to self-balance at higher levels - all the crap that doesn't work just disappears from high-level players' playbooks (except occasionally as surprise gimmicks).
In most cases I experienced, exploitative strategies are only slightly improved, and require a fair amount of skill (usually games hotpatch outrageous exploits quickly). The people who find it worse train to use it first, and keep their advantage.
I mean... You said it yourself:
> Most games have co-opted the word "metagame" to describe this phenomenon. Someone discovers an effective strategy, it becomes the metagame, and competitive play revolves around polishing understanding and execution as it pertains to the metagame.
The "shifting meta" is exactly what game designers of big competitive games want, because it requires ongoing engagement to maintain mastery. A chess player may be rusty after a year off, but the game doesn't fundamentally change. Someone playing League or Overwatch cannot say the same as balance has substantially changed.
> Imbalanced games tend to self-balance at higher levels - all the crap that doesn't work just disappears from high-level players' playbooks (except occasionally as surprise gimmicks).
I've been part of the "highest levels" of two competitive gaming communities now, and I can tell you they do NOT self-balance in my experience. And it was incredibly frustrating to watch the rules change deliberately to break up our strategies, even though what we were doing was simply a function of understanding and practice.
Very few pvp games ever "balance out." That's why they have "shifting metas." Indeed, many gamers claim prefer this because they claim it makes it easier for new players to enter into the higher brackets against more experienced players. But really what it does is create a treadmill you can reach the front or back of.
Maybe some people want that treadmill. I am not sure I do.
It's exactly the same in sports... at least swimming and fencing, in my experience. In both cases (as with games) I realized that the fanaticism and total dedication required wasn't for me. I still enjoy games, I still enjoy swimming and fencing, but I'm done with the treadmill... it's only for the very young, or athletes of some description.
DOTA2 does this better than most - most strategies are accepted as a part of the game - in fact, a lot of things core to play now began life as those kind of exploits (pulling your lane creeps into neutral camps to deny enemies experience and allow you to farm the neutrals easily, for example). The game is balanced around those things, even if they were unintended.
Sure, the game is regularly patched, but the solution is very rarely to directly make something not viable any more - at most it will make it even by buffing other options or reducing it's viability (but not removing it).
The draft with bans also allows teams to deny the enemy team access to certain strategies, which means teams can't focus on one strategy, which is nice.
The big difference is that the advances in F1 car design and even driving is that they can have some relevance in the outside world, in totally unrelated fields to race cars. It's very rare that experience in a video game leads to new engineering efficiency breakthroughs, materials science, etc. It sometimes happens that we see interesting models in economics emerge (EVE stands out here), but I'd say its rarer for sure.
I was more talking about how I don't think that (shifting rules as strategies develop) is a dealbreaker when it comes to audience enjoyment or player investment.
It's a bit like rock-paper-scissors, if someone starts using paper, stop using your rock and replace it with a scissor.
Constantly changing balance patches from the game developers also become a treadmill and can feel even worse than trying to keep up with shifting strategies from opponents. Consider character X has your favorite ability Y which you know how to use very well. You take a 2 month break and come back to the game which has been patched in the meantime. In the middle of a critical fight you try to use ability Y only to discover it only does half the damage you are used to. That is not very rewarding for all the time you invested in practicing Y.
At the time it's kindof fun when the developers throw in a bone to cause some disruption in the strategies, as long as it doesn't happen all the time.
I'm sorry, but within a reasonable margin of fairness you're just not right.
> It's a bit like rock-paper-scissors, if someone starts using paper, stop using your rock and replace it with a scissor.
Usually what happens is a grenade is revealed into the RPS dynamic and everyone has to concentrate on the grenade or very specific strategies to counter the grenade. The entire game ends up revolving around a combination that has an elevated winrate unless specifically countered.
This has happened in the international a year or two ago, it happened in League, it happened even in little spaces like Fractured Space, it happened during the overwatch beta (haven't been keeping up since launch). It happened in smash wii (oh god pre-patch Luigis were everywhere and you had to have specific options ready just for them).
And it's worth noting it's a negative feedback loop: games struggle to keep engagement (because the market is flooded), so the game companies flood their games with new content. This content can almost never be brought into perfect balance with the game dynamics as is, so they redefine it. This is viewed as "an active game" and gamers are taught they should prefer "active" games.
For PvE games, this is usually fine (inasmuch as the only people affected are the diehard super-optimizers). For PvP, this redefines the game and invalidates the meta everyone has to play.
How did you manage to extricate yourself, btw?
You kinda have to pick 3-4 things to focus on and drop the rest entirely, not just cut back. If one of those is "stay sort-of in shape" then you're really limited. Most gaming just doesn't fit in any more. :-/
Something in my brain clicked after the first one was born... an ok-you're-an-adult-stop-fucking-around mode was triggered. The result is that the lack of free time doesn't bother me that much. Too busy and tired to care, maybe.
So in a sense, it's not "just a game" like grinding away at an RPG or whatever in the 90's in my parent's basement was - at times it can feel just as social as experiences I've had in music scenes.
I'm among them. I play a few hours a week, after my wife and child go to bed.
I barely talk about games with any of my fellow adult friends, because for some reason it is still too needing a world where discussing programming, star trek movies or settlers of Cataan is commonplace!
It's analogous to saying X% of adults read 3 hours per week, outside of work. Reading hacker news for 3 hours is different from reading US Weekly is different from reading a novel, etc.
I'm not passing judgement on any of those activities or saying any aren't worthwhile or whatevs. I'm just saying the broad category of "video games" or "reading" is so vague as to be almost useless. The consumers have different motivations and desires.
Sorry if this is addressed in TFA; I only skimmed it.
Edit: Also, an opinion question: I play the NY Times crossword puzzle on my phone; would that be considered playing a video game? I wouldn't categorize it that way, but I don't have a logical reason when I really think about it.
Currently trying to avoid a "High Chaos" rating in Dishonored 2...
 - https://shieldbattery.net
Unlike some SC2 posters in this article, being a part of long-established communities as opposed to one explosively (and unsustainably) growing one, I didn't have ambitions of grandeur and was just able to enjoy it all at my pace, too. I think my only regret is forgoing single-player games with that time. Trails in the Sky FC put on hold to ladder on Fish while the iron's hot, heh. Everytime I had thought my video game interests shelved, all it took was a friend to bring their console over where before long we're talking about best approaches to X, a trip to a Japanese arcade or for TBLS to all qualify for the largest BW offline tournament in recent history before I developed a hunger for it all again. So yeah, I don't see myself abstaining in the long, long run even if it's just to develop a little something. Best of luck with SB, didn't know you were part of the team!
I regret the amount of time I spent. It deeply harmed my health, harmed my social relationships, harmed my school, and limited my world. It was empty success.
My total `/played` in WoW wound up well over 2 years at this point over a 5 year period, I believe. And WoW was not the only game I've played. I've not logged on in years, and I don't care to reactivate and do the math.
On the other hand... they were inexpensive entertainment that worked out well for my living situations. Some of them provided great relationships and wonderful bonding experiences with other humans from all over the world. Games motivated me to get into software development.
Yet, had I limited myself in time and taken the time saved from games to doing more programming, more art, and more reading (all perfectly doable and feasible for the life situations I was in when I was spending time gaming that much), I'd be a better human today. Period. Video games are fine in responsible amounts, and I consumed in vast and irresponsible amounts.
These days I pull out Dwarf Fortress every couple months and spend the evenings on a weekend Striking the Earth, and that's appropriate and responsible in my life at present. I encourage my colleagues who have freshly graduated from college to limit their gaming and to use that time to improve themselves in other ways more engaged in the totality and diversity of human life.
These days however, I feel guilty whenever I fire up a game, even one I really enjoy. I feel like I should be doing something more 'real', like playing guitar or building something, even if it's trivial.
It's strange, because in the end enjoying my time gaming with my friends or playing guitar with them or building things for them add up to be the same.
Watching a single football game per week takes up more time. Honestly, 3-hours / week for an entertainment venue you enjoy is kinda small.
The average football game is 3-hours 12 minutes. The average baseball game is 2-hours 54 minutes.
I find it strange that in our culture, its fine to spend hours upon hours of watching Football, Basketball, Hockey, Baseball (and then play fantasy football and otherwise participate in social norms for even more hours throughout the week).
But a paltry 3-hours of video games spread out in a few sessions per day? That's outrageous!
Lets compare apples to apples here. If you spend 3-hours gaming per week, its equivalent to watching a single game of football or baseball per week. Its honestly nothing to be ashamed of.
Now I played "Maple Story" (an awful MMORPG) for 4-hours a day at my peak. THAT is shameful and a waste. But 3-hours a week is more than reasonable, and just as healthy as any other entertainment venue. Hell, its arguably better to actually have your mind active in a video game than other, more passive, forms of entertainment.
Real hobbies (music, art, creation, programming, engineering...) probably are the best for your brain though. And you get useful skills to boot.
When I get downtime it's pretty much just turned in to playing games or watching TV - I barely have time when I feel motivated enough to start learning something new anymore. I taught myself almost everything I know about programming in downtime during my teenage and college years, but that sort of highly motivated downtime hasn't carried over so well now that so much of my time is occupied automatically.
I think you're right and having actual downtime when you're doing something relaxing is a very good thing, but I can't shake the feeling I should be accomplishing more.
I guess I'm just sort of disappointed that all my most motivated times seem to have sunk into other activities and now I don't get them to learn on my own. I don't know what to do about it.
EDIT: You know, I don't know anyone else who feels obliged to spend their free time in some sort of "productive" way except developers.
Maybe I should just ignore this whole thing and accept that development has for the most part went from a hobby to a job for me and that's okay. Spending time with friends and gaming in my free time are probably more relaxing and improve my overall happiness more than forced productivity would. Optimizing happiness is probably a better idea than optimizing productivity.
Eugh, I don't know, I keep bouncing back and forth on this one in my head.
We as devs tend to seek optimal solutions as if they were a simple numeric quantity, where more/higher=better. We know this is not how things are, but the mental model is seductive in in its simplicity.
What I have learned over the years is that it is the constant change between different forms of attention and focus that drive me to be my best. Which means time, real time, away from what I do for work. And when I return to work after doing so, I appreciate it all the more.
You might be interested in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book, Flow, if you have not yet read it. Although it has nothing to do with game playing per se, it helped clarify many aspects of my thinking when it came to why I felt I was 'wasting' time while gaming, and why I was wrong in that assessment.
>I guess I'm just sort of disappointed that all my most motivated times seem to have sunk into other activities and now I don't get them to learn on my own. I don't know what to do about it.
What you do is realize that you need to cut back on some of the other activities, even if the are what you are 'supposed' to be doing, and give yourself the time and space you need.
This may mean spending less time with friends. That is OK. Everyone needs alone time to some degree. I personally need a lot of it, and I love my family and friends. Getting my alone time is what allows me to be at my best for when I am with them, and there is nothing wrong with that.
I foresee a time where playing some twitch games aren't going to work for me anymore. But anything with the slightest hint of tactical gameplay and this oldster-in-the-making will be fine, I think. Especially the Tom Clancy games where "run and gun" just gets you killed more quickly. I look forward to Rainbow Six: Palm Springs with the Naples DLC expansion pack.
Also, have you played Overwatch or TF2? I found both of those more interesting than Titanfall-- and a wise player can really help a team by jumping into the role that isn't present on a team.
It's also got a lot more variety in characters than most similar games, with the cast covering a variety of ethnicities, cultural origins, and ages ranging from 18 or 19 to 60+.
Hmmm. So I don't think of Overwatch as a "Hero" type game (although I'm not sure what you mean by that). I think Overwatch classes map to TF2 classes pretty straightforwardly. And there's no leveling or grinding for functional items, so it is maybe even a better than TF2 in that regard?
EDIT: And I missed the part earlier where you asked for tips with your father. Ya know, I gave it some thought, and I don't know that I have any. Your dad is about ten years older than I am, which means he was just a tad past the proper age when the Atari 2600 came out. Me, I grew up with the Sears pong console, then came the day when we got a 2600. I was ten or twelve, just the right age to get hooked. So to me it's "umm, sure, I'm in my fifties and spend way too time playing video games. Your point?" whereas your father might have been just old enough to complain about those "kids and their video games", I don't know. So both he and I have had about fifty years to fall on one side or the other, and neither one of us has probably changed all that much since.
You and I both wonder, "why wouldn't you think Kerbal is cool? Hell, if I were retired, it's all I'd do if I didn't have any discipline." because we're already over the hump of playing to begin with, whereas he hasn't gotten past the barrier of "video games==the devil's tool". Dunno, just spitballing, and unfortunately don't have any potential pearls of wisdom. IOW, I don't get it any more than you do.
As I've gotten older I've lost the wherewithal to focus on mechanically difficult games like SC2.
I never enjoyed it.
Currently enjoying the apocalyptic wasteland / occasionally broken mess that is H1Z1: King of the Kill
But I'm also going to dump a fuckton of time into videogames. I remember visiting my grandparents in their homes (and later, their retirement and/or nursing homes), and it felt... boring. I'm looking forward to having an active gaming life, and an active social videochat/groupchat life with any of my friends who are still alive.
I don't really think meta knowledge/research is needed to play competitive though. I used to be really into learning nade throws and watching pro pushes and retakes, and now that I barely have time to play at all I'm still around the same rank.
I think this is really the underappreciated factor in why people prefer video games to jobs. For some people, it's not that they're lazy and games are an excuse to avoid work, it's that the games are actually a far better work experience than the average job. You don't have to go to any meetings where an HR manager breathlessly explains how the new performance assessment web app is going to make everything better, even though it just looks like a reskin of the one you used last year. You don't have to spend a single nanosecond thinking about whether you're going to be edged out for a promotion by someone who has a better rapport with the boss. There are no especially demanding customers or government budget cuts eating away at the revenue you're paid from. You get to just do the goddamn work.
I recently wrote the guide for teamplay with the US Forces army of Company of Heroes 2. USF is widely considered underpowered in team games, because those games often devolve into tank slugfests, and USF lacks heavy tanks. Players who are considered "good" at USF in team games generally play "worse Soviets" --- that is, their playstyle (mass artillery) would be better executed by a different army.
I quixotically refused to accept this, and played a ton of games as USF, trying to find a style that played to their strengths and was viable in large team games. It was my top idea in mind for a while, to use pg's concept---the thing I thought about in the shower.
Eventually I came up with a style that emphasized flanking, range, kiting, and prioritized taking and using ground. The most important thing was that it was non-gimmicky---that is, it is not an easily counterable one-track pony. I wrote a guide detailing it and the underlying concepts over the course of a couple days, then posted it to the subreddit.
I compare this to a React app I recently wrote for a client. We had to work with a kludgy financial API, we had to compromise on certain features to be ready in time for a stakeholder inspection, and some bits of the code are not so great.
It's strange, but I almost wish I lived in a universe where I could put the CoH 2 guide on my resume, and not the client work. It's a better product, it represents (relatively) pioneering intellectual work, and I can take full credit for all of it with clear conscience.
Of course, no one will make any money off of it; it will not feed any hungry mouths, and an overweening preference for solo projects can signify difficulty working with others. But: the experience of working on it was great, and I can look back and say, "I did a good job, at a hard thing, that conventional wisdom believed was impossible."
Not many people here know this but I have a youtube channel where I have done an absolute ton of gaming content (mostly minecraft, but perhaps most famously a Dwarf Fortress tutorial series), as a way to practice my speech and work through a very difficult stutter.
And while I still respect and root for my full time youtuber friends, for me it felt like such an emply lifestyle. Ultimately you're just walking along in other people's stories, experiencing other people's visions, and working within other people's limits was increasingly galling. And short of becoming unpaid labor for those games via their modding scenes, you are a passenger in someone else's car on someone else's map.
Like television (and probably better than television, from a cognitive perspective), gaming is a great escape. But making it more and more of your life as some of this article suggests is a recipe for gradually detaching yourself from real life, real problems and real accomplishments. It's an addictive escapism, and ever year the authors of said escapism refine their techniques in a ruthless competition to keep you captivated.
And the best minecraft fort or cleverest warframe trick I've pulled off pales in accomplishment to selling a company I built, teaching a new developer a new skill, or anything similar. The minute that gaming becomes an end until itself, you end up sliding down a slippery slope to irrelevance.
Fourth: economics. Since every game is reliant on this addictive incentive system, every gamer harbors a game theorist, a situational logician blindly valorizing the
optimization of quantified indices of “growth” — in other words, an economist. Resource management is to video games what African-American English is to rap music or what the visible sex act is to pornography — the element without which all else is unimaginable. In games as in the market, numbers come first. They have to go up. Our job is to keep up with them, and all else can wait or go to hell.
Numbers and economic incentive systems show up in many games, but they're not fundamental. Take a look at games like Journey, Portal, Gone Home, Yume Nikki, or many others which work just fine without numbers. The creator of Undertale, Toby Fox, had this to say in an interview (http://existentialgamer.com/interview-toby-fox-undertale):
TEG: I really loved the fact that many of the branches in UNDERTALE‘s story seemed to lead to miniature “voids” where I was forced to contemplate what I’d just experienced without being “improved” in any quantitative way. Do you think that as gamers and people we have become addicted to numbers / money / experience in general?
TF: The addictive quality of “numbers increasing” is what drives a lot of games. But some of the most important things in life can’t be accurately represented by numbers. As for people’s lives, I have no comment.
> The researchers found that training on the video game did improve the participants' performance on a number of these tests. As a group, the gamers became significantly better - and faster - at switching between tasks compared with the comparison group. Their working memory, as reflected in the tests, also was significantly improved. Their reasoning ability was enhanced. To a lesser extent, their short-term memory of visual cues was better than that of their peers, as was their ability to identify rotated objects.
It's not the best method but I try to set a timer for 30 minutes 3 times a week and try a new game I've never played. It's obviously not a perfect method but often that's enough time to decide if I want to dedicate more time to that game.
This year the first one is Civilization VI, but I fully expected that.
I think I'll start doing exactly that.
I limit my time playing them now due to work, my entreprenuerial engagements, wife and two children but I just got finished with Final Fantasty XV two days ago and it was the most magical time. Ignis is my new favorite
game character. I'm convinced games are a better story telling medium than books, movies and TV. I never remember the details of anything I've watched but with a game I always remember because i actively participate in caring for the characters, healing them, making them grow.
There is a negative side, they can be too engaging, too much fun and too rewarding in an instant gratification sense. Sales at your startup not going well? A game can make you feel good, getting bullied at school? A game will help, but really we should deal with the real problem and then make time for games. If you do that they are great and I'm convinced they will get better and we have not seen anywhere near the full potential yet.
I think its all too common to watch Nextflix & HBO for 20 hours in a week, but video games are taboo, despite being more social and cognitively enhancing.
If you're the kind of person who can't ignore that voice you'll end up spending a lot more time gaming than you intended, particularly if your game of choice has some sort of level treadmill.
With video games, take weeks off and you'll have forgotten the story (if any/relevant) and how to play effectively. At least that's my experience with single-player games—if I take too much time off I just have to start over, because I'll be too bad at it to handle the later stages I'm in on my last save, won't remember enough of the story, and will have lost my connection to the characters.
Then I got a medical condition that required injecting drugs into my eyeball once a month.
I still don't play videogames, but take that, Keith Richards!
It's a pre-commitment device and works great for many things, including gaming. And way better than fighting with and depleting your will power, while not giving up your hobby altogether if it's taking up an undesirable portion of your time.
I stopped when I got a job that I actually wanted to have. For a while I tried to do both, and did. But I was exhausted all the time. Computer games are not passive entertainment (for me anyway), they require a lot of energy.
If I could invest 2 hours a day into a computer game, I'd like that. But I can't. Even aside from the energy requirement, I have trouble playing games casually. Performing poorly at something bothers me and the only way to improve is to invest more time (than 2 hours).
Anyway, I think this is an uncommonly good article. Computer games taught me that value is totally subjective. You have to pick your own goals, and you'd be making a mistake to adopt the goals of the people around you just because they outvote you.
I found value somewhere else, but there's a large segment of the population working boring, low paying jobs that they hate. For some of these people, games will provide far more value than what they're getting out of work. And that's totally fine. It's life and life only.
What has changed for me lately is building a gaming PC. I have found that this beast new PC, and the things I can do with it, are more interesting to me than most games.
My single favorite game that has drawn me in the most is Metal Gear Solid V. It's very slow paced and tactical but still an action game. You have to make a lot of intelligent decisions and formulate your own strategy to infiltrate the buildings. Plus there is a whole Civilization-esque aspect where you build your own paramilitary organization and deal with things like personnel and budgets. Add on top of that the insane supernatural geopolitics of the story and it is a very engrossing experience.
What interesting things can you do with it, that you previously couldn't? Or is it simply the speed and the ease of use?
I'm also thinking of building a desktop PC, but I'm afraid that I won't be needing it. I don't game, I mostly write programs and browse the web. Does it really change things in terms of latency and if it does, does that have an impact on the relationship with your computer?
Easily extendable RAM, tons of usb ports, the list goes on... Plus it was fun to build and I learned a lot.
During university it was League of Legends every day. After graduating, I racked up almost 4000 hours of Team Fortress 2 in a two year period in addition to a few thousand hours of World of Tanks.
I can honestly say that I regret all of it and I now look at my 'hours spent playing X' Steam statistic in shame. The thing with all of these games is that time spent playing them is a sunk cost, not an investment. You will never get it back. You will never acquire any returns for your time except for the immediate gratification you receive while playing it. And your real life problems won't just go away but will probably just get worse for lack of attentiveness.
If you are consciously aware of these facts and that is what you are after, then great! But I think many people get sucked into the addictive side of video games unwittingly. It's just a fact that most of these games have been psychologically designed to keep you playing for as long as possible -as long as you keep playing it, you can retain that sense of fake fulfillment and defer whatever reality you were trying to escape from in the first place. Day after day passes by in the blink of an eye because your brain gets put on auto-pilot, and those hard realities never get any easier. "Achievements", ladder ranking, collecting digital pixels... it's all just so meaningless in real life. These things turn people who might otherwise have followed their natural curiosities or be great producers of things (be it code, reading, writing, art, music, etc) into mindless consumers craving that next fake reward. And to me that is a pity.
I wish I could have spent all those hours developing my real life interests instead. All told, I'm probably behind by 5-6 years in terms of technical proficiency and just maturity-wise compared to the peers I look up to the most. I have nothing to make up for those deficiencies except perhaps an overactive adrenal gland and some mild social anxiety.
Video game experiences are, by their very nature, virtual and transient. Would you not rather spend your time honing a skill or producing something of real value (that doesn't end when the servers shut down), something to look back fondly upon when you're older? The only game worth playing is the game of life.
I can enjoy video games only when I can get really good at them. And I simply can't get really good at something if I'm doing it only for a few hours on the weekend.
That said, I'm interested in farm integrated gaming. I think there are ways to make automation adventurous. Properly this will be different than what we call gaming today, however I think the answer to your question is that when tech assisted activities are diversion from reality they tend to go out if style. When they amend it and make it cooler they tend to become it!
Computers allow implementing a lot of different features in gaming, and not all of them are visual.
Either way, even if electronic games existed that didn't use computers, computers clearly took that role being more versatile.
If this explanation doesn't satisfy you, that's fine. Having lived through that period of time, that's my recollection.
Edit to add: I remember getting an early console at a garage sale. I think it was likely a Magnavox Odyssey 200 or 400. I also remember friends with early Atari and Intellivision consoles long before home PCs were common. These were called video games, TV games or by their brand names, as I recall.
I remember here on HN someone posted an amazing article to explain reverse engineering from the first level to the end boss. And that was really interesting to learn about it from an expert Point of view. You had specifications about different electronic components, he explained different tools he was using... Someone impressed on HN commented about how this was amazing and even more about how he could do all that when him had no time. He came home after a day of coding and plays video games to rest and then sleeps. The author responded that it wasn't as insane as it seemed to have his level (he even did some crazy things in Haskell just for fun for his RE) and he said that all he did was to poke around when he came back home and learn more and more about reverse engineering.
Back in the days video games felt to be made with a lot of love from the developers. Now it's really hard for me to find a game I can really dive down. The world is so much wealthier and the games so limited. Even as a pure gamer we can quickly find the limits of a game. I can only find my happiness in indie video games but they are still limited. The rest is all about graphics, additive designs, marketing, or just meh. (The only games that are relevant to me now are Distant World Universe, Assetto Corsa, and Wargame).
When You cut yourself of video games, other distractions, and open your mind to see the possibility offer by this world, it's like the impression you have when you play Shenzhen IO. You realize that the real world is complex and hard but that make it makes it so much more interesting and rewarding. I took the real course at Stanford in ML and intent to do the one about convex optimization, I learn a lot about law in general, pattens, finance, investment... (In fact my MacBook right now is sitting Chartered Financial Analyst books) and this month I am learning Kubernetes and techs like that even thought I am not a devops. This wouldn't have been possible by being focused on video games.