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Are You Gaming For the Right Reasons? 220

An editorial at IGN discusses healthy (and unhealthy) ways to play video games. The author says that while gaming is a perfectly legitimate hobby, it needs to be approached with moderation and an understanding of what you get out of playing. Without understanding your motivations and compulsions, it's quite possible to play video games in a way that's detrimental. From the article: "Games, especially modern ones, revolve around the principle that if you put the time in, you will be rewarded. Many gamers claim to not understand how anyone could put up with grinding in a video game. But grinding is comforting. Grinding tells us that, no matter what, if you keep playing you'll become more powerful. ... The real world does not operate this way. You can 'grind' at a job for 10 years and still be laid off. You can 'grind' at your physical health your whole life but if you switch to an unhealthy lifestyle you will immediately begin losing this progress. ... It's important for gamers to have mastery of their own mind. Are you grinding out a level in World of Warcraft because you're truly enjoying the experience, or are you doing it to replace missing feelings of self-worth that you don't want to confront? Do you revel in your virtual successes to avoid the uncomfortable internal dialogue regarding of your abandoned gym routine? Are you playing games because you're having fun, or because you have an unconfronted fear of failure?
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Are You Gaming For the Right Reasons?

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  • Pffft... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @06:43AM (#41163991)

    I play games to shoot people in the face. Call it end of day "stress-relief."

  • Escape reality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quakeulf ( 2650167 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @06:44AM (#41163997)
    I play games to escape reality, hence I dislike the attempts at reality in a game as the current tech generation does not handle it very well. I also play games to socialise, and PVP is a great way of doing that, especially fighting games and shooters, but other arcadey genres are welcome too. There is a social aspect to gaming that I keep returning to when I am not busy playing Fallout 1 or Fallout 2 just one more time to get all the possible combinations of endings like I have done since 1996 and 1997.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @07:44AM (#41164343)

    I'm 28 now, and I'm finding I just don't get much enjoyment out of videogames anymore. I don't know if I'm depressed, or this is just part of getting older - but my mind just balks at the thought of spending many hours playing a game.

    Trouble is, I just don't know what to fill the void with now. I'd work on my software development hobbies, but most weekdays I just don't have the brainpower left after work.

  • by airishtiger ( 1223838 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @09:02AM (#41165063)
    I found that the thing that kept me investing time into two types of games (fps and mmorpg) was the camaraderie of my clan and guild (respectively.) I was absolutely substituting my lack of friends in the real world with faceless avatars of the digital. When I came to this realization about 7 years ago, I almost completely quit playing games except for the occasional single player campaign. Since I've cut back, my life has blossomed in countless ways, I have a stable career, a girlfriend I always have time for, and a multitude of hobbies ranging from sleight of hand to martial arts, to sketching and foreign language, to writing fiction and beyond. There will be those who quickly dismiss this article. There will be those who claim the author has only taken one psychology class and thinks he knows everything. But I think a lot of you are just afraid to admit how much your personal gaming holds you back in life. There are countless arts to master in this world. Ancient traditions that hold wisdom and have been passed on through countless generations are all around you and ready to be learned. Maybe I was born in the wrong generation, who's to say? I just know that the accomplishments I've made in the 'real world' far outweigh anything I've done in the digital. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against video games but yes, people play them for the wrong reasons and they could be putting their real life time towards things like curing cancer. You want to master the art that is artificial? Say it to my face that this is your heart's desire and I will beat you until you decide it would be better to invest more time in self defense classes. (I tried to put a less than sign and a 3 here to make a heart but I couldn't get past the filter so just pretend this comment was lighthearted and we'll all get along)
  • by Tempest_2084 ( 605915 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @10:06AM (#41166091)
    This is exactly why I stopped playing Final Fantasy XI all those years ago. At first I really enjoyed it, I was young, unmarried, and had plenty of free time to do the endless grinding the game requires. However as time went on I discovered that it was beginning to interfere with my life. I was staying up to 2 or 3 at night in the hopes that I might be able to claim some unique spawn that I needed for some weapon or another (along with about 100 other people I might add), I was farming monsters over and over again for materials for my linkshell and not even getting to the enjoyable parts of the game anymore. I even changed my character from something I enjoyed to a very cookie cutter build that was boring as hell to play because that was the only way people would invite you into a party. Sure I was 'winning' the game, but I was having a miserable time doing it. The game was becoming a second job, I was running home from work just to log in and start accomplishing whatever tasks I needed to do that night in order to keep up with the game. When I dared do something else like watch a movie or play another game, I felt guilty because I was falling behind the rest of the linkshell and then I felt stressed out because I hard to work twice as hard to catch up/

    One day while I was sitting for my second or third hour looking for a party, the heavens opened and everything in my brain just clicked. Here I was sitting around in real life watching my avatar sit around in a game (MMORPG Inception!), neither one of us enjoying ourselves. So I logged out the game and never returned. My Paladin may still be sitting around in Jeuno waiting for something, but I'm not.

    I still play games (classic and modern), but I only play games that are fun and stay far far away from MMORPGs. I also balance gaming with a decently active (for a nerd anyway) social life and spending time with my non-gamer wife. When a game starts to become a second job it's time to sit back and question what you're doing. MMORPGs are insidious in this regard because they demand constant attention. If you put a MMORPG aside for a few weeks to do other things then you're several weeks behind and have to work twice as hard to catch up. With any other type of game you can wait months if not years to finish it and your game doesn't care, it's still there waiting for you and you're right where you were when you left.
  • Re:Pffft... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @10:15AM (#41166249)

    Pro-tip: Play against bots, not other people, and at a lower difficulty than you normally would.

    Don't play against people for stress-relief, because there are players who play specifically to annoy other players, either to win in a dirty way (campers) or for its own sake (trolls).

    Play at a low difficulty. Normally, you *want* to hit a point that you ave to get better, have to work at it, in order to win. But when playing to vent, drop the difficulty a notch or two below that, so you don't frustrate yourself.

    Also, pick the right games. I've found Unreal Tournament 2004 (especially the Mutant gamemode) and Counter-Strike are the best for stress relief. The right music helps as well - I generally go for thrash metal, Ride the Lightning, Endgame, that kind of stuff.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2012 @10:33AM (#41166585)

    Hope this helps. Been there man. Nothing wrong with you.

    IMO, I'd say you're right about where I was at 27. I was single, successfully employed, living on my own in an apartment.. when I made the realization that gaming was such a waste of time. I couldn't force myself to pick up the controller anymore because my better judgement was saying, "Yeah, after 1 hour of gaming... what was accomplished?" and more importantly "Who cares?". Empty entertainment value, not 1 bit better than watching TV.

    I had the same thoughts of, why not spend that time working on development task? So I focused on trying to MAKE games, rather than play them. But even that seemed like a waste of time because I felt there were better pursuits out there. Probably, because I knew I could do it (my job is software development), it was just a matter of how long it would take. There was no challenge.

    After awhile, and some thinking, I figured out that the things that mean the most in life, the things that bring back the most reward... are usually also the most difficult for you to accomplish (The challenge!). Which meant doing things that had nothing/little to do with computers.

    I decided I would work on becoming MORE social, MORE active, and MORE well-rounded. I got into aquariums... african cichlids, I joined a co-ed softball league, I got back into music (playing)... anything BUT computers. It made all the difference in the world.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson