I used to play games in my teens, I have clocked up nearly a 1000 hours on Garry’s Mod, 750 hours on Team Fortress 2 and countless hours on Minecraft. Over a short period I left the gamer life, let’s explore that why I did that.
This post focuses on the reasons why I left gaming, therefore it focuses on the downsides of gaming. However, I think there are many positive aspects to gaming, such as friendship, feelings of success and brief escapism.
Looking behind the curtain
I started playing with software quite early in life, I was given dummies guide to C++ in my early teens, and would try to develop my own games. Once I started to understand the core concepts of how games work, it broke the magic of the inner workings and this caused me to start thinking that my score in a particular game was just a binary number at the end of the day. Why should I care about that?
Once behind the curtain, you notice that many games are the fundamentally the same with minor tweaks designed to keep you engaged. This is painfully obvious with games such as FIFA that only rely small tweaks such as the latest stars, to provide you a reason to buy the game.
This was the main reason that I stopped playing, I felt that what’s the point at being good at his particular shooter when I’ve already spent so much time on another.
Life is short
One of the things I have been contemplating recently is how short life really is, if you were going to die tomorrow would you continue playing games for the remaining hours? Probably not, but it’s a vice like many things and in the moment it seems like a good idea.
This brings us to addiction, which exists in many areas of life. I know when I was managing one of my Minecraft servers, I would try to be awake on the US time zone because that’s when we had the most players. This meant going to bed late and then waking up and going to school tired. Many people have much worse experiences and it’s easy to get caught up in a game, neglecting other parts of life.
Games are set up to reward the dopamine receptors in the brain. They try to keep you engaged for as long as possible; a good book on this subject is “Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas” which comes from the slot machine angle.
One of the most interesting points I got from that book is that people playing the slots are not there to win. It’s because when they put that coin into the game, the only thing that matters, is the outcome delivered in the next couple of seconds. The rest of the world melts away and so does it’s problems. This can happen in whist in gaming, as you become totally focused on the battle that you are involved in.
I think games are good entertainment, but I don’t think I could ever get as deep as some of my friends do, unless a totally new mechanic gets released. I just can’t get attached to the game itself.