Lately I've taken back to playing video games. Skyrim is one of my favorites. I got the Special Edition for my birthday. But I've noticed in replaying I am more mindful now. I like walking through the forests and listening to the orchestral music, seeing moose and flowers and rivers, instead of taking quick travel.
Is this real mindfulness? I think so. Video games are immersive experiences. Too much is bad, too violent is bad. But if you are immersed in a beautiful experience, why not appreciate it?
What's more, I was talking to friends and explained that every blade of grass, every random rabbit and pond, had to be coded and designed and inserted by someone. The skyrim game has over 800 books. 300 are simply for lore. I think that's amazing.
Is there a Gamer Buddha? Or a Skyrim Buddha? I hope I meet him
I like computer games as much as the next guy but I have never considered them an activity good for mindfulness. Mindfulness takes you out of your head and brings you into your body. It's hard to be aware of your body or anything else for that matter when enthralled in a game. Hey that's just my take on it, I'm probably wrong.
I feel like mindfulness can be transported into new mediums. It doesn't have to be as extensive as true meditation but it can have a positive, relaxing effect.
Another interesting thing I wanted to bring up is this article: http://www.pcgamer.com/world-of-warcraft-level-90-no-kills/
I think it's a good exercise in compassion to beat a game built around combat.
I've played Elder Scrolls games for...like 15 years. WoW as well, and others. Quite enjoying the new Zelda game. it's fun to explore the millions of options for how to play through different decisions. Can I play mindfully? I guess? But for me it's nothing like actually going out and spending time in the world and being mindful of it. Because in a game you are only experiencing what someone else wants you to experience that has been programmed into that part of the game. What you can discover is quite limited.
Edited to add: you can do anything mindfully. If your goal is to be aware of your body though you won't achieve that by being mindful in a fake world. But the same can be said of anything you focus on. For me, the purpose is to single in on what is happening in that moment and give it all of my attention and care. I can do that playing a game (though I'm not sure that is the best use of my attention and care, lol). But i can do that when I do my taxes, clean the litter box, kiss my husband, drive a car etc. No, I'm not focused on my mind-body connection the same as when I meditate or do body scans, but one can hardly live life without doing all those life tasks and hobbies and one most certainly can be mindful in all of them. I can't say I feel particularly mindful of my body when I do my taxes. But I'm still being mindful of what I am doing in that moment. Part of the problem with games is if you are being mindful of them, usually it means you are not being mindful of other things. Like your need to eat or a kid asking if they can go out and play and then you don't even remember giving them permission etc. It's easy to get lost in thinking you are being mindful of the game but be unable to continue that mindfulness into the next moment when your kid is talking to you. They become problems or even addictions when we are so "mindful" of them that we don't mind anything else.
i will add my two cents worth. video games have come a long way since i played atari as a kid. i remembered being wow with the the playstation platform. then i was amazed by virtual roaming feature.so with that feature,i agree it can be an imersive experience. nowadays the graphics is amazing,definitely a visual stimulant.i will adress the plus side of buddhist-dharma gaming,or my take anyway on the next post
this is my take on the plus side of buddha dharma gaming.one it facilitate concentration. two aware of the body in relation of space. three excercise creative reasoning or solving.four adjust or adapt on the fly on the dharma principle things change.these aspects can be applied to real-world-life.
about moderation,it can be addictive.perhaps an excerce of balance ,a time to have fun and a time for work is helpful.honestly i outgrew video games ,but we all need our down time to relax.if video games relaxes you,thats cool.me ,cigarettes and music.im such a bad buddhist,but hopefully i got heart in the right place,knock on my skull.
I think in terms of mindfulness it is difficult. On the one hand you want to stay centred in your body, using the portal we have been given to be aware of the world. On the other hand, the games want to suck you in and (dis)place your awareness into the game. I don't think it's mindfulness anymore once you move your awareness into the game.
Also the game is a false, created world, an illusion set up according to the game creator's rules. In a way this is encouraging people to live in delusion. It won't move you closer to understanding and awareness but it will wrap you up in another's envisioning, which may make it more difficult to make real progress as a Buddhist.
I had a period where I loved video games, but I've let go of all that. Im not saying games are all bad, they sharpen creative problem solving and concentration. But I'm spending my effort on the real world thank you.
Think again and yet again ...
It is not 'mindful' to wander in delusional thought, whether our own, programmed or directed in a film.
However we have a need for fantasy, music enjoyment, emotional stimulation. Or maybe that is just me ... We are mostly not Sangha. Being present in immersive realities IS possible, I have done it but it is not easy or quite often the point ...
Do Buddhas avoid such entrapments or are they independent of them? Mostly I would suggest they do not engage in faffing and justifying. Just so you know.
@Kerome do you see it as different than those who focus on music or images when they meditate? Isn't it also bringing focus out of yourself and onto something else? Just curious. It seems that one can lose themselves in music, art, scenery, photography, many things. What makes games different? If you lose yourself at a concert or play or art museum, isn't it much the same thing? Yet we tend to approve of that kind of immersion.
I love video games, especially Skyrim, though I don't play it nearly as much as I used to. And, yes, with a few graphical mods and an ENB the tundra and mountains could be stunning. There were times that I would turn off the auto-run feature, and casually stroll through the countryside taking in the sights. But I've seen every square foot of the game, so it has lost its magic for me.
I don't really think video games promote mindfulness. It's like any entertainment or diversion; it distracts us from reality or the emotional turmoil in our own minds. An illusion within an illusion. That's not to say it can't be useful; video games have kept intense, unbearable emotional pain at bay for me. In other words, it may have prevented suicidal thoughts from having their way with me when I was younger and didn't have better coping mechanisms.
The interactive nature of the environment makes it a different beast. Instead of contemplation of a fraction of the whole surroundings, it inspires a reimagining of the world and of your place in it. You can lose your grip on the real world, temporarily.
I never played a video game in my life.
Between the virtual groups, real life and the pile of books I have to read, gee... where would I even dream of finding the time?
My husband is one of the top players in Clash of Zombies.
Number one or number two.
But that did not come without a price.
For some reason, now he does not need to spend so much time on the game, but till a year ago for the past couple of years, he would spend most of his non-working time playing.
One could not talk to him, he would rant if interrupted, he had meltdowns if the connection crashed and he spent a fortune on the upgrades...
We were on the verge of divorce.
There is no comparison to mindfulness that comes from actual practice -the elation of a yoga session, the bliss of a meditation session, walking meditation in the countryside- to the mindless absorption of being engaged in the virtual world.
We may think we are mindfully engaged, but in fact it is mindless evasion, in my opinion.
There is a reason why Thich Nhat Hanh includes electronic games among the intoxicants in his description of the 5th precept.
Websites are slightly similar, in that they too are interactive, but they don't pretend to be a 'world', and they often have a fairly limited point. So they are not as absorptive, or dictate as much of your 'role' in the 'world'. They encourage you to import the website into your wider world view, rather than desiring you to step into and then isolate yourself in the artificial setup of the game world.
I can see @nakazcid's point that they are a great escape and can be a shield, and at its peak for me, when I was playing about 40 hours of World of Warcraft a week, they were that too, a very useful escape from real world pressures. It would have been healthier for me to find other coping mechanisms though, games were an easy and seductive path.
TNH also specifies "certain" of all those things, as they are not all equal as far as shows, books, movies, etc. So it's up to each person, as with all things, to determine what works or doesn't work for them. There are people who play games without getting obsessed with them. Just because some people have that addictive, poor experience doesn't mean anyone who plays games shares that experience. Not everyone immerses themselves into it. To many, even most, games are no different than any other entertainment thing in life. A brief period you sit down to explore something and then you are done. It is no different than watching a show or going to a concert etc. It just depends what value we assign it in our lives.
Has anybody ever played the "Real Life" game ? At times it can be frightening and scary, or sad and lonely, other times it might be exciting, thrilling and wonderful...and the one thing that is it not...is ever boring
I'm a "Real Live" junkie I play it 24/7/365...Word of warning....It's bloody addictive....so not a game for the fainthearted ...
When I was done posting my comment, I went for a walking meditation in the countryside.
The sun was shining, it was a warm morning, the fields were green and in bloom...
I adore the "Real Life" game!
Spent much of the day catching up on workouts and doing gardening before several days of rain arrives later tonight. I also did a lot of errands and thus quite a bit of driving. Of all that I had to do, I preferred the gardening. It is one of my meditative activities. I don't like driving (especially since I spent 12 hours in the car on Thursday/Friday). I do try to do it mindfully if only for safety reasons since so few other people seem to be able to do so, . Yesterday I played some Sims3 for a little while. But I didn't feel less engaged with the world while doing so compared to driving, for example. But I'll take walking, gardening, yoga and writing over pretty much anything else, any day. I play a game maybe one day a week (not the whole day by any means, I don't have that kind of time). It allows me to get my perfectionist notions out of my system, lol, so I don't bring them into the rest of my life.
Awesome @DhammaDragon . Me too. I love that Real Life game too.