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Video games

RefugeeRefugee San Francisco Explorer
edited December 2017 in Diet & Habits

I am curious as to members' thoughts on video games. When this topic is introduced, the focus is usually on violence. However, my interest is elsewhere: particularly on the inherent pointlessness of video games.

I was once an avid gamer. In college, I was addicted to World of Warcraft; it was essentially the totality of my social experience. Over the years, I played video games less and less until my interest waned entirely. This coincided with other people losing interest and moving on with other areas of their lives.

I still have friends who play video games almost all the time. It's an enjoyable pastime for them, and I wish to take part in their enjoyment. However, I do not seem interested in video games at all anymore. To an extent, I mourn this as a loss.

When I load a game, I think: what is the point of this? What am I getting out of it? With movies and television, at least, I can entertain different points of view and perhaps broaden my perspective. With a video game, I am doing nothing but devoting my mental processes to the solution of a constructed puzzle with no bearing on reality. Mine rocks to craft virtual items? Why on earth would I do this?

It is strange. I actually work now for Twitch, which is the social nexus of the video gaming community. Yet I can no longer call myself a gamer.

I'm not sure what to make of this. Is it a good thing, a bad thing, or a neutral thing? Along the same lines, I find myself increasingly less interested in fiction that doesn't significantly speak to the nature of human existence. I once gobbled up sci-fi novels by the dozen; now, I lose interest a fifth of the way in.

I thought maybe I'd lost my interest in reading altogether, until I recently picked up Sam Harris' "Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion" and felt genuinely enthralled by what I was reading. That was a relief. My appetite for fiction has waned, perhaps, but my appetite for philosophy has grown considerably.

Perhaps my interests are simply changing with age. I'm 31, so perhaps the dawning experiential awareness of mortality and of the preciousness of the present moment has steered me away from fantastical diversions.

I'm curious what other members have to say about their similar experiences.


  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    basically? I'm with you. ;)


  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    There are a few other threads on the topic that have come up over the past 6 months or so. Might be interesting to read through.

    I'm 42 and still play games. Not often, but I do. Why? Mostly because I enjoy solving puzzles of all sorts, but games are only a part of that, as I do a lot of logic puzzles, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles and other similar things. To me, they are puzzles, so that is why I play. And because I tend to be a completionist person so I like to cross things off lists, lol.

    But really, can't you apply the same "what is the point?" logic to a lot of things we do? If you look into it and find no point, then of course question if you want to keep spending your precious, limited time on that. But for me, when I look too closely at why I do anything, I often ask what the point is. But sometimes they are just things we gotta do, lol. I do alot of things to support my kids in their activities even though I don't understand why they enjoy those activities, so to speak. I don't understand the value of certain types of art. That's not to say they don't have value, obviously a lot of people disagree with me. But I'd sure as heck rather spend an hour playing Mario Odyssey than going to the opera which literally hurts my ears. So it really comes down to getting the most bang for your buck in all areas of life. A whole lot of what we value are things no one else values. Value is pretty subjective in most cases.

  • RefugeeRefugee San Francisco Explorer
    edited December 2017

    But really, can't you apply the same "what is the point?" logic to a lot of things we do?

    I do this far too much, actually. If I don't pay attention to my thoughts, I end up in a miniature existential crisis where I start thinking in timespans of billions of years. I'd say it happens at least twice a week.

    You're right that value is subjective. I suppose what prompted my post is a sense of alarm at noticing how much my tastes -- what I subjectively value -- have changed in such a short time. While I intellectually agree with the idea that "likes and dislikes" are wholly separate from "me," my experiential realization of this truth is in its infancy.

    So, the rapid change in tastes can provoke a sense of alarm at a perceived loss of identity. If that makes sense.

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    I absolutely detest gaming. It's completely pointless and mind-numbing to me. I will state that I am biaised because my ex-husband constantly gamed and it contributed to the breakdown of our marriage - coming home from a double shift, heavily pregnant and finding at least ten adult men scattered throughout our house (some in precarious positions on the staircases) at 11pm having a marathon LAN party really pissed me off.

    But my three stepsons game a lot - the youngest waaaay too much. To the point where I sometimes retreat to the bedroom to watch TV. The anger expressed if he can't game at least 1/4 of the day is explosive. There are time limits in force but I can't believe how much social interaction is shunned because of a frigging XBox or computer.

    When the original Playstation came out, I tried it and would sometimes play a driving game (complete with steering wheel and pedals) and a clay shooting game (with gun) but my favourite were the two South Park games my ex-husband bought for me. I didn't get to use them often as he was also possessive of the Playstation and my interest quickly dwindled as a result. I observed the rapid deterioration of my marriage and the more time my ex gamed.

    Past threads have shown me I am definitely in the minority here and after trying and failing to convince me otherwise - too "sensitive" and "reactionary". Whatever, but I think gaming is one of the worst things invented with the technology around.

    Just my 0.02, not that anyone will really give a shit, but you did ask OP.

  • RefugeeRefugee San Francisco Explorer

    Just my 0.02, not that anyone will really give a shit, but you did ask OP.

    In retrospect, I think my post was actually about noticing changes in taste and interests and processing those changes. Nevertheless, I am genuinely curious as to how people view video games and other diversions, so I appreciate your response.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I definitely know people like that, including others who destroyed their relationships and families over it. It's not much different than any other addiction. I see the same kind of mentality, though, in people who are rabid fans of pro sports, and I think the effects of that, the gambling, the rabid fandom, can be just as bad. I've seen people destroy relationships over pro sports as well (or refuse to even start relationships because they liked the wrong team despite how well they got along in every other area). No matter what it is, people can take it too far and whether it's perceived that way depends on what society as a whole tends to value. Competition and games are valued highly in much of the western world, just like alcohol is. We're much less likely to call out something problematic (drinking too much or too much gaming/sports) that is acceptable by society than something society agrees is problematic, like addiction to heroin or hoarding and turning your house into a dump.

    I'm grateful that at this point, everyone in our family would rather spend time with others than play any games. My oldest son played quite a few games in middle school, but then he got involved in other things and now as a college student, doesn't play anything other than the occasional evening on Kerbal Space Program which is more engineering than game. I spent more time here than I do on any games, but I don't necessarily get more out of my time here, just depends on the day.

    @Refugee thinking all of those labels are our identity is a huge problem. Despite having played games on some level since I was 8 years old, I have never identified as a "gamer." It's just something I do something. It was never part of my identity.I actually enjoy those exercises, where I peel away all the interests, distractions, labels etc that I've assigned myself to see what is left. Paring down existence that way is really interesting to me. We can't answer anything about who we are to anyone without those labels. What if we experienced each other outside of all of that though? I think we can do that, but it's rare.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited December 2017

    I think a lot also depends on generations, upbringing and influences.
    When I was growing up, gaming meant Monopoly, Scrabble, Canasta and Scala Quaranta. Domestic household Computers hadn't been invented, and mobile 'phones were a thing of Science Fiction and James Bond movies.
    Furthermore, we didn't have television until I was around 12, and I read - not to say devoured - books, a legacy bequeathed to me by my parents, both bibliophiles, and lovers of good reading, be it poetry, prose, novels, classics... you name it.

    Such things didn't really figure in my life until I met my ex-husband; at the time we met he worked for IBM Uk, as an office products engineer; repairing and fixing photocopiers, Golfball typewriters and other office machinery. He was instrumental in perfecting the logistics of the AS400. Only those who have an avid and concerted interest in all techno-matters will know what that means.
    That's when we first had our computer, word processor and big-screen behemoth in the corner of our dining room. And it snowballed from there.
    I love my laptop. I use my mobile 'phone. But I never game, save for Spider solitaire, and Mah Jhong games, which keep me occupied and interested. Other than that, gaming is a total and complete anathema to me.
    And I am very happy to keep it that way.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    I've had much the same experience @Refugee. My interests have changed and while I think games do tend to grab my interest to some extent still, I pretty quickly notice my mood decline as I play.

    Interest in board games is really on the rise. People are in search of social interaction and new games are very well designed.

  • I like video games for a creative outlet and just pure self entertainment. Some people read novels or watch movies/tv shows.

    I have never had a problem with playing too much games.

    I like crpgs or arpgs. Some favorites are: Sacred 2, balder's gate 2, Dungeon Lords, Titan Quest, and Skyrim.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I would give up tv in a heartbeat. I hate it, hate it, hate it. Nothing but blahblah noise to me. There are a few shows I watch, but if I could give up the tv I'd be happy to stop watching them or catch them online when I could. We pay way too much for tv but it is the only legal way to get the sports my husband watches. He doesn't watch a ton, but to get local teams you have to go through cable or satellite. Hoping that will change before much longer so we can go down to just streaming. I love week days when I can turn it off for the entire day. It's a huge intrusion to me. The noise is so distracting and keeps me from being able to go inward to do my journaling and such. So when it's the weekend or vacation breaks, I just go nuts for a while. In those cases, sometimes I do play games out of distraction but currently I have gone back to play a text-only game I played as a child.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited December 2017

    Same with me on sports and cable tv. I watch the college football season and that's all. But I like it so much! I have thought about watching games somewhere out with a sports bar tv but it's nice to be able to watch at home.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    I know what you mean refugee. I used to play World of Warcraft too, was pretty heavily addicted at one point (40 hours a week habit plus a full time job), but i finally left it after the expansion cycle became a bit too much to bear. That was more or less the end of my gaming life... I flirted a bit with bit some of the story-heavy games on Xbox 360 like Mass Effect and Red Dead Redemption, but it was never as intense as WoW and after a while i let go completely.

    After I picked up Buddhism and learnt some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s thinking about what you put into your mind I came to the conclusion that the life-and-death struggle in a lot of games is quite unhealthy, and the puzzling min-maxing in others is also damaging as it teaches ruthlessness and resource based thinking while we have enough difficulty getting to grips with our emotions without that.

    I sometimes watch a let’s play of a game on YouTube these days, most recently Super Mario Odyssey and Inside, just to see what games are doing, but I don’t miss it. Mostly I spend my leisure time on other, healthier pursuits now, today I was reading a new translation of The Book of the Tao, it is quite good, I’ve never just read the whole thing with commentaries.

  • RefugeeRefugee San Francisco Explorer
    edited December 2017

    I know exactly what you mean, @karasti.

    When I lived with my parents long ago, my stepfather would turn on the TV and then walk out of the room. It was always on. Just droning. I could never get the noise out of my head. I couldn't think.

    Thankfully, I don't have a TV at home, and aside from the ambulance sirens that blare two or three times an hour or so, it's nice and quiet. (There's a hospital a block away, and it's a dense urban center, so it's busy all the time). The sirens used to bother me, but I started meditating with the windows open so I could hear the sirens fully, theorizing that learning to accept them during meditation would lessen their disruptive factor, and it did. Still don't like them, though. (There's actually one going on right now, this very second, and it's quite loud, and while I don't like it, my heart rate doesn't spike like it used to, and I can still finish sentences).

    Now, my primary torture is working in a cramped open office with multiple loud personalities. Meaningful noise (that is, noise that isn't random, like human speech) is very hard for me to tune out. It sounds like you're the same. There's this notion of "highly sensitive persons," who are basically people whose nervous systems do double duty on all the input they receive. I wonder if you might be one of them (if they do in fact exist). Theoretically, I am. Not sure I buy into it, but it has some explanatory power.

    For the open office situation, there's not much I can do. It's like that in almost every tech job these days. I work after hours or at home when I want to get actual things done. It's just not possible to concentrate in the office when there are so many people talking and there are so many distractions. It's so stupid. Does anyone remember school? Know how there's no talking during tests or writing essays? There's a reason for that. Open offices are terrible. Terrible! I hate everything about them.

    Also, @frederica, software engineer here. Props to your ex-husband for the AS400 contribution; that's pretty cool.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited December 2017

    @Refugee said:...Also, @federica, software engineer here. Props to your ex-husband for the AS400 contribution; that's pretty cool.

    Yes, he basically worked with colleagues to refine and update the system from its '38' status and put it to work. He also worked on the follow-up revamping processes, but then we moved to France and he found work with a company in Basel, maintaining their entire technological structure.

    ETA: I don't know how I managed to type all that as a coherent paragraph. Something must have rubbed off...


  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    I don't play the rpg type games that my son was enamored with, but it was easy to see (and tough to observe) that he was obsessed with them. It shouldn't fall under the heading of 'an interest' - but: he had that and I'm glad he did.

    I only play word games and match-3 type games - simple stuff - I like the old fashioned type games as well - Tempest, Pacman, Tetris, and the like.

  • RefugeeRefugee San Francisco Explorer

    ETA: I don't know how I managed to type all that as a coherent paragraph. Something must have rubbed off...

    You are one of us now. There's no going back.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Cyborg ???

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I have been ass-timulated, apparently...

  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    For a long time, video games were one of my chief coping mechanisms. When life became too overwhelming, or my social life too underwhelming, I would retreat into a video game. And it worked...sort of. For the time I was playing, I was utterly engrossed and forgot all my troubles and my depression (temporarily) vanished. But when I quit playing, all the old demons would spring up again. But it mostly kept me sane. Later I found meditation worked better for coping with depression and loneliness. Even though I don't play as much as I used to, gaming still fills a significant chunk of time for me.

    I'm not sure what else to do with myself. As a hardened introvert, I find socializing to be quite stressful. TV is, for the most part, trash. I'm afraid to start watching a movie, because all too often I find myself halfway through a movie to realize it's junk, and then I've wasted an hour of my life. When I'm not playing games, I'm usually listening to music which isn't is as addictive, but isn't particularly fulfilling. Reading/listening/watching to gaming/tech news is my other hobby, which at least gives me fodder for discussion at work.

    Unlike @karasti, I do identify as a gamer. Aside from the issue of what I'd do with myself if I quit gaming, there would be the loss of identity. My interest in IT came as an outgrowth as gaming, and as ridiculous as it sounds, I feel like I'd be losing a core part of my identity if I quit gaming.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    @nakazcid I'm very introverted as well, but I have a family so I never have a shortage of things to do. More often than not I find myself running out of time to do everything I want and need to do every day. I still play games, like I said, but they are mostly for the times I want to go out of myself, which is increasingly less appealing for me. I do more to enrich my inner world, I guess. I spend a lot of time meditating, doing yoga and especially journaling. I have a slight obsession with bullet journaling in particular, :lol:. I spent a lot of time in nature. I exercise every day (other than yoga), I always have chores and projects to do around the house. We have several pets that need daily attention. I cook for myself and plan my meals. And yes, occasionally play games. None of the things I do, even being a mom, takes so much of my time that I limit my identity within it. I'm a mom 24.7 and have been for almost 21 years (ee gads) but if someone asks me who I am, the answer is a lot more complex. Learning how to break things down has been one of the gifts of Buddhism for me. Including my identity, a bit at a time.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Oh! That's the first I've heard of anything called a bullet journal so I googled of course - I started to suspect right away that this is what I've been doing for a few months now. This is what I came up with:
    ...and funny stuff in there, but I guess mine's not exactly a bullet journal, but a combination of a bullet journal and daily ramblings!

    Mine's starting to include some mini-aha moments that helps me remember those moments and build my "Inner Empire" - now I need to know when to use single or double quotes.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    @silver It's really just whatever you make it! For me a combination planner, journal, creative expression etc. For me it's a visual and creative expression of my life. It adds color to things that previously seemed mundane and gives me a better overall picture of a different way to look at my life. The idea behind it does have a start in shorthand ways of keeping track of tasks and goals but it's kind of gone way beyond that, I guess, lol. It helps me stick to my goals better because a colorful filled in chart is more fun to look at than a savings account statement, LOL.

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran
    edited December 2017

    The thing that really surprises me, @karasti, is that as a young teen, I sneered at all those girly personal diaries - more than a little bit of tomboy in me - but as a mature person, I find it kind of what I wanted to do - be a journalist - my daily journal consists of emails that I send to myself and keep adding to it until it gets a bit too long, then I file it and start the next one. The most important thing is it's becoming more cathartic, what with me writing about my health issues, food issues, and so on.

    These personal journals (of all types) become very important - for me because I find I often forget those min-aha! moments and lose the 'lesson', so putting it to paper helps.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Indeed, it helps me too. I tried to like regular diaries as a young girl, but they weren't my thing. My boys had journals that were called "Wreck this journal" where you fingerpaint with mud and such, and that was definitely more along my lines. I would have loved that as a kid!

    I've had so many blocks creatively because I'm always comparing to others and thinking I'm just awful at it. So I try to duplicate what they do and fail miserably. It's only very recently I've learned creativity comes in so many forms and it's only about making it mine and not comparing to others. I got involved in it more from the planning aspect initially because I found keeping track of so much in my head, I miss out on a lot of smaller things. Appointments, kids schedules, our sons dozen of diabetes prescriptions etc all in my head. So when something would come up, like a play or a community class, I'd totally space it because I didn't have a way to write it down/plan for it/remember it because my brain is full of other stuff to remember, LOL. But it's grown and become so much more.

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