One of the things I enjoy about letter-writing (and to a lesser extent, blogging) is that it acts as one of the counter-forces in my life to the massive information/activity influx that plagues the world of today. I don’t always think this influx is a bad thing; it’s just extremely disconcerting to think about the extent to which it pervades our lives, and so I appreciate having activities that let me take a break from it. And granted, I don’t always escape it when I do my letter-writing–sometimes I’ll still be distracted by other things–but a lot of the time, I really will sit down and spend that hour, thinking about the things I’m writing in that letter.
Videogames is another. Ironic, isn’t it? To think that something which is oh-so-commonly criticized as one of the primary bad points about gaming, is actually something I value very much. Though…there’s more to it than that, to be honest.
Yes, when we play games, we like to block out the world. We like to zone in, achieve that flow state, and become immersed. Not immersed as in feeling like you’re inside the game, but immersed as in you are completely focused.
And yes, people commonly cite that as a Bad Thing. Some dude will be busy playing game xyz, and he’s completely oblivious to everything going on around him. Or in a similar vein, a group of dudes will be busy playing game xyz, and even though they’re chattering and shouting, they’re also completely oblivious to anything else that would be going on.
And it’s not just dudes either. I’ve seen Kiki herself get roped into (okay, maybe that’s too strong a phrase) playing games, and she can’t focus on anything else. It wasn’t solitary–there’s people watching her, or trying to guide her, but she’s still completely distracted. Which isn’t to say that it would be right for her to not concentrate on the game. That would be perhaps an even greater offense–if she just tossed it aside like nothing, then it would be like she didn’t even care.
But it’s interesting to me to see people adopt that “gamer face” and that all-too-familiar glazed-over look in their eyes when they play games. I’d like to say that I don’t really do that, because I can definitely play intense games (TGM, IIDX, SSBM) and still maintain conversations with people. And if someone walks into my room (not my mother), then yes, very often I will drop what I’m doing because that person usually takes a very high priority compared to what I’m doing (but it depends also on…well, whether they’re a boy or a girl 9_9).
But I guess, when I’m alone and playing something very intense, then yes, I will very much zone into it. But even then, I never get the glazed-over look. The glazed-over look happens when I’ve just been playing Tetris for a long while and then I go into “zombie mode” where I’m not really thinking about anything. But when I’m playing a really intense session of death mode or something, then yes, that’s when that flow state happens.
But again, since I’m so used to games and their methods of interaction, and because of my nature, I don’t have a lot of the same physical habits that other people might. Leaning forward in your seat, tensing up, your jaw hanging open slightly, eyes wide, with all of your button presses becoming more intentful. No…I hardly do any of that. I do the firm button presses a lot actually, because it kind of helps with the feeling and rhythm of things, but other than me just being intensely focused, you might not notice much.
So I’d -like- to think that I’m different. Maybe I’m wrong though. But it doesn’t matter because we need to appreciate the fact that videogames allow us to devote almost 100% of our thoughts to a single activity. It feels like single-player games are even better at catering toward this. I’m reminded of that time in my CS198 class when the whole class was bagging on MMORPGs and someone said that one of their “pros” was that “at least you’re playing a game with other people instead of alone”. I should have spoken up–I took offense at that comment for so many different reasons.