Monday, 30 January 2012

Gaming Insanity

A game is a deceit, designed to entertain.  If that entertainment becomes a perceived memory, and the actions in it something you believe you actually did, then what is the difference between you and someone with an associative disorder who thinks that they are Stalin?  Both experiences are fabricated on beliefs founded on false memory.  Both are a kind of insanity.

You have the problem of the teen who plays a lot of fighting games and believes himself a master pugilist.  He gets into a fight at school after shooting his mouth off, believing that he is something that he is not.  The result inevitably gets posted on youtube where he looks like a penguin trying to slap another penguin; yet his own recall of events is that of a flawless victory.

I see this with skateboarders all the time.  They play Tony Hawk like it's going out of style, but can't land an actual trick in real life, yet they carry themselves as though they do.  It's a kind of digital machismo that is leaking into the real world.

Even in games themselves, you hear trash talk from the most inept players who flip out and rage because they clearly (and repeatedly) get pwned.  That Generation x-box mentality wins out, it's a kind of self-belief that defies logic (and reality).

The ongoing problem I see with gaming related egoism is that games are designed to be beaten.  Through staging and a careful progression of skills development, games lead a player to success.  If only real life were like that, there would be far fewer meth-addicts, addicts in general for that matter, welfare cases and criminals, not to mention poverty, obesity, school failures, cancer and bullying (this list could get quite comprehensive).  Life isn't remotely fair, or designed to entertain you while you succeed.

If your entire self worth is built around the idea that you beat something designed to entertain you while you defeat it, you have to wonder what happens when you get to something like, I don't know, school or a job, where we expect you to handle complex tasks that aren't designed to entertain you, and not everyone wins, even when they might be better at something.

Rather than a Ra-Ra Gamification high, perhaps we should be looking at this from a more Orwellian/Huxleyan point of view.  Games are designed to placate the masses, make them feel like they've accomplished something while enhancing their self worth in meaningless ways.  We take our soma where we can get it, I guess.