published on
- Tony

Video Games in an Era of Mindlessness

Video Games in an Era of Mindlessness

The older I get, the more I want to enjoy the things I do. Now, I don’t mean I only want to do things I enjoy, that’s unrealistic. What I mean is I want to find fun and joy in the simple things, and things I already find fun. I want to discover even more layers of enjoyment in those activities. This brings me to what I want to talk about: mindlessness and videogames.

The entire world is at my fingertips, and that prevents me from enjoying what is right in front of me at any moment. This really applies to video games in my life.

I am currently playing through Dragon Age Inquisition for the first time. Dragon Age is a western-style open world RPG, which means there are some things that are inherent to this style of game. One of those things is that there is A LOT of reading to do. There is a full codex, a lot of books, and lots of rich conversation to be parsed through. Some of it is superfluous, but a lot of it really adds depth to the world, characters, and story, which, in turn, makes for an even more immersive and enjoyable gaming experience.

Now, I know most of us do the same things: skim the codex, skim the conversations, and skim the extra reading. Why? Because we don’t know how to really be present and enjoy the simple things. We want to move past the boring stuff to the excitement! We need to constantly be entertained. If it ain’t blowing up, it aint entertaining, that’s where we are right now.

Now, follow me on this: I submit that this mindset is, on a deep level, ruining videogames for us.

I’ve read several books on mindfulness, and I believe that some of its practices can help us enjoy our gaming experiences on an even deeper level. I have tried to apply some of these practices to my own videogame sessions, and with some success!

We will start easy, here are just a few ideas to discuss:

Start with putting down the phone. When I am doing anything that is text heavy in one of my games, I put down the phone. That is the number one distraction for me. Its so easy to answer a text, check Facebook, or order a new pepper grinder, because both of my hands do not need to be on the controller. Just putting down the phone and really engaging the text has changed everything.

Our brains can only process one thing at a time. I know, “I am a great multitasker” you just thought. Science, however, would strongly disagree. There is no such thing as multi-tasking! All we are doing is dividing our already limited attention among too many things. Like too little butter over too much toast!

PUT DOWN THE PHONE!

The next thing I am trying to do?

Move sloooooooow. I’m talking turtle slow. Move slower guys, not just in videogames, but in life. Why do we want to beat games so quickly? What’s the rush? Why do we want to get to the next thing? Because we’ve been taught that if we’re not progressing quickly, we’re wasting time or someone else is getting more out of life than we are!

Here’s the thing though: Its just not true. It’s a simple equation of quality versus quantity. Do you want to play every game known to man? Or do you want to REALLY enjoy the few that you play? I would submit that most of us really want to enjoy the ones we play.

So put down that phone and move slower, taking in every part of the world your exploring.

I hope this piece begins to start a real conversation about how we can enjoy games on a deeper level!

Cheers!