Video games often get the blame for a variety of problems, from mass shootings to unemployment. But can playing video games really affect a person in a negative way?
It’s easy to dismiss the idea as silly- we can all tell the difference between fantasy and reality. How could playing something like call of duty be anything more than a way of passing the time? Have you ever tried watching movies all day? I always find there is a point where I just can’t keep on going. My mind just feels exhausted.
To make matters worse, most games are quite violent. It’s true that you can tell the difference between fantasy and reality, but your brain can’t! It sends your nervous system straight into overdrive.
I ran across this while reading David Serbans book: The instinct to heal. In the first chapter, david discusses emotional intelligence.
David mentions a time a young medical researcher Had agreed to participate in a experment on localising emotions in the brain. In the study, participants watched extracts of films with powerful, often violent images while their brains were monitered by a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging.) scanner.
“The experiment is still vivid in my mind because I had acquired a strong aversion from seeing them so much. As soon as the experiment got underway, with the woman stretched out inside the scanner, her heart rate and blood pressure rose rapidly to an abnormal degree. I was worried enough by this obvious sign of stress to offer to cancel the experiment. With an air of suprise, she answered me that everything was fine. She was not feeling anything; the images had no effect on her.”- page 17, discontent in neurobiology: the difficult marriage of Two Brains
Virtual worlds run quite a bit faster than real life, and often place us in a state of constant stress. This activates the symphatic nervous system and creates that good old flight and fight response.
I used to play video games as a kid, and to be honest I Stopped because I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. After all, Fighting in the real world rarely is an Extended affair. Staying in that state takes it’s toll.
Even something like the sims can overstimulate your nervous system, especially if you turn the time acceleration on. Time warp! Triple arrows.
That’s not the only thing I’ve noticed. Games love to dish out achievements and rewards for everything. Eventually, you get to a point where you refuse a quest or mIssion because there isn’t an item you wanted, or it won’t make you more powerful.
No longer can you do something for the sheer enjoyment of it, you must have a reason. Why do we seek power? Why do we play in the first place?
Was it because the dialogue was funny and witty, or the storyline gripping. Maybe the abilities are super cool or it’s entertaining to explore a virtual world. sightseeing for the heck of it. But once we get into this Reward-orientated mindset everything just starts feeling… Empty.
I really hate that feeling. That lack of contentment. I miss that magical feeling of walking the streets of another world. Seeing the farmers go about their days, or the hubbub of corusant’s cantina. All I can think about is Numbers. The magic is gone- I’m just fighting all the time. Next time you visit Corusunt, make sure to not stay too long.