Milking My Lizard Brain: Troubled Relationships with Bigger Numbers


#1

I just started playing Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire this week and it has got me thinking a lot about my playing habits and why I play some games.

I don’t regret my (huge) amount of time in Destiny or all the time spent in Overwatch trying to get more lootboxes but I cant help but feel like these kinda games are rewiring me in a way that isn’t great, Maybe making me more prone to playing games not because I really enjoy them but just because I’m chasing that high. And then when you look at all the idle games which just seem hyper-focused on exploiting all of our psychological weaknesses it leaves me feeling kinda icky. I feel like this hasn’t been how I always played games but now I’m finding it harder and harder to getting games if they don’t have some form of persistent progression.

I definitely still totally enjoy shorter more story-focused experiences like Gone Home or Journey but more often than not I feel like if I cant collect something I’m not gonna be very into it.

Is this a valid concern? Is just deleting a clicker off your phone when you get bored enough or could this kind of thing have any long term effects? How do you cope when you are feeling that you might have lost your way in certain games and aren’t playing in a way that makes you happy?


#2

My guess is that most forms of entertainment is subliminally designed to what you are talking about to a certain degree, and I don’t think it’s too concerning. The fact that you are cognicent about the way it works is probably going to hold off on completely rewriting your psyche, because at some point you will probably just reach a point where the thought process it triggers is too annoying for you to keep playing.

In short, I think the human mind is capable of self policing even if it isn’t a conscious process.


#3

Those games are design as Skinner boxes with the purpose of creating a reward loop on your brain and it can take time to realize that you’re not having fun. If you asked the question and felt that something is wrong maybe is because is time to stop or reframe the activity. It’s OK to enjoy a game like that if it’s on your own terms.

Recently by the insistence of a friend I went back to wow after 4 years and some things I like of the game, but some things I hate. At the beginning I was enjoying myself, but after some progress the reality of the game loop started to dawn on me as more a more quests were just irrelevant time wasters and the game started to try to manage my times and not the other way around. So after two weeks I realize that I had enough, fuck the sunken cost fallacy and fuck the false sensation of progress that the game is design to give I’ll move on and find my own progress.

It isn’t something that is going to take you over, but if you can be doing something more rewarding why wait until it feels bad or the guilt sinks in.