Pick Up the Gamepad

Jul. 19, 2022 [gaming] [technology]

Do you enjoy video games? Make every last bit of it count. In fact, pick up that controller and play your heart out. No, really, actually clobber your freetime with game time. Play games so much that you get sick of them. Use cheats if you must. Tear it all apart and see how things work under the hood. Strive to get it out of your system and don’t forget to enjoy it while it lasts.

I hypothesize that video game fixation is a function of time. Once you have clocked enough time under your belt, you begin to see games for the digital hamster wheels that they are. Your desire to play is just your brain yearning to map out all of the structural limits of games. The total cumulitive hours needed before reaching this outlook will be different for everyone, but the point is that you want to get there as early in life as possible. Especially considering the way games have become ever since teams of pscyhologists have joined the ranks among game development.

Psychological tailoring is why players find themselves in elaborately decorated skinner’s boxes and why modern games shamelessly beg for your attention. It is why outrage media tactically finds its way into news cycles just before new releases. Engineered artificial ladders of progression are laid out to keep suckers on the virtual treadmill. And, sadly, it works on most people.

Perhaps one of the best insights into industry manipulation of gamers comes from an Online Game Revenue Models leak a few years go. They detail methods to maintain player frustration at just the right level to herd toward in-game purchases. Another page depicts a funneled user retention model that steps through getting them hooked and ultimately bringing other victims into the fold. The amount of personal data harvesting involved is both unsurprising and diabolical. As though modern commercial game design is trying to prove itself to be maximally evil.

I know this sounds like a complete boomer platitude, and I don’t intend it for anyone who might only startup a game once every few weeks. It’s really just for those like my former self who perhaps feel a bit stuck. Pick up the gamepad… so that you can finally put it down.