games vs real life

September 23, 2016
"When I play a game, I know if I have a few hours I will be rewarded. With a job, it's always been up in the air with the amount of work I put in and the reward."
Danny Izquierdo
That's from a WaPo piece on Why amazing video games could be causing a big problem for America:
Most of the blame for the struggle of male, less-educated workers has been attributed to lingering weakness in the economy, particularly in male-dominated industries such as manufacturing. Yet in the new research, economists from Princeton, the University of Rochester and the University of Chicago say that an additional reason many of these young men - who don't have college degrees -- are rejecting work is that they have a better alternative: living at home and enjoying video games. The decision may not even be completely conscious, but surveys suggest that young men are happier for it.
Wow, what a thought. I certainly understand that feeling of liking guaranteed effort to reward links; while my approval/attention seeking nature brings me to activities more likely to be publicly laudable, I've never been a challenge for challenge's sake, or "it's the journey" kind of guy.

(Though come to think of it, salaried jobs tend to have a bit of disconnect between effort put in on a day by day basis and reward, at least in the financial sense.)

But it feels like videogames are getting to the form of a rather concentrated drug! It's odd to be me because I'm still nostalgic for them and like them from time to time but have grown out of playing them regularly - just don't have/make the time for 'em, and many of the popular genres don't seem appealing. (The exception for me being goofy "wide open sandbox" games, ala GTA and Saints Row) In some way video games are a segment of my identity, but I'm pretty much limited to binge play of a new entry in a series once or twice a year. I still like the idea of people MAKING their own games, and I do a bit of that, but compared to these super-powered AAA titles, they're more like fun digital toys.

And man, video games are an astounding technology these days - sure, other technologies have made amazing strides - a communicator / camera / reference to giant chunks of the world's knowledge at any moment / digital map / huge music library in the palm of my hand is astounding - but if you look at the early square, colorful blobs when video games first went mainstream in the late-70s early-80s to a AAA title today; it's astounding. Too often the interaction is limited, but the look and feel and sound of these 3D worlds is nothing short of Holodeckian.

Besides the empowerment-fantasy realism, games have gotten so much smarter about online playing. My idea of multiplayer is still 3 or 4 people sitting on the same couch with a splitscreen, but between the rewarding character build grind of a World of Warcraft (or whatever MMORPG the kids are playing today) or the very smart match making of a shoot 'em up (or the physicsy fun of "Rocket League" (car soccer)) -- I would imagine finding your place in these online legions can be very appealing. (Though maybe that sense of competition goes against the grain of "guaranteed reward" of the leading quote?


Get it right or let it alone.
The conclusion you jump to may be your own.