This is the first in a week-long series as the primates look at computer games. Today is Tara’s turn.
There's a great episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called The Game. In essence, an addictive, holographic game threatens to woo the crew of the Enterprise into being controlled by a nepharious enemy. Will Crusher and his lovely girlfriend (played by a very young Ashely Judd, no less) are the only two people who are able to resist the temptation to play. My attitude toward computer gaming is exactly like Will's, I want no part of it.
I’ve never been into playing board or card games. Not even as a kid. So when the popularity of computer games began to soar, I wasn’t tempted. Now, I’m downright hostile toward any sort of computer or online game. My iPad and iPhone and laptop are all entirely game-free. Don't send me any FarmVille requests; I ignore those.
One of the reasons I’ve been adamant about staying away from all the various permutations on diversions is time. I’ve watched countless people waste oodles of hours. I maybe wasting my oodles, too, but I’d prefer my free time to be spend on hiking or reading or watching sports.
From a productivity standpoint, games can be a slippery slope. The reward system in your brain is being activated as you play and you’re getting little surges of the brain’s happy chemical, dopamine. Therefore, games invite a sort of sustained attention that includes a feeling of arousal--that is, excitement with a little hyperactivity thrown in. In many, this experience is so much more enticing than their work that it makes the games hard to put down. I’ve noticed that some folks enter something similar to hypomania, during which they seem not to be able to stop playing, even though fatigue or other demands are calling them away.
I recommend that if you play computer games, you do so mindfully. Pay attention to the effects they have on you. Set limits and boundaries. If you’re experiencing difficulty walking away from a game, or feel a strong urge to play, you may have a bigger problem than merely wasting your time.