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Octsober

Identifying Moderation

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Hey guys, 

Just wanted to get some thoughts on this. 

Currently I'm 51 days into my 100 day no-game goal. I'm staying focused on being productive and investing in myself rather than gaming and feeling like I'm not doing what I should be. I look at it like Producing vs Consuming. 

Ultimately as a game designer, Ironically I find it hard to see myself never playing games again, but I know that the capacity I may experience these things overall, can be detrimental. 
I am by all means not looking for an excuse to resume gaming, but rather an understanding on what steps are needed (if all) to looking at gaming more cautiously.

I currently design board / card games. So in order to learn mechanics etc, I play games to understand how they work. I've thoroughly discussed this with friend whom attends college as video game designer / producer. He said to me "You should be more passionate about design than playing." Which makes sense to me by looking at why games work mechanically rather than just diving right in and playing. 

We all know games today are designed to be addicting, so I'm aware this isn't an easy question to answer. 

-Oct     

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Hey Octsober,

I read your journal a little while ago and you seemed to indicate that you were a video game designer, but I wasn't 100% sure. It's a really interesting perspective from which to look at this whole thing. I'm shifting gears in my career and signs are pointing to game design for me, so I've been asking myself similar questions like how it can all fit together in the context of my life, if at all.

It's a tough one. And I don't know the answer. I suspect everyone has a different opinion of what should be done. I also suspect the real truth is different for each individual. Not to mention that even discussing this is a slippery slope that I could see leading to rationalization, bargaining, and who knows what else. I'm new around here, so I've been wary of bringing this up so as to not be a negative influence on others without first learning the ropes, but I'm glad you did because it's been on my mind.

That's my disclaimer.

I've spent a few years now in various states of abstaining from games. It's been an interesting ride in many ways, and it's been a mixed bag of positive and negative. I still don't have a definitive answer for myself. I'm working on it. It's probably relevant to know that I'm a binger—I can put games down for a long time with periods of (severe) binging in between.

I think different games trigger me in different ways. I'm addicted to multiplayer games. I'm addicted to most games with a high-score mechanism. I'm addicted to games that consist of a difficult challenge.

Am I addicted to Braid? I'm almost certain that I'm not. Why is that the case? My guess is that it's very light on all of the things I mentioned in that last paragraph, and has a number of other redeeming qualities. Portal is another favorite of mine that has never triggered addictive behavior in me. I guess I'll call these story-driven games? That's what they are to me. They kind of sit in the same place as TV and movies for me, both of which have never been a behavioral problem.

Something else I need to consider is that my wife and I play games together. I'd go so far as to say it's part of the foundation of our relationship. Most games we play are story-driven games. I think this time together is as well-spent as watching TV or movies together.

Needless to say that all of this has been on my mind as an aspiring designer, both for myself and for others that might one day play the games I design.

A lot of text and no answers, but those are my thoughts right now.

Kyle

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I don't have great answers for this yet but a few things to consider:

1) The main thing you're trying to avoid is gaming for many hours in a row. The more you game, the more your brain gets accustomed to that level of stimulation. So gaming in shorter blocks less frequently is best. As an example, 30 mins every few days is much better than 4 hours one day.

2) Anything over 21 hours of gaming per week is a danger zone. Proceed with caution. This does not imply as long as you are gaming less than 21 hours/week you're fine (that's still 3 hours a day!), but anything over 21 hours is certainly out of control.

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Hey Octsober,

I read your journal a little while ago and you seemed to indicate that you were a videogame designer, but I wasn't 100% sure. It's a really interesting perspective from which to look at this whole thing.

Hello Kyle, Thanks for your response! You have some really great points i'm going to touch on in a bit. To answer your question, I currently design card / board games. In the future I hope to invest enough into my company to produce an app and if possible a full fledged video game. It's baby steps for now. 

To follow up on what you've said, we're all here for a reason so it's important to say that understanding the cues and triggers of what we like about games doesn't necessarily mean we're out of the woods sort of say. Like yourself I'd also consider myself a binger, however I would play for hours on end without real cause or understanding on why I was even playing. Now I have a better idea on why I was doing this, but I'm by all means not looking for excuses to fall back into this mindless trance. 

I'd have to agree that multiplayer games with leaderboards have a VERY particular draw to them. I would find myself only really playing multiplayer games with friends or even just playing solo to keep ahead or current in, let's say, a MOBA environment.

I think that's very cool that you and your wife share experiences with games together. As you both play story games, I can see how that correlates with watching tv. 

I wish you the best in your endeavors as a game designer! 

I don't have great answers for this yet but a few things to consider:

1) The main thing you're trying to avoid is gaming for many hours in a row. The more you game, the more your brain gets accustomed to that level of stimulation. So gaming in shorter blocks less frequently is best. As an example, 30 mins every few days is much better than 4 hours one day.

2) Anything over 21 hours of gaming per week is a danger zone. Proceed with caution. This does not imply as long as you are gaming less than 21 hours/week you're fine (that's still 3 hours a day!), but anything over 21 hours is certainly out of control.

Cam! Thanks for following up! 

I absolutely agree with you on both your points. Time management is really a big thing here. After understanding a bit of the psychology behind how some of our brains react to the levels of stimulation during gameplay, it makes sense to break things up block by block in regards to time. I'd have to say that 21 hours a week seems like quite a bit, but I can see that depending on how your break it down, ultimately may fluctuates. For example, after my 100 day challenge, I was considering playing XCOM 2 on weekends only. I feel that at this point, returning to play games makes me feel like i'm wasting my time, and would rather be socializing or doing something productive. Only time will tell. 

It's about moving forward rather than backwards.   

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Ya. I completely agree 100%. It's hard for me to say that to people because everyone has their own journey and ultimately for some of these breakthroughs they only stick if you make them on your own... but I'd definitely encourage you to take that and run with it. I'm not anti-gaming at all, if someone wants to game, game away, I don't care... but 99% of the time, they are/you are simply wasting time. That includes myself. And I guess what changed for me was recognizing that ultimately I actually have bigger ambitions for my life then that. And that's just my journey. People have theirs. I actually want to live in a big way, I know I have potential inside and I refuse to not see how far it can go, you know, we all feel that way... but then fear sets in... "can I actually do it?" and that's where the decision is made. Maybe we go for it... maybe we don't. The sad truth is, most people don't. But it's only because they don't choose the other way. It's a choice.

The question I asked myself was ultimately... was I ever going to go for it. And I knew, that at some point in my life, I would have to, like, there was no way over the entire course of my life that I would stay living in fear, at some point I would have to breakthrough it, and I figured that, if that was true, then I might as well start going for it now, because in the off-chance that I actually did breakthrough and make big things happen in my life, I would want to enjoy it for as long as I could.

You might as well just go for it now. All-in. You're playing big from this point forward. It's not even a point of "excuses" anymore, because people who live with "excuses" in their lives are just not taking full responsibility. Shit happens in my life, but it's not "excuses", because when you choose to play all-in, you choose to live with integrity. Do you execute or not? Do you do your best or not? Do you put in the work or not? Do you do the hard "internal" work or not? Do you get up after you fall or not? Always a choice. And when you choose to live from that place, every single day, while simultaneously being super fucking kind to yourself, "self-love" as they like to say... that's the intersection where your life changes, and magic happens.

Anyways, rambling again. This video is cool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTHbFb1fNy4

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Good stuff all around. I nodded along the whole time.

Octsober, regarding XCOM 2 on weekends only, I know I would probably end up cramming 30 hours in on the weekend if that's the only time I had to play! :)

Another thought:

This is all a weird thing for me. I've had the moderation talk with myself before and it rarely worked. For me, it kind of seems like wishful thinking that I can successfully set limits (again, based on a lifetime of this back and forth with myself). There's also a desire to not have gaming become this big scary monster that I have to run from. I don't really want to have this kind of problem. Why can't I just play a little like everyone else? It's no big deal right? It's this kind of circular reference that probably leads to the binge-purge pattern for me.

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Wow, Cam I really appreciate your honesty. I don't even know where to begin. 

... In the first paragraph you mention time wasted. I have to agree with you that I had this feeling in the back of my head while playing games that I was wasting my time and always felt terrible because of it. As I've said I'm not looking to make excuses. I've been successful in maintaining my current path, eliminating wasted time I had spent previously by directing it toward more productive things. I'm not sure that I'd say I'd like to live in a big way, but I feel as if I have something to give back. I reflect on this often as I'm still unsure what it ultimately means.  

In that same paragraph you mention fear; more so the fear of failure. I'm currently designing two games. A casual party game and a War themed card game with a friend. I got back from testing my casual game today, but during my ride home I would question everything wrong about it. It's a game about telling a story but a good portion of people aren't creative (or so they say). As I'm creating this game, I've set to make it as something I would like playing, however it's a capital venture for my company. Knowing this, I know i'm basically setting myself up for failure. But that's part of the journey. I don't want to quit - I want to figure it out. 

It's really a matter of responsibility isn't it? No bullshit - just taking the bull by the horns right? I can't argue with that. It's a cold hard truth. I think the most important thing I can take from your response was being kind to yourself. I can't help but feel there's this enormous weight on my shoulders to get things right with my company, so that I can get on with my life in a way. It's hard to say what that will look like but we're only human right? 

The video you've posted was right on point. I feel like a lot of people think things happen magically. I want to earn my keep and have the experience to back it up. 

Good stuff all around. I nodded along the whole time.

Octsober, regarding XCOM 2 on weekends only, I know I would probably end up cramming 30 hours in on the weekend if that's the only time I had to play! :)

Another thought:

This is all a weird thing for me. I've had the moderation talk with myself before and it rarely worked. For me, it kind of seems like wishful thinking that I can successfully set limits (again, based on a lifetime of this back and forth with myself). There's also a desire to not have gaming become this big scary monster that I have to run from. I don't really want to have this kind of problem. Why can't I just play a little like everyone else? It's no big deal right? It's this kind of circular reference that probably leads to the binge-purge pattern for me.

From what you've said, I look at it this way Kyle. If you have a smoker and they want to quit, but say to outloud "in 100 days I'll have a cigarette on the 101st." If you were talking to this person, could you imagine, even judge that this person would be right back at square one? I think so. 

The thing is I've never really quit games before my current challenge. I never could see a version of myself not playing games, but then I stopped and here I am. When I talk to people that still play, that's fine, but I feel that I'm able to see pasted the veil in a way. I can feel this extra time I have for other things I wouldn't have had other wise. It's as if I've been sleeping this whole time and now I'm slowly waking up.  

As Cam said, "what changed for me was recognizing that ultimately I actually have bigger ambitions for my life then that.". It's hard to explain, but around my early / mid 20's I started feeling like i had something to say, something to give back. I'm still trying to figure out what that means, but once I discover it, I think I'll be much happier. 

This was a good conversation guys. Really, Thank you for your imput. 

   

Edited by Octsober

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