Sunday 25 June 2017

How to play video games

I'm back, baby! It's no longer a million degrees Celsius so I can finally return to making videos and working on Mass O' Kyzt. I expect that Devlog #6 will be somewhat delayed since I've effectively dropped 3 days doing nothing, but hey- you're getting this. Enjoy it.

To put it simply, your time is valuable. You should always be minimizing the amount of time you're wasting. If you're like me, you might want to try dividing your time into either creating content or consuming content. If you're doing neither of those two, you're usually wasting your time.

However, this post is about video games in particular. For some, playing video games can feel like a waste of time even if it's still possible to justify it as "consuming content". As a former League of Legends player, I can empathize with this feeling. Putting in hours doing the same thing over and over again can feel futile, because quite often it is. For a solo player, the game is just... boring.

Congratulations, you won a match.

Oops, you lost.

You lost again.

Wait, you won again!

Oops, another loss.

After a certain point, you get familiar with the champions. You get familiar with the item builds and the current meta-game. After that you're just playing for the sake of playing and none of it actually left you with a memorable experience. After playing League of Legends for around 3 years, I can say confidently that I can remember maybe 5 or 6 memorable moments at most. 

Playing a video game - as with all media - should be about the experience you've had with it.

If you feel guilty for having played a video game, it's usually because the video game isn't rewarding you enough. Maybe it's repetitive or it's just not worth playing for the amount of time you're willing to put in.

If you're looking for a game that leaves you with a memorable experience, try Bastion. Try FEZ, Serious Sam, Deus Ex, Half-Life, the list goes on.

Story-based games are good for this, as are games with a unique take on things. Try not to pour hours into achievement hunting because that can quite often lead you back to the initial problem- you're not spending your time getting a new experience, you're spending your time finding and stepping on grubs in the Antlion caves.

If you have a bunch of friends you can even create the experience yourself- games such as World of Warcraft thrive on this. As a solo player, your options in World of Warcraft are fairly limited. As soon as you've accrued an outfit of friends, the game becomes less about the game and more about the social aspects. This is no less valid than any other kind of social gathering- this one just takes place over the platform of a game.

Again, your time is valuable. You need to maximize the amount of experience you can have over the time you're willing to spend.

Your time isn't being wasted if you're engaged in a story or if you're having fun with your fellow clan-members.

However, as with all things there's a certain caveat to this. If you're genuinely addicted to video games, you might be spending too much time consuming media and having experiences. This is related to the beginning of this post where I mentioned balancing "consuming content" and "creating content". For the sake of the rest of this post, I'm going to assume that you're a content creator of some kind. Maybe you're a hobbyist painter working a 9-to-5 office job, or you literally do nothing but create content all day and make a trillion dollars on Patreon.

Either way, the content you consume should hopefully be informing the content you produce. For instance, had I never played Risk of Rain I would very likely never have started work on Mass O' Kyzt. At least, it definitely wouldn't exist in the same way it does today.

If all you do is consume and you never create, you're likely not a good content creator simply because you simply don't create enough. If you only create and never consume, you're likely creating content which doesn't get the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of the giants you failed to see.

The trick is to have a healthy balance between the two. Just do your best and don't feel guilty about it. The worst thing you can do is regret.

Stay tuned for more ramble-y essays on the topic of video games. Thanks for reading!

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