Lessons Learned from Video Games (part 1)

As a former video game addict, I look back at my former playing days and realize that I got almost nothing done beyond the bare necessities (school work, music lessons, etc.). And yet, I kept getting this sense of accomplishment the more I played, and it kept driving me to finish. I wish I could say that I had overcome this addiction, but the truth is that my daily responsibilities have made it impossible for me to spend meaningful amounts of time on any video game. I’ve even made a conscious decision not to play Pokemon Go out of fear that it would consume every waking moment that I wasn’t working (and probably even then).

But as I try to find a soundtrack that gives me the extra push to remain focused and finish my tasks, I find myself coming back to video games. There are youtube videos with extended tracks of Maple Story, Metal Gear Solid, etc. (the loop function is also key). Part of it has to do with the song construction; these are pieces that are designed to remain in the background and yet provide a color in the game that’s not distracting from the main action. The other part, at least for me, is being able to visualize having an objective. This objective isn’t specific, it’s more a sense of working towards something.

Video games are designed to entertain the players, and one key factor is to give the player a sense of accomplishment. To do this, the players are barraged with objectives, whether they have in-game achievements, or something to move the storyline along, or maybe fulfilling requirements to get better equipment. When someone starts up a game, the player is always working towards something. Admittedly, there are a few games that encourage a more meandering play style, but the majority always have objectives. Even Minecraft, a Lego like game, the objectives are generally driven by the players themselves; they want to make a house, or the Millennium Falcon.

Some self-help websites recommend writing to-do lists when the day starts, but I think it’s important to go one step beyond and internalize your objectives. It can be serious things, like figuring out how to progress your career or making a decision on purchasing a house. It can be casual things, like eating at 10 dumpling shops in NYC, or seeing a waterfall in a nearby national park. Ideally, these objectives are somewhat productive, but having these objectives alone could be enough to get up and start walking. Inaction is the enemy here; there should be a visualization of walking towards something.

And if you need a little music to get there, I recommend some video game soundtracks.

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