The Lure of Content Consumption vs. Productivity

I just had a conversation with a friend about electronic/video gaming. I have a lot of friends who are or were gamers, and I’m raising kids in en environment where games’ lure is constant and getting evolutionarily more compelling with each generation of technology. The friend with whom I spoke is the kind of gamer who’ll replay a game, often many times, to explore every aspect the designers included.

To me, that practice of replaying games is a little amazing, and totally alien. I read so often about people playing games over and over (and usually on increasingly difficult settings) and it’s mind boggling to my world view. Like his, much of my thrill  is in the exploration of a game, not just of the world, but the plot and the key story elements. But having played through once, my attitude tends to be that there’s no longer enough new content to discover, or not enough meaningful differentiation in the story or the conclusion to warrant the vast amount of repetition involved in re-experiencing the game in the interest of pursuing a few, usually inconsequential or temporary plot or experience forks. Then again, you’ll almost never catch me re-reading a book or watching a movie multiple times. It’s not that I don’t understand the value to be gained, just that for my cost/benefit calculation there’s more value in the NEXT story than a slightly altered retelling of the last one. I’m sure it also has a lot to do with what challenges I gravitate toward and the realization that choices have to include consideration of energy levels. Easy choices and avoiding effort are a guaranteed path to sub-achievement. Weird that I still feel that way, even though I’m (mostly) retired.

Too, I’ve also grown to view the dozens (if not hundreds) of hours spent in a game as pleasurable, but ultimately sub-optimized hours I should be applying toward something more productive or meaningful. So game playing usually feels like a guilty pleasure whose almost addictive lure I savor while maintaining a strong grip on the vision of things I *could be* accomplishing with that time. At some point I must have internalized the philosophy that in order to change (some small part of) the world, you have to spend more time as a content creator than a content consumer. As a fundamentally lazy person, it’s WAY too easy for me to surrender to the lure of others’ content. :-/

Are you a gamer, and has your approach to and view of the game industry changed as you transitioned life phases?

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