Dying Daily #312: Virtual Intoxication

The book (soon-to-be movie) Ready Player One describes a world where things have gotten so bad that almost everyone retreats to this fully immersive virtual world called The Oasis.

It was a great read. It might also be a scary look at our future as a species.

If we are talking about ways to avoid dealing with reality as it is, there are few things more effective than video games. Before I start to sound like a tyrant though, I’ll admit that I play them. I really enjoy video games. I have since I was a kid. I still do.  I can definitely see how they took over for other forms of intoxication at times, and have probably taken up more of my time in the final calculation.

The dangerous thing about video games is how they trick us into thinking we are accomplishing something.

We level up or get a new weapon or open up a new area, and those reward centers in our brain tingle with our achievement. We kill a bunch of ninjas or headshot a bunch of bandits and build a house up on a hill and accumulate a huge number of guns, but when we turn the system off nothing in the real world has changed.

The house is still a mess. We still hate our boss at our minimum wage job. Our partner has still left us. Our grades are still bad. The lawn is still not mowed. Maybe we are still just a jerk and people don’t like us. We have played a game all day and accomplished a lot of things, but none of them are real. For a while, things felt better. The noise in our head was quiet, but nothing has actually changed.

I guess we better turn the game back on, right?

Or, we could leave it off and actually do something about the things that are causing us pain.

Everything we have talked about for the past few days is not good or bad in and of itself, but they all become harmful when they get out of hand.

Video games are no different. In all honesty, they probably destroy motivation more than anything else I see, especially in young men. I do believe they are addictive. Combine them with pot and you and you have a recipe for never leaving the house.

At least we have our online trophies though.