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Do video games warp our expectations?

Last posted Oct 12, 2013 at 03:13AM EDT. Added Oct 11, 2013 at 04:35PM EDT
4 conversations with 4 participants

I was going to make it into a thread, then I made it into a blog post. Thgen I figured since I’ve done it before, why not make it a thread anyway?

tl;dr version: Video games, even difficult ones, are designed with the intent that players will eventually win them. Because of this fact, does playing video games warp our expectations of real-life success?

Oct 11, 2013 at 04:35PM EDT

This never occurred to me, but it’s certainly an interesting point. I agree that the current generation largely has problems when faced with failure in the real world, but I don’t think I’d say that video games are the sole culprit.

I’d argue that video games play into it, as do the “participant ribbon--everybody’s a winner--all-inclusive” hypersensitive primary educations that kids are getting. Not to say that such morals are bad, by any means; but I’ve seen a lot of public discourse about how this generation has been largely shielded throughout childhood, and so is unequipped to deal with the realities of adulthood. I think it’s a valid argument, although older people too often draw false conclusions from it. (Tangent: Often times older generations neglect the socioeconomic realities that are forcing this generation to remain dependent on their parents for longer, and are all too quick to blame it on shoddy upbringing instead.)

When it comes to including video games in the mix of formative experiences for youth, I think two viewpoints regarding video games’ relation to success can be taken. One is yours, that they rob success of meaning by allowing easy and indefinite re-attempts, and thus foster a sense of “oh what does it matter if I failed, I can always re-do it”. The other is the converse: in some ways, I think video games can teach valuable problem-solving skills. Especially when it comes to strategy games, there are clear end objectives, and perhaps a variety of strategies that can be used to attain those objectives. If the motivation exists, players will likely try a variety of strategies until they find one that works, instead of just giving up after the first attempt. Very motivated players will probably try to plan out an actual strategy, rather than flying by the seat of their pants. I realize, of course, that porting this work ethic (so to speak) from video games to real life is a subconscious process that probably isn’t all that common, but I think it’s equally as valid as your point.

And, I would argue that the two often go hand in hand. A lot of times in real life, we’re faced with a complex problem and a limited amount of time in which to devise a solution. Both of the aforementioned points show that video games can instill a trial-and-error mentality which doesn’t work well on a limited timeframe. However, games can also nurture creative thinking and problem solving skills, as well as the ability to cope with small-scale failure (i.e. re-load). Success comes from finding a balance between the two. And unfortunately, I don’t think that that balance is very easy to find for a lot of people.

Now, to tie all this in with my previous point about the “feel-good” education system we have. This is the point at which I think everything comes together in a bad way. Messages at school about how failure is okay (“Everyone’s a winner in their own way!”) combined with video games’ quicksave-quickload mentality really can hamper young people’s ability to deal with failure. Together they teach that if you aren’t fully prepared for a task, it’s no big deal because failure is okay and you can always try again. Which is, of course, entirely not true.

Regarding expectations of success: I would argue along similar lines. As you pointed out, video games are designed to be beaten, and “Everybody’s a winner!” speaks for itself. I was reading an interesting piece a while ago about this, and what struck me is this: more egregious than the current generation’s bloated expectations of success is their expectation that said success will come with less work than previous generations have had to do. The author was arguing that older generations’ mentality was that success comes after decades of hard work, and that contemporary ideas of success are all but instantaneous, especially with all these Mark Zuckerberg/David Karp/etc types around everywhere. So, I think that this generation’s unrealistic expectations of success stems more from the apparent ease of success of internet millionaires, and less from the whole “feel-good” school/quicksave video game upbringing, although the latter certainly plays into it.

Suffice it to say that the relationship between video games and today’s youth is complex.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play video games on godmode, so I have absolutely no chance of failing, no matter how hard I try. Take that, adulthood!

Last edited Oct 11, 2013 at 05:12PM EDT
Oct 11, 2013 at 05:10PM EDT

I say no, a while back ago someone on youtube posted a video titled " i am not desensitized by games". Int he video he talked about news companies blaming bideo games for murder, then told everyone to watch the budd dwyer suicide. He was affected an so was 99.9% of the other viewers who watched it. So i don’t believe video games will affect our outlook on sucess either. Thats just my opinion.

Oct 11, 2013 at 11:43PM EDT

This is an interesting point and one I’ll have to put some thought into.

It’s easy for me to say no. I never once thought to myself that I can go about life in reckless fashion under the presumption that all setbacks are an easy recovery. One of the lessons I learned in life is that the world never waits for you. Video games universes go on hold until you trigger the next line of dialogue by your own actions but trying that in the real world is instant failure. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone could think otherwise.

Then again you have some people who decided to start “life imitating GTA hobbies as if they figure they could reload a save point at any point in life afterwards.

So while I may disagree on video games affecting my perception of reality in any way, seeing as how I played Duke3D as a kid where I gibbed aliens and stuffed money down strippers panties but never grew up to be a steroid addicted violent muscle head that objectified women…my experiences don’t speak for other people who very well could have not received the same parental upbringing as I did and never learned that life has no checkpoints.

Perhaps what this discussion needs is a case study; some real life examples of people who truly do live life they way Brucker described

Can we think of any?

Last edited Oct 12, 2013 at 03:17AM EDT
Oct 12, 2013 at 03:13AM EDT

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