Monday, November 16, 2009

Why do video games make me happy?

The other day I was feeling really depressed. I just wanted to stop feeling so annoyed and angry. So I sat down and played the new Excitebike game for the Wii. After trying to get an S-rank on one of the tracks for about 30 minutes, I finally suceeded. Afterwards I felt really good, and happy. Whatever it was that had made me feel as horrible as I had was gone.

That feeling that made me so happy, was a sense of accomplishment. Like I was able to do something amazing.

So I started to wonder, why was I so depressed, and why does artificial accomplishment (doing something that doesn't really matter), make me feel so good?

For the depression part, I think most everyone would understand. Everyday I do the same thing. I work, I pick up my son from school, I sleep, I eat, I do chores, I help my son with his homework, I play some games if I have time, I write or plan if I have time. When someone I haven't seen in three years asks me what's been happening, ... I really don't have an answer for them. I'm still at the same job, doing the same thing, still having money problems, still paying the same bills, the same credit cards. I haven't accomplished anything. I'm in the progress of doing something, but I haven't gotten there yet.

People want to feel like they've made progress. That's why games like MMOs can become so addictive. They make you feel better. Setting a goal for yourself and accomplishing it can also make you feel better, and in this case, you can do something for yourself. Your real self.