Beating the Video Game Fixation

I screamed at my Xbox last night. I am not proud of it, and if I am honest, it’s not the first time. You see, I was playing FIFA 11, the most critically acclaimed and realistic soccer simulation ever to grace a console. I am, in fact, a competitive soccer coach and consequently possess an above average soccer-acumen—so to lose 4-0 to a 13 year old who doesn’t have a DII State Title under his belt does not sit well with my ego.

The moment that sports video games started offering competitive online play was the moment I stopped playing against the “computer”, or AI (artificial intelligence). I would like to be able to say that this is because I relish being challenged and playing single player wasn’t tough enough for me. An even better reason for me to stop playing single player would be a desire for community—studies show that “cooperative gameplay lifts our mood longer, and strengthens our friendships more, than competing against each other.” If I am honest, neither of those reasons adequately express why I am enamored with playing sports games online. The real reason is much more sinister: its much less satisfying to rub the AI’s face in the dirt.

Playing sports games against other people gives me the opportunity to flaunt my superior skills. It places me and another human being in a system with the same rules and challenges one of us to emerge victorious. It is monumentally more satisfying for me to best another person than the AI. You cannot make the AI angry. Beating the AI is a much less tangible way of ranking yourself with other players. To beat a computer is human; to beat another human is divine.

 

Most sports games are incredibly detailed in allowing players to strategize and maneuver in order to attain victory—they are games of vision, planning, and reacting to the opponents’ maneuvers. The best Madden and FIFA players are those who are quick thinkers, meticulous observers of their opponent’s tactics and skilled strategists. FIFA 11 is at its heart a sophisticated chess match of passing angles and defending and attacking strategies. I am not one of these savvy players, and yet I am enamored with online play because I like to think I posses the above abilities. The thrill of the occasional victory confirms this in my mind and gives me a sense of superiority that keeps me coming back for more.

 

FIFA is the only sports game I play regularly and I boast a record just under .500. So why do I play if I am so average? Every win is an opportunity to beat someone, every win places me higher in the ranks of FIFA players worldwide. I win just enough to experience that thrill of victory, that moment of superiority knowing I bested someone. It’s this selfish desire that keeps me playing and forces me to continue to be a lousy player.

 

If I keep playing FIFA the way I am currently playing it, I should expect stress-induced migraines and continued mediocre performances. You see, when victory is our goal in gaming, we miss the very purpose behind games. Games are at their best when they are making us think, teaching us and challenging us. When our only goal is to beat someone, when we fail, we will immediately blame the game itself. When we do this, we refuse to learn.

 

The vast majority of game-blaming is really just self-justification, and it happens frequently in online gaming. In Halo we say, “How did you not die, I shot you like a billion times!” In racing games we say, “The only reason you won is because you had a faster car!” In FIFA, we say, “How did my goalie not save that?” If games really were constantly cheating us, we would be to some degree justified in our frustration. Even the best games have flaws—but the reality is that most of the games I play online with other people are so fine-tuned that the majority of the time, when I lose, it’s my fault.

 

I would like to say that I play online games because I enjoy the shared experiences they provide (playing online) and the critical thinking challenges they lay before me. However, maybe I play them, more often than not, to win. The easiest way to justify my losses is to blame the game. Pointing the finger at my opponent would admit my inferiority. Pointing the finger at myself is simply out of the question—and yet, this is exactly what I need to do.

 

So what should we do? Never play competitive games? Play them only in limited fashion? We must at least note that the gaming industry is biased toward competitive games. If we don’t notice this, we may never experience the wonderful benefits of collaborative play.

 

Matthew Burns, former Bungie employee (Developers of the Halo games), claims that “by holding victory high over any kind of experience, games end up biased heavily toward creating situations that inflame anger and frustration.” He goes on to say that “our fixation on contests and carrots has given us a creatively impoverished medium.”

Playing FIFA 11 has reminded me how easily I fall to the lure of competition, how much I enjoy winning and consequently, how aggravating defeat is. The thought of continuing to play if I could not eek out wins is almost unthinkable. The fact that gaming is dominated by competition is not news to anyone, but this domination is not an indictment on games but on gamers too. At the very least, my unhealthy frustration with FIFA 11, is an indictment on me.

 

When the purpose of our play is to beat another person, we cease to tap into the positive power of games and we neglect the gospel. The kingdom of God is about Christ becoming greater and us becoming less (John 3:30) and we do that by serving our neighbor not proving our superiority.

 

So what should we do when we lose our tempers playing games? Turn them off? For a time, yes, absolutely, we should turn them off.  If playing a video game is moving me to yell insensitively at inanimate objects, then video games in that moment certainly are not serving me well. To assume, however, that video games are the culprit and the solution is to stop playing them would be to avoid the real issue at stake, which is me. It’s my fault that I get angry. It’s me who is inventing reasons why I have been cheated. To blame the game would be to remain proud and foolish. It is not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but what comes out (Mark 7:18-23).

 

Games cannot turn us into prideful jerks—they can only reveal that we are so.

22 Comments

84,848

Dixon Drew commented…

Yeah that is an interesting book Paul, I have actually been reading it. The studies McGonigal looks at are certainly fascinating. I sometimes feel like she take a bit of an idealistic view of games but I am glad that she sees a lot of potential in the medium because I see it too.

84,848

Damon commented…

Not a gamer, but definitely can relate.

84,848

Ada commented…

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Also, the jersey does feature the throwback Sabres logo with their
founding year, 1970, set inside. This was used as the team's 40th anniversary
mark but it's not specific to this year, which means it's likely to stay on the
sweater.

It goes without saying, but Buffalo's home and road uniforms will also
stay the same for 2011-12. Overall, this might be the best set of sweaters in
the MLB
jerseys
. And
it's all because they're paying attention to their past.

Two

Apparently
the Kings intend to toss out everything and go back to the drawing board in
2011. Wow.

Actually,
if I'm being honest this complete reboot wasn't entirely unforeseen. The
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For example, the players opted to wear the black third jerseys throughout their
2010 playoff run. And the throwback launched this season is very popular among
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Not
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prototypes seen in Luc Robitaille's office at the Kings' practice facility.
They are essentially white versions of the current third jersey (right).

Kings
throwback jersey / from Getty ImagesSo if I had to guess, the crown logo along
with the black and purple sweaters will disappear. Replacing them will be the
LA shield logo along with black and white Football
jerseys
.
And as for the third, obviously the purple and gold throwback is the
front-runner.

And
that suspicion just got a little more meat on it last night when the Kings
added nameplates to those cheap
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.
Surnames are a league requirement on uniforms, but they got away without them
for opening night against the Canucks as they were celebrating the 40th
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84,848

Ada commented…

One

NHL
jerseys
The
Sabres will hang onto the alternate sweater they introduced this season as part
of their 40th anniversary celebration.

Though nothing is changing, I thought it worth mentioning here as some
thought perhaps the NFL
jerseys
would be
worn only this season and then retired. In fact, it seems the royal blue will
hang around at least one more year. Possibly longer.

Also, the jersey does feature the throwback Sabres logo with their
founding year, 1970, set inside. This was used as the team's 40th anniversary
mark but it's not specific to this year, which means it's likely to stay on the
sweater.

It goes without saying, but Buffalo's home and road uniforms will also
stay the same for 2011-12. Overall, this might be the best set of sweaters in
the MLB
jerseys
. And
it's all because they're paying attention to their past.

Two

Apparently
the Kings intend to toss out everything and go back to the drawing board in
2011. Wow.

Actually,
if I'm being honest this complete reboot wasn't entirely unforeseen. The
teamNBA
jerseys
has been dropping hints over the past year.
For example, the players opted to wear the black third jerseys throughout their
2010 playoff run. And the throwback launched this season is very popular among
fans.

Not
only that, but Icethetics reported in October on photos of possible jersey
prototypes seen in Luc Robitaille's office at the Kings' practice facility.
They are essentially white versions of the current third jersey (right).

Kings
throwback jersey / from Getty ImagesSo if I had to guess, the crown logo along
with the black and purple sweaters will disappear. Replacing them will be the
LA shield logo along with black and white Football
jerseys
.
And as for the third, obviously the purple and gold throwback is the
front-runner.

And
that suspicion just got a little more meat on it last night when the Kings
added nameplates to those cheap
jerseys
.
Surnames are a league requirement on uniforms, but they got away without them
for opening night against the Canucks as they were celebrating the 40th
anniversary of their first meeting which was at a time when
jerseys didn't have nameplates.

So now this is a complete uniform and it looks phenomenal. Fans like it
and there's no reason not to keep it around. I wouldn't be at all surprised if
that's how things shake out for the Kings next season. Black and white regular
unis and very colorful thirds.

Three

writing
methods to compose a composition, permit the learners making utilization of the
text message inside the expression of information to method, pursuing creating
to alter with text message sense..comprehension a forward of within pride and
also to spring vibrant common xiaoxinganling common tone elegance learners
garnish pursuing the with mountain cheap nfl jerseys abundant resources,
read." this sequence of parallelism pandora charms sentence and metaphor
sentences, the campus that visual element the elm modelling is genuine sports
jerseys

genuinely about is perfectly. creating methods for some oral and

supra
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jerseys

writing, make the students' text message instruction stumbled in exercise
enhances unceasingly.. fawn affordable genuine example: fleet endowment
wonderful personification.

For the
states 2011 nfl
pro

sentence,inside the cheap jerseys as trees of casual, compose log leaves
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inside the wrestle "little guide" activities, on this particular way
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the some thing should be done to aid the citys youth succeed.

A night time out around the town for dinner and
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that Jesus Christ is Lord.transformation football discount
or participating in the physical activity. This nfl jerseys
store
is within truth the best time to
allow them to know the worth of dollars and how difficult it is often to earn.
by no means cursed,hermes handbag, drank or smoked themselves.

Five

As rumored, the Maple Leafs will be debuting a new
third jersey for the 2011-12 season.

The current third
nfl jerseys wholesale
jersey in its Reebok
incarnation launched in 2008. Prior to that, the same design was used from 2000
to 2007. It was based on a uniform and logo the Leafs used from 1958 to 1967.

When team management has recently discussed
changing the uniform with the media, they've said the plan is to borrow from
their own history once again.

Leafs '70s throwbacks / from Getty ImagesA year
ago, Toronto paid tribute to the 1970s as the players skated out in replica
jerseys for warm-ups. They nfl
jerseys store
matched
sweaters worn by the team from 1970 until 1992. Rumors suggest the team may
look to that era for its next alternate uniform.

They look great and just different enough to
distinguish themselves from the recently altered home and road jerseys. Fans
always love the retro look so the Leafs would probably be wise to go this
route.

Beyond that, there's not much else in the Maple
Leafs' jersey history that isn't a little crazy. So unless they go with the
'70s throwbacks, they'll have to come up with something completely new. And
that doesn't usually work out well for them.

And I'll say it once again. We won't really know anything until next
summer, fall at the latest. But the Leafs nfl jerseys
usually like to make a big deal about jersey unveilings so I'm sure
we'll know when it's

Six

The
fact that Facebook found itself addressing a regulatory charge of some kind
should have come as no surprise, given the brouhaha about annual changes to its
user interface and profile privacy settings. Little wonder, too, cheap NFL JERSEYS
, that such a conflict would have widespread implications for digital
marketing.

Late
last month, Facebook reached an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission
mlb regarding accusations that it misled users
about the privacy of data shared on the site. The company "deceived
consumers by telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private,
and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public," the FTC
said in its announcement of the settlement.

The
settlement requires audits of Facebook privacy practices. VentureBeat has
reported that this has led to a reorganization. Five product groups must report
to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. This will eliminate questions about how informed
leadership should be about product development.

The
various reactions to the Facebook news are fascinating to watch -- and not just
because of the company's place in social media and its ability to connect 800
million people to events, articles, and one another. Many people have nba
jerseys
criticized Facebook's privacy measures, but numbers suggest
that its use continues unabated. Participants reportedly spend as many as 15
hours per month on the site. AllAnalytics.com community editor Shawn Hessinger
captured Facebooks relationship with privacy best in his comment,
"Facebook is simply the poster child for this kind of problem today, but
there is no evidence it has hurt the company's popularity or revenue."

84,848

Kat commented…

Can you post some info/reflection on Christians playing World of Warcraft? Thanks!

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