224: Gaming Isn't Brain Surgery

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Gaming Isn't Brain Surgery

Don't have enough time to stay current with the latest videogame releases? Imagine if you only had a few minutes a week to even think about gaming. Rich Retractor explains how his career as a brain surgeon leaves little room for games - and how they've become even more to him because of that.

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If that is an average day I'm really surprised there aren't more break downs from surgeons. Or maybe there are and I just don't get to hear about them. It's actually a bit scary, I think I'd prefer my doctors to have the time to be rested and feed/look after themselves well before they care to patients. Your dedication is appreciated.

I've always imagined my gaming to be more cathartic than a drain for my imagination. That may be a comment on the types of games I play, doesn't take that much imagination to hit a demon with a big sword in Devil May Cry. I'm not particularly strong or fast so playing a game where I can make things go boom by looking at them relieves the desire to actually make things go boom, not that I really could even if I tried.

Considering you don't have much time for gaming I'm impressed you've picked Dwarf Fortress to play, its hardly the most pick up and play game. It does seem to be one of the more imagination friendly games though. Good luck with the goblins.

I'm a university student, and I thought I had no time for games. You have outdone me by far. I'd better throw surgeons up on my Respected People list, beside farmers, law enforcement, and soldiers.

grey_painter:
Considering you don't have much time for gaming I'm impressed you've picked Dwarf Fortress to play, its hardly the most pick up and play game. It does seem to be one of the more imagination friendly games though. Good luck with the goblins.

I was surprised with this as well. Playing Dwarf Fortress is like deciding to read War and Peace... in the original Russian.

Still though, once you get over the initial hump of "learning the language" I suppose you could enjoy it in 15 minute spurts.

Brain surgeon

Dwarf fortress

Dem Dorfs

..But you do have the time to write this article?

This is definitely a tad worrying.

I am a medical student myself and as such I get the pleasure of jumping between different specialities. Whilst many do allow a reasonable work-leisure balance, there are others that are far more demanding. A good example is a recent surgical placement that had me start at at 7.00am, leave at 4.00am the next day and then start back on the ward at 7.00 three hours later! It didn't help that the canteen closed at 7.00pm too!

Personally, I am of the opinion that there is little harm in such extremes in the short term. In fact, long hours, grillings and even the occasional dressing-down by your seniors all seem to be part and parcel of medicine. Heck, I've heard it said that it's good for the soul!

However, to be in a state where there "isn't a minute to spare" in a long term context cannot be healthy. It is an understandable situation for games to take a backseat. It is perfectly logical for releases, forum entries and articles to slip by as responsible prioritisation rears its mundane head. It is sensible to argue that there is little merit to beginning complex games or those requiring long time commitments when you have little time yourself. But, the tone of this article seems to imply that 15 minutes of Dwarf Fortress and maybe a documentary or two per week provide the sole non-work activities of a doctor! In this light even the once monthly shop seems an overt luxury!

Perhaps I am reading into the piece too much, but there just seems to be no tempering to the points made, no scope or insight to the notion of time away from work or even just acknowledgement that even the busiest specialities allow for some downtime, even if only for the staff's sanity!

..... Also, as a last aside, an SHO once gave a very good piece of advice. Always make time for breakfast. You never know if you'll get lunch.

A wonderful read. I can relate to this. Both my parents are doctors, so, when I was a little kid, I didn't get to see much of them. They were on call all the time, so Mum would have to go out at 4am on any given day and Dad, well, when he wasn't at work or overseas working with pharmaceutical companies, he'd be working on research grants.

Interestingly enough, that's actually how I became a gamer, because one of the ways in which Dad was able to make time for me as a kid is that he'd let me sit on his knee and play computer games with him. Admittedly, he's too busy to keep up with games now - the only game I've introduced him to in the last ten years is Oblivion - but those games we used to play together still have a special place with us. I don't think I would have become a gamer if I didn't have all those memories of playing them with my Dad as a kid.

Let me start by saying that I am very glad I never felt that my calling was in the medical field.

Next let me say that I can relate to the all-consuming-ness of your job in life. While it still pales in comparison to yours, the work load I deal with working on a comp science degree can feel just as all consuming at times. So in those rare days where I'm between coding assignments and math exams, sitting down for a few hours to play WoW is a very satisfying thing(even if it is just to do dailies). It provides me an opportunity turn my brain off and let it drift in the abyss of wandering thoughts.

I was once told that one day I would look back and wonder where my childhood went, and while I could tell you in gory detail how I spent it I still find my self reflecting on the fact that never again will I have the seemingly endless stretches of free-time I had as a child.

Fascinating...

But I really, really think this isn't healthy. My growing therapist senses get all panicy when they read this. I would wish less stress on anyone operating me or someone dear to me.. but I guess thats just the way it is atm. Hope it'll change..

But my hat off you and all your colleagues. Your dedication is appreciated.

Finally someone have referenced to Heroes of Might and Magic and Warhammer. Well written!

great article but i cant help feeling sorry for reading it, because since it exists that must means you've missed out on 1-2 months of gaming to make room for it.

my day is allot simpler and thus leaves more room for gaming, 9.30 i go to work as a bartender after running around being a waiter because we are understaffed and bartending, since im the only staff member who knows how to make anything more complicated than rum and coke or gin and tonic, i get off at 19 and i get home at 20, just in time to get some grocery's, and then i can game for 3 glorious hours, 6 if i got the night shift the next day.

also is it my imagination or weren't there once an article proving that playing videogames could help surgeons? something about the hands or eyes or preparing them for death, if your just half as good expressing yourself orally as you are in text then getting 30 min off each day to game should be no problem.

A very interesting article. It's good to know what it's like to be a gamer in these occupations. I myself have only a few hours a week to devote to gaming, which seems as though it's still more than Mr. Retractor's life allows him. It's good to know that there are still members of the more responsible ways of life that can think positively of gaming.

Go QQ more to the attending noob. You knew what u were getting into in 3rd year. And to compound the problem with a PhD... LOL!

I will never for the life of me understand how people become wedded to their jobs. Especially when you have to work 15 hour days. I say hell no. Also this system of medicine is the way it is done here in North American. If I remember correctly there was an episode of the nature of things that looked at Buddhist healers from China and they do things way differently. There is more of a sense of community between doctors and patients and a lot more importance placed on preventative medicine. Like anything there are advantages and disadvantages to both systems but it blows being a doctor sometimes.

I am one of the managers in a family busines

all i do is go to the office at 8 o´clock, turn on the PC and pretend i am doing something important while giving all the really hard work to my subordinates, then if i have no work i play The Sims 3, get here or watch some anime

then at 6 i get out of the office, go home, play videogames and go to sleep at 1 or 2 in the morning

i am getting fat, i am losing my friends but i think i might still be shocked by the amount of time i have free after my wife decided she didn´t wanted to be with me anymore (mind you, i didn´t played video games when i was with her, i spent time with my son and her)

this article might be one of the few that make me change my stile of living, because i am not living...

Well this really is a fascinating article, and a real eye-opener too, as I'm actually considering persuing a career in medicine. Granted a position in the medical field doesn't always mean this sort of lifestyle, a position in the respectable post of surgeon certainly does.

It's worrying to hear that my gaming would have to be jammed into only several 15 minute long bites per week, if I'm lucky, and I can't really predict how I'd cope in this situation, but seeing as I've set my sights on a course in biochemistry, but it's nice to have a bit of inside perspective on my chosen career path, and from the point of view of another gamer no less.

Still, I'm fully aware of where I'm heading, and I'm cautiously optimistic about my abilities, so no doubt I'll know soon enough whether or not I'm cut out for the hard slog of the medical practitioner.

Thankyou for finding the time in your obviously crowded schedule to write this article.

Holy crap, after reading this article, it's really making me reconsider my pursuit for the medical field. I'm an undergrad premed right now, and I already think it's pretty hectic. That's just suicidal.

I would say how a part time job at UPS seems to give me loads of freetime now, but I already knew that, it's why I like it.

Still, while I mgiht have more time for gaming, you're certainly doing alot more with your life then I am mine. I should definately try to find more things to do with my time then games.

Jeez ... while reading this article I was constantly thinking "surgeons sure most love their job"! I'd feel sorry for them if not. Not sure what the point of the article was though - besides the obvious fact that busy surgeons are busy.

Wait, someone else has played Chaos Gate?! God, I need to set up a Windows 98 virtual machine just so I can play that again. BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD.

I'm a college junior right now, and when I work at my summer job, I fall into the trap of eating dinner as soon as I get home and then playing TF2 for the rest of the night (or doing something similarly productive). Sometimes I think to myself, "This might be my routine after graduating..." albeit with a different job. Apparently, I've got it good!

Interesting essay, mostly because I think a lot of people assume that their gaming habits will continue unchanged until they are faced with something a little more important. Brain surgery is pretty high in the stress/time category, but it's probably only an exaggerated state of what most people go through when they find a "real job" or have kids.

Dark_Lemon:
This is definitely a tad worrying.

I am a medical student myself and as such I get the pleasure of jumping between different specialities. Whilst many do allow a reasonable work-leisure balance, there are others that are far more demanding. A good example is a recent surgical placement that had me start at at 7.00am, leave at 4.00am the next day and then start back on the ward at 7.00 three hours later! It didn't help that the canteen closed at 7.00pm too!

Personally, I am of the opinion that there is little harm in such extremes in the short term. In fact, long hours, grillings and even the occasional dressing-down by your seniors all seem to be part and parcel of medicine. Heck, I've heard it said that it's good for the soul!

However, to be in a state where there "isn't a minute to spare" in a long term context cannot be healthy. It is an understandable situation for games to take a backseat. It is perfectly logical for releases, forum entries and articles to slip by as responsible prioritisation rears its mundane head. It is sensible to argue that there is little merit to beginning complex games or those requiring long time commitments when you have little time yourself. But, the tone of this article seems to imply that 15 minutes of Dwarf Fortress and maybe a documentary or two per week provide the sole non-work activities of a doctor! In this light even the once monthly shop seems an overt luxury!

Perhaps I am reading into the piece too much, but there just seems to be no tempering to the points made, no scope or insight to the notion of time away from work or even just acknowledgement that even the busiest specialities allow for some downtime, even if only for the staff's sanity!

..... Also, as a last aside, an SHO once gave a very good piece of advice. Always make time for breakfast. You never know if you'll get lunch.

I suggest you read up on the uberman sleep schedule :D

At least you're not complaining. As I read your article it hit me that you just love your job more than games, and I, for one, am glad you had your priorities straight. As for me, I don't have the luxury of playing all the latest games (no gaming pc or current-gen consoles). I am one of those people you mentioned: the type of guy who keeps current by reading on sites like this.

This is a real eye-opener, and I can't shake feeling that I might go down this path, albeit a bit less.

The day i dont have any time at all over a few weeks to play games is the day i re-evalueate my life

Rich Retractor, if you're reading this...

You have the best name on Earth. Ever.

Dark_Lemon:
Perhaps I am reading into the piece too much, but there just seems to be no tempering to the points made, no scope or insight to the notion of time away from work or even just acknowledgement that even the busiest specialities allow for some downtime, even if only for the staff's sanity!

The staff's sanity? What about the patient's safety. I think you're right about the health risks of such a schedule on the long term for the doctor himself, and those risks directly count for the patient as well. After all, a worn-down human is much more prone to make mistakes. And even though I'm not a medical student, I sure as hell know that you dón't want to make mistakes when you're screwing around in someone's body.

Desert Tiger:
Rich Retractor, if you're reading this...

You have the best name on Earth. Ever.

Sorry Desert Tiger, that title is already given to Max Fightmaster, Staff Sergeant Max Fightmaster no less. Yes someone's actually called that. You just can't beat that, really, it's impossible.

To quote Mitchell and Webb;

"Brain surgery? ...still, its not exactly rocket science is it..."

(Note to all potential QQ'ers; this is intended as a joke, and does who have seen the episode of Mitchell and Webb that this relates to will no doubt chuckle in recollection. Thank you for your time in reading this.)

May I recommend Robotron 64 on the N64. It's cartridges mean that it loads instantly, simple controls, deep challenging gameplay, yet the difficulty curve isn't too steep (like with Geometry Wars). Probably the best game I've played.

Not convinced? Watch this review.

PlasticTree:
..But you do have the time to write this article?

We had to adjust our deadlines to accommodate Dr. Retractor's schedule. At the time I was a little peeved, being an editor and all. After reading his article, however, I was shocked and grateful he took the time to work with us. Not only does Rich clearly love his profession, but he loves gaming and the gaming community enough to want to sacrifice what little free time he has to share his story. Deeply moving.

I respect this man, I would never want to be a brain surgeon because if I get good at it I will have put a burden on my shoulders. People will think that its my responsibility to save someones life and if I fail its basically murder and its my fault, my whole life would be saving others but who will save mine from this sentence?

I imagine if his colleagues saw him playing video games they'd berate him on how he is a shame to the world because he isn't doing what hes supposed to.

Patient:
"Ever since surgery all I can hear is J-pop music in my head and something that sounds like growling demons. I think something went wrong..."

Doctor:

<Does X-ray of head> ought oh, I wondered what happened to my DS. I was playing Devil Survivor while operating on you... damn! I hope I don't lose my save data...

Patient:
"WTF! I'm going to sue grrmph" [Sedative mask forced over face]

Doctor:
<Humms Persona 3 theme song as he prepares to cut> "An accidental labotomy for you... yessss. I'm coming Yoohoo my love. Soon I shall level you up some more... What a relief you have been my pretty. Sure my malpractice suits are rising due to accidents, but I definatly am relieved".

I can just see gaming doctors becoming the news headlines of tomorrow. Society will become much more interesting... especially if socialized healthcare removes a lot of our choice about who to see, and every doctor suddenly becomes overworked leading to much less picky enforcement of policies.

One day we shall see a DS deeply lodged in someone's brain... mark my words. :P

"Once and a while" is a mondegreen. The expression is "once in a while".

Nice article. It's great to see stuff like this to counteract the mainstream-ish opinion that gaming is for losers with no ambition.

Assassinator:

The staff's sanity? What about the patient's safety. I think you're right about the health risks of such a schedule on the long term for the doctor himself, and those risks directly count for the patient as well. After all, a worn-down human is much more prone to make mistakes. And even though I'm not a medical student, I sure as hell know that you dón't want to make mistakes when you're screwing around in someone's body.

Ah! Sorry if my post came across as callous in any way! The patient is always the primary concern.

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