266: Videogame Myths Debunked

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To the various people who have played skeptical regarding the percentage of female gamers: you are the reason I don't use voice-chat over XBox. Screw off.

As far as these various myths go, there is something I would like to point out as an ACTUAL issue: games DO ruin relationships at times, and trying to place the blame entirely on the people involved is ignoring some of the important psychology just because you can't abide any insult to your favourite hobby.

I have noticed a severe difference in the way women approach games versus the way men approach them, and that is the MAIN problem that games introduce into a relationship. For whatever reason, I hear the same story over and over: men use games as escapism in a more hard-core and more avoidance-driven way than women do, even when the real problem is elsewhere in their life, and is completely solvable with a bit of effort. The difference between the way I use video games and the way my S.O. uses them is big-- I play games to reward myself for having gotten things done. He plays games when he feels a need to *avoid* getting things done.

The game industry does not get off entirely scot-free for this: they've been doing studies for years to figure out how best to addict their audiences for extended periods, and it's now down to an art. XBox 'achievements' were one of the biggest results of these studies, as well as the pleasant noises and sudden colorful motion you get whenever you unlock one of these useless achievements. Modern games give a very good simulation of the 'useful' achievement-driven stuff we do in real life, except that once the screen is finally off, the reality of having done nothing sets in and things feel even worse than before. It's useless to argue that 'people will only find some other way to avoid life'-- games are now being *intentionally designed* to encourage endless playing for useless achievements to replace the feel of real-life achievement. The TV episode eventually ends and you're left to handle that chore you've been putting off. The game you're playing instead suggests the next weekend achievement, which you're *just so close* to getting... so another game wouldn't hurt.

I'm a gamer, and I love it. But jesus christ on a pogo stick, I feel like gaming companies are insulting me by intentionally looking for ways to uselessly addict me. Take my money once, give me a game, but please do not try to subliminally influence WTF I do with it once I buy it, or how long I play it.

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