5. Video Games Can Be an Addiction
This may be the toughest of the hard truths on this list. I’m not being cute here. I’m not just saying that video games are an enjoyable past-time. These are hard truths here. I’m talking full on addiction. As in, “the pleasure centers of your brain get stimulated making you want more of it,” addiction. Video games are fun, exciting, cathartic, and fulfilling. During the first decade or so, there’s a definite warmth that comes with playing your favorite games. They have a sort of comfort to them. And, like all addictions, eventually it’s not quite enough.
At some point, that special kind of fulfillment starts to diminish. You see, you end up building a tolerance to those warm feelings. At first, you try to fight it by getting your hands on more games and playing more than ever. You tell yourself that you just haven’t gotten your hands on a “good” game in a while. That’s part of that misconception that older gamers are just bitter jerks. It isn’t that at all. It’s the fact that, no matter how amazing the game is, it’s going to have a Hell of a time triggering those pleasure centers. That is, unless you’re playing one of your old games.
Remember how I said nostalgia is a drug? It was #3 on the last page. It turns out that you can get a taste of that original addiction by playing your old favorites. It all has to do with referential memory. The idea is that our brains store information in a unique way. When it senses an appropriate stimulus, it pulls up all of the memories with that tag on it. That’s why a certain smell or taste can remind you of your grandmother’s house or school cafeteria. It’s the same thing with video games. But instead of just bringing up memories about the game, it brings that same, warm feeling back as well. And that, my friends, is why we end up with a complimentary pair of rose-colored glasses.
I know these hard truths haven’t been the easiest things to learn. But understanding them can help make us all better gamers and even better people. You see, nothing is actually wrong with any of these things. They are simply a fact of life for gamers. It’s what we signed up for when we dove into our respective digital wonderlands. Having a grasp of some of the pitfalls can help prepare you for what’s out there. Consider this article just a big ol’ grain of salt.
Since now you know to expect these things, you can be more prepared. The next time someone demeans your passion for video games, you can look them right in the eye and tell them exactly where they can put that opinion. The next time a game company changes tactics or announces a sequel, you can find solace in the fact that that’s the way the news goes. And when you find yourself wondering why you don’t enjoy video games as much anymore, you can cut yourself a little slack. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still be really pissed off and bitter. But maybe, just maybe, you won’t let it keep you down.