Why am I playing games when I have stuff to do?
Despite having plenty to take care of, I ended up spending most of the evening playing Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Terraria.
Both games have a similar ability to suck up tons of your time. Looking back on my hours playing games today, I wonder, why am I so easily able to motivate myself to do 10 zipline kills, or forge an iron pickaxe, but it’s so hard to do the laundry, or practice guitar, or read a book on accounting?
The steps are clear.
I don’t need to wonder if I’m doing the right thing. I know what it means to get a crossbow kill. In comparison, when I pick up my guitar or drumsticks, I’m afraid I’m teaching myself bad habits. When I read a book on business, I’m wondering if maybe I should be ignoring this one and reading that other book instead.
After each thing I do, I can load up my goals menu and see that I’ve made progress. Within 15-20 minutes of work, I can finish a goal, and see that visibly checked off on the screen.
Progress is permanent.
I hate doing the dishes or laundry, because I know that in a few days, there will be more dishes and laundry to do. In comparison, the things I achieve in a video game are permanent. Barring the loss of my save file, of course. Other than that, nobody can ever take them away from me. Even if I get beat up and killed a dozen times in Assassin’s Creed, I’ll still have that checkmark next to ‘Kill 5 guards by throwing them into scaffolding.’
In thinking of games that went the other way, The Sims comes to mind. Making progress is a constant struggle; even if you clean up all day, you’ll need to clean up some tomorrow. On the other hand, it’s just easy enough to make permanent progress, improving your job, hiring a maid, or getting a mind-control helmet to make you instantly happy. I think that’s part of what makes it very satisfying.
I don’t know about other players of The Sims, but my goal in the game is self-sufficiency. I want to get enough gadgets and automation for my characters so that they can live their lives without my micromanagement.