What I’ve Learned About Myself Through Playing Video Games

And How I Can Better Myself

I know that some people play a lot and I know it’s not uncommon for people to spend upwards of 3,000 hours on a single game. But the thing is, I’m not even a gamer and I already feel the stresses of playing sometimes. I’m a casual gamer at best — I don’t put in 20+ hours a week — but when I play, I can PLAY. I once sat through both Grand Theft Auto III and GTA Vice City, playing to almost completion over a single weekend when I was in high school. Through that experience, and other experiences that followed, I have learned a lot about my own personality and how it has shaped me as an individual. Here are a few traits that I’ve managed define followed by a how I’m hoping to utilize those traits to my advantage.

Impatience

I hate waiting. It’s gotten worse as I get older too. I used to enjoy driving/walking around an open world just to discover things but I just cannot be bothered with it anymore. I even find myself getting annoyed with cut scenes. I guess now is the perfect time to admit that sometimes I really don’t care for the storylines. So playing RPGs like Mass Effect Andromeda can seem extremely tedious because I’m the type of person who likes to F*** Sh** Up. When I play video games, I want to be in the center of the action. I want to run straight up to the bad guys and shoot them. Obviously, I’m not playing with a lot of strategy, but that’s just the type of person that I am and I have come to fully accept that. But this is the type of attitude that I don’t want pouring over into my life. I don’t want to just go into something blindly. It’s one thing to be impulsive, but then there’s also stupidity. I don’t want my impatience to define my own stupidity — if that makes any sense.

A lot of times, I have to tell myself to just enjoy the moment and stop living for the future. Because life is good right now. Simply being alive is pretty damn awesome. So why the impatience? Just enjoy the cut scenes. Enjoy the scenery, and appreciate the details of everything in the game.

Determination (Obsession)

It’s embarrassing but I will go ahead and admit it. When I get really into something, I tend to ignore my own body and what its trying to tell me. For instance, I don’t really care when my butt goes numb because I’ve sat for too long. Sometimes I will wait until the very last minute before going to the bathroom to do a #1 if I’m really into a task. The weird thing is that as mentioned above, I’m very impatient. And without going into self-diagnosing myself as having ADHD, I know myself well enough to understand how difficult it can be for me to settle down and focus on one thing. But when that happens, I can achieve awesome things. That’s what scares me about having to break the flow of things but sometimes it really is a matter of having the confidence to know that switching things up (aka going to the bathroom) won’t affect my performance.

The trick is working in intervals. And yes. By work, I’m talking about gaming in this respect. But it applies to all facets of life. Whether I’m working or working out, I’m trying to adopt an interval-based system where I schedule in breaks to make sure I don’t get too absorbed in one task and forget about my own functional needs or burn out too quickly. I’m still struggling with this on a daily basis but I’ve noticed that getting up just to stretch or grab some water can make my day seem a lot more pleasant. After all, burning out often leads to the next characteristic…

Aggression

I get angry. As in… sometimes, I just want to throw my controller at the TV. Of course I don’t actually do it but gaming can get really frustrating sometimes. This is especially so when I’ve been so consumed by one task (obsession) that it feels like the world would crumble on you if something unwanted were to happen. But there are consequences the this type of stress brews. Luckily, I’m pretty in-tuned with my own body so I know when I start getting antsy and it’s time to take a deep breath.

The thing is, people who know me IRL think that I’m the most chill person ever. And 99% of the time, that’s true. But everyone gets bad days where you just feel an onslaught of aggression. And that’s absolutely OK. I just try to not let it be a video game that pushes me over the edge. Like I said earlier, knowing when to take a deep breath has saved me from having to go from 0–100 many times.

Giving Up

With every “short-coming” listed above, it probably comes as no surprise that I tend to give up when the aggression, impatience, and obsession get the better of me. This has been a big factor in my life because it has happened with hobbies and even sometimes with school or work. It’s always the same story. I’d start a game and be obsessed with it. But once things start getting difficult and the determination turns into aggression and impatience, I simply want to shield myself from failure and give up.

But just like Eminem says, “success is my only option, failure’s not.” Simple as that. Gaming is a direct reflection of how I go about with my own reality. And if I were to give up so easily because something isn’t going my way then how would I accomplish anything in life. What I have realized is that it’s ok to step back for a second and re-assess the situation, whatever that may be. Just the other day, I was playing Forza Horizon 3 and I attempted a challenge ten times and I still have not yet passed that challenge. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop playing the game. I just have to step back, take a deep breath, and look at the bigger picture. Maybe I can take on other challenges and build up my skills before setting myself out to attempt that particular challenge again. It just takes a little bit of time. Kind of ironic, huh?