Can games serve as meditation? Oxford student

Can games serve as meditation? Oxford student

Image description: A person contemplates sitting on a cliff near some mountains.

The representation of video games across mainstream Western media, especially conservative outlets, has always been negative. A search for “Fox News” and “Video Games” on Google reveals several articles linking video games to “mental health risks”.1 For children, with poles making weak links between violent first-person shooting and tragic school shootings. This negative representation extends to so-called “new media” with characters like Joe Rogan causing controversy by suggesting that video games are addictive and serve no purpose. “You do it, and it’s really exciting, but you don’t get anywhere,”2 Rogan claimed in July, a sensation. His bottom line is correct: Video games lack concrete purpose. But Rogan’s perspective is essential. You may not “get anywhere” by playing a video game but that is the point. Video games by definition are an escape from reality, as they take the player into new worlds and allow them to let go of their frustrations and anxieties. This escape factor has led to scientific reports indicating that video games can achieve the same psychological benefits as meditation. Author and psychologist Daniel Goleman has studied the mental benefits of video games and writes that the repetitive nature of games causes the player to match his “breathing rhythm” by enhancing his focus and providing “calm focus.”3. Far from the video game stereotype that eliminates attention and promotes offensive behavior, the satisfaction of frequent play – according to Goleman – encourages alertness.

Video games by definition are an escape from reality, as they take the player into new worlds and allow them to let go of their frustrations and anxieties.

This year heralded many games that popularized the spirit of mindfulness and spirituality. Animal Crossing: New Horizons It is a common example. It is a game that thrives on “the crunch”, in which every session of the game is more or less the same. The game is a series of menial missions: you hunt for fossils, hunt, design your house, plant flowers. Gameplay is simple, environment is calm, sound design is calming, and aesthetically pleasing. The game follows a twenty-four hour course which means that in practice, you only play for a few hours each day. That familiarity and comfort struck a chord with millions at a time of such crisis and chaos. As the 24-hour news cycle features stories of horror and distress, players can find solace in the beautiful simplicity of their desert islands. In fact, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released on March 20, just four days after the UK followed Europe in a national lockdown. This timing allowed Nintendo to capture the global zeitgeist. The COVID era is a period of great uncertainty, as people are desperate for normality. Questions about when one might go back to work, school, or university, or see loved ones and friends, lingered on without a clear answer. Animal crossing She provided the perfect escape: a delightfully simple world to answer our miserable contemporary turmoil.

With cultural norms torn apart and the environment destroyed, the gift of developing one’s world has never been more attractive.

Animal crossing It’s not the only game that captures this desire for normality Maine Craft It is likewise enjoying a rebound in its popularity this year. Much like Animal crossing, a Maine Craft The scientist follows the same repeated logic. The player creates a world without limits, builds tools for survival, builds a house, mines for minerals and farms for food. Gameplay is remarkably monotonous and repetitive but that is its charm Maine Craft. It is the familiarity and tranquility of the experience that attract hundreds of millions of players around the world. In fact, this was the nature of “crafting” Maine Craft This was a particularly echo. With cultural norms torn apart and the environment destroyed, the gift of developing one’s world has never been more attractive. It is worth mentioning that Maine CraftAlthough it is more than ten years old, it has regained its audience appeal, with sales topping 200 million in May this year, and Mojang Studios celebrating 126 million players per month. Maine CraftThe ageless iconic art style means he can maintain and expand his player base. Other games have tried blatantly copying Maine CraftHer distinct style and distinctive taste, but nothing will embody her uniqueness and charm.

On the same line Maine Craft And the Animal crossing is being Stardo Valley, An incredibly simplified role-playing game released in February 2016. Stardo Valley It follows a similar format to other games, offering the player his own farm and allowing him to take care of crops and livestock, decorate their home, and interact with fellow townspeople. The game comfortably nourishes the player with a small but intrinsic sense of progression. Every day, their field grows a little larger, and every day they advance one level to the bottom of the mine, every day they personalize and enhance their farm to fit their image. Stardo Valley Not high octane, it lacks excitement or twists and turns, but the lack of excitement is the cuteness. Of course, one can read more deeply into why this genre has experienced such resurrection in the past decade, but on a personal level, this style of games is what I like. A calming escape, the chance to build my own farm, island or home and the tranquility in the world that these games provide is second to none. They may not be materially enriched or tangible, but the spiritual luxury that these games provide is unmatched.

1 Robbie Ludwig: “Are video games a mental health hazard for our children?” , Fox News, 2020

2 “You can’t get anywhere”: Joe Rogan says playing video games is “a waste of time”, The Independent, 2020

3 “How video games can help us achieve awakening”, Psychology Today, 2014

Image credits: Noelle Otto via Pexels

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