Ah, you bastard geniuses of the modern world. We curse you while simultaneously downloading the latest update for whatever fantasy world we have chosen to escape our own reality. Hours will be spent grinding away in an alternate reality, completing events or quests that give the bare minimum of rewards to keep us moving forward.
You tricksters, worthy of Loki himself, have rigged the system. Grinding away on these events and quests only gets us so far, as we feed our addiction. All of the pretty colors in the world can’t make the waiting any easier as we try, the non-expensive way, to gain arbitrary points that really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, but release that dopamine that we struggle to find in our lives. So, we convince ourselves that just a few dollars here and there won’t really add up and it will help get us just a little bit ahead.
But it’s not enough.
A few dollars doesn’t really purchase much in any game. Not really. And we convince ourselves that we can spare just a little bit more…and a little bit more. Now, we are getting two different highs. Like fiends, we have discovered that we can get a semblance of a buyers high will jumping ahead in our little worlds, causing our brains to pump that dopamine at an exponential rate. Then…it’s gone.
Somewhere on the map, is another player, just as addicted as we are, but more capable of chasing that high. People blessed with expendable income that they flush away, chasing that high of not only jumping ahead in the que, but being far ahead of the rest. A bigger army, a bigger castle, better armor, more quests open, better heroes/characters…more.
And we want more. But we don’t really know why.
But like a junky searching for their next fix, we log in every day to slog away to earn make-believe rewards and more points in an event that was created specifically to draw out that latent competitiveness that was destroyed when we were children. Because why compete when everyone gets a trophy and is rewarded for bare minimum effort and talent?
Oh, but you are not done.
In a world where games can replace reality, we will watch another addicted human, on yet another platform, frolic through our shared alternate reality. We laugh at their commentary, envy the ease at which they play the games and covet the money and time they are able to spend perfecting their frivolous realities. These new age entrepreneurs have discovered yet another high to strive for.
The validation of strangers.
The likes from faceless humans fuel these gamers to create more content, thus spending more time and money on your colorful fantasy world. Our brains latch on to this other human and set them apart because they have achieved the unachievable…fame.
We decide that hey, we can do that, too. We can create content that strangers will want to watch and devour with such greed to fuel our obsessive need for validation that we somehow cannot find from within. All to achieve the ultimate goal…to make money. To make money by playing a game….to spend it all on the game.
A game we have now become so addicted to that we will justify spending. Skipping a purchase here and there, getting fewer groceries, whittling away our social lives to save just a few more dollars because hey, we need the newest hero.
We also need more. A better gaming experience. And you sneaky swindlers have thought of that, too.
The latest console that is faster, sleeker, and new games…only for that platform.
So, instead of saving for vacations, that new piece of furniture we need, a more dependable vehicle or, gasp, to pay off debt…we save to buy the newest system. Whether it’s a pc, a game console, or even the newest phone that can handle the outrageous amount of space that game apps use, we have to have it. We will buy anything you put in front of us to make our gaming experience that much more immersive…and addictive.
And when the usage slows down after a millisecond because our goldfish like attention spans have moved on to the next shiny thing, you release more content. New levels, new heroes, new equipment, new events. You change the games just enough that we are drawn back to it to begin the cycle all over again. We must have all of the new imaginary hoard!
Now…we don’t know what to do with ourselves if we are not in our fantasy worlds. We can’t click on something in real life to give us currency. We can’t send someone else out to gather resources for us. We can barely find our voice to speak to a co-worker. Small talk is beyond us.
But we speak fluent gamer speech.
We pretend to socialize with random, faceless strangers around the world who are just as addicted as we are. People from different countries, but we all speak the same language. We have crossed cultural and religious boundaries…with a game.
As we feed our brains on this ill-gotten dopamine, we find ourselves increasingly unable to find contentment in real life.
Life is hard. It requires patience and hard work, in a world where the system is rigged to keep us increasingly beat down. We work endless hours in a job where we will never get ahead because we barely make it paycheck to paycheck. We lament the price of gas, food, utilities. Spending that money absolutely does not make us feel better. It only pushes us further into the rut that we were born into.
We can go home after a day of soul crushing “work” and relax…playing our favorite game.