Turkle, Video Games, and Flow

I’ve played a video game twice, I think. The first was Pac Man, which I remember as being kind of fun, although I felt that I was not very good at the game. The second, I think, was Grand Theft Auto. I remember trying and failing miserably, to keep my car from crashing into things. I felt very out of control. My kids laughed and explained you were supposed to crash into things, not try to avoid it.  I didn’t enjoy that game at all.

So, I’ve never experienced the “altered state” while playing a video game that Turkle described. However, I can understand what she described as “muscle memory” or “flow” as being similar to sports when the mental and physical come together, and the body knows what to do without one being aware of the mind telling it what to do. I had a good friend who was an excellent golfer and he explained that feeling while playing golf. I used to play the piano and remember that feeling of “flow” — like my hands and fingers were moving on their own without my thinking about it.  

I can understand those who play video games and experience this feeling and use the game to kind of “self medicate” in order to unwind, de-stress, or feel in control of something. With me, it just won’t be video games I use to do this. I’d rather be reading a good book! To each his own!

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