Friday, November 4, 2011

Games on the Computer

Why, oh, why do they put games on computers and on Facebook and other sites on the Internet?  Why are kids and teenagers and young adults and even some supposedly mature adults obsessed with video games?  Why are we driven to constant, mindless entertainment like those games or television?

I think it was Ben Franklin who said, "Idle hands are the Devil's workshop."  I think idle minds are the Devil's workshop and video and computer games are his tool to put them in idle!

I frequently find myself playing games.  I like Bejewelled Blitz on Facebook and I like Spyder or Mah Jong on my laptop.  The first is merely mind-numbing, the second requires a minor amount of thought in Expert mode and the third at least requires a modicum of strategic thinking.  None of them are productive.  All of them are addictive.

I am attempting to limit my time spent on games.  Maybe that's why I'm writing today -- because I need something to occupy my mind that gives me a break from strictly work-related activity.

I usually, although not always, start my work day fairly early.  I often get a lot done before 8:00 a.m.  It seems that interruptions after that magic "start-the-workday" time make it difficult to focus on tasks requiring sustained thought.  I generally fill the "in-between-interruptions" time with minor tasks that require less focus.  If there is a project that needs uninterrupted attention, I shut off the phone and e-mail and whatever else might distract for extended blocks of time.  There is rarely anything so urgent that it can't wait an hour or so.

I got into the habit of keeping a game such as Solitaire or Spyder up on my computer as something to do during phone calls.  Prior to such diversions I would often Doodle.  We don't realize how much unengaged time our minds have during a conversation.  That's why we are often thinking of what we are going to say or of something totally unrelated while in the middle of a conversation.  It is the rare individual who is fully engaged in a conversation so that it is their only focus.  In fact, I think that I am a better listener if I am playing a game or Doodling than if I'm not.  Otherwise, my mind drifts and I find that I have missed something that was said.

What if we could utilize all of that idle thought time -- or at least a big chunk of it -- in something productive?  Maybe that's what differentiates the truly successful from the also-ran.  As for me, I think I will try to fill it with a variety of things such as writing and work-related tasks that are perhaps, a little more strategic in focus.

As Captain Kirk of Star Trek always said when heading out on a new journey, "Engage!"


jbboren said...

Was that Kirk or Picard? Or did both of them use that phrase?

My addictive game is Age of Empires. If I get a few days of vacation, I'll get rolling on one of those games and play for hours. Embarrassing.

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

You know, JB, it was definitely Picard, but, I thought Kirk did too. Not really sure. Must be getting old!