Addicted to Gaming
I recently made a really big decision. One that my wife is super thankful for. Once and for all I gave up playing League of Legends, an online multiplayer computer game. I’ve tried to give it up several different times over the last 4 years, but eventually I would redownload it and play it obsessively until the next time I convinced myself to uninstall it.
Not this time! Instead of the usually uninstalling I decided to sell my account! (If you listen closely you can probably hear my wife whooping for joy) After a few weeks I had a buyer and sold my account my $60. I did the math and found out that I made a whopping $.041/hour.
Let’s just say, it was not a solid investment.
Obviously it was enjoyable, but why did I, and countless others, spend sooo much time playing a video games when we know there are more productive things out there?
Because video games are addicting.
What makes video games so addicting? Instant gratification. You start playing and in the first few minutes something exciting happens. You level up, find a weapon, discover a new level, what it is doesn’t matter, it’s the reward that makes things exciting.
Simply put instant gratification is the temptation, and resulting tendency, to forego a future benefit in order to obtain a less rewarding but more immediate benefit.”
Writing a book is a future benefit many budding writers dream about. I myself am included in that category. But writing a book is not a quick simple thing. It takes planning, time, and endless amounts of energy and focus. When faced with something so enormous and daunting, often our tendency is to fill our time with things that give an immediate reward.
In a nutshell, games are addictive because they give you rewards that make you feel that you are progressing.
There is a bright side to this. You can apply the same principles to your life and what you hope to accomplish. It’s called gamifying. This principle can be applied to just about everything, because it works.
Remember the summer reading program? Yeah that made reading a game. Read thirty minutes then mark off a bubble, hit 5 bubbles and get a chocolate bar. Fill them all up and bam, tickets to the baseball game.
Another fun app that my family used for a while is called Habitica. You make a little avatar, set some goals and go on little adventures. If you check off your daily tasks you get gold to buy weapons and armor, and you can team up with friends to do quests. Habitica made dreadful chores and tasks into something you wanted to do.
So, if getting started on your book has felt like a daunting, insurmountable task. Gamify it.
When our writing group was first created, my buddy Garrett introduced us to an online platform called 4 The Words. This website does exactly what I’ve been talking about.
You start off by creating your avatar, giving him/her a spiffy little outfit, fun hair and facial features, and then you start your journey. As you go along you’re asked to gather various resources and items to help folks in the town. But to get the stuff you have to journey into the wilderness and fight monsters!
Each monster you come across has a word count and time limit needed to defeat them. Fifty words in two minutes, one hundred words in three minutes. Every now and again you’ll have to fight a big time beast by writing 2500 words in an hour.
By breaking down my own 75,000 word count goal into 50, 100, 250 word segments I started tearing through my story. In just a few weeks I had written almost 25,000 words.
Not everyone will enjoy playing a quest based writing game, and that’s just fine. Another awesome tool is called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. It takes place in November and the goal is to write 50,000 words.
There are all kinds of awards, discounts, and prizes available to people who participate in NaNoWriMo. This year I’m definitely planning on participating, so if you’re in let me know in the comments.
There are countless ways to take what makes video games addictive and apply them to your writing. Take the goal of what you really want (to write a book) and allow yourself the little rewards and incentives to give you the feeling of progression. At least in the beginning. Once you get writing and can develop the habit you won’t need to gamify it, because you’ll feel the benefits of accomplishing something awesome!
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach