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How Video Games are Designed to Take Advantage of Your Mental Weaknesses

Do you ever feel like you're not getting anywhere in life?

Do you ever feel like you can't pay attention to your work?

Do you ever feel anxious, unhappy, or like life is pointless?

First we will talk about the three weaknesses of the human brain, and then we will go over how video games take advantage of these weaknesses.

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The first weakness, is how playing video games modifies our attention span.

The most significant predictor for internet/gaming addiction is ADHD.

It's because when your attention sucks, you need feedback right away. And video games provide excessive instantaneous feedback.

When you have ADHD, you thrive when you get instant feedback. When your attention is short, it's very undesirable (even painful) to wait for feedback.

It has been established through research that time spent playing video games exacerbates ADHD symptoms.

This means if you had mild ADHD, and play video games because it feels good to get immediate feedback - you might actually end up developing worse ADHD.

Trust me, you do not want to worsen your attention and develop ADHD, because your productivity in your work will drop, and you are at a much higher risk of doing impulsive, self-destructive things, and getting addicted to drugs (or video games).

If you want to boost your attention: you need to stretch your brain by performing tasks that demand attention, working memory, forced effort, patience, and executive functioning.

Personally I find that meditating 20 minutes every morning makes a huge difference. Writing is also a great way to sort out your priorities and also improve your attention span.

Reading is a really great activity to boost attention, because you can work up from easier books to harder books. Also reading can be very enjoyable as you get better at it, and you can improve your vocabulary and sound very smart when you want to.

Once you start your training, you will probably struggle a lot for the first few days. But if you spend an hour a day, on whatever attention-intensive activity you choose, you will definitely see an improvement in two weeks. Do your best to stick it out!

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The second weakness of the human brain, is when we have poor attention, we fail to prioritize "mental stories".

A "mental story" is a future scenario that you imagine, and when you think about it, and let yourself feel it, it creates very strong motivation and lets you take action.

Some of us have mental stories of being rich. Some of us have mental stories of having a happy family. We always win in our mental stories.

It's essential to have mental stories, because they help us feel motivated to work towards complicated future goals.

Video games provide a mental story where you win really fast. And you don't have to spend time to come up with a story, or even bother to imagine how it would feel in your head. All it takes, is surrendering your full attention.

So once you play video games for an hour, you notice that you feel better. You feel better, because your brain accepted the mental story of the video game, and the video game told your brain that won something.

But what about that mental story where you worked hard, became rich, and had a family? Well, your brain would rather win the video game right now, than dream up another mental story.

So this is the second weakness: the brain is a lazy cheater that likes to take shortcuts. If we're not careful, we might temporarily consider a video game as a "personal mental story" that represents our future, and become less motivated to work towards "true real-life goals".

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The third weakness of the human brain, is that it likes to stay busy.

I'm going to tell you a secret: real life actually really sucks. Every single day is filled with pain and misery.

But the thing is, everyone accepts the pain of real life, because they focus their attention on what they want. Once they start getting busy, they feel slightly less pain. Your brain is capable of masking pain, once you are working towards a goal.

If your attention sucks, it might become extremely difficult to maintain this "busy" state outside of a video game for a long period of time.

This is why video games feel good - they keep you busy, always tell you what to work on, and when to feel fulfilled.

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Video games take advantage of these mental weaknesses by telling your brain what winning is, over and over again.

The first thing that video games do, is weaken your attention. Our brains are lazy, and it requires a lot of energy to maintain an attention span. So the brain stops using that function, and our attention becomes weak.

The second thing they do, is tell exciting, pleasurable mental stories, where all you have to do is surrender your attention, and the game makes you happy. You don't even have to imagine it in your head, just look at the visuals in front of you!

The third thing video games do is keep us busy, doing pointless work, and then tells us when to feel happy. This is a recipe for disaster, because once we find satisfaction playing video games, it is much more difficult to find fulfillment in doing productive work in real life.

If we actually think about it, why would any of us ever trust a game developer, to train us when to feel happy?

What is a higher priority? The story you are being told when you play the game? Or real life?

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The war is real.

Riot Games, Blizzard, and Epic Games have developed platforms that all take advantage of the weaknesses of the human brain.

They ruin the attention span, displace our mental stories, and keep us too busy to rethink the whole process.

Trust me: they have teams of scientists, studying for years, to figure out, "How can we capture the attention of our users, and make them feel fulfilled?" They don't think very long about the damage they are causing.

The truth is: life is hell. But the only way to bear the pain of life, is to accept how bad it feels, focus on what you want, and get busy. This is how we win.

And it probably won't hurt to spend an hour reading/writing/meditating every day.