Do video games teach us not to motivate ourselves?

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Video games, at least the mainstream formula for them, it seems, are made to motivate and then challenge people. They pull people towards a goal then push them away, never enough to turn them away, but just enough that they are never satisfied, that the player is always making an effort.

The thing is, the way a lot of games motivate people isn’t very conducive to success with the way things now work, as I’ve been told to see it. But before I talk about the “new society,” I should explain what I mean by “the old one.”

In the old, industrial society which we’re transitioning from, we were told (and it was true) that we had to be chosen by the wealthy, powerful elite before we could excel. They had the money to put us up there and without them, we were stuck at street-level, nothing more than panhandlers. In the old society, this was all true. But now, it’s not.

Nowadays, we have YouTube, iTunes, Tumblr, WordPress; we no longer have to wait for someone to choose us. Contrary to the way things used to be done, it’s now apparent that the only way to rise above the rest is by choosing ourselves. We don’t need to wait for permission to be amazing anymore, and as more people realize it, it becomes more important not to wait. However, I believe that mainstream video games don’t teach us to choose ourselves and to motivate ourselves, and this is a problem.

In most of the big, blockbuster games these days, we the players are important. And there’s nothing wrong with this. People desire to be irreplaceable; we want to be known as one of a kind. But the way that games give us this feeling isn’t constructive.

In most video games, you’re either the last of a certain race or the only one at all. You’re the only one capable of saving the world, either by birthright, by divine divination, or by being the only person at the right place, at the right time. When it comes to being important, this is the easy way out.

Games like that might’ve been harmless back in the day, when we really had to wait before we could rise. But now that we can choose ourselves, now that we absolutely must motivate ourselves, such an ideology cannot be perpetuated any longer. It’s not good for us, it’s not good for our kids, it’s not good for our friends.

Motivation is a huge part of video games, as I see them. And video games are meant to be fun, as I see them. Video games motivate you themselves, which I think is part of the fun. I’ve never really been able to motivate myself, to choose myself and to push myself. I can’t help but think that video games may have played a role in this, negatively, and that they can be used to play a positive role in the future, instead.

But how can we motivate people to motivate themselves? Maybe that kind of realization only comes from desperation; from having nothing else to hold onto. And if that’s how our games make people feel, why would they play them?

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