Going with the flow
Over the holidays, I caught up on my reading by working my way through “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

“In work, sport, conversation or hobby, you have experienced, yourself, the suspension of time, the freedom of complete absorption in activity. This is “flow,” an experience that is at once demanding and rewarding–an experience that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates is one of the most enjoyable and valuable experiences a person can have.”

What struck me was how well the experience of playing MMOGs matches up with the characteristics of a flow activity. Below, I paraphrase the 7 characteristics of a flow activity:

The characteristics of a flow activity
1. A challenging activity that requires skills (but not so challenging as to cause anxiety
2. The merging of action and awareness (complete attention)
3. Clear goals and feedback
4. Concentration on the task at hand
5. The paradox of control (the potential of control)
6. The loss of self consciousness
7. The transformation of time

Let’s look at them one by one, and see how MMOGs fit in:

1. A challenging activity that requires skills (but not so challenging as to cause anxiety)
MMOGs definitely require skills ranging from strategy to communication to discipline. Yet at the same time, MMOGs aren’t so challenging that they cause anxiety. If you are willing to put in the time, you can advance and be successful.

2. The merging of action and awareness (complete attention)
Think of the last time you were so caught up in playing that you didn’t hear your spouse/girlfriend/mother/cellmate ask you a question. ‘Nuff said.

3. Clear goals and feedback
This is one of the huge advantages MMOGs have over real life. All you have to do is to look at your level and your possessions, and you know where you stand. Plus, feedback is constant (especially for the latest generation of “casual” games like City of Heroes). Contrast this with the years it takes to get feedback and promotion in the corporate world.

4. Concentration on the task at hand
See #2.

5. The paradox of control (things may not always be under your control, but you always have the potential to control the situation)
There’s no question that many players feel more in control in virtual worlds than in the real world.

6. The loss of self consciousness
Once the virtual world becomes more real than real life, we are definitely talking about a loss of self-consciousness. While skeptics consider this an identity crisis, in a different light, it is actually a sign of a flow activity.

7. The transformation of time
Every played for 8 hours straight? 8 days straight?

Participating in a flow activity is perhaps the most enjoyable thing a person can do. Given how well MMOGs match up with the characteristics of flow activities, is it any wonder that MMOGs are becoming such an important part of their residents’ lives?

1 thought on “

  1. Anonymous

    Everyone has days when they are down, worn out, anxiety forum and just not feeling all that happy.

    That’s OK, you need to have days like this, otherwise how would you know when you are happy. You need to have something to contrast your happiness with. What is black without white?

    Even though you know that sadness (anxiety forum) is a part of life, let’s try to make it a small part of life.

    With that said, here are a few tips to help you feel better when you are feeling down in the dumps. They are easy to do, easy to practice every day and they work!

    1. Stand up straight, sit up straight. When your body is in alignment your energy can flow and when your energy is flowing freely, you can flow.

    2. Smile! Yes, just smile. Easy to do and effective.

    3. Repeat positive affirmations. Things like “I feel good”, “Positive energy flows through my body”, “I see the good in all”.

    4. Listen to some music that you like. It doesn’t have to be anything specific, just something you enjoy. Certain types of music work better than others, but experiment and see what works for you. Studies have shown that Classical music and new age music work best.

    5. Take some time out for yourself, relax and read a book, do something for yourself.

    6. Meditate. Meditation is an excellent habit to develop. It will serve you in all that you do. If you are one who has a hard time sitting still, then try some special meditation CDs that coax your brain into the meditative state. Just search for “Meditation music” on Google or Yahoo and explore.

    Our outside work is simply a reflection of our inside world. Remember there is no reality just your perception of it. Use this truth to your advantage. Whenever you are sad, realize that it is all in your mind and you do have the power to change your perception.

    These tips will lift you up when you are down, but don’t just use them when you are sad or anxiety forum . Try and practice them everyday, make them a habit. You will be surprised at how these simple exercises will keep the rainy days away.

    On a final note, if you are in a deep depression that you can’t seem to shake, please go see a doctor. This is your life and don’t take any chances. anxiety forum

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