Motivation  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Motivation  RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Can Adulting and Video Games Really Go Together? Tue, 12 Dec 2017 15:29:47 -0500 Allison M Reilly

Although video games have been around for nearly 60 years, and the average American gamer is 31 years old, many people still believe that video games are just for kids. No responsible adult would waste time playing video games when there are more important things to do, right? It doesn't help that a recent study out of the University of Chicago found that men between the ages of 21 and 30 not only had more leisure time than a decade ago, but are spending more of that time on video games. The authors also claim that young men are dropping out of the labor force because games like World of Warcraft are much more rewarding than jobs.

Sure, the hullabaloo is not the first instance of old timers worried about the youth rotting their brains away with new technology. It's also not the first time non-gamers speculated about society's demise over video games. But as video games (and beloved titles) get older, many gamers don't stop playing video games. Can adulting and video games really go together, or are video games something responsible adults have to give up to be productive in society?

Of course not! Not only can video games and adulting coexist, but video games can contribute to one's growth the same way other leisure activities build character and offer challenging experiences.

What Is Adulting?

Adulting, according to the top definition in Urban Dictionary, is "to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals." Examples of adulting include paying your credit card bill, going to work on time, and choosing not to throw shade on social media. Too bad we can't play video games to pay off our credit card bills, but there are games that can help us remember our daily tasks.

Habitica can be one of those games. It's a productivity app that gamifies your to-do list, so it's not really a video game. However, Habitica helps you turn your life into a game.

Users have three separate lists: habits, dailies, and to-dos. Habits are anything you'd like to build into a habit. You get points for doing your habit, and you lose points and health if you fail to do your habit. Dailies are essentially to-dos on a schedule. For example, some of my dailies are tasks that I need to complete each day at work. Similarly, users get points for completing their dailies and lose points and health if they don't complete their  daily that day. There's no penalty for failing to complete a to-do item. Users level up after hitting a points milestone. Lose all health, however, and users die and go back down one level.

Add "pay credit card bill" as a habit, get it done, get the points, and you're rewarded for adulting! Tools like Habitica show how video games help us to practice and reinforce positive behavior in our lives.

Video Games Encourage Perseverance

Some have pushed back against the word "adulting," arguing that celebrating getting the laundry done on your own minimizes your actual accomplishments. I'd like to add that adulting by itself is often treated as an end goal. You've done your laundry. You've cooked a dinner more healthy and complicated than opening a can of soup. You're adulting now, and you're done. Combine adulting with video games, and people can learn to keep trying, to look for new challenges, and to never settle with current results.

Sure, earning an S rank in every single boss level in Cuphead is way cooler than finishing your laundry, but the achievement isn't nearly as cool as, say, coming up with the creative new ad campaign at work. However, earning an S rank takes a level of perseverance and determination not necessarily needed for laundry. Yes, there's another day to do your laundry or another opportunity to come up with the next best thing. However, there's only one Cuphead. There's only one way to get an S rank. And even the very few who do manage to earn an S rank for every boss level in Cuphead don't just stop there

On the one hand, going for S rank on every single boss level is essentially adulting. It's a very time-consuming accomplishment. It can be very easy to say you'll take a break once you get the S rank on Rumor Honeybottoms. On the other hand, very few people who do earn an S rank for every boss level don't just stop there. They may stop with Cuphead, but they don't stop looking for the next challenge. Even if they do take a break after Rumor Honeybottoms, the quest doesn't necessarily stop there.

Overall, adulting and video games don't operate in silos. One can positively influence the other. If we can put our minds toward crushing Cuphead with perfection, then we're able to accomplish anything.

Video Games Teach Practical Life Skills

Adulting, according to the definition, primarily involves the quotidian, mundane tasks of adulthood. Paying bills, cooking dinner, cleaning up, and going to work are not the most exciting aspects of life. They also aren't the only aspects of adulthood or life. It's easy, and rather lazy, to view video games as irrelevant to real life. The relevance is harder to spot in a game like Mortal Kombat than in a game like Kerbal Space Program.

I'm not necessarily talking about educational games and the benefits of introducing video games into the classroom, although educational games do present opportunities to learn practical skills and knowledge. I mean the less obvious instances of learning, like learning how the scoring works in tennis through any tennis game. Or learning geography and history in Mario is Missing! or Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Or learning about different wildlife and climates in Sim Park. The possibilities are endless.

Muhammad Ali once said, "A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life." Adulting is important, but if all you ever did was adulting, then what have you done to expand your worldview? Video games offer valuable opportunities to expand our worldviews and learn about topics we may not otherwise learn through our careers or everyday lives. Learning about ancient Chinese history through Mario is Missing! is not the same as reading a history book, or visiting China, or talking to a Chinese history scholar. But, the latter three ways aren't the only ways to learn about them. And let's not forget exposure through video games can lead to someone picking up a book or talking to someone they might not have without the initial exposure.

Overall, video games are perceived as a waste of time partially because the player doesn't move. Hobbies like playing basketball or reading books are not viewed with the same denigration. Yet, all three can build character and allow people to grow as human beings. Just because video games aren't "adulting," that doesn't always mean video games are the opposite or that they get in the way of functioning as an individual, responsible person.

Can You Love an Irredeemable Villain? Fri, 13 Jan 2017 07:00:01 -0500 Unclepulky

It’s a common misconception that a villain needs to be sympathetic in order to be interesting. While there is certainly a place for sympathetic villains, villains who don’t give you a reason to care about them can be far from boring.

There are several reasons why an audience can love an irredeemable villain. The first reason is that some people just like to see how “deliciously evil” the antagonist can get. Be it in video game villains like Kefka from Final Fantasy VI, or anime villains like Ragyo Kiryuinn from Kill la Kill, there’s a certain appeal to seeing villains gleefully do increasingly horrible things.

Another reason people are drawn toward flat out evil characters is because they’re curious over what made them that way. This comes back to the classic argument of nature vs nurture. While some villains were seemingly born psychopathic and sadistic, such as Alex from Stanley Kubrick's “A Clockwork Orange” and Dalia Hawthorne from the Ace Attorney series, others, like Freeza from Dragon Ball Z and Ganondorf from The Legend of Zelda series, are the way they are for specific reasons.

Ganondorf turned to evil because of the racism his race, the Gerudo, faced from Hyrulians, and Freeza was specifically raised by his father to be just as cruel as he is.

Continuing with Freeza, we move on to the next reason people love irredeemable villains: they love to hate them. When villains like Freeza, Joffrey Baratheon from the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, or Flowey from Undertale commit a despicable act after despicable act, the audience loves to see them every time they show up, because they can’t wait for the moment when they get their comeuppance.

And with examples like Joffery, the most cartoonishly evil character in a book series with mostly realistically written characters, the author, George R.R. Martin, made sure to have his death be as embarrassing and degrading as possible. Other examples of heinous villains dying painful and satisfying deaths are Edgar Ross from Red Dead Redemption and Uberto Alberti from Assassins Creed 2.

Beyond all of these though, there’s the trickiest type of irredeemable villain to write. The villain protagonist. Most of the examples people list as villain protagonists, such as Lelouch from Code Geass and Kratos from God of War, are actually anti heroes, although to much different degrees. Even true villain protagonists like Wander from Shadow of the Colossus, at the very least, have reasons for what they do which some people can get behind.

Some villain protagonists though, are straight up monsters, who you’d think most people wouldn’t root for. Sticking strictly to videos games for this, since it's the medium that creates the strongest ties between the audience and the media, let’s look at Spec Ops: The Line.

The protagonist Walker, while initially an anti hero, develops a more violent, sadistic streak as the game progresses. By the end, it’s hard to feel sympathy for him, but people still like him for one simple reason: He’s interesting. Like the protagonists of classic literature such as Macbeth and Odysseus, he is a good man, whose fatal flaw, in this case, Walker’s inability to let go of his dreams of being a hero, results in him becoming something he hates, and his eventual downfall.

Another similar, yet as the same time, completely different example, is Travis Touchdown from the No More Heroes series. While the second game develops Travis’s character and performs an act similar to Spec Ops: The Line by criticizing the player for committing horrible acts as a power fantasy, Travis still had a rather large fan following after the first game. For those unaware, in the first game, he was a mass murdering assassin whose primary motivation was to have sex with an attractive woman.

So why did people like him?

It wasn't because he was particularly interesting, but because he was relatable. Outside of the killing, Travis is a lot like many of the people who’d probably play his game. He’s lazy, he’s an otaku, he’s a gamer, he loves his cat, and yes, he’s openly horny.

A villain, even an incredibly evil one, doesn't have to be defined by said evil. They can, and often do, have outside interests and traits.

All of these are reasons why people love irredeemable villains.

NOTE: Special thanks to Red Angel for the help with this article.

5 life lessons inspired by Super Hexagon Sun, 27 Sep 2015 05:07:10 -0400 Clint Pereira

In Super Hexagon, you are a tiny blip wading through an overwhelmingly complex maze that never slows down or ends. It's kind of like real life.

I bought Super Hexagon on a holiday sale over a year ago, back when I was unemployed and could only afford a game that was on sale at the time for about 30 cents or so. It turned out to be the most appropriate game for me at the time. My life felt like it had spiraled out of control. So of course, what could be better than playing a game where everything literally spirals out of control?

For that reason, the lines between game and reality blurred. I began to see the lessons in the game as lessons I could apply in my own daily life.

1. Practice

This is a gamer 101 tip, but it's still a good one. Every mistake you make, you learn to avoid that mistake next time. And the more you succeed, the better you get at succeeding.

Lock into the patterns that help you succeed and ditch the patterns that don't.

2. Take a break

When you’re going at a million miles a second, sometimes the most unbearable thing is having to stand still for a moment. Eventually, you're going to have to take a break or else you will fall into patterns of failure. In other words, you'll actually start getting worse at what you're doing if you keep doing it. If you keep messing up at 10 seconds in, your mind may actually be blanking out every ten seconds out of habit.

If you're caught in a negative feedback loop and not doing anything to make your situation better, that is a form of learned helplessness. Take a break.

3. Cope with Fight-or-Flight

You can actually teach yourself to respond better in fight-or-flight situations. Some people take martial arts to learn this. I played Super Hexagon.

It takes a lot of self-awareness and willpower, but you can respond to panic by fighting through it. And I'm not talking about literally getting into fist fights. I'm talking about responding to panic with self-motivation. This may sound silly, but just telling yourself "I can do this" can really help. Self-motivation gives you a sense that you are in control of the situation and, therefore, confidence.

4. Avoid self-fulfilling prophecies

In Super Hexagon, I realized that every time I focused on the obstacles in front of me, I'd usually hit the obstacles. But if I focused on my goal, the openings, I ended up getting through them more often.

In real life, back when I saw myself as a failure, I started alienating myself from my friends. I thought they would see me the same way. As a result, I started losing contact with them, which was the very thing I was trying to avoid.

If you focus on your goals, you’re likely to hit them. If you focus on your obstacles, you’re likely to hit those instead.

5. Persevere

It takes a certain amount of bravery to keep moving in the face of increasing difficulty. While it’s far easier to just give up completely, you won’t get where you want to be if you do.

After a few days of playing this game, I understood instinctually why squirrels run under car tires. The tire and the panic becomes their entire world.

I didn't want crushing failure to be the focus of my daily life. I didn't want to succumb to that same life-ending panic. Luckily, I'm not a squirrel. "Game Over" just means I get to try again.

Have you ever learned any life lessons from video games? Share yours in the comments below!

Video Game soundtracks for studying and motivation Sat, 05 Sep 2015 17:30:01 -0400 Dalton White I

When doing work, studying for exams, and writing proposals or essays, it can be hard to find motivation or inspiration. Video game soundtracks offer music that can help, since they usually don’t have lyrics that can distract you. The five following soundtracks feature songs that can help you focus, give you peace of mind and, most importantly, psych you up to get your work done.


Austion Wintory

Journey’s soundtrack is a whirlwind of emotions, some scary and others enchanting, from start to finish. The chilling use of string instruments to their fullest potential is an awe-inspiring experience. My favorite track of the album is "The Road of Trials". It has this source of energy and movement that makes my mind race, and it naturally reminds me of the fun and gorgeous sand-surfing section of Journey.

Ori and the Blind Forest

Gareth Coker

Like Journey, Ori is an indie game that features beautiful visuals and an equally enchanting soundtrack. Ori has its own style of music that mixes vocals with a variety of percussion and stringed instruments. Usually I’m distracted when a song has a singer or lyrics, but Ori’s soundtrack has some gorgeous singing that seems to get me focused or inspires me to keep on working. As for a favorite song from the album, it would be a close call - but I would go with “Ori, Lost in the Storm”. There is just something bewitching about it that I can’t quite put my finger on.


Masami Ueda, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Rei Kondoh, Akari Groves

I recently finished playing Okami HD on my PS3. Its dungeons, the characters, the beautifully unique visual technique, and (of course) the music were nothing short of spectacular. The music in Okami was inspired by classical Japanese works, which only adds to the unique style of the game. The plethora of music that make up Okami’s soundtrack covers a large spectrum of emotions, from fear to wonder. One of my favorite tracks is "Kushi’s Ride". It surrounds me with a sense of urgency and power.

Persona 3 and 4

Shouji Meguro and Atsushi Kitajoh (Persona 4)

The Persona series is one of a kind; it combines serious deep messages with wacky characters, amazing battles, and the unique experience of Social Links. And its music is pretty amazing, too! I tried and failed to decide if Persona 3 or 4 had a better soundtrack. Both of them have songs that add a special ambience to simple mundane activities like studying for exams and the more fantastical aspects of Persona like dungeon crawling. My favorite track for Persona 3 has to be “The Battle for Everyone’s Souls” while Persona 4 features an awesome battle theme: "I’ll Face Myself-Battle-" However my current top Persona track would be the theme used in Persona 5’s trailer - it has this epic beat that just kicks my ass into gear.

Distant Worlds: Music From FINAL FANTASY

Nobuo Uematsu

So this could be seen as cheating, but Nobuo Uematsu himself creates all these arrangements for Distant Worlds. It would be so difficult to select just one of the countless Final Fantasy games to suggest, so I found a compromise. Distant Worlds has the best of the best, the tunes that are the top-tier tracks from a variety of Final Fantasy games. The orchestra versions feel like they are giving the classic songs new life, but keeping to the original formula at the same time. At the moment, I believe there are three volumes, each featuring songs from the original Final Fantasy to its fourteenth installment. I couldn’t decide which one was my favorite so I checked to see which song I had played most on my iPod. That song was “Terra’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VI. It is a fantastic song to just walk to, and it has an invigorating beat to it.

Hopefully now you have some tracks in mind to help you slog through the essays, papers, and presentations of the future.

Did I miss any favorite soundtracks? Are there other video games whose musical scores get your adrenaline pumping? Leave a comment and add to the list!

Guild Guide: Keeping the group focused during hard progression Fri, 19 Jun 2015 05:18:22 -0400 Eliot Lefebvre

The biggest challenge in any sort of progression isn't the content or the other players, it's keeping people from storming away.

You can't really blame them, either, because progress in any sort of online game is meant to be slow and tedious.  Not just to keep you playing, although that helps, but because it involves relying on the skill of several other people and taking on something that isn't built just for you.  If your team is trying to make ladder progress, beat the current tier of endgame content, or even just field a successful group for tackling whatever... that takes effort.  That takes dedication.  And it takes a lot of work for people to not just get exhausted and go play a game that has the advantage of actually ending.

Fortunately for you, there are tools to keep people going, and they're tools you'll want to use.  If you want to start making the climb up from the bottom, you owe it to yourself and your fellow players to make it the most satisfying experience you can.  Starting with a very simple concept.

You hate moths?  I hate moths!  This is going great.

Have a core team with a unified plan

I'm not saying that there are six people who should be shouldering all of the burden involved in progress; I'm saying that you should have a group of players who are all on-board from the word go (and preferably before) with the intensity level you're aiming for and what your overall goals are going to be.

The important thing here isn't the length of the climb, it's what you expect to be done in the name of the climb.

The important thing here isn't the length of the climb, it's what you expect to be done in the name of the climb. If you want to have a group wherein everyone is devoting at least three hours of time to hardcore progress every single night, you want a core of people who will look at that and say "yes."  Not grudgingly, but with some satisfaction.

Simply put, the question here is not one of your goal's height but of dedication.  You all need to be putting in roughly the same amount of dedication to make this work.  If you want your team to make serious progress in the rankings in League of Legends but one of you is super dedicated and two other people consider it a hobby, the dedicated player is going to go further and get angry at the players he sees as holding the group back.  He wants to really work on this, and if they're here, they should be too.

So set down the rules for what you want.  That's the first step.  But it's important even with the same dedication level to realize...

I have a good feeling about Round Three Million.

Hitting your head against the same thing is not progress

I have been in guilds before where when it was Raid Night, it was Raid Night.  And if we hit a wall in content after half an hour of play and Raid Night ran for three hours, then the next two and a half hours would be wiping on that exact same obstacle, over and over, until we cleared it or until the timer was up.

This is not productive, and I don't think anyone running the events realized it or understood why.

But if the team is hitting a brick wall and failing the same way, time and again, it's time to stop hitting your head against it. 

Sometimes, seven attempts are what it takes for the first clear, yes.  But it's important to understand why wipes are happening and suss out a pattern.  If slow but steady progress is being made, if each attempt is better on average than the ones beforehand, it's reasonable to say that even if the attempts aren't perfect there's a reason to keep going.  But if the team is hitting a brick wall and failing the same way, time and again, it's time to stop hitting your head against it.

Not give up, no, but at least recognize that if the same thing happened the first five pulls, unless something changes on the sixth pull, the same thing will probably happen all over again.

Analyzing why things are going wrong and how they can be fixed is the difference that makes a good leader into a great one, but the short and simple version is that repeated failures mean something isn't going right and needs to be corrected.  Take a step back and change directions.  If the same people doing the same jobs aren't getting things done, something needs to be mixed up.  Roles need to be swapped, or gear needs to be obtained, or someone just does not get a certain mechanic and is inflicting that failure to understand on everyone else.

That three hours of dedication on a nightly basis means less than nothing if you're not focusing on three hours of progress.  Sometimes, forward motion means stepping back and re-evaluating.  And when you do make that progress...

I had other guys with me before, but they realized they all hated me.

Ensure that everyone has non-progress motivation

The worst sort of people to work with in progression are not the people that you hate; you wouldn't be in the group if they made up the majority.  No, the worst people are the people you don't care about at all.  The faces in the crowd.  Because as you make progress, if you don't care about them to start with, you're going to start caring as they get things you wanted while you're paying careful attention to their every mistake.

Organize events for the group that aren't focused around progression but just involve everyone having fun. 

Keeping a group together isn't about making everyone a group of best friends.  But you do want your progression group to consist of people who can stand one another, rather than having it full of simmering resentment and unrestrained loathing.

Organize events for the group that aren't focused around progression but just involve everyone having fun.  Forums for the group are good for this past a certain critical mass, but not absolutely necessary.  The point is to provide a space for people to just talk, laugh, smile, and become at least acquaintances if not actual friends.

As important as dedicated progress is, it's also important to have everyone feel like their teammates are people that they want to succeed and do well.  Which ties directly into the last point...

You and me, but mostly me.

Make victories about the group, not the individual

The feedback loop of many MMORPGs is that defeating Boss X will reward pieces of loot, but that loot will almost never be distributed equally to everyone.  It's inevitable.  Even if everyone in the group gets a new thing, that new thing is going to be of different value to every player.  The only way to make things better is if you have that new thing be purely token-based and given to everyone, and even in the token-heaviest games I know, someone gets something a little more than someone else.

In these moments, it's important for the group to feel like everyone got the same amount of net reward.

Obviously, someone got more than other members.  Someone got the random loot that dropped, for example.  But it's all in how you frame it, and part of that is emphasizing that now the entire group is more skilled.  That your members are more experienced and capable of better things, and when you all face the next leg of the challenge, everyone will be better suited to it just by virtue of experience.  It's not a matter of making sure that everyone gets a roughly equal number of shiny things, it's a matter of letting people feel like the real reward was victory, with any other rewards serving as bonuses rather than serious needs.

Victories are victories for the whole group.  Not just the one guy who happened to get new shoulderpads.

Enjoy the Guild Guide column? Keep up to date with our new Twitter account @GuildGuide!