Gaming for a Cure

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Jodie's Blog

GADD (Gaming Attention Deficit Disorder)

Posted by gamingforacure on February 16, 2011 at 10:31 PM

I recently heard an NPR program about new studies into Attention Deficit Disorder and what some doctors now think might be the root cause of said disorder. The doctor that was interviewed said that our world is been bombarded with so much technology and advertisement all of which is aimed directly at our heads 24 hours a day.

Buy this product, use this phone, join our bank, sell your junk here, etc. We have a constant stream of info smashing the frontal lobe of our brains making our adrenaline producing glands work on overload, causing us overdue stress and unnecessary complications. The good doctor provided this analogy:

“Picture yourself as a caveman. You are our picking berries for the evening meal, when over the hill comes a saber-toothed tiger! Your brain tells you that you have 2 choices. You can both stay and continue to pick berries and become the tigers dinner, or you can run the heck away and live to pick berries another day! When this situation happens the brain sends a quick burst of adrenaline to the brain, helping to speed your decision making process.”

Now picture yourself as a citizen of just about any country of the world today. You are walking down to the corner store to grab a burrito for dinner when you are assaulted by the sound of a car driving by at high speed, blaring its radio. A homeless gent asks if you can spare some change, and a would be politician hands you a flyer imploring you to vote for him this election day. Once inside, the food vendor pushes a high calorie and delicious treat, one of forty some choices.

See the difference?

The situation is fundamentally the same. You are given a choice, and in the later scenario, many choices. The brain does not differentiate between the two scenarios, it only knows that decisions need to be made and they need to be made quickly. So for each decision it releases a blast of adrenaline to speed up the process. In the first example the adrenaline boost is very beneficial, in the second… Too much of a good thing might be too much. Doctors have found that after a certain amount of time the brain begins to crave the adrenaline it gets from the decision process and drives the body to seek some form of “excitement”. This causes us to become bored very quickly with everything and anything, which is why we have developed a multitude of ways to sate our ADD! Researchers also agree that our older generation may be passing this deficiency onto our children, explaining why so many kids are diagnosed with ADD and ADHD each year.

This applies to the gaming community as well.

In the 1980’s gaming was going strong. RPG’s like Dungeons & Dragons were powerhouses of the industry, developing their own brands and filling a variety of different venues. Saturday morning cartoons, specialty shops, bookstores, etc.

Today our shelves are overflowing with a multitude of games and expansions, counters and add-ons, most of which, sadly, won’t survive the year. Our ADD has infected the gaming industry in good and bad ways. Adversely, we have grown bored with the same old, same old so we have demanded companies to produce more stuff. Some original, most based upon other media properties. Some, like Pokemon, have become great successes with good game design to back it. Others, like Star Wars (while a mega media property in its own right) have failed to hold any long term games associated with it. The sad part about this influx of games coming out is that most of them suck. They are quickly produced with minimum of thought and creativity behind them. Most don’t stay in production for much more than a year, or get swallowed up and forgotten by the giant game juggernauts that can out produce the smaller scale operations.

The upside is that as gamers we live in the greatest era of gaming! I know, I know. I just got done saying that we were being barraged by crap, well hear me out. Try to suppress the adrenaline impulse to go do something else and keep reading.

While there is a fair share of crud out there, we also live in a day when the sky is the limit. With the internet and our growing share of electronic devises, games are now easier than ever to get and take anywhere. Some games, like Magic The Gathering, take only a small area to play on and can be seen played in most public areas. Other games that may take more space to play, such as BattleTech (this plug’s for you Tom), and Axis & Allies can be found at most retailers across the world. And even games like Settlers of Catan don’t need to take any space at all, since you can now play online!

It’s true that we may be surrounded with a maelstrom of bad game designs, but we also have unprecedented access to so many games wherever we may be. And no matter what genre of game you live for, it’s a guarantee that out there somewhere is someone who loves it just as much and therefore you are never without a friend. Heck, with online games like World of Warcraft you can log on and meet people who don’t even share the same language as you!

So in summary, embrace your GADD and enjoy the typhoon of games and media. The world has never known this many gamers and the era has just begun!

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