Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Gamer's Decompression

A mental sorbet.
  [vote for,

Background: I've been playing computer games lately. More specifically, I've been playing Grand Theft Auto 3. My free time is taken up with screaming around a fictional city in a stolen sports car, mowing down pedestrians and blowing up yakuza. I like this game because it allows me to do things I cannot in real life.

Unfortunately, the game is having an effect on me. Not being a frequent gamer, I don't know if this is common but I've started suffering from criminal notions. If I'm walking down the street and I see a fast car parked at the road side, instead of thinking "That's a nice car", I think "I want to steal that car, and hurtle about the streets at phenomenal speeds, perhaps performing a clinical drive by shooting on the Goth kids over there. Sucka." Needless to say, I don't act on these impulses (I can't drive) but others might.

The point I'm trying to make is that the sudden change from the gameworld to the real world can mess up your mind. This is not just limited to violent games: every time I see an egg, I wonder where its boxing gloves are; I have a compulsive urge to tessellate; and so on and so forth.

To prevent this accidental mental conditioning, I propose that each computer game produced has an optional - I said, "optional" - 'Decompression Mode.' The content of this mode would vary with the game but the general model would consist of a 10 to 15 minute interactive presentation on why the gameworld is not like the real world. For example, the GTA3 decompression mode would consist of
- an overview of the legality of theft, murder and traffic offences
- footage of real life car crashes and of the injuries of those caught up in them
- time lapse BBC film footage of plants growing, just to clear the mental palate of any gruesome in-game images.

For other, less realistic, games (such as Tetris), the final item on the GTA3 decompression would probably suffice.

calum, Aug 20 2002

Discrimination against computer gamers. http://www.boingboi...-employers-dis.html
Can't say that you blame them really. [DrBob, Dec 19 2008]

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       Hmmm, [calum], would you be willing to pay a higher price for the version with the decompression option?  Say, an extra $8USD?
bristolz, Aug 20 2002

       Does it occur to you that you just possibly might be spending a little too much time gaming inthe first place...? I have always taken the problems you cite as symptoms of excessive computer playing.
DrCurry, Aug 20 2002

       That may be true [DrCurry], but is your observation really germane to this idea?  If someone offers a method for combating alcoholism, is it a fair criticism of the proposal to say that the person just shouldn't be drinking anyway?   

       [addendum: I am not disagreeing with your sentiment, though. Especially after reading [iuvare]'s anno, below]
bristolz, Aug 20 2002

       link curly please.
po, Aug 20 2002

       “Not being a frequent gamer, I don't know if this is common…”

Unfortunately, it IS common and I call it the “VIDEO GAME MIND STATE”: a personality disorder that emerges when a video game completely runs your life. It’s often associated with first person shoot-em ups. Over the years I’ve battled this disease with Doom, Metal Gear Solid and most recently, Halo.

*You play until you’re physically tired and then tell yourself that you’re just going to play until you get to the next level.
*When you’re at the next level, you try to convince yourself that you’re simply exploring and that you’ll comeback and continue with style the next day. You then play until you finish the level. You stop when you catch yourself falling asleep with controller in hand.
*You become worried that your machine will over-heat (my PS1 did during Metal Gear Solid)
*You begin tallying vacation days and seriously think about taking time off from work.
*You can't wait to get home and play.

The clearest sign you’ve got this disorder is this: when you blink, you involuntarily and stream-of-consciously visualize empty corridors from various levels and when you close your eyes for a few seconds, you move through levels in a dream-like state searching for ammo, plasma grenades and health.

I feel your pain calum, great idea.
iuvare, Aug 20 2002

       bris: if some hypothetical person were to complain here of persistently throwing up after heavy drinking, having trouble coming into work on time or even at all the following morning, or any of various other side effects of excessive drinking, and then suggest that perhaps they should be drinking more water at night so they don't get so dehydrated or some other such anaemic solution, yes, I absolutely would counsel them to drink less alcohol in the first place, and possibly to seek help from AA. In fact, I have probably done so.   

       Do I think calum is in need of a detox? No, I didn't say that, just advocated moderation, which is always wise.
DrCurry, Aug 20 2002

       The bakery itself needs a decompression chamber...
RayfordSteele, Aug 20 2002

       I think drcurry is taking it to extremes. A degree of "decompression" is a good idea calum. Its disconcerting to go from playing the latest Wipeout for half an hour, to trying to focus on *real* driving. Watching time-lapse images for thirty second I think would do you good - give your eyes a chance to readjust.

Now accept a croissant from me - and close your eyes...breathe deeply...hold it!...now relax...
namaste, Aug 20 2002

       Good idea, but I guess this means that I won't respawn if I crash my car after I've learnt to drive?
kaz, Aug 20 2002

       Oh, this sounds very familiar. I used to dream about tetris. I have found similar effects with music, listening to Rammstein sometimes makes me imagine smashing things.   

       A cooling off period after computer games is not a bad idea. Adding a setting to make it cut in after x many hours of playing may also help reduce the addiction.   

       (GTA3 is a great game, I can understand why you find it hard to turn off)
madradish, Aug 20 2002

       Warning: Uploading photos of your loved ones into a “decompression victim rubric” (DVR) may adversly affect players with antisocial tendencies, or may consequently evoke antisocial tendencies if so loaded and loaned to friend of players.   

       Suggestion: A “paradigm” plugin that will, if triggered by an acted out psychopathic internal stimuli as determined by abusing or hacking the DVR, limit the player to a maximum of three mastered levels of play per gaming period.
reensure, Aug 21 2002

       This can happen even after watching a movie. There was a story in 1994 or '95 in the Palm Beach Post about a man who got into a road rage on I-95 on his way home from an Arnold Schwartzenegger movie. He and the other driver got out of their cars. The one who had just come from the movie punched the other driver and killed him. He and his wife blamed the movie. Don't ask me for a citation -- I worked for the Post at the time and that is all I remember about it.
magrak, Aug 21 2002

       One way to avoid the need for this is to simply never stop playing the game. This is unfortunately all too common.   

       I know a fellow who spends every spare moment and penny on Everquest, playing three characters simultaneously on three different systems at home on his DSL. Everquest has become more real to him than his real life.
waugsqueke, Aug 21 2002

       calum: Jump into the bed of a stopped pickup and spook the driver, then start lobbing grenades out the back. This also works in GTA 3.   

       Ever start seeing game stuff float past your eyes in that brief space between consciousness and dream world? Then you're *know* you're hooked...
Mr Burns, Aug 21 2002

       This is a good idea, it may even help people moderate their game use. If you've got 10 minutes of something interesting but unrelated to the game you might be able to tell yourself that you'll 'just watch a deprogramming session' rather than 'just complete the level'.   

       While playing GTA (the original) makes me support the criminals in 'The worlds worst car chases' style TV programs, I think it would be more useful for puzzle-games. Quite how you you could stop people dreaming about tetris I don't know.
Loris, Aug 21 2002

       I very rarely play games, but I do spend a lot of time running Flight Simulators practicing my instrument navigation. Some of the scenarios last up to 3 hours and are quite engrossing and demanding. And dropping down out of the "overcast", expecting to see a runway or a waypoint, and finding that you're in the wrong place, can produce a very real anxiety reaction - despite the fact that you're just sitting in a chair in a darkened room and in no danger whatsoever. This isn't even a proper flight simulator - just a cheap PC program. So maybe something like this is a good idea. Croissant.
8th of 7, Aug 21 2002

You listed all the symptoms of 'bakers, silly
thumbwax, Aug 21 2002

       reensure kinda hit on an idea I had similar to this - to get gamers in the real world. Mine was to have a plugin for the game itself that would search your computer for jpgs and recognize facial structure and put faces from those pics onto the chars. in the game. If not totally replace the faces, then everyonce and a while just flash the pic up, kinda like the out-of-the-corner-of-the-eye syndrom.
barnzenen, Aug 21 2002

       Being a victim of "I'll just finish the next bit - oh is that the time?" syndrome, I have to agree with iuvare's symptoms, though I don't unduly suffer from calum's problem of overlap with reality. It seems to me that the problem of over-gaming could be partially solved if, after conducting a save game, the game couldn't be reactivated again for another 10 minutes or so, as this would effectively break your mental connection with the game.
DrBob, Aug 21 2002

       Tetris is evil for this kind of thing... last year I played it way to much while on holiday... when I tried reading I kept imagining the blocks coming down and rotating them so they made lines with the text... urgh...   

       I don't know how you could solve that with the graphics available on a black and white game boy...   

       I tend to play sword and sorcery type games normally so unless someone hands me a sword after a few hours of something there will not be a problem (unless I gain the ability to throw flames out of my hands)...
RobertKidney, Aug 21 2002

       //You listed all the symptoms of 'bakers, silly//

...my bad. Yo, pass the Courvoisier.
iuvare, Aug 21 2002

       [RobertKidney] - that's exactly what happens to me when I play too much tetris!
madradish, Aug 21 2002

       Huh, Madradish and RobertKidney, you've got it good. when I play Tetris I find I get so tense that I can't sleep for hours afterwards, and I invariably grind my teeth when I finally make it to the land of nod. Yet I still can't stop playing the damn game! This gets a croissant from me. Though, admittedly, I get high blood pressure just from playing "snap", so perhaps some form of electric shock treatment would be more effective....
salachair, Aug 26 2002

       A corollary of this idea would be 'Gamers Compression' whereby a game would ramp up its intensity. So to corredpond to //overview of the legality of theft, murder and traffic offences// there could be a period of 5 - 10 minutes of Korn shouting "Drive over the M*F*er", "Murder is coooool" and other random unintelligible stuff.   

       This would get you in a mindset to play the more violent of video games.   

       and [calum] //Not being a frequent gamer//? I don't believe you.
Jinbish, Aug 26 2002

       Jinbish, 'tis true - I play computer games twice a week: Monday to Wednesday and Thursday to Saturday. [I spend Sunday singing psalms.]
calum, Aug 26 2002

       singing psalms? I don't believe you.
Jinbish, Aug 26 2002

       From Cristopher Brookmyre's "A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away":   

       "Something similar used to happen to him when he was playing too much Duke Nukem ... Any time he saw a ventilation grate or a fire extinguisher he'd automatically think 'switch to pistol' with the intention of blowing a hole through to the next room. Then he'd remember he was standing in the Marks & Spencer's food hall, and the nearest thing to a weapon in his current inventory was a tub of low-fat houmous."   

       As you were.
calum, Sep 08 2002

       Tetris decompression:   

       When I look at an under-construction highrise, I don't think "Wow, I wish I could live there." I think "Wouldn't it be fun to cut the lines on those girders and try to make a horizontal pile at the bottom?
croissantz, Apr 28 2006

       Keep a book or a magazine next to your computer/console. Reading (printed text, not off a screen) helps unwire you. Reading outdoors is even better.   

       I should have tried this while studying for finals last semester. I kept dreaming about the steps of ester synthesis and it did not help to provide a restful sleep.
Cuit_au_Four, Apr 29 2006

       This should definitely be built into every game. I still have vivid memories of a game on the Apple II+ (youngsters - go ask your parents) involving little men climbing ladders and running across platforms. This would continue in my brain as I lay in bed at night, trying not to think about it, and also trying to make them go the right way.   

       Maybe the solution would be another game which used a completely different part of the brain, but resolved quickly (say 10 minutes) so your brain didn't get hooked on that too. The game-ness of it would encourage the player to go ahead an do it last thing, but having resolution would make it a lot easier to leave as planned.
jklawrence, Jun 05 2006

       //My free time is taken up with screaming around a fictional city in a stolen sports car, mowing down pedestrians and blowing up yakuza. I like this game because it allows me to do things I cannot in real life.//   

       You spend too much time thinking inside the box. Who says you can't do these things? You just *oughtn't*.   

       It should be noted that when Command & Conquer first came out way back in 1995, I spent a solid 24-hour session in my desk chair at home one day without moving. No eating, no sleeping, no digestive functions at all. Just blowing crap up.   

       'Twas a lot of fun.   

       Bun for the time-lapse photo idea alone. The rest of this is icing.
shapu, Jun 05 2006

       I have lost several good friends to OGS ( Online Gaming Syndrome ).   

       As a person whose lifetime online gaming hours can almost be counted on fingers and toes, this saddens me greatly.
normzone, Jun 05 2006

       You do know on one particular online game 1/3 of players spent more time on the off?!
deep fried ice-cream, Aug 22 2007

       It is scary - (the OGS thing) but only in the same way that some people reacted to television when that first got popular - don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is a good thing, just that it isn't necessarily new.   

       That being said, I wonder if cavepeople ever had similar tales of 24 hour gazing-into-the-fire sessions, or of spending far too much time looking-at-views.
"Dude, these cave-paintings are awesome - I've been spending all my time here in the cave, not clubbed anything to death for days."
"I know man, my wife is going to kill me."
zen_tom, Dec 19 2008


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