About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.

I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.


What Videogames Taught Me About Frustration

Life is frustrating with a regularity that makes dietary fiber manufacturers jealous.

However, video games take frustration to a torturous level that makes me believe game designers are actually in league with the devil. Sometimes I ask myself why I keep playing (why anyone keeps playing) and I think part of the answer is that diabolically frustrating games put life into perspective, but there’s more to it than a simply setting a higher tolerance threshold--it could be worse, we could trapped in an undersea laboratory overrun with escaped subjects from the sentient jellyfish experiments--I think that games actually teach us how to deal with frustration.

For comparison, I present two scenarios: a clutch or kick moment in Rainbow Six vs catching that water-loving Slowpoke in Pokémon GO.

Consider this: you’re sitting at your very expensive gaming rig in the deciding match of a Rainbow Six Siege round, you’re the last friendly operator and you’re pushing back at an opposing team of three. You expect frustration. You expect to lose. But you still try. This is how we train for frustration in life. We feel it lurking around every corner, but we keep trying to outflank it even though it might drop down from the ceiling on us.

Sometimes we leap into the room ready to face failure, and that’s the moment Ash lags out and shoots Capitão in the back of the head just as he preps a grenade that then detonates at his feet and kills the other two players.

Face your fears, because you never know when fortune will smile on you!

Yeah, as noble as the sentiment may be, that’s not life.

Consider this: you’ve got your free-with-contract smartphone in your hand, you’ve got your free Pokémon GO app loaded up, you’ve been stalking Pokémon all afternoon and decided to walk all the way to the park next to the lake in hopes that you’ll see some water monsters and add new Pokéstops to your list. A free game that encourages exercise! What could be simpler? Next thing you know, you’re sheltering under a picnic pavilion just two feet out of reach of a Pokéstop loaded with a lucrative lure, watching it time out, tapping a frozen screen as the server crashes every time you try to throw a Pokéball at the one Slowpoke that keeps popping up close enough to catch.

This is a scream out loud, tear your hair out, uninstall the app and throw your phone in the lake moment. This is frustration you don’t fight. This is frustration that grinds you under its jack-booted heel.

I’m sorry to admit it, but this is life.

You can’t out-think life. You can and should try to cover all the angles, reinforce the weak spots and choose the best skills, but something--usually the most mundane and pointless something--will regularly manage to completely flummox you. Perhaps this is what those devious game developers really have in mind, to teach us a lesson: you can’t anticipate frustration. If you expect it, you won’t be frustrated. My pessimist friend says, “I always expect the worst, that way I’m always right or at least pleasantly surprised.” Yet, life still sometimes manages to derail entire days for him.

Regardless of whether you wear rose-colored glasses or carry around a half empty glass, the world will crap on you. Things you don’t plan for will frustrate you, but it’s the most mundane things, the things you can’t plan for that will make you want to lie down for a nap in the middle of the street.   

Is this what I learned from gaming? Maybe, but I also learned that throwing your phone in the lake is as futile as repeatedly restarting the game when the server is down, so sometimes you have no choice but to turn the whole thing off and listen to the thunder...which really isn’t so bad.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are actively moderated. Keep it civil.