Friday, March 10, 2006

Fun Hysteresis

For the non-engineers among you, from Wikipedia: Hysteresis is a property of systems (usually physical systems) that do not instantly follow the forces applied to them, but react slowly, or do not return completely to their original state: that is, systems whose states depend on their immediate history.

I found a file in My Documents that I had apparently downloaded some time ago but had forgotten about. It was a .mod file medley of songs from the game The Secret of Monkey Island(tm). Listening to it swept me back 15 years, and I felt that rush of excitement and anticipation that I felt playing the game originally. Crash. Then the present returns. So I asked myself, "Self? When was the last time a computer game, or any game, made you feel like that?" (To try to be as non-depressing as possible I'm going to keep the topic on computer games, and not life in general.) When was the last time I got that little shiver up the back when playing something? Final Fantasy 7? X-COM? In the last 5 years? 10? The fact is I really couldn't remember anything recent that has done that for me. Even the spectacularly well-made World of Warcraft just felt reassuring and fun, not thrilling. So am I harder to please now or are things just less fun.

Enter hysteresis.

I feel as though it takes more to entertain me. I wish I could categorically say something like "I demand higher quality" becuase even the things that are universally praised as high quality (like WoW) don't thrill me. I fear that I may be experiencing the same stimulus level and just reacting to it less. At the same time, the "coming down" portion is really an inverse hysteresis, since I tend to come down much quicker from positive experiences. I react slower, with lower amplitude, and return to zero much faster.

Is this just what getting older means? Is this why people are reduced to "keeping busy" later in life? Because nothing really excites them, but they feel like they have to do something?

Now, don't make the extapolation and think I lead a joyless existence. It's just that computer games have been central to my entertainment for almost 30 years, and the fact that I don't enjoy them like I used to makes me wonder if it's me or them. Are 20-somethings having the same emotional experience with the latest Elder Scrolls today that I had with Monkey Island back when I was first courting Stef?

I've just decided that it's me. You could easily replace computer games with books, movies or music in this entry, and I have certainly heard my share of curmudgeons gassing endlessly about the quality of (insert medium here) in their day as opposed to the garbage today. I refuse to be that person. I don't get as big a kick out of it, and it's all me. There: blogging is therapeutic and cathartic.

4 comments:

  1. You know what? I think it's endemic to all humanity. Everything palls over time. Anime bores me senseless now (except for Miyazaki), even Bollywood is not as enchanting as it once was. It is the nature of man to seek satisfaction in any given activity or entertainment, only to have it ultimately disappoint. Then we try something else, which eventually fails too.

    God-shaped hole in all of us, dude!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey! Very Nice! Check out this website I found where you can get a FREE
    GAME SYSTEM. It's not available everywhere, so go to the site and put
    in your zipcode to see if you can get it. I got mine and sold it!

    http://www.degree-programs-online.info/extramoney.htm

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey! Very Nice! Check out this website I found where you can get a FREE
    GAME SYSTEM. It's not available everywhere, so go to the site and put
    in your zipcode to see if you can get it. I got mine and sold it!

    http://www.degree-programs-online.info/extramoney.htm

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, um, thanks there askinstoo. I'm going to immediately click on your extramoney.htm link and get that FREE GAME SYSTEM. No, really.

    (Extended Warranty!! How could I lose?!?)

    ReplyDelete