Flow Nuclear Throne
Martin Seligman, the creator of positive psychology, postulates three models of happiness. The first, least perfect, would be based on a hedonistic lifestyle and maximizing pleasure. Unfortunately, this perception of happiness is only available to about half of society the ability to experience the world through pleasure and maintain it for prolonged periods is actually genetically conditioned.
The perfect way to achieve life satisfaction is, according to Seligman, the second model, which postulates purpose as the ultimate source of satisfaction. It calls for ridding of selfishness and focusing on the big picture. It helps to gain some distance from problems and is a lasting, hard-to-question source of fulfilment.
Video games, on the other hand, seem to be good vectors for the intermediate model, one based on engagement. He postulates that a strong commitment to something gives a relatively lasting sense of happiness, mostly regardless of the actual effects. In short if the game is engaging, we forget our problems, and the satisfaction lingers a while after turning it off.
FLOW THE HOLY GRAIL OF IMMERSION
An important junction of the world of gaming and positive psychology is the concept of flow. The complete immersion in some activity, where a person loses sense of time and space and is almost literally inside the game (or any other activity).
Flow in games is usually the result of the player's ability to cope with the challenge presented to them. If it is adequate, we can fully immerse in the game without annoying repetition, but also without feeling bored.
For me, a great example of a game with incredible flow is the independent production, Nuclear Throne. This game makes you completely oblivious to the passage of time. I remember playing Nuclear Throne for a month or two after I'd bought it, being convinced I spent maybe ten hours in the game. The clock on Steam said eighty-eight.
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