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Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

As part of the mental logjam that has broken, I am finally realizing just what it is that compels me to neglect things I genuinely want to do in favor of playing videogames instead.

And it's simple, although it reveals something a little disturbing about myself, my upbringing and my mentation:

Videogames simulate true meritocracy.

It's everything our teachers told us the real world was supposed to be: a world in which those who diligently strive and play by the rules will eventually succeed, and the winners are the ones who play the best. (I suppose videogames can confer "privilege" in the sense that certain characters or classes are just clearly more equipped to win than others, but players can easily rectify this by, well, just picking different characters or classes. Real life grants no such option.)

So it's really no wonder that those of us who were suckered into the myth of meritocracy as children would be so eager to escape into these games. It's also no wonder that so many games are trying to recreate the grindy, consumption-focused rat race of life through unlockables, etc. -- to take part in that system and actually have it work like it's supposed to is... well. It can be a powerful bit of escapism, that's for sure. Knowing that you can accomplish things, knowing that said accomplishments will actually achieve results (even if only virtual ones), knowing that your success really does depend mostly (if not entirely) on your own effort... that's awfully cathartic.

It makes the pain of living in this world -- where success has a lot more to do with how you were born and what your environment is than anything you do, and where cheaters are at least as likely to be lauded as shunned -- a little more bearable.

At least, until I have to return to it.

I should probably find a better way of coping.

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kiriamaya

November 2012

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