Electronic games are the least guilty of the guilty pleasures. All the other guilty pleasures–drinking, drugging, browsing the internet, smoking, watching too much TV, eating too much–feel mindless and self-destructive. But playing electronic games isn’t like that. In some odd way, it actually feels like you’re doing something. Maybe that’s because you’re actually, you know, you’re thinking. These games involve plenty of strategy. They use the same parts of your brain that you use when you, like, strategize stuff. Other enetertainments mostly work by anesthetizing you, but electronic games take you away from reality by putting you into a flow state.
Which feels really good. It feels productive. It feels like you’re operating at the peak of your potential. And it feels like you’re doing something worthwhile.
But you’re actually not.
Woops: the brain is playing another trick on itself.
On the other hand, I guess you could say that electronic games are also the purest and least deceptive of mankind’s substitute activities. Unlike sports or other hobbies, video games don’t pretend to be more than they are: a harmless and pleasurable way of using your brain’s leftover potential for acquiring and mastering new skills.