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Boredom and learning

Boredom is what we feel when our brain decides that there's nothing worth learning. It's the brain searching for new information.

And even games become boring at some point because they eventually run out of things to teach you. That's when you stop playing.

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Fun is the experience of developing mastery. When we acquire new skills and recognize valuable patterns, our brains reward us with a shot of pleasurable sensations. 

Games are optimal learning environments:

  • Feedback loops are short, fast and adapted to your skill level.
  • Challenges grow as you develop new skills.
  • Failures are learning opportunities because every time you make a mistake, you get a hint about how you can do better next time.

If a good game teaches you everything it has to teach you before the player quits, then a good school should be one that teaches you everything it intends before the students leave.

Why schools fail to teach everything they intend to:

  • The patters are too easy, so students get bored (and this is especially common for gifted students).
  • The patters to be learned are too hard, so students give up.
  • The patterns are not perceived as meaningful.

Schools often do a bad job teaching us things that should be good for us, while games do a good job at teaching us things that are often useless.

But school and games should learn from each other: teachers should study games to learn why they’re so compelling, and game designers can think about what schools are trying to teach and find better ways of doing so.

There are 4 categories here:

  • Satisfying work: clearly defined challenging activities, that provide clear feedback.
  • The experience or promise of success: we want to feel we are getting better over time.
  • Meaningfulness: being a part of something bigger.
  • Social connection: sharing experiences with others, while working towards a common goal.

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RELATED IDEAS

The kind of patience that leads to success is not the same as waiting. Waiting has no benefits. Investing time doesn't do anything on its own.

The kind of patience needed for success is an active, self-doubting kind of patience. It's putting in enormous amounts of work, reviewing the work, questioning if it was the right work, then making adjustments and trying again.

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IDEAS

  • 2+ billion people worldwide play video games 
  • A typical gamer in the US spends 12 hours playing each week.
  • 60% of gamers neglect sleep to keep playing.
  • 40% of gamers have missed a meal.
  • In 2018, people worldwide spent a collective nine billion hours watching other people play video games on a streaming service.
  • South Korea passed a Shutdown Law in 2011, which prevents anyone under 16 from playing games online between midnight and 6 a.m.
Video Games Can Teach You Personal Accountability

The reward our brains feel when accomplishing something in a game teaches us to focus our own actions and helps us control the situations around us. Lessons like this are easily applied in the real world.