Last Friday, everyone was in awe of a new game that was just released: Elden Ring. I learned this is the most anticipated game of 2022.
When I came out of my way to understand what was all the fuss about it, I understood why: it looks gorgeous and it is incredibly immersive!
I have no doubt of the pleasure you can get to explore its intricate digital world: the so-called “Lands Between”. However, I’ll pass on that one.
Elden Ring takes 100 hours to finish
Full disclosure, I’m not a gamer anymore. I used to play a lot when I was a teenager, not so much now.
And while Elden Ring might be tempting to me, I won’t give in. Why? The reason is time. This game is a time sink. An article from CNet mentioned it takes 100 hours to finish.
So while many colleagues of mine pledged to spend their weekend playing it, I did not join the movement.
Imagine each of your hours was worth $500
Do I have 100 hours to spare? Absolutely not!
Don’t get me wrong: while I have a crush on productivity, I like to entertain myself at times. And I can refrain from counting wasted hours 🙂
For example, these days, I spend a lot of time keeping myself informed about the situation unfolding in Ukraine. Well, it is not such a waste as it is a crucial moment for democracies in the world. But I know I have abused since it made me go to sleep very late.
How can you avoid wasting too much time in your life without realizing it? Famous author Derek Sivers has a simple rule for you. Just picture each of your personal hours as being worth $500.
At this price, what would be the cumulative cost of the endless hours you wasted on meaningless things, like playing video games or watching endless TV series? For Eden Ring, it would amount to $50,000 in total if you finished the game. What a frightening bill, right?
Is that meaningful?
Ok, maybe I shocked you when I employed the word “meaningless”. What I mean by “meaningless” is an activity that does not have much positive impact in the real world.
You might tell me playing video games can help you socialize with fellow gamers, learn tactical warfare, or even make you money. You might tell me watching TV series can help you find a discussion subject at work. Is that meaningful? Not so much.
Those are largely passive activities, where you are not the hero of your life but rather a passive spectator. You might think that you are the master of your life when playing these games, but immersive games are deceiving: they make you think you are a hero, while in reality, you are the hero of no one.
Now, think of your favorite personalities in this world, maybe Barack Obama, The Dalai Lama, Al Pacino, or Beyoncé Knowles.
Do you honestly think they spend their weekend playing games or binge-watching TV series? Of course not. They have better things to do in the tangible world, not necessarily work, it could be spending quality time with their children, walking in a forest, or reading books.
Video games are attractive because you get immersed in a gripping adventure in the comfort of your house. You might encounter dangers on your virtual quest. But then you step out of your computer and it’s over. You don’t get the sting of failure so much. It’s a safe place.
A game allows you to escape painful realities. And when you win in the game, it looks so grandiose that the little wins that happen in your real life each day pale in comparison.
You might also get seduced by the appeal of a video game because you have been beaten so much by life that you need to find refuge in a world you control, for example, if you had a breakup or a divorce lately.
You come to think your situation will never get better anyway, so let’s distract yourself instead of facing reality. It reminds me of Martin Seligman’s concept of “Learned helplessness”.
If you put a rat in an electrified cage and keep the middle door open, it will simply go to the other non-electrified side of the cage. But if you close the door, the poor thing will have no choice but to bear the intense pain of electric shocks. Now if you repeat these shocks enough, the rat will become completely helpless, so helpless that it won’t even try to escape if you open the door again.
Are you like the rat, thinking there’s no way to escape from your condition, even while doors are open?
Shallow happiness vs Deep happiness
“The sidelines are not where you want to live your life. The world needs you in the arena.” — Tim Cook
If you often hesitate to confront the real world, you are not alone, I struggle with that too. This article was scary to write because I know there will be people criticizing me, or even worse: I might get no view at all!
However, I know it can have an impact on the real world. And this emboldened me to write it.
I also struggle when I exercise, it is painful and pretty boring compared to sitting in front of my computer playing fascinating games, but it also brings more joy to my life.
I know it’s possible to have happiness in a virtual world, but to me, this is shallow happiness. The only way to have deep, authentic, and sustainable happiness is to show up courageously in the real world.
Elden Ring looks like a real masterpiece. But is it worthy of your time? If you spend 100 hours on it, assuming your time is worth $500 (which might be even more!), it will cost you $50,000.
What is meaningful for you? Do you want to be the hero of a virtual world, or to have an impact in the real world? The virtual world can be a comfy shelter, giving you temporary happiness when you feel weak or broken. But the recipe for authentic and sustainable happiness is to contribute tangible value to the world, exposing your vulnerability and assuming the beautiful imperfections of your human nature.