Instant Gratification: Gaming and Social Media

Everybody wants instant gratification, don’t they? After all, if it only takes the drag of a thumb to update your variety of social networks then it would be foolish to simply relax. Dare to enjoy the moment and within minutes you’re left behind, out of date with the breaking news stories that millions of others have digested and are already deliberating. We are encouraged to maintain a constant connection without regarding its effects on not only the way we live, but also play videogames.

I think Facebook and Twitter are fantastic inventions; they allow for discussion with people you have never met while acting as an invaluable source of news, opinions, and references. Twitter is my Premier League goal-ticker on Saturday, and my videogaming discussion centre throughout the week. It’s this adaptability that draws its 465 million users back time after time, and is why the service is integral to many morning and bedtime routines.

[drop] To combat this connectivity, print is looking to adapt to the speed at which we approach and absorb content. i, produced by The Independent, thrives on providing a concise national newspaper for twenty pence, and it’s circulation (423,000, September 2011) suggests that consumers have welcomed it into their lives. It conserves the print format and only uses it for what’s necessary, ensuring that there is still space for a daily newspaper in our smart-phone addled lives.

Virgin Media have also recognised our increased need for speed by recently announcing that it will be boosting its top broadband package to 120Mb, and doubling the speeds of over four million customers. The former allows a music album to be downloaded in approximately 4.4 seconds, and a high-definition movie in roughly five minutes.

Waiting – the definition of which has seemingly been forgotten – is no longer acceptable outside of public services, so what does this instantaneity mean for our videogaming habits?

We have witnessed the growth of Apple in the portable gaming sector, and apps such as Angry Birds and Cut the Rope suit our evolving society much more fittingly than titles such as Skyrim, which demand hours to achieve completion. However, the dragon-slaying RPG shifted 3.4 million units within two days, suggesting that we still have the ability to devote ourselves to an experience that may not be able to provide the satisfaction of a finale for weeks.

It’s difficult to see that being the case forever, though. The combination of modern life and instant gratification asks the infamous question; what came first? Our need for small shots of satisfaction could be a result of our busy lives, meaning that we naturally invest our spare time in things that take minimal effort but exude maximum gain. Alternatively, we may have become so fearful of being left behind by the Internet that our mindsets don’t allow us time to relax.

Only a crystal ball is able to pour some light over the future of videogames and how they will continue to meet the ever-increasing demands of the modern consumer. Smaller titles, like smartphone games, need minutes for a close to continuous reward, whereas full retail titles need hours for the profit of a climax, and this fundamental logic has the potential to change the way in which studios approach development.

[drop2]Hopefully we’ll see that there is no harm in disconnecting and being left behind if it enables us to relax. Videogames thrive on immersion and if you are tweeting throughout playing them you’re not allowing yourself to be whisked away into a fantastical world where anything is possible. The same can be said for all forms of social networking; our perceived need to maintain an online presence is having a detrimental effect on our videogaming experiences.

Have you checked a social network since you began reading this? If you answer positively then you have proved my point. We are becoming unable to live without something new, whether it is in the form of a Tweet, Facebook status, or purchase. We complain when we are sold short games, but it could be the way forward to ensure the survival of the studios that make them.

We don’t need to subject ourselves to an onslaught of immediate content to satisfy ourselves. By switching off and devoting our time to a singular entertainment form – without the so often stressful distractions of modern life – we are enhancing the time we spend in front of our consoles. They may not provide the instant gratification that we have become accustomed to, but reach the final credits immersed, and you’ll begin to question the satisfaction that you gained from tweeting in the first place.

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47 Comments

  1. Ironically I am reading this with both Facebook and Twitter up on other tabs as well as BBC sport. I think the short and snappy type gaming is now dominant, things with take a few minutes here and there fits perfectly into everyone’s lifestyle now. I myself find myself slipping away from long games.

    • Add in fantasy football tab and you’ve got mine.
      I do still like my long games, but I’m far less likely to grind nowadays in a game.

      • Just got that up too! Havent had time for the likes of Skyrim, fallout and Dark Souls in the past few weeks. So mainly been keeping to my iPod touch for gaming like temple run

    • People use Facebook and twitter? I am someone want to tell them about google+ its better than both with none of the crud. I the games are way better too.

      • About 5 of my friends use G+, so there’s not much point until others head on over for me.

  2. You think FB & Twitter are fantastic inventions. I think they are the exact opposite. Noise / Clutter we could do without and primarily used by nosey [email protected] / stalkers that have nothing better than to waste time looking at what other people are doing and making pointless comments.

    I realise this is my opinion and probably against the billions of users around the world but when you see people checking their account at 4 am on their phone in case someone has said they’re going to the toilet, it really is beyond belief.

    • I agree 100% with everything here i have Facebook but i use it instead of having a phone with me to text or ring someone and for the footy banter :P. Costs me nothing.

    • Jeez, it’s like you were forced to use those.

    • I use FB everyday but not in the sense of what you mention. I talk to my friends of fb, saves a lot of texts and minutes usage on my phone, also much easier to create events and what not. Who ever goes on FB to check what people are saying are pathetic, and what ever you post on FB whether it be photos is your own fault, its public to see so they cant complain.
      If you dont like FB simply don’t use it, ignore it, and shut up and stop complaining about it.

      • Bit of a rude response there OK.

      • Apologies but get angry when somebody complains about something which they can simply ignore.

      • That’s not a rude response.
        The original comment was plain offensive to users of social networks, relying on old stereotypes that I’ve never seen in actual life (status about toilet), and bogeymen (stalkers) to portray people like me who use the likes of Facebook as a free way to keep in touch with friends, who in this financial era, are often emigrating to the likes of Canada, Austrailia, etc. or even just attending a different college in another city, making it hard to see them regularly.
        Why should I stop interacting with them when they’re still my friends?

      • As he says its primarily used my nosey bastards and stalkers. thats offending me.

      • *by – that didnt look good

      • You shouldn’t tell people to shut up, even if you don’t like what they are saying. He didn’t make any personal attacks, so there’s no need to take it personally. “Primarily used” is a big difference to “you are”.

      • Isn’t this what Google Talk was invented for?

      • Trust me I didn’t mean it like that. No use when your the only person out of your mates with google talk though.

      • I believe that if somebody is being rude and acting ignorant, they forfeit any right to complain about being told to shut up.

        To be honest, the original comment sounded like it could be from The Daily Mail, it was that bad.

      • I’m on Origami and Colmshan’s side here, although surely TSA is better than having arguments like this?
        We’re not being forced to use them, it’s all down to personal choice. I use them both fairly heavily (though nothing on some people) but that’s down to me wanting to, not being forced to. I’m no stalker checking it as 4pm in the morning to see if anyone’s commented…

      • Well in my personal experience I know some people check for stupid things at 4am. I dont have a problem with Facebook or Twitter. Basically I feel some people should rely less on those sites.

      • Only reason I find these points silly that tanster made is because he is using stupid sterotypes. I had to prepare on a talk about facebook recently, it worked wonders in Egypt last year.

      • Woah woah. Hey guys listen just logged back on today and seen this. Listen as I said clearly in the post. It is my opinion and I’m entitled to it. It really is my experience with social networking and hence I don’t use it Origami but I am entitled to comment on it.

        I respect both Origami’s and Colm opinion too and if you have use for it and gain benefit from it – Great!!!

        Trust me I didn’t want to start an argument on this site as I truly believe its one of the better gaming sites. If I caused offence I apologise.

      • no worries mate, bit of an overreaction from myself :)

      • No worries Origami. As I say I enjoy this site alot. And if I ever told you the details behind my problems with FB you may understand!!! Thanks for the quick reply. I was gutted when I saw the argument I had caused!!!!

      • I thought it looked more like people maturely discussing whether the comment was rude more than an argument, if all the arguments were this civil then id be very happy :).

      • I can understand why people dislike it, some people are on there are ridiculous.
        @AG, it was a very silly debate tbh :P

      • I must say, I hadn’t realised I was in an argument! Nice to see things resolved anyway.

      • I’m spying on you all right now……

  3. I agree 100% with Tanster. And there isnt a single game on IOS or any social network worth investing time or money in. (IMHO)..

    die facebook DIE!!!

    • Thank you Burgess and david. Unfortunatly I think we are in the minority though!!!

    • david / Burgess or anyone else who cant be doing with FB / Twatters add me – PSN (as the name says)

      • Will do when i get my VITA :)

  4. I don’t have a social networking signature, I don’t have a Facbook account,nor Google+, I use Twitter but purely in a commercial sense.

    I’m an amalgamation of the two conflicting sides behind modern communication and media consumption. I’m used to getting things ‘now’ and I thrive on it, consuming media that I choose at a ridiculous rate and even beyond what is possible, resulting in a backlog of ‘must-dos’.

    Yet I’m old school when it comes to my social communication because I value useful information that I want to absorb, and find the process of trying to filter this from the cess-pool of fed-info that originates in social media to be more trouble than its worth.

    I like what I want to get to me as quick as possible, but I enjoy savouring it when I get it. I don’t want any extras or by-products of interest that are provided by social media out of the box, I find that the time they waste outweighs the potential benefits that they offer.

    • How do you converse with people you know?

      • In person, phone, email: All the normal ways of communication besides social media.

        Why do you ask?

      • @Deathbrin, your question belies your reliance upon social networks rather than talking, calling, email, etc.

    • I’m exactly the same.

  5. Facebook to me is a bit like having thirty pieces of junkmail delivered with each letter you get in the post, plus there’s someone peeping in through the letterbox saying “Hi, you might know me, let me in and find out”..

  6. I genuinely don’t remember the last time I used Twitter, and log into Facebook every few weeks to reply to something my girlfriend posts so she doesn’t get mad at me. I used to be hooked on Facebook when I first got it, but the appeal slowly faded for some reason, and now I don’t really get it at all. Aside from its use arranging events, I find it all a bit impersonal and too exposed.

    I also don’t really see the appeal of these short burst games. I drive to work, so don’t have any short bursts of time to kill when commuting. Something might hold my attention briefly, but it never entertains me like a good traditional game will.

    Times are definitely changing, but at least for me, it is in a direction I am not enjoying.

    • I couldn’t agree more. :)

      • Let’s rebel against the system, I’ve got some tin foil I can fashion into hats to stop them stealing our thoughts. We can live in a nice cave somewhere and gather news by conversing with local wildlife.

        “What’s that Mr Squirrel? Kerry Katona has put on weight /again/?”

      • Sounds utterly delightful!
        But only if we can have a Kit-Cat clock which we run each major decision by. http://www.kit-cat.com/

      • I certainly can’t see any reason why not. He seems a trustworthy sort, with only mildly shifty, hypnotic eyes.

  7. “Everybody wants instant gratification, don’t they?”
    God, no.
    I’m quite content to saviour the things I enjoy and relax in the time I’m able to do so. To me, It really is the spice of life to take things at my own pace whether it be a game, a book or even a leisurely walk.
    I completely understand the quote of the first line but absolutely in no way is it how I ever want to live my life.

  8. I’m going to join the minority who enjoy long projects, immersion and a life without Internet. Okay, maybe internet in moderation, but no twitter, afterall if instant gratification was all we craved we’d probably never have sex.

  9. tl;dr

    Could you make a summary in less than 140 characters?

  10. I enjoy a mix of both, I play some games in short bursts, but I’ll also play games which are long projects: Total War, Demon’s Soul’s etc. My Mongol Campaign on Medieval 2: Total War reached the 50 hour mark today, and I only have half the map under my control.

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