The Masochistic Side of Brain Games.
Over the last few weeks I have been thoroughly hooked on ‘Brain Training' type games. My favourite of which has been the newly released ‘Brain Challenge' on Nintendo Wii. This 1000 point WiiWare title has plenty of give with its five categories of puzzles: Logic, Math, Memory, Visual and Focus, and 43 different mini-games which include;
‘Balance' where different objects are shown on scales and the player must determine which is the heaviest object.
‘Trout Route' where the player must follow a path based on the progressive numerical relationship given (ie. +2, -3, etc.)
‘Travelling' requires the player to memorize a route of arrows.
‘Bouncing Ball' has the player determining which ball bounces highest.
Of course all of these have to be played as quick as possible to receive the highest score. Your score then gets turned into a percentage of brain power, and with the game starting with a quote "They say humans only use 10% of their brains..." don't expect to see huge numbers.
Now, I can hear you asking "What has this got to do with being a masochist?" Well, I'm going to tell you. If you are a fan of this type of game then I'm sure you have felt the same as I have, that is to say that this type of game fills you with an extreme power and grand feeling of intelligence, however smart you are. You are playing well and gaining a good brain power percentage, and a new rank of ‘Part-time Genius'. With this boost of confidence you decide to play ‘just a couple more times.' The game starts. Logic is first as always, and normally this would have been your favourite category, the one you do the best in. But you make a few simple mistakes and start blaming the controls, "Oh? I must have clicked the wrong answer as I was moving the pointer over it." Then before you know it the time has run out and you've only scored 100 points out of around 1000-1500. You feel stupid and unrewarded for your effort, but play on with the hope of bettering yourself.
Math is up next and you're not too good with this one. But it's a new game called ‘Matches', in this test you have to count the number of matches in a shape made of matches. You do remarkably well, and score highly. You feel much better about yourself and continue playing.
Memory next and you flunk it. You feel punished and stupid once more, but knowing you only have two more bouts to go you push onwards and upwards with a sense of teeth-grinding pressure to do better. Nevertheless you fail the visual tests and score fair on the focus tests, and finish the game with a head full of emotions and puzzles that you got wrong. Your brain coach steps in and shows you your previous brain power percentage, a mere 15%. You start to panic as you think it's going to drop to below 10% for your poor performance in the last round. When suddenly it rises to a respectable 18%, your heart flutters with joy and your brain buzzes with excitement and you want/need to play again.
Or is it just me?
Brain training type games are there for those who wish to have a top-up of brain power, and supposedly the best way to do this is to train everyday; to take another well known saying "Practise makes perfect!" But what if this isn't the case? What if practise makes masochists? They produce these games, making them catchier and more addictive, but in a few years time, after even more have been made, will we start to see games that, instead of progressing, you fail then lose then flunk without ever seeing the obligatory ‘Game Over' message? I doubt it to honest, but it does leave room for thought.
Masochism - (mas•och•ism / Mass-oh-kiz-zum)
* The deriving of pleasure, or the tendency to derive pleasure, from being humiliated or mistreated, either by another or by oneself.
* A willingness or tendency to subject oneself to unpleasant or trying experiences.
* A tendency to take pleasure from one's own suffering.
* Any gratification gained from pain or deprivation inflicted or imposed on oneself.