You enter the world you spent hours developing and, next thing you know, five hours have passed. Time flies when you’re playing God...
But it seems those hours may not have been wasted as much as you might think.
A psychoanalyst has claimed that life simulation games like The Sims can act as a healthy escape from the real world.
Steve McKeown, founder of MindFixes and owner of The McKeown Clinic, said this may be a better alternative of escapism when compared with drugs, alcoholism and gambling addiction.
Speaking to UNILAD, Mr McKeown said:
Life Simulation games such as The Sims may replace the reality that we know and live in, when internet speeds become fast enough.
The suggestion that we may spend more time in a virtual world than the physical one has been developing speedily over the years and has fast become a way in which we can live an alternative life in exactly the way we want.
The Sims can allow a person to escape social normality, its pressures and chronic stresses that are so prevalent in the real world, it allows the gamer to create a perfect reality in which they play the main character and have full control over the outcome.
Mr McKeown added that immersing yourself in your imagination in The Sims is a positive way to escape and allows gamers to explore a section of their personality they may not have known if they hadn’t played.
Our consciousness is very adaptable and allows us to create an opening to different paradigms of reality every time we focus on alternate versions of life through our thoughts.
With the assistance of life simulation games such as Sims we can enhance our inner experience.
The psychoanalyst concludes that without escapism, we risk burning out. That’s the main reason why we dream at night, as it’s our minds way of disconnecting from the strain of everyday life.
This is not the first time games have been linked to escapism. Game designer Jane McGonigal said at the Game Developers Conference that there are actually two kinds of escapism: self-suppression and self-expansion.
She described self-suppression as running away from unhappy thoughts and emotions and self-expansion as seeking new skills, relationships and positive thoughts. She put it like this:
Everything sucks, so I'm going to go play games, versus, life is better when I have time to play games.
Writing for The Slate, McGonigal adds that self-suppression with games can be a “dangerous path to go down".
She warns that playing games to ignore problems or to shut out unpleasant emotions can lead to suffering of the negative effects linked by many studies to gaming like anxiety, depression or isolation.
The gaming specialist concluded that the key to playing your favourite games is to do it with a positive goal like expanding your creativity - just like in The Sims, which allows gamers to create their own world.