degaming my habits.

sunday, january 8th, 2023.

I've been thinking about my use of computers a lot lately. While I quit corporate social media some time ago, I've been thinking a lot about the things that look like corporate social media, too. Cory Doctorow, also, has been pondering about the fediverse, the embrace/extend/extinguish cycle of social media, and why we flit about from platform to platform.

Shufei wrote this yesterday:

Fedi Nota Bene:

I opt out of favourites & boost notifications in the conviction that the internet needs to be “degamed”.

I am intentionally blind to follower counts and metrics of all kinds.

I strongly support #OfflineFirst and #Smolnet above Web 2.0 parasocial media like fediverse.

I support an ethical and compassionate #ButlerianJihad.


Somewhere in the back of my mind, I've been thinking about how we've managed to emulate the dopamine-chasing structure of corporate social media with the fediverse. I was really happy to see someone say that they've felt the same way. Shufei's approach to these mechanisms, to opt out of the gamification bits— well, I dig it a lot.

I followed Shufei's lead and did the same for my own notification settings. After a day without the favorite and boost notifications, the dopamine pull of the fediverse subsided. The few notifications I have received have been direct responses and messages. I quite like that.

I think I'm gonna take a little break from posting on the fediverse and see how it feels. I'll probably poke in every now and then, but I'd like to make it an occasional stop instead of a compulsion.

degaming gaming.

My search-engine-fu wasn't strong enough to yield any promising papers on the subject, but I've been thinking about how gaming platforms have gamified their services. That is, the platforms themselves have been gamified to encourage folks to buy more stuff.

Rest assured, e-commerce retailers are also thinking about how to use gamification to their advantage. It should come as no surprise that gaming services are doing the same.

Back in the days of floppy disks, game cartridges, and GD-ROMs, gamers would insert their game of choice, turn the console on, and play the game. That was it!

I distinctly remember the storefront evolution as it happened on the Xbox 360:

evolution of the xbox 360 interface.

Originally, there was the "blades" interface (top), which later evolved to the "New Xbox Experience" (middle), and later the "Metro" interface (bottom). Each time, the storefront took up more screen real estate when you first booted the console. Later consoles and platforms have placed advertisements first and foremost.

Often, you'll have to deliberately pass the advertisements to get to the game you'd like to play. For example, you have to dig into the settings of Steam to set the library as the default page when you open it up:

the option to start Steam in the library.

Even in the library, you get notifications popping up in the "what's new" section right above your games. The game Hellish Quart has an update in the above screenshot.

I'm getting a little tired of it, frankly. I don't want to be goaded into seeing the latest sale. I just want to play my games and not have the dopamine receptors in my brain accosted by the newest shinies.

Fortunately, you can still launch games using desktop shortcuts. Even if it takes a while for the game to startup on a fresh boot and it clutters the desktop, there's no gamification there:

desktop shortcuts to games on Windows.

Aside from gaming on the computer, I've been playing NES games a lot more. My RetroUSB AVS (seen below) had been collecting dust but shows its value by helping me get away from the loud bazaar of modern gaming.

retrousb avs, an FPGA-based NES.

Bionic Commando continues to entertain, 35 years later. I'm also very excited to receive my copy of Full Quiet in the mail, likely tomorrow! That game has been in development for 5 years, I think, so I'm glad to see it finally get released. Folks are real excited to get their hands on it!

Other than that, I've been leaving my phone at my desk or in my bag where it's inconvenient to casually pull out and browse. Been reading and writing a lot more, too. Less "letting stuff come to me" and more me actively choosing to do specific things.

I guess the idle "I'm bored" feeling is the easiest avenue to fall back into the gamified habits I'm trying to avoid!

Until next time, be well. :)