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I just returned from a vacation in Ormond Beach, Florida, where I played a lot of Mighty Gunvolt Burst on the Nintendo Switch (and yes, I spent a lot of time with my family, too). But all this game-playing while on vacation got me thinking about whether or not I’m doing wrong by my vacation when I’m preoccupied playing video games.

What are your thoughts? Does playing video games during a vacation ruin the vacation? Tell me in the comments below.

Transcript(ish)

Hey Future Caleb. Does playing Mighty Gunvolt Burst still make you think of the beach?

Specifically, Ormond Beach in Florida! Where I am right now! I know that’s not a big deal to you in 2078, where due to climate change everywhere is a beach, but here in 2017 where my permanent home is the very not beach-adjacent US state of Kansas, being by the ocean is a big deal. So then, if this beach experience is so rare, why am I spoiling it by playing video games?

To answer that, we first need to explore the underlying assumptions. Does one experience ruin another simultaneous experience? And if not ruin, do simultaneous experiences weaken one another? Is the idea of simultaneous experience legitimate in any way?

It may be hard for you, Future Caleb, to fathom but here in 2017 the idea of a dedicated experience is cherished. Often, experiences in tandem are considered distractions. And I get it. Some experiences shouldn’t be combined due to public safety. Texting while driving, for example. Sometimes the social contract determines when experiences should remain exclusive. Public presence and nudity–especially my nudity. And the exclusivity of some experiences are encouraged on the assumption of good mental health. My co-workers practically demanded that I not touch email for the entire duration of this vacation, for example. And some experiences are terrible and therefore need experiences as distraction. Cookies and TV shows on a plane…of course that makes sense. Flying sucks. But flying with Portlandia… Less sucky.

But the beach and video games? Both experiences are great, so shouldn’t combining them be extra good?

I think so. I don’t think of these simultaneous experiences as compromising one another. I think of them as complementing one another in a way that strengthens both. By playing video games at the beach, I’m creating an association, one that will allow me to remember fondly the rare–being at the beach–while engaging in the common–playing video games.

I’m really interested in this idea of creating artificial association and have been since learning of memory palaces. This idea of artificial association has been leveraged to help people with their memory. Rather than relying on rote memory–essentially forcing yourself to memorize via repetition, which has been shown to be quite ineffective over the long term, memory by association using a technique called building a memory palace is much much much more effective, as it uses spatial memory, which humans are very good at. The basic idea is that you imagine a three-dimensional space that you know very well–your childhood home, for example. And you fill that space with items that you need to remember. Items from a shopping list, for example. They become fixtures in your childhood home memory palace.

I highly recommend a book called Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer for more information about memory palaces.

But back to video games. While I may not be creating a proper memory palace by playing my Nintendo Switch at the beach, I am extending my vacation by laying the foundation for memory recall when I pick up and play Mighty Gunvolt Burst in the future.

It’s not crazy. Think about all the memories you have of games from the past. Do those games make you think of good times with your friends and family? How many times have you justified liking a bad game because of the memories you associate with it?  That’s what I’m doing by playing video games at the beach. The difference being that I’m doing it intentionally.

Fingers crossed I don’t get bitten by a shark. Then I’ll never be able to play the Switch ever again. Unless being bitten by a shark is actually really cool, and all those armless surfers just perpetuate the narrative of pain because they want all the shark mouths to themselves. You disabled jerk surfers!

Current viewers, what games do you associate with good memories? Tell me in the comments below. And please, like, subscribe, and click the bell. These things really help this video get more views. And if you watched this far into the video, you must like it, right? So, share it, please.

And to you Future Caleb, say hi to your grandkids for me.

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