Friday, February 25, 2005

Things I want to understand

Occasionally, you see sensational headlines claiming that playing games on the computer increases productivity. I have, however, always problems with tracking down the actual sources of such claims, so I never see anything but tantalising bits indicating that the brain is stimulated in interesting ways by reading computer mediated texts.

But from personal experience, I find that playing certain games helps me to change from one mode of working and thinking to another. It is for instance an important part of making the switch from administration to reading or writing scholarly material. Playing adventure games puts me into an analytical mode which resonates with the problem-solving structure of many of these games. First and second person shooters have a limited hold on me, but in a way they lead me the other way, from the analytical mode of research and writing, to the problemsolving mode of administration. Get the crooks lined up, figure out how to finish them up and get the job done - that pretty much sounds like administrative work to me...

On this background I am frustrated with the kind of knowledge I don't have, and the kind of research I don't find. What I would like to know is how different people react to deifferent media when they want to be expressive. I have all kinds of rituals. Some are like the rituals of athletes, who have to have two odd socks on for the important matches. My slight obsession with pens comes in that category. In order to write something clever, I think I need a pen that meets certain criteria. But other rituals are important parts of making the brain work differently, like when I outline an article in different colours on a large piece of paper, or when I write its bits and pieces on stickies to move tham around.

Meditation touches on this, as it is a conscious effort to put the brain into a particular mode. It is this mode-change I would like to find some literature describing: preferably in the way writing and reading and playing online primes the brain for certain tasks. I feel this effect on myself, but I don't know if it is just that I have conditioned myself to react in a certain manner to certain stimuli (administration + break with games = research time) or if the brain actually slips into different working modes. Or if it will ever be possible to figure this out.


bryan said...

That's a great idea (playing a computer game to help transition from one mindset to another). I've always had difficulty when doing homework, having to go from writing on Shakespeare to writing about Marxism.

I'll try it!

Torill said...

Let me know how that works for you, bryan :)