Why Grinding Video Games are More Satisfying than Jobs
You’ve picked up some rocks and fallen branches that were scattered across the ground. You collected plenty of plant fiber, and some berries to eat. You start crafting an axe so that you can start chopping down trees. You start chopping down trees, and use the wood to build a small shelter, and you cover the top with thatch roofing. You build a furnace and collect clay by the river to start making pottery storage vessels and upgrade your roof to one of fired clay tiles. You build rabbit snares and weave fishing nets, which might gain you access to some leather and oils. A bow and arrows will get you some larger game, and a spear will protect you from the wolves. You continue collecting raw materials, processing them into tools, machines, and usable products, using those products to expand your home from a small hut to a giant castle. You venture ever further in search of adventure.
That may or may not sound interesting, but when it comes down to it, you just spent a week playing a video game where you went around and click on things a lot. Click on the clay deposit to take some out, click to put it into the kiln and wait until it has been fired into bricks, click to put the bricks into your inventory, click some more to build brick walls.
What makes it satisfying is that within this game world, those walls are your walls. You (through your character) mined the raw material, you processed them, you own the final product. Giant spiders or dinosaurs or zombies might come try to knock them down, but they are your walls and you can defend them.
It can be even more satisfying if the game allows cooperation with your friends. One person building a castle on their own will take some time, but if you do it with friends, it will be built faster and you will enjoy it even more as you work together and take care of each other.
None of this is manifested in the average job. Perhaps you work at a fast food restaurant. You do not own the restaurant. You craft a cheeseburger from its component parts, but you do not own any of the tools, any of the machines, any of the raw food. You must follow the company’s exact blueprint for crafting that cheeseburger, deviations will not be tolerated.
You watch as your cheeseburger sells for a few dollars; you keep count of how many cheeseburgers you make in an hour; you wonder why you are paid so little compared to how much money just went into the cash register. You do are not in control of how much money you make, you can beg for a raise. You know that the manager cannot give everyone a raise, so you must prove that you are more worthy than your coworkers. You probably don’t even get to see the company’s justification for paying you so little; no pie charts or graphs of revenue and expenditure, no details of how much pays for the raw food, how much pays for the tools and machines, how much pays you, how much goes into expansion, and how much the owners keep for themselves.
You are almost entirely alienated from the process. You have one role and one role only — use their tools, machines, and raw foods to craft the burger in the exact manner they tell you, and you will receive however much pay they have decided to give you. You cannot elect your manager, you cannot vote for your pay, you will simply do as they say or you will be fired.
Some people worry that gamers have become slaves to their video games, but in really, they are using video games to take control of something in their lives, to build something for themselves.
Imagine how many gamers would be able to drop their gaming addiction if socialists came along and put control back into the hands of the workers! If you were no longer forced to be a wage slave, but instead made products for the people and not for shareholder profits!
Imagine if economic charts, rather than showing how much money was spent buying things, instead showed how much of a product was actually demanded and how much was actually produced! This is much closer to the gamer’s world, who knows that he has a desire to upgrade his fur bedroll to an actual raised four-post bed, for which he will need to acquire a certain amount of wood and nails for the frame, and straw and cloth for the mattress. If he wants to build a guest room for his friends, he will know how much material is needed for however many beds must be made. A count of GDP or a total dollar amount of how much people are spending on beds is separated from reality, because it does not tell you how many people need beds and how many beds are being produced, it only tells you how much money the owners of bed companies made.