🧐 What is going on?
During lockdown I have been playing Destiny 2, a multiplayer first-person shooter developed by Bungie. It started as a weekly catch up during lockdown and has now evolved into meeting at least twice a week. Initially, we were doing small tasks and challenges in the game, but since reaching 6 members, we have now started to do Raids.
Raids are 6-player activities that rely on player communication and teamwork to solve complex mechanics. Each raid has a set of encounters that need all 6 players to solve before fighting a final boss.
From taking part in raids, I have begun to realise that this game has a lot of benefits to me mentally, especially in this time of COVID-19, and want to share my experiences.
🤓 Current research
A common opinion in regards to playing computer games is
"Its a waste of time, and you should be doing something better with your time."
From watching Daphne Bavelier's TED talk on "Your brain on video games." she states most people would think that is more useful to play sudoku or read a book than to play games. She then continues on to explains how spending 5-10 hrs a week can improve many aspects of your brain. Firstly, it improves your eyesight in the way we detect small details and also how we resolve the different levels of grey. Secondly, it has been shown to increase attention levels. Daphne shows a "conflict resolution " test like the one below, where you have to say the colour of the word and not the word.
There have been a lot of conflict resolution "tests" in the Destiny's Raids, and you have to think quick, or the raid is over. Gamers, on average, solve the conflict quicker due to increased attention levels.
She then goes on to show a test where yellow dots are on the screen, blue dots will show at the start for 10 seconds then change to yellow, and you have to track them for 30 seconds. The research states that most gamers will be able to track up to 6 or more blue dots, whereas non-gamers will typically be able to track 3-5 dots.
The research team then studied images of the brain to see what impact video games had. It showed that there were more connections between areas of the brain that control attention. Mainly in orientating, maintaining and regulating attention. Daphne states how moderate levels of playing video games can have these benefits and that they last for months after.
Still, I also think there are some advantages to playing video games related to lockdown too that could be added.
🥳 My Experiences
First is the apparent social aspect. I am regularly meeting my friends from all over Scotland that would typically not meet up. Before lockdown we would find it hard to arrange a meet up. Now we speak every week. It's also more comfortable to have a flowing conversation when you have to stop robots from taking over planets rather than a zoom call. When we complete raids as a Team, there is a sense of pride of us a team compared to completing an individual quest alone. A lot of the time we start a raid thinking "We will never do this". For example, these were my notes in one of the raids:
"woah the boss is more of the same but now two ships"
- Kill centurions (2 spawn, one either side)
- Boss fires out a single orb (everyone is engulfed - will die if orb not passed to them)
- Form a line at the back pass it to everyone, last person throws it at the boss
- Then destroy two ships, two orbs spawn
- one person goes to space see the two symbols and shouts them out
- Charge orbs, stand on symbols that were shouted out, throw orbs, repeat till orange space tube
- Go to space and throw orbs at ships with symbols
Boss Damage phase
- orb will spawn, charge it, quickly. Keep a hold of it till we have three
- repeat till we have three orbs, passing it to one another to avoid greed (death from holding the orb for too long)
- Robot at back of boss, will raise his hand and a purple glow, throw orbs they have to hit at roughly the same time.
- Boss's shield will go down, Team splits in half, right and left side
- He will turn to one side and the others have the chance to hit in the jetpack (crit area)
- need to do at least one third of damage as we only get three chances
- Repeat Damage Phase
Last standing mechanic (boss has no health)
- Boss throws out 6 orbs
- each orb is coded to one person so everyone needs to pick up an orb and throw it at him
It almost reads like a release procedure for deploying software. As you can see, these are quite complex and daunting to undertake. During the raid, we occasionally have to split off into smaller teams. These teams would each accomplish their small goal contributing to the broader goals of the group. If I go back to the software development analogie, a small team is taking on a feature to be developed. Organisation and communication are essential to carry out the strategy to complete the raid. My team working and communication while doing these raids has improved, like many of my team members. We are working as a team more effectively.
🤔 Final Thoughts
In the final part of Daphne's TED talk, she talks about how she would like to see video games being used as a training technic. During the lockdown, I have felt some disconnect with members of my team in work. I could see how games, like Destiny 2, could be used to help bridge those gaps and even improve our team working skills.
Let me know if you have had a similar experience with video games or if you want to play some Destiny!