Life Lessons and Lasting Memories

Life Lessons and Lasting Memories: The Hidden Power of Video Games | S3:E24

Daniel A. Kaufmann, Ph.D
Dr. Gameology on Twitch & The Gaming Persona Podcast
Owner of Area of Effect Counseling
Director of Gaming Services at Kindbridge BH
IGCCB President

Life Lessons and Lasting Memories: The Hidden Power of Video Games

Ever wondered how our gaming memories can influence our lifespan? Tune in as we take you on a journey through the riveting world of video games. We discuss our recent encounters like Overwatch 2, Legends of Runeterra, Darkest Dungeon 2, and Diablo 4, and ponder the crucial factors of a successful game experience. Reflecting on our gaming memories, we share how nostalgia can significantly impact a game’s longevity.

Get ready to explore the profound influence video games exert on our lives. We talk about the life lessons they provide, the innovative ways they gamify experiences, and how they teach us to confront success and failure. Listen as we delve into how games inspire resilience and offer a judgment-free environment to confront challenges. Passion is the driving force behind our gaming experiences, and we introduce a new three-tiered approach to categorize these experiences.

In the concluding part of our conversation, we unearth our most memorable gaming moments and triumphs. We reminisce about achievements, moments of hope, and the deep bonds formed over games. We also share how intricate knowledge of a game can contribute to the meaningful experiences that video games offer. As we wrap up, we reflect on how these memories inspire us in our daily adventures and keep us motivated. Come and discover gaming’s role beyond mere entertainment.


Life Lessons and Lasting Memories: The Ordinary World


So Jenny, where are we talking about from the world of video games today?

We are going to be talking about our favorite gaming memories.

I cannot wait to get into that conversation. So let’s go ahead and enter The Ordinary World where we share everyday life through our games. Gene, Jenny? Of course me but I’m not talking to myself. How was your week in video games since the last time we did this?

I played a new game.

Why did you do that?

I watched a new game being played. I kind of played. But yeah. So I’ve been playing Legends of Runeterra lately, which is part of the League of Legends like lore, I believe it’s like an offshoot game for them. But it’s similar to the Rogue like game that I was playing a few months back, where it’s like a card battling kind of video game. Okay, yeah. And we’ve been playing the PvE content like side of the game rather than battling other people. So it’s been fun. I really enjoy this style game. Like, it’s also very similar to Magic the Gathering. I’m having a fun time, kind of like comparing the two and anytime, like I haven’t learned really what the different abilities are called in Legends of Runeterra. I’ve been referring to them by the Magic The Gathering terms. Because it just makes more sense in my brain. But yeah, it’s a fun game. And we’ve poured quite a few hours into that this past weekend.

That sounds like amazing fun. And mostly any game, especially with your motivation profile, Jenny would obviously be better being able to play it with another person.

Yes, well, the game isn’t designed that way. But essentially, the way that we play together is he controls the like mouse and keyboard and everything. And I just like, kind of tell them what to do.

I guess you cannot be bothered to use these mortal controls.

I give him my input. So like, you have to build your deck. And so it gives you like, when you go to the store, it gives you a choice of things that you buy. And like every time you go to a new little area, you can choose a new item or a new like relic kind of thing. And so I’ve just helped in deciding what direction we take our ducks..

So you’re playing by proxy?

Yes, I made a one-player game into a two-player game.

All right, Gene, what have you been up to?

Well, Darkest Dungeon 2 released, you know, fully instead of early access. So I’ve been working on the end of that game. It’s very, very hard.

Okay, well, I hope you enjoy conquering that soon because I know you will. What’s the what’s the genre? Or playstyle for Darkest Dungeon games?

It is a semi rogue like, turn based Oregon Trail, gang.


Yes, it reminds me of adventures in a wagon and they had to go through to the mountain to fight the demons basically. And so it’s like they had to cross the country.

Yeah, I mean, that’s exactly how I remember Oregon Trail. Yes. Got to beat those demons in Montana.

And not farming. Yes. Okay.

Well, you know, another game with demons in hell aliens came out today, Diablo 4 is available. And because of that, I updated my Blizzard launcher. Which means I also updated Overwatch to, which I haven’t played since November, sadly, but I thought about what it would be like to have enough free time today to play it. And I continued my quest to play A Realm Reborn revisited re completed. And I am still in the patch, between A Realm Reborn ending and Heavensward starting. But I also started leveling up Gladiator. So I can have a tank class to play because if I keep doing leveling roulette as a Black Mage, I’m going to be in Heavensward, which is maximum of level 60. But I’ll be level 90, and not be able to get good gear or anything. So I thought I need to get some classes that are just picking up one or two levels every day. So that I have more range in who I can play as in these expansions.

And it’s still misery to level.

Well, I like leveling, so even if it was I don’t think I would notice Gene. One thing I’ve been reflecting on from our conversation last time, is you have very strong opinions about how games lunch, which I know I came up with a topic last week because I was salty about several games that launched poorly. But you want games to work really well from the beginning, whereas maybe I’m more forgiving in that area. And I just assumed that being low level was garbage.

Now, I mean games that start strong, don’t have to spend a whole lot of money and time digging out of that hole. They can just go on to make something awesome. Like every single from soft game work. And then their expansions are some of the best expansions of all time. Like that’s the that’s the bar.

Yeah, I understand. It’s just I think it was Diablo three. Last week, you mentioned that it started out really weak. And I played it only at the beginning of its existence and thought it was great. My wife did not and so we stopped playing.

So you never got to the part that made it feel miserable. That’s

No, I played it for less than five hours there. Yeah. I play lots of things in less than five hours. There’s a there’s a hump where I harshly judge whether something is worth my time or not. And only a few games. Pass that check.

Okay, so imagine if you had played around reborn when it first came out, you beat the story. And then the only thing you had to do at the end of the game was literally three or three

It was Praetorium.

Yeah, the only thing that to do at the end of a Realm Reborn was Praetorium. Titan Garuda, any free. It was very dull.

Oh, sure. But no, it’s great now because yeah, even then you have the Alliance raids coming up soon, and those are worked into the main quest. And you also have the other primals that make their appearance in between level 50 and 51.

But that was also the ludicrous timeframe where you couldn’t skip cutscenes so ever Have you run a praetorium took like two hours,

I am watching every cutscene while I’m writing my Dungeons and Dragons notes. I’m keeping track of NPCs.

But ever repeat.

I play games so I can play games. Now Gene, I just don’t come back to ones that are not fulfilling me. So actually, I have an idea in my head, currently in the Steam Store. Red Dead Redemption two and Grand Theft Auto Five are on sale for, like extremely high percentages off. And I was thinking about picking up both of those just because of their relevance to gaming history and maybe playing them on my Steam deck for five hours. And then and then quitting because that’s, that is absolutely what I’m gonna do.

You only get the skin of a one year. Time is a game that is purposely slow. Okay, it’s a game that makes you like snakes, you watch every detail of every of every cutscene of every action,

… and like reading The Song of Ice and Fire.

Yeah, so like, you play that game for hours and don’t technically accomplish anything.

Earlier this week, I had a session playing Final Fantasy 14, not the same kind of game. But I played for about an hour and 10 minutes and through only one fireball as a black mage, right? So like no combat, just mail courier and cutscenes. So anyway, I will not be surprised at all, if we check in next week. And I’ve added a couple more games to my Steam library. I’m very heavily leaning towards the System Shock remake, because I never played that game. And I feel like that game would be amazing for me and what I look for in video games. So there’s three games that might be added to the compendium of what I can do in Dr game ology stuff. And also, I should have mentioned this last week, three years of Dr. Game, ology apparently happened like that. So that is definitely a huge part of my ordinary world, whenever I get a chance to actually stream on a Sunday, I probably will be celebrating that in some way with maybe a longer stream, or maybe an extra stream somewhere middle of the week that’s specifically about that. I’m still putting the plan together. But it’ll be fun. I had no idea that I was there. And I’m actually really excited to talk about that now, because I’m looking at the Twitch chat. And there are a couple people that have been really important supporters to me over the years that I don’t get to see all the time. And that’s my fault. Because I have no schedule, what’s the schedule. But you know, I just want to say while we’re talking about this, thank you so much for supporting me and seeing your names pop up on the screen is a big part of why I decided to hit Go Live. If I do hit Go Live. So thank you very much, we could not continue this journey without you.


Life Lessons and Lasting Memories: The Call to Adventure


So let’s go ahead and do The Call to Adventure. So we can get into our topic for the week. So I want to start out with a very simple question for both of you. I of course have my own preconceived notion of how I would answer this, but I don’t want my answer yet. Why are video games meaningful?

You asked me for our personal opinions on this.

Well, yeah, this is not an essay. There’s no right or wrong answer. But I’m just curious because I live in this question every day, especially with the things I’m doing with book editing. But I just wonder if other people ever think about this, or if I asked them straight up, what are they going to come up with? So you’re like my science experiment right now. Jenny?

Um, so, man, this is a huge question. Right? I think yeah, games are meaningful to me specifically because it’s an opportunity for me to grow relationships and feel accomplishment and just, I don’t know bring joy to my life. That’s very meaningful to me. But then I could come up with a million different reasons why games would be really meaningful to other people. It’s a place where, I don’t know it feels like, like, like a, like safety to me, gaming, and like the culture surrounding it feels safe to me. I would say that like, in general terms, I’m sure there are instances where I haven’t felt safe and in, you know, in public gaming, roads, or spheres. But it just is a place where I feel like I can be myself, I can do the things I like, and be surrounded by people who I have so much in common with.

That’s interesting, because I ran hammer station slow one time and felt the exact opposite of that. Gene, why are video games meaningful or not? For you?

So my most poignant memories of games are, I don’t know if we’ve ever talked about and it shows through something that’s called emergent storytelling. It’s like, and it’s this emergent storytelling is the story between stories like, in between cutscenes of Final Fantasy seven, you can do random John, like go, you know, steal things from people in the woods. And it’s like, the little mini story in between there. It’s like, why is Aerith and Cloud going around mocking people in the woods? Yeah.

Sorry, that you get to create.

Yeah. So like, when I play games, I don’t know, I dream up these weird little metal stories in my head all the time. Like, one time I was at your house, we played the board game, the game of life. I don’t know. For some reason my guy became a vampire, Indiana Jones character, because that’s the random job he got. And a random lifeguard found like, I was running around as low stock apparently. Thing I just do.

Oh, that’s interesting. So if you have a character that in your own head canon or emergent story is counterintuitive to the character they play in the programmed story. We call that Ludo narrative dissonance. So it’s the idea that, you know, Joe and Ellie are running around killing very few people. And in the story, when they do kill someone, it’s a meaningful emotional moment. But when you’re playing the levels, you just asked 150 guys to get through one section of the story. And those are not emotional or meaningful. They’re just gameplay. So Ludo narrative dissonance is the key phrase for tonight. And emergent storytelling is definitely a part of that. head canon is a part of that. And I think it’s cool that I’m guessing from a young age you were already doing that Gene.

Yeah. Yeah, like, I mean, I mean, my first exposure to RPGs but I think was when I was six. And those games what Earthbound?

Earthbound Wow, first mentioned on the gaming persona,

so yeah, and RPG is back in those days, they didn’t have they went actually a long time without any dialogue, because you would just go you know, you will get a bunch of dialogue in town and then you go have to go through a dungeon and it’s like, then in the dungeon, it’s like many hours of no dialogue versus you know, RPG is today where there’s dialogue within the dungeons. But it’s like so yeah, you run around these dungeons Craig, we’re meta stories because it’s like, why is NES crashing moles and gangsters in this in this cave? With a baseball bat, and he’s like eight official age I forget.

He was a kid. Based on his character model in Smash Brothers. I don’t think it matters what he is he’s a like Play School toys.

At NASA is 12. As a 12 year old he is straight up like he’s literally fighting police officers with a baseball bat. Like a boss my game that police chief

Wow. Okay, well, for me games are meaningful because they gave me the kind of life lessons I needed to always believe in myself as a problem solver and to look at Things like they are gamified in wife. And I recently had a therapeutic conversation where I was talking about gamifying your opportunities in your day, and instead of categorizing them as successes or failures, look at them instead just swap those words out, they don’t really help you. In this certain situation, instead of a failure, look, reclassify it as a learning opportunity. And if it’s a success, reclassify that as an example. So then everything we do in our day, rather than saying, I succeeded, or I failed, all the different moments across our day are either learning opportunities or examples. And those examples are they formed the path forward the learning opportunities are opportunities to experiment and figure out what will work in the future what might work, try something you haven’t tried yet. And you know, our show we have constantly not so much in the last 30 episodes, don’t think but Jenny, we used to do the do or do not, there is no try all the time. And video games are where my unique way of understanding that concepts come from it, it’s not exactly Yoda on day go by, it’s just, if we give up, that’s where the do not kicks in. And video games, I think, have always told me Don’t give up, you can figure this out. Just keep working at it. So we have a lot of different concepts in Mental Health Counseling and Psychology, that talk about meaning because a lot of times meaning drives us into a path of action in our routine in life and what we hope for. And so one of my favorite books I’ve ever read, that has nothing to do with video games, is Man’s Search for Meaning from Viktor Frankl. And Viktor Frankl was a psychologist who was taken by the Nazis and actually was in Auschwitz and several other concentration camps. So the idea that video games have anything to do with this is not what I’m trying to say at all. That’s real suffering. on a level that is not normally what we’re talking about, on the gaming persona. But upon surviving those camps, he came up and published the idea that became known as logotherapy. And logos is, you know, meaning. So we have the three components of meaning, as he categorize them are achievement, love, and suffering. And, you know, one of the quotes that really inspired me, as a counselor early in my career, was, I’m not going to direct quote, because I don’t know if I can, but if someone has a why they can withstand any how. So, so for me, you know, relatively there has not been suffering at all in my life in the context of this conversation. But the difficulty that we face in video games, even from an early age, sort of felt like, I have to figure this out, like, my parents kind of raised me to, you can’t give up. And if you did, why did you do that? How could you and you need to go back and get it right. And so that’s kind of what I looked at life as in video games, were probably the safest place to experience that. Because if it was a school grade, then I’d have to share that I failed and I did poorly, and then I’d probably cry. But in video games, it was a place where I didn’t have to cry because it’s built in as part of the experience. So I know I just said a lot of things because I didn’t want to sound like I’m comparing, like losing in a game like Elden Ring to you know how we got Man’s Search for Meaning from Viktor Frankl that’s, that’s not the same. You know, let’s not start those rumors on the internet at all. But just If Yeah, I wanted to make that very clear, but at the same time, you know, maybe not love but passion, you know, or I feel a lot of passion towards the idea of being able to play a game and connect with it and find meaning in the story and the characters, the experiences and what I get from the gameplay, which also includes the people I play the game with. So I feel like we’re hitting a lot of those notes. If you take everything I just said, everything you said, Jenny, and everything Gene said, and we smash it into a ball, then we have all the ingredients for people to find meaning in their own way.

Yeah, I think the three tiered approach that that he’s describing here can easily be applied to video games. I know. So I have some examples of some of my favorite memories. And we’ll get to that, but I can easily categorize each of them into one of these sections. Like, of course, I love playing with my friends. Of course, achievement is a big motivator of mine, that brings a lot of meaning to my gaming. And there are some things that I suffer through when I’m playing video games that lead to I don’t know, feeling capable.


Life Lessons and Lasting Memories: The Road of Trials


Jenny, I am so glad that you said it that way. And let us linger on your suffering. So let’s go on The Road of Trials. So you can face your challenges and we can discover our strengths. All right, so I do want to give us all three of us a chance to share two to three of our favorite most meaningful gaming memories, and of course, limiting it to that number, we are not going to be able to share the full range of all the different games and consoles and titles. But that’s not our goal today, we’ll never do the entire thing but we can start it so just throughout all of our time being a gamer what are some of the highlights where you we remember something that happened and it feels like that was a powerful memory to have.

Um, okay, so I wanted to bring it back to my suffering because there was a period of time where we were playing solitaire together and I think it was all three of us at this point. And we were grinding just grinding group content. And some days I felt like we were hitting a wall and then there were like moments of just utter joy in beating what we have been setting out to beat for weeks. And I just remember that time of just being a time of growth like I hadn’t really approached the game in that way before that I was looking up like researching my role researching my class trying to figure out better ways to play better rotations for me and it was for the good of the group like I really wanted us to succeed and I put a lot of energy and we suffered we were grinding for weeks trying to be I can’t be specific because I have a terrible memory but

um yeah, Master Blaster.

Honestly, that one didn’t impact me as much it my memories are of I am going to butcher this Okay, so the fight that looked like Tron

Oh, Terror from Beyond.

Yes, but the particular fight before

Was it the color-coded one? Yes, the operator nine

There we go. Operator nine. That one I remember just dying and responding and dying and responding and dying so often to that. And when we finally beat it, that was like a just like, incredibly joyful moment for me and I think, yeah, that’s one of my best memories is not just the fact that we won. It’s like, how, like what it brought out in me.

Yeah, like you learned the difference between orange and blue. Our poll. Yeah. It was hard. For some of us, there’s others, it wasn’t as hard. You know, I’m really glad you brought that up. Because one thing that I’m just hung up on is, I haven’t played switch or in a long time. And I instantly knew which boss you were talking about by name. Whereas in Final Fantasy 14, there are so many bosses, I have no idea who I’m fighting at any given moment. It’s just like, there’s a, there’s an arrow in the universe that says fireball that way. And I’m like, yep. And I just do it. Do it. Yeah. You know, whether it was, you know, story mode was the period of time where all three of us were on the team. And then I think when we switch to veteran mode, I think that’s when Gene I think that’s when you unsubscribe to solo tour, or shortly into that. But I really do miss that team. That was such an important period of time in my life. My wife was on the team, the two of you, my sister was on the team. Jessica was on the team who I still am playing Final Fantasy with. And, you know, I was doing my research for my dissertation. So I felt really connected to what the game was, and starting to imagine what my future as a professor was going to look like. But I wasn’t there yet. And so there was all of this, you know, achievement, but also hopefulness. And just when, when we would want to win a boss fight every, every Wednesday night, or maybe it was Tuesday and Thursday, but whatever, you know, you’d have this idea we’re going to beat the boss tonight and then a lot of times we wouldn’t and so you know, whether that’s really suffering or just video games suffering I think. I think it’s fair to say that that is video games suffering, not like real life threatening stuff. But our health bars were threatened by my sister’s ability to know what blue is okay, so oh my gosh, she’s gonna hear this episode someday when she catches up there is a there is a bird outside of Horizon in Final Fantasy 14 It’s like just a regular enemy at the watering hole area when you fight it and kill it squawks in annoys that I have heard her make 1000 times in my life. So sister there you go. You got mentioned on the gaming persona but I think that my time playing games with her in our adult life have been really important for our relationship and staying connected. She was not living in the same kind of part of the country as me for a lot of that I think, or maybe she was it’s all a jumbled mess. But you know, I think that you know, it connected it kept me connected to a lot of people and gave me achievements that I was looking for Gene Do you have anything that comes to mind on this list? Whether it’s accomplishments or story moments or some of these connections?

And their accomplishments I was actually thinking of I don’t know it’s a kind of a internet meme now but the original Lion King game on Sega Genesis, you know, it’s like apparently is now legendarily hard

You beat it on launch day didn’t you?

Not launch day, but it took me because level to the second level. It took me several days to figure it out as a white seven year old kid. That is stupidly hard.

I never finished I just can’t wait to be king. Exactly that. Yeah, that’s the level. Okay.

Yeah, that was impossible.

Yeah, it was a puzzle. It took me forever to figure out which way to point the stupid monkeys to throw you the right way. There was a point where if you don’t do it, right, the monkeys just throw you in an endless loop and you never get anywhere. And that’s where I got stuck for several days. No.

Learning opportunities. Examples.

Yeah. Yeah, but that was, that was the path I guess to me. I’m really thinking about you.

Oh, man. So there’s actually, I’m gonna spoil a major story moment that at least for right now in human history is canon, but we’re gonna see in December, if it stays that way. In Final Fantasy seven Aerith doesn’t make it again, I said spoiler a couple seconds ago, Aerith dies. And I remember being so shocked by that, because I really liked her as a character. And that moment felt to me, like one of the biggest story moves that a video game could possibly do. You know, right up there with some of the most ridiculous plot twists in movies, or anything on TV. And still, to this day, the feeling of sitting at my laptop, because that’s how I was playing Final Fantasy seven is I was on my laptop. And getting to that moment, completely oblivious years, you know, there were years and years for the world to spoil me on this because I didn’t have a ps1 in the 90s. This was the early 2000s. And it just still to this day, it’s like that feeling lives on inside of me when I’m watching other stories and waiting to see what happens. And I just, I can’t really categorize it. It’s just, I can’t imagine being a game player that doesn’t remember that moment. And, and as a result, Final Fantasy seven has grown to mean a lot to me. And then games I played shortly after that, all of my desire to see characters through to the end was flimsy, like I was expecting bad things to happen, just to prove a point and make the story have greater impact. And sometimes that would happen, and most of the time it wouldn’t. And so that definitely is one story moment. But the games that I talk about all the time on this show, and the games that take a lot of, you know, space, when I’m talking about the gamers journey, they all have these moments, you know, the another one, I actually had this vision of how this episode was gonna go. And ultimately, I decided not to do this. But I was thinking how could I insert this speech at the beginning of BioShock into our episode, where you’re on the in the bathysphere, and it’s acting like an elevator pushing you down to the very bottom of the ocean. And Andrew Ryan is just monologuing about how his society is better than all the ones that have ever existed on the surface. And that speech just changes the way I feel about being alive. I don’t know how I don’t agree with the speech. But a lot of the points he’s making are the counter arguments to the structures of society. In a lot of ways. My job is a counter argument to the structure of society. And so I just think, I don’t know if there’s a single day, where I think zero times about Bioshock. I mean, it’s, it’s right there, like right where my fingers pointing that picture. So just by me being in this room, I’m thinking about BioShock I’m thinking about journey. I’m thinking about Zelda. I’m thinking about Final Fantasy. And that’s it. Jenny, do you have memory number two?

Yes. Man, I have so many. So I’m trying to think of it. I think okay, so a fun one is playing Final Fantasy with our group of people that I miss dearly, and I feel terrible that I’ve kind of left the Final Fantasy for

There’s a solution to that feeling, Jenny,

I know.

You’re still subscribed?

I am. Oh yeah. Oh, man. No, there’s no reason

It burned that money.

Oh, my heart just can’t let go. But, um, so during that time period where I was playing a lot and we would just get on and just have nights where we would do fun things and grind for mounts. And I just remember a particular night where I became the RNG goddess.

So not fair.

And I basically won every mount like, first try. And it was really fun. And I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.

You should have just played the lottery that night Jenny I know you’re never going to capture that lightning in a bottle again.

Yeah, it’s just I really do look upon that time very fondly. And I will always be I will always carry the title

Do you remember the time I was trying just to learn a blue mage spell from a free yeah how many times we had to kill you free? Oh, no. Like over 40 times. It was awful All right, Gene. Do you have a second memory that maybe doesn’t make me feel bad about myself?

Yeah, you’re here I know. Okay. Okay. All right. I still have to you know, my brain scrambled because we I lagged for a few seconds.

Oh, blame it on the lag.

Yeah, that is connected. Um, anyways, let’s see. Story moment. The Okay, so similar to the Final Fantasy seven concept of Arif dying. An RPG I play Luna lunar Silver Star Story. Your healer Luna. This the healer type lady just like Arif. In this game. She disappears about 25% of the way through. The evil villain kidnaps her and says like, you’re the goddess reincarnated. We’re going to make you into a goddess. So you go through the whole game expecting like, hey, you know, because fiction sets you up to be like, hey, eventually you’re gonna recapture the princess and then she’s gonna rejoin the party. She never does in this game. She’s actually the final boss. So it’s like, the whole time I was like, what is happening? I have no healer two thirds of his game.

And then the healer shows up and just wants to kill you. Yeah. That’s clever. I like that a lot.

You feel like that is like game or like rarely and video games where I go through it. Drinking potions and stuff non stop because most games are RPG trained you to like, use your MP use your MP. Before us there your potions and all that. This game was like the reverse. You just had to drink all your potions?

Yeah. Yeah, that’s so true. Because MP replenishes and items are one use. Yeah. Okay, well, I think I have a few more. This one kind of, I’m going to merge two very different experiences into one so that I can drag gene into this memory. So Gene, do you remember any of our epic win streaks and Resident Evil five mercenaries? That that is possibly the most effective I’ve ever been competing against other human beings in a video game. And I don’t know that that will ever happen in another video game. But just being in the top 20 on the entire leaderboard of that game. For as long as we were up there is one of my favorite memories. Yeah. And to the point where we had a good rhythm to our two man team, where we would just end people with the way you would go up and punch people and then I would shotgun them in the face and it didn’t matter which order those two things happened, but it just was beautiful. And I just think that that’s a good example of forming a multiplayer strategy or synergy and the competitive of aspect to is quite fun. And I think that that’s a huge part of why, you know, 20 years later I decided to, you know, you came to my mind the week that Jenny needed a week off. And I really wanted to do the topic, and I thought gene would be perfect for that topic, I think it was persona, but I’m not sure. And so that that set of memories is important to me for reasons outside of the game, but definitely involved one aspect of playing that game, the multiplayer mode of that game. And, you know, just the idea of trying to get better, and keep looking at the smallest little details in a game to get better at something. And this is really helpful when you’re parsing or measuring your damage per second in MMO. Games, which is sometimes legal, and other MMOs say it’s illegal. But you know, in Star Wars, The Old Republic, it’s not illegal to measure your damage per second. And so just going through that, and mastering the Sith, sorcerer lightning rotation, to the degree that I did probably three years ago or so. And getting up on that leaderboard, to be number one for about 30 days, was just a really another one of those moments where you just learn to be critical, but also push yourself to do everything as perfectly as possible, rapidly. Kind of like doing your homework, but in a video game. Yes. And that’s, that’s fun in a nerdy way. Yeah. So I get a lot of meaning from that. Just being able to definitively say I did that, right.

Yeah. And Rosie, you will remember us? Practicing the manual reloading opening the manual? And how much quicker that was?

Yeah, yeah. So you hit triangle, and then you move the ammo into the game, instead of holding aim and x, or

I think is ludicrous that games back then didn’t just have a reload button. But I did create an interesting level of extra skill.

My pet peeve these days is R three or no L three to run. I cannot stand that. Because I don’t want to hit L three or R three. That much? Because I feel like that is the button most likely to break. Because no button. I just I just want to hold down x while I’m pushing forward. Can we just can we just do that? Please. And by the way, if

You hold down our to like as you’re driving a car.

Okay, I can compromise. That’s fine. And by the way, x is the button that is south on the compass. I will not accept any other structure. But do we have time for one more? We probably do.

Sure. Yeah. Over an hour.


Life Lessons and Lasting Memories: The Ascent


Has it? Oh no. I lost track of time. Let’s go to The Ascent and elevate the topic. All right. So in this episode, today, we’ve shared so many different ideas from our background playing video games, from NES all the way to PS5 and PC, we have talked about accomplishment, story moments connections with life, and how these combined to create meaning the way we play video games. This is deeply personal, and changes from player to player. But hopefully when you look back on the games that have meant the most to you, you can find the lessons that got you through to your final moment playing the game for now. And you can use those lessons to do things in a way that makes you feel fulfilled in other places in your life. That’s really the thing about video games that makes me excited to talk about them and to do everything I do to bring up the psychology and mental health aspects of video games and it all comes down to meaning.


Life Lessons and Lasting Memories: The Return


So let’s go on to The Return so that we can get back to our daily lives and take our next step forward. We had our sound effects today we had our topic. We had a book reference. We had personal stories. I’m done. How are all of you feeling?

I’m feeling great. This was a fun little trip down memory lane.

Yeah, pretty good. Yeah. Hey, we didn’t get to it. But so my son my good memories are from Diablo two. And I’m still wondering if Diablo four will ever be able to hit that point again for me.

Do you want to buy it and play it with me this week?

I don’t think so. Okay. I think I’m just gonna hang off on buying new games until Final Fantasy 16.

That’s in like, two weeks. Exactly.

I don’t that’s not enough time to sink into Diablo. Like, if you’re actually playing it.

Well, I could play it for five hours and then switch to Final Fantasy 16? Should we just build up a segment? Like an official segment where I ask one or both of you to play a game with me? And you just say no, every week?

I mean, there are games where there are games that it’s fine to play for five, five hours and better games. That’s not.

Okay. I guess I see your point. I’m not gonna live my life as if I see your point. But intellectually, you’re right, Gene. Okay, well, I hope that whatever we decided to do this week, we all connect with our meaning in and out of video games. If these conversations sound fun to you, and you’re looking for some great people to play online games with, you can check out AIE at And I have one last quest for everyone to collect for the day; Make your games meaningful and…

Continue the Journey

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Important Links


Frankl, V. (1959). Man’s Search For Meaning. Beacon Press.

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