Why is Gaming So Enjoyable, Yet Studying is So Hard?

Anyone who has played video games knows that gaming is not easy. In fact, I would go as far as to argue that to become a professional gamer requires the same amount of effort needed for a graduate degree. However, I have always found gaming to be highly entertaining, and studying not so much. so why is that exactly?

I think the first, and most important, aspect that differentiates gaming from studying is the positive annotation attached to gaming. To explain this point, I will use the example of reading. To many, this is a very nice and enjoyable way to spend time, however, I never could associate reading with fun because of all the reading assignments I had to do in school. Gaming has always been about having a good time, even though in many cases it can be frustratingly hard, while studying always relates to long hours of boredom, even though the material is interesting.

Second, comes the stakes associated with each activity. If you lose in a video game you can always restart and improve, however, if you fail the test you might not have a chance to make it up. This allows people to enjoy the game and learn on their own pace rather than having to worry and grind to pass a test.

The third and final point I would like to make is instant gratification. I know this is a controversial point and probably a counter argument to gaming but hear me out. Each time I’m facing a tough problem I can’t solve or fail at a task at hand it always makes me feel better when I open a game and crush everybody else. Studying is associated with a long-term plan and often one does not reap the fruits of his education until years to come. This makes justifying studying that much harder especially when bombarded by assignments and exams.

On a closing note, I don’t expect studying to be as fun as gaming, nor do I think it should be. Gaming can be a great way to blow off some steam while studying to build your future.

8 Replies to “Why is Gaming So Enjoyable, Yet Studying is So Hard?”

  1. I worked for a game magazine when I was an undergraduate. I needed to review games that been assigned to me. Not every game was good and sometimes it was painful to play a bad quality game. Gaming is not always so enjoyable! :->

    1. Once you make gaming your job, you loose a lot of the lure that got you into gaming in the first place. Being a casual gamer gives you the choice of which games you want to play as opposed to being forced into playing a game.

  2. I think you raise an interesting point (personally I have really enjoyed following the grow of esports), and generally it comes back around to the idea that human nature typically enjoys the things we do for fun and become disenfranchised with the things we are forced to do. I think gaming becomes no different if you are forced to play (for a job – same game – 12+ hours a day), and are actually playing for your livelihood where the consequences do matter (see your second point). In this sense, because gaming isn’t a job (for you) it doesn’t carry with it the same negative feelings/pressure that a job naturally brings allowing it to be a gratifying hobby.

  3. In my experience I would add a fourth point to your list, and that is clear, rewarded objectives. Video games often set up a series of goals/quests/objectives that you complete, and after a bit of work you are instantly rewarded with experience/equipment/loot/achievements. Academic success doesn’t follow a given, defined objective, and the rewards, if any, are significantly delayed.

  4. I thought your first point about reading was very interesting. When I was a kid I loved to read! Then, in middle school and high school I had to do a bunch of reading assignments on books I didn’t really enjoy. Furthermore, I really hated those assignments because I felt like I had to analyze every word of the book to identify themes and stuff that I didn’t think really even existed in the book. This resulted in a few negative outcomes: 1) I wasn’t able to enjoy reading the book because I had to over-analyze every section, 2) I didn’t get the full message of the book since I was spending my time analyzing little bits and pieces, and 3) I stopped reading outside of school because I was so annoyed with the school readings. However, in grad school, I started reading books for fun again and now I read a little on most days. I also play some video games most days. When I’m reading for fun or playing video games, I don’t have to analyze the book or the game, so I think that’s the main reason for me that playing games is entertaining and studying isn’t.

  5. I wonder if there is a good equivalent in learning environments that mirrors the ‘try-fail-try again’ mindset of gaming. Like you said, tests are not well suited for this because they can have lasting consequences on students’ grades. Michael Wesch’s video we saw in class though had an example that is much closer than tests though. His “not yet” feedback to students encourages them to build upon their previous work rather than focusing on punishment and consequences to motivate students. I think his feedback is much more rewarding and pushes students to be more than “satisfactory”. This is just like in a game: accomplishments are rewarded, rather than expected and punished if not met.

  6. I like your post. I like the word gratification, especially when it comes to gaming. In fact, gaming offers great potential and opportunities for learning in various settings. I think it is something that students of all ages can easily identify with as well.

  7. Awesome post! dont know how I missed this one! The explanations that you have provided why gaming is fun and studying is not do make a lot of sense.

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