Keep talking and nobody explodes

Ben Bernstein

Dopamine flooding

Source: BenBernstein

When I made a playdate with my 15-year-old cousin, I was specific: “Bring a VR headset. I want to see how it all works.” At 74, I’ve had very limited exposure to virtual reality and I know this kid is totally addicted.

It immediately gets us into a game: one of the players puts on the headset and holds the controllers in his hands. Once in the virtual reality world, he is in front of a large bomb that will explode in five minutes unless he defuses it. The other player (not wearing a headset) reads the instructions for defusing the bomb. The instructions are quite complicated – there are many different parts to the bomb: colored wires to cut, switches to turn off, and buttons to press. The clock is counting down. If you don’t defuse the bomb in time, it explodes and explodes with it.

I put the headset on, and I listen as my cousin (I’ll call him “The Kid”) gives me basic instructions on how to use the controls. The clock starts ticking. Oh, wow. I See the bomb! It’s a big blocky thing with all sorts of stuff on it. The child commands, “Cut the blue wire!” At first I don’t see a blue wire but when I do I immediately hit a snag with the controllers. I can’t translate verbal instructions into my fingers. I get some directions right, but I realize I’m so afraid of blowing myself up that I rip my headset off and stop the game at the four-minute mark. We try it again, and two more times I put up with it anxiety I stop before the big bang. On the fourth try I think, I wouldn’t really explode. This is it virtual reality. Face afraid! I am the Stress Doctor! I take a deep breath and try to follow his instructions, but my awkward maneuvering causes the stupid grenade to slide off the table and fall to the floor. Dang! bubble!

Even though my physical body doesn’t break into a million shards and my virtual reality body doesn’t turn into a billion dots, I find myself Laugh Hysterically, as the year-old rolls his eyes and makes a sinister remark, “Born!” I couldn’t help but notice how amplify I feel. me too high! This is the same feeling I had 50 years ago when I was on drugs.

Now, I just wanted to play again.

The kid and I go out for burgers. I asked him how he was doing at school. He runs his eyes. I ask him what that means. “I’m not doing a good job,” he said, averting his gaze. “I don’t do my homework.” “Let me guess,” I say, “homework, too Boring. “Shoot again,”The school Not so boring.”

Here you are. What could compete with your neurons flooding dopamine, by playing in the world of virtual reality and video games? Dopamine makes you feel happy and satisfied Stimulate. A rush of dopamine makes your brain feel good, as if you’ve achieved something geometry, nouns, and adjectives, and the War of 1812 doesn’t stand a chance.

The child’s parents think it is ADHD. not him. for him Attention completely surrounded by the virtual world. This adds another layer to the reason why ADHD is often misdiagnosed, if not false. teens. (See my previous post, What is the real “deficit” in ADHD? ).

My hangout with the kid exposed another layer of attention issues: difficulty paying attention to everyone else. As we were chowing down on burgers and flipping ketchup on fries, the kid talked himself incessantly with remarkable ease. Show little interest in me. In the competitive virtual world, you are either opposing everyone else, or you are on a team that outsmarts or eliminates other teams. Sure, there are virtual experiences related to building cooperation And society, but these are not the ones who hang teenagers.

The game we played is called, Keep talking and nobody explodes. Alas, I can imagine calling it the second or third generation Keep playing and everyone will explode.

Then, when we bike back home, a curious thing happens. Suddenly the kid asks, “Ben, are you religious?”

Wow, there is more to his world than headphones, controllers, and exploding bombs.

Gleam of hope!

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