Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Blog 8: Flo(w) and Diner Dash

In his paper, Braxton Soderman draws on Csikszentmihalyi's concept of flow to inform his critique of Diner Dash. According to Soderman, an important aspect of the computer game is that it generates flow for its users. For Csikzentmihalyi, flow is a state of mind when a person is totally immersed in what he/she is doing (in sports this state is typically referred to as 'in the zone'). I'm interested in reviewing the relationship between flow, leisure time, and the 'third shift'.

Soderman writes that women typically work three 'shifts': first is their job, then their responsibilities at home, and finally the 'third shift' ("the brief segments of time which women can truly call their own are then killed by anxiety concerning the negotiation of the first and second shifts" (19)). By offering women an opportunity for flow and distraction from anxiety, computer games would appear to improve the quality of the third shift, and of women's lives in general.

From my perspective, the third shift is very important, as it gives meaning and clarity to the states of distraction and hyperactivity that are increasingly a part of contemporary, post-industrial life. They provide a brief period for reflection and contemplation about our lives, which - while anxiety inducing - is important for charting our own path in the control society. I worry that casual games, like Diner Dash, take away from these moments, to the detriment of our cognitive faculties and emotional/psychological well-being. I wonder, is the best mechanism for regaining the 'third shift' being in 'waiting', or is it in becoming the modern skeptic, the denier of technology?

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