How much do you concentrate when playing games?

Whether it’s chess, a FPS shooter, a tabletop RPG, etc. How hard do you concentrate? Do you try to get in a zone?

I find that I often can get into a zone mentality when playing action video games. I can feel the synapses firing*. I don’t do this so much when I don’t care about winning. I hardly concentrate at all for slower paced games like board games. However, I’m a cerebral guy, so when I need to think, I think deep. Chess, Diplomacy, and other games where multiple moves must be contemplated can sometimes keep me up at night, thinking out possibilities.

How about you?

*: It’s quite a pleasurable experience, actually.

I get in the zone quite often with videogames. The more intense the game, the more likely I am to go into ‘flow,’ as psychologists call it. This happens most often with vertical-scrolling shooter games, as not being in a zen-like state usually means a quick death.

Chess, and other slow-paced games, I get cerebral and think, which is totally different than the way I concentrate and flow.

Maybe that’s my problem. At any given moment of down-time at my place, I’m playing a game, listing to tunes, watching a movie, petting my cat, cooking my dinner, paying my bills and picking my nose. All at once. Blindfolded. While hopping up and down on one foot. In a snowstorm. Up hill. Both ways. Etc.

No wonder I can’t win an *Axis and Allies *battle to save my life.

These days, I find it hard to concentrate on anything for too

I can get into the zone in certain situations. I can’t just turn it on, though. It’d be nice if I could.

I’ve got an international chess rating :o, so one tournament game can last up to 7 hours.
(Some players can sit at the board practically the whole time, but I regularly walk about - still thinking about the game, though.)

Once my parents came to watch me in the British Chess Championship. I walked straight past them!

At the board, 20 minutes can just pass ‘instantly’ if you’re analysing a difficult continuation.

I concentrate quite a bit if I’m playing seriously, but not so much for just a quick casual game. I can definitely get into a zone when I’m playing. Madden, COD4, Rock Band, racing games, anything that requires your full attention.

You can’t turn it off and on but there are things you can do to help get into the right state of mind:

1)Being relaxed is key. IOW don’t be worrying or thinking about anything other than the game. Don’t worry about all the chores you should be doing. An adult beverage (or two) is OK but more than that and you will lose the reflexes you need.
2)Have everything you’ll need right at hand. Controller, mic, headphones, a bottle of water (or other beverage), TV remote, cigarettes if you are a smoker.
3)Be comfortable. What you are wearing, where/how you are sitting. I find that I like to have the lights off (or at least have the light level low).
4)No distractions. Kick the kids/dog/cat/spouse out of the room. Turn your cell phone off. I personally don’t like to have a TV or stereo on at the same time but some people do.

I have played RPGs and when I took a break I noticed it was suddenly 4 AM. How did that happen, I was only going to play for an hour.

If I were playing Ace Combat 6 and my plane crashed because you disrupt my attention, you die.

Anything else probably doesn’t matter; you won’t suffer my wrath, but definitely my irk.

I don’t concentrate at all, however, a lot of times I see to play elaborate Xanatos Gambits (on a few occasions, Xanatos Roulettes). I tend to do better in games with lots of rules and loopholes, especially ones that can accommodate house rules (i.e. are not hardcoded). I’m not good per se, but in open RPGs I get a thrill out of manipulating people left and right, in D&D one of my characters have been described as “mind-rape” characters, to the point that I have an envelope with dozens of contingencies (signed by the DM and mailed to myself to prevent cheating), a foresight bordering omniscience (in part my character, in part mine), and the ability to wrap just about anyone around my finger.

I can do it on a smaller scale, I’ve only gotten that elaborate once, and my DM forbade me from ever using that type of character again (well, except last time, but we got to Death Note levels of everyone having an elaborate scheme to the point where we BARELY won because we out-planned the enemy by ONE event, it was practically setting up dominoes). Oddly enough I suck at RTS and TBS games, probably because I hate learning all that build order stuff and enjoy more “free” strategies that involve out of game limitations. I’m okay at simple fighting games, preferably ones with more than two players (Smash Bros is perfect for this) because I like faking out and manipulating players, however I don’t have enough reflexes to play at the higher level, and my lack of such tends to get me beaten (I know HOW to win, I just can’t do it).

But I never try to “concentrate” I just let things play their course, I get a KICK out of planning, it comes naturally in those situations. I have tons of crazy stories from RPs going terribly, terribly wrong (well, for everyone else most of the time, sometimes myself).

Depends on the game. I can play SNES *Super Tennis * with my eyes quite literally closed and win 90%+ of the points against any of the computer opponents.

I often have the television on when I play computer games, especially if I’m playing WoW and I’m questing on an alt or something. When I’m in a WoW raid or playing a game with voiceover, I’ll generally shut off the TV so it doesn’t distract me.

There are those magical moments where I’m so wrapped up doing one thing that the part of my brain that’s usually going a mile a minute thinking of new ideas finally shuts up and I can just mindlessly do That One Thing. Most of the video games I’m playing either require that amount of focus or are sufficiently distracting that the effect is similar.

Tabletop RPGing tends to bore me during the combat sections, since it takes so bloody long for us to go through our turns. And being the selfish egomaniac that I am, I tend to zone out when something doesn’t involve me directly, so I kind of annoyed my last DM by reading comics during sessions. (But I didn’t start doing this until in some of the later campaigns where I wasn’t as emotionally invested in the plot, so I blame him. :P)

I’ll become so focused on the game that the developers get an itch between their shoulder blades and start looking behind themselves to see who’s watching them.

Yes, time passes oddly while I’m playing.

Depends on what I’m playing. If I’m playing a game with people, I view it as more of a social event, and therefore I don’t concentrate, nor take it seriously. In fact, I don’t enjoy playing with people who take it too seriously. For me, it is something to do while you are drinking beer and shooting the breeze.

But if I’m playing a computer game I might concentrate a little harder.

It depends on the game, of course, but I generally concentrate deeply, period. Or at least, no matter what I’m doing, I get deeply into it - I’m frequently startled at work by people just coming up and asking me a question. Games like Civ III, I can put less intensity towards, but actionjy stuff like Diablo 2 or WoW, I get into the session pretty hard.


I’ve gotten "in the zone’’ while playing Tetris before. By the time I lost 45 minutes have passed and my eyes hurt like the dickens.

I’m much the same way. If I’m playing a game with multiple people in the room, I’m usually not in a zone (except for fighting games and such, where I’m big time concentrating). But when playing a game solo, I frequently block out external stimuli.

Mine’s only a USCF :(. I spent 55 minutes on the position [1r2kb1r/p2q1ppp/2p1bn2/3Pp1B1/Q7/2N3P1/PP2PPBP/R4RK1 b k - 0 12] (Forsyth board position) trying to decide if I could take with the N or bail out with something else. The idea was then to take the N on c3, so I recaptured with my N eventually.

I was so deep into that game that I couldn’t see anything else for those 55 minutes. I was completely chess at that point. I can’t find the other game but I had to sac my rook for a remaining pawn so I could roll my two passers against his N. That took a 15 move calc that turned out winning for me.

As far as video games go, I only get into the roll playing ones, or strategy ones with a convincing setting like Rome: Total War. Playing Scratches-Director’s Cut was also one of deep immersion. The rest…not so much.

Yeah, spending “just an hour” in a good RPG is like lying to yourself in the worst way. The whole genre is built on constant rewards of EXP and loot leading toward greater things, with narrative to round out the one-more-hour set of lures. As of this writing, my mate has been playing Persona 3 about six hours a day for the past week. Even when the story isn’t advancing significantly, there’s a rhythm to the gaining of levels that keeps anyone interested who can get into the strategy of the traditional RPG.
For my part, I get into the zone and my jaw becomes an immediate danger. I’ll actually chew the inside of my lip or cheek to the point of wounding, depending on the game and the concentration required. In the harder levels of the Devil May Cry series, I had to experiment with cloth or bits of leather to gnaw on in concentration during boss fights that required split-second precision. I’m still not sure what compels me to bite something when in the throes of focus.

Similarly, it took me a few nights of gaming to realize that, while playing hard, stream-based music games like Bemani IIDX, Amplitude, or Guitar Hero, I tend to let my mouth hang open while the rest of me focuses on the order and timing of notes. I think it’s that my competitive nature is conflicting with my civilized mind to revert me to a mouth-breather state while I’m trying to perfect-score a particular song. :o But that only happens on the most difficult of stages, naturally…