How video games hack your mind | John Vervaeke and Lex Fridman

How video games hack your mind | John Vervaeke and Lex Fridman

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John Vervaeke is a psychologist and cognitive scientist at University of Toronto.

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  1. Dirty Dominion on September 15, 2022 at 3:53 am

    “Not all games” needs a major clarification here. Which games or types of games were tested and shown to restrict real life flow? Were multiple game types tested?
    Puzzle games?
    Action Adventure games?
    Sports games?

    Leaving a cliff hanger like “Not all games” offers little in terms of actionable options for those of us who enjoy gaming or are parents to children who game.

  2. Zenquest on September 15, 2022 at 3:55 am

    Fantastic points on both sides…I gotta stop buying shampoo

  3. claybomb8 on September 15, 2022 at 3:57 am

    I see both sides… it’s an interesting topic. I used to be All Hail Videogames but as I’ve gotten older, I am definitely starting to feel the downsides. Honestly, I think a big part is you find a few games you love, do it until it’s not fun anymore, cycle repeat which leads to burnout and not wanting to try new bad games. Maybe that’s just me tho but I’m definitely seeing some downsides

  4. Cinema Cereal Box on September 15, 2022 at 3:59 am

    If you stay in front of a screen snd sit down all day, sure yes they can ne harmful. But to say you cannot transfer flow to real world is just not true. It helps problem solving, hand eye coordination, reaction time, etc.

  5. james tiberius on September 15, 2022 at 3:59 am

    I feel like games can have a positive impact on peoples lives. I remember playing through FF6 as a kid and that experience has stuck with me all these years. That game dealt with really heavey themes and all the dark, light and grey areas of the human condition. And they did this on a 16 bit console. That game hit me in the feels and taught me several lessons about life, that’s the best kind of art. I go back to it every few years and it’s characters and story still hold up, even better than most of it’s contemporaries.

  6. Doonsquad on September 15, 2022 at 4:01 am

    Valid points, but also this seems to be a clear assertion of his own experiences from his own to those with his students. Sometimes it’s not as complex as we think it is, maybe someone just doesn’t like their job or lifestyle outside of the gaming realm and they are unable to see that there are serious changes needed to be made, and that’s why there’s so much difficulty to be in a flow state. We can either play video games genuinely having fun in the moment or use it as an escape from the reality we are too scared to change

  7. Christian I on September 15, 2022 at 4:01 am


  8. darkcloud247ay on September 15, 2022 at 4:02 am

    That’s why they are called consoles because they con your soul with false achievements and Rob you of the most precious thing you have which is time .

  9. Entertain This on September 15, 2022 at 4:04 am


  10. BossBiscuit on September 15, 2022 at 4:05 am

    There is differently a transfer of flow positively and negatively from playing video games. I was never taught on how to drive, but through playing driving games growing up I just new how to drive.

  11. Mallory Mallory on September 15, 2022 at 4:07 am

    The flow state is transferable, though.

  12. Sally Anne on September 15, 2022 at 4:08 am

    No but seriously, lex. These are the kind of discussions I’ve been hoping to have, but it strikes me how different everyone is, and their opinions on things, like how older people didn’t grow up immersed in ‘virtual worlds’ and how they may never understand, but also the bubble were all in, that, if I had to make a case for consciousness, I would argue were all trapped inside our bodies and our brains rn. I call it the bubble but it’s really scary. You’re at least bringing me out of my own bubble and I’m deeply grateful for it. Maybe in the near future our brains will be connected to the internet and we won’t be trapped inside our own consciousness inside the world anymore. Who knows

  13. Ligere on September 15, 2022 at 4:09 am

    Talk to Dr. K from HealthyGamerGG, would be a great conversation

  14. Mike Noce on September 15, 2022 at 4:09 am

    Nothing that came out of this guys mouth in this clip was worth listening to. It’s him drawing conclusions about humanity based on limited anecdotal experience.

  15. NDxTremePro on September 15, 2022 at 4:11 am

    Everything you just said, Lex, about the younger generation doesn’t seem to be the case when you look at the mass majority of people.

  16. NiMRODPi on September 15, 2022 at 4:13 am

    On the one hand, I think video games are too puffed up as to what they are. They are books, they are movies, they are any other entertainment that becomes a poison if they are overindulged in.

    I think a great pivot on this discussion would be: what does this say about the REAL world? Perhaps flow state in the real world is also less achievable because it is less thoughtful in its curation, is not actually "user friendly", and in many ways has an arbitrary rule set where outcomes often feel almost random. I think video games could actually give us better insight in how the real world can be better designed, and you see some of this already with the gameification of aspects of schooling and work.

  17. Joe T on September 15, 2022 at 4:13 am

    Video games pre internet were good for the brain but I see a different experience from the new games. They are designed to keep you locked in and get you angry. I never had a hard time forgetting about super mario as a kid to go outside. I could turn it off and on without thought. Algorithms in the new games has changed everything. The addictive nature is why I stay away and just enjoy retro games that I can pickup and play then disconnect. I got friends that are still locked in gta on ps4 from over 5 years ago. The way they talk about their cars and casino is like they actually own those things. I quite scary when I analyze them. I know this isn’t everyone’s experience with new games but I would say it’s definitely more weighted to that side especially with the younger kids under 16. Fighting games are the exception because the fast twitch movements I think are good for the brain. But then you add in the micro transactions and it makes it addictive. My friends son is 9 years old and he’s addicted to collecting skins in fortnite. Most of the time he just dresses them up on the main screen and watches them dance. He barely plays the actual game. Nobody can convince me that is healthy for a growing 9 year old.

  18. RaulBoswell on September 15, 2022 at 4:15 am

    Correlation does not equal causation that’s all folks!

  19. max warboy on September 15, 2022 at 4:15 am

    video games…

  20. IdenOfficial on September 15, 2022 at 4:18 am

    video games are super fun. most people who play videogames will end up playing and buying them themselves. there is no exception if this is old school games or today’s video games. virtual reality games will be even more attractive and drawing. blaming video games won’t help, they’re better for you then tv and movies arguably since they’re interactive and can take critical thinking skills. i’m not talking about shooters as much.

  21. José Pedro Z. on September 15, 2022 at 4:19 am

    Lex wont let the guy finish an argument

  22. TheDiddy on September 15, 2022 at 4:19 am

    I definitely feel the flow state narrative but I don’t feel it stops me from having flow state in my normal life. Like Lex said it may be seen harder to reach flow state because video games make it so easy.

  23. Jay2MG on September 15, 2022 at 4:21 am

    If i had only Tetris and pacman to play i would think like that
    There’s is clearly a difference between videogame and real world
    Anyone that doesn’t understand this has a mental problem, not a videogame problem
    This dude just found a way to blame everything on videogames….
    Any logic goes to blame videogames
    Just sad
    Someone gives this dude a GTA

  24. VIPER on September 15, 2022 at 4:21 am

    Video games are fun, you need to have fun in your life, can we just leave it at that?

  25. Fuad D on September 15, 2022 at 4:24 am

    I love Lex thought process. Would love to hear more how he thinks

  26. Marvi Rafael Montecillo on September 15, 2022 at 4:25 am

    Social media is a game

  27. Ben Diu on September 15, 2022 at 4:26 am

    Isn’t there a study that showed that surgeons who played videogames performed better than their non-gaming counterparts?

  28. OMAR Belly on September 15, 2022 at 4:27 am

    depression is called anti-flow

  29. Zeb on September 15, 2022 at 4:27 am

    Its an anecdote but I grew up without schooling until age 14. Nada. I just read books and gamed (dysfunctional hippee stoner family).

    I played a lot of games I found challenging, Zelda as a kid but latee RTS. And I played a LOT. It seemed to work on my mind as it was all I had to challenge myself, so I sought out complete knowledge of each game.

    When I did get to school I was royally screwed for 2 months or so, aged 14, with no formal knowledge. But by 6 months I was straight A*/A student and 1 year I was the highest achieving student in the school. I took math exams early, despite having no formal training in maths for most of my life.

    What I found interesting is my friends moms would often disparage my lifestyle and think I was screwed up. They hated video games. But in the end I think I got a lot from them. Even things like history, I seemed to know a lot more than the other kids because Id hit the total war games so hard. I had an understanding of european geopolitics and how it shaped modern western civilisation, just from those games! My history teacher was really impressed but I never revealed where I learnt it all. So in the end it worked for me, and Im not naturallt gifted or exceptional by any means, so I think the games gave me a lot and Ill forever be grateful.

  30. Rainer Nilsen on September 15, 2022 at 4:27 am

    Haven’t heard anything so horribly wrong and totally opposed to reality in a while, and that’s something! What utter bollocks that 1: Hitting the "Zone" in a game cannot be brought along into real life, and further into the abyss he states 2: That gaming in the "Zone" inhibits and diminishes your future ability to utilize/enter the "Zone" in real life scenarios.

    First of all, John Vervaeke needs to understand the "Zone" he professes – My improvised definition: "The Zone" is a state of flow where a person gets to operate within any given parameters without the need to stay consious about neither those parameters or any metrics that constitute whatever framework that person is engaged within, thus freeing up their complete efforts and undivided attention towards achieving whatever goal, objective, feeling or expression that is the most desired outcome for THAT PERSON, utilizing the frameworks entire sum of possibilities. The desired outcome within the framework is mostly a metric and therefore unattended. This usually means that the framework follows the person within the Zone, as persons tend to break the framework or achieve something beyond it occasionally, forcing the framework to adapt to it’s participants rather than the more common confinement to it’s frame of operation. Obvious examples would be sports, music, novel research etc…

    Needless to say then, in order to achieve the "Zone" in any setting, wether it is in real life as an athlete, a musician, writer, physicist, racing driver or within the realm of a computer game, simulation or other synthethic framework, one will need EXCEPTIONAL SKILL in relevance to the challenge presented to enable this possibility! To expect that the "Zone" might appear to anyone in their relative settings (if Vervaeke is to be taken litteraly) is plainly stupid. Equally misinformed is the main theme here, that the "Zone" is different in a synthetic compared to a real enviroment. That porposes a reality where our brains require two distinct operational modes depending on it facing a real or a simulated challenge. Additionally, these modes are naturally incompatible as excelling in one requires the other to deteriorate? On what possible grounds does this apply as reasonable, considering the already vast amount of empirical data on the subject?

    This is just my personal, somewhat educated and experienced take as this talk really provoked me too much. I adore your talks Lex Fridman, and have been since you started this endeavour, and getting diverse approaches is always preferrable, although upsetting in very rare cases like this… Thank you.

  31. ssb33 on September 15, 2022 at 4:30 am

    This guy would get wrecked on warzone

  32. Marlo Bardo on September 15, 2022 at 4:31 am

    Brilliant, almost aphoristic summation of the transformative potential offered through the unconcealment of the mystical experience. The sanctum sensorium reveals itself through the psychedelic experience. Where the psychedelic experience is the vehicle or merkabah -or the means I.e. the set and the setting to be utilised to journey towards the end, I.e. being “touched” by the sacred -the holy grail of metanoia, which then is food for the soul allowing for life changing transformative integration.

  33. Ty Reynolds on September 15, 2022 at 4:31 am

    When we talk about flow in video games vs outside we looking at results of studies when the answer is quite simple. When people choose to do something like, they continue to do it. Most people don’t work for enjoyment hence the lack of flow. There’s a lack dopamine from work but there’s a reward at end so you continue to get that dopamine hit each paycheck. In might not be dopamine hit at this point but a logic system. Sales people show is… when a sales rep starts making sales they normally get into a flow due to dopamine of seeing the reward. Jobs need to create fake bonuses, job titles, etc to constantly provide dopamine hits.

  34. Ian Rose on September 15, 2022 at 4:33 am

    I can play Destiny all day and night and save up loads of in game currency to do everything I want to. Can I do this in real life? NOPE!

  35. Steamboat on September 15, 2022 at 4:33 am

    I am a long time, casual gamer and a cnc programmer. It works for me but for the love of Christ I can’t figure out why.

  36. zack attack on September 15, 2022 at 4:33 am

    3:00 I know kids who call people racist terms and homophobic terms. And go to class the next day and are best friends with the same race or are even also gay. It’s weird how the younger generation can hit a switch from reality to digital

  37. David Farias on September 15, 2022 at 4:35 am

    This topic is very interesting to me. I have heard the literature on people who are heavy users of social media and quality of life. I can’t speak to the topic as an expert, but my intuition is such that it makes me postulate on the "why" there is an increase in social media and video game dependency and why there is positive correlation in depression associated with the use of these mediums. I am inclined to think because there is a lot of time spent in the case video games to get away with murder and stealing cars something you cannot normally do and have an understanding of that. One is exposed to a form of hedonism, albeit a simulated one, which one relinquishes in daily life for the exchange of a much harder reality. The urge and temptation for video games and social media rises with the urge to easily inject yourself into a flow state, that may or may not be conducive to a healthy mental development. Moreover, and this is a stretch on why this might indeed add and not simply reveal any negative tendencies, is that the mind is conditioned to something not natural or at least not real. In simulating something that occurs in life within human behavior that would be considered repugnant, one indulges in a type of behavior that can only be satisfied by a simulation or in reality, which would be worst-case for someone who cannot detach reality from simulation.

  38. Nick Zinger on September 15, 2022 at 4:38 am

    Let’s take a second to thanks Lex for building a platform and having conversations like he does. Two very smart people, making really great points on both sides. And they are calm and just trying to figure it out. Thanks Lex

  39. Space Ape on September 15, 2022 at 4:40 am

    It’s not videogames. It’s online videogames. They’re just a more accessible and powerful version of the effect you see with social media.
    Stop blaming games and start blaming the internet.

  40. Tom Wisniewski on September 15, 2022 at 4:40 am

    Ok, but video games are part of the real world. Silly argument.

  41. John Miller on September 15, 2022 at 4:40 am

    i love Lex….but he tends to b e wayyyyy too positive and one sided about " new things " for his/our generation sometimes. Social Media…is 100%….without a doubt….a huge cause for the increase in depression and suicide. There is no way on earth you can call it anything else, it literally makes lonely people 10x lonely!!! The see all those people doing things or "pretending" to do things, you know how they fake photos up, but it just makes them feel much worse. It happens all the time.

  42. First Last on September 15, 2022 at 4:43 am

    What?) Committing a bunch of crimes, then run from the police in a stolen car, while never getting caught… Who would of imagined that this type of gameplay could inspire the same real world activities…

  43. Jim Miller on September 15, 2022 at 4:46 am

    Gaming helped me kick Alcohol.

  44. Sally Anne on September 15, 2022 at 4:46 am

    Social media shampoo flow state

  45. Brandon on September 15, 2022 at 4:46 am

    Lmao!!! All you have to do is speak articulate and eloquent and any bullshit you throw will stick. I guess reading a book doesn’t temporarily remove you from reality or your own reality . Smh. Make it make sense!

  46. John Miller on September 15, 2022 at 4:47 am

    I used to manage some bars downtown where I live and its the same thing. Its almost like a dance in 90s after school TV show. All the girls on this wall, all the guys on that wall, because speaking face to face makes everyone feel funny in their tum tum LoL My mom teachers HS in public schools, its the same shit. The classes are dead quiet because 95% of the students can only text/DM each other, god forbid they have to look into each others eyes and speak works LoL It has literally made our average kids illiterate, many of them can’t even tell time without numbers on a watch/phone/clock…..we have set each other back decades. Not to mention the race nonsense. This si the first generation to make steps backwards when it comes to race relations. The internet is the best thing ever, but social media, but be the worst

  47. OD T on September 15, 2022 at 4:48 am

    ok boomer

  48. Bael Lamb on September 15, 2022 at 4:48 am

    This dude talks like he’s 80% asleep in all of his videos.

  49. ifStatement ifStatement on September 15, 2022 at 4:50 am

    Isn’t this just the ability to focus though?

  50. D. Virant on September 15, 2022 at 4:53 am

    I’ve played videogames my whole life. Played them through school, then uni, then masters, then PhD, now after work. I have no issue finding motivation to do real things. I obviously can’t prove videogames improvedy problem solving skills, but they sure didn’t harm them to the point of being detrimental. Just gotta stay disciplined.

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