Focus and Concentration

Gaming in short bursts sucks. Pursuing creativity in short bursts does, too. Studies show it takes the brain between five and twenty-five minutes to fully engage in an activity. To this point, trying to tackle a problem in small slices of time is inefficient because you always have to ease into the task. In this episode I’m exploring the importance of focus and concentration in accomplishing goals.

This episode represents a change in the podcast format. I’m trying to weave commonality into the otherwise random topics we’re discussing – namely, gaming and gaming culture. Let me know your thoughts on the update!

Topic References

  • Welcome! A quick update on the new show format (00:57)
  • Focus and concentration and the context of our discussion (02:23)
  • The importance of uninterrupted time in modern, immersive games (07:18)
  • Limitations of the brain in achieving total concentration; easing-in (09:04)
  • Solving problem capabilities when you’re in “the zone” (14:25)
  • Parallels between extended gaming sessions and the creative pursuits (15:34)
  • Inspiration is weird; there’s no need to ramp up when a great idea comes from nowhere (23:16)
  • Being productive in short bursts of time by picking appropriate tasks (27:50)
  • Opening up for feedback and closing (29:52)


Comments & Conversation

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  • Justin AKA xTheVisionary says:

    Personally, I’m fairly sure that the only instances where I need to “warm up” are when I’m playing an FPS, due to the emphasis on precision aiming. I totally feel you on the music side of it though. I think the fundamental difference between the two is that one is dependent on muscle memory, while the other is (often) dependent on emotion (or some other form of mental status). So in regard to gaming, it seems to me that it almost entirely depends on muscle memory. I have to admit, I’m a bit confused as to what you mean when you were talking about getting re-acclimated to something like Bloodborne, in terms of (what sounded like) navigation. Wouldn’t the underpinning of this entire dilemma be whether or not you have a decent memory? Are we just talking about memory here? Or am I dense as fuck as there’s something I’m missing? lmao

    • Phil/Poly says:

      More likely, my explanations and examples were ambiguous VS. you being dense. Regarding both the warm up period and in getting acclimated, I actually meant those in the same sense as that mental state you called out in music. Once you’ve been in it for 5 to 15 minutes you hit that “zone” … that period of concentration and focus, not in the sense of dexterity or proficiency in your play. Once you’ve got that muscle-memory, it’s there.

      However, if your brain is cluttered or distracted it’s tough to keep a mental checklist going of where you want to go when exploring a new area. “OK, I’m not sure where to go but I see three paths branching before me – path 1, 2 and 3. I’ll go down path 1, but I gotta remember to come back for 2 and 3.” Then when you go in that first direction the path might branch again, so you’re bookmarking, “Now I gotta remember to come back and check out path 1b and 1c, in addition to 2 and 3.” That compounds quickly. When I quit out at times when I have that buffer of to-dos built up, I reel when coming back.

      So yes – it might actually just come down to having a good memory and perhaps my memory is shit. In which case I’ma play the old man card.

    • Justin AKA xTheVisionary says:

      Ohhh that makes a hell of a lot more sense with your “checklist” example. Pre-warm-up, when your mind is still thinking about other things from the day, before the “gaming tunnel vision” kicks in. Totally get you now, for sure.

    • Phil/Poly says:

      Awesome; apologies on being unclear. In the mechanical sense, Bloodborne has an instant-on component as far as technical prowess: you can hit R1 as fast as you can whether you’ve been playing for 12 seconds or 30 minutes.