Flow: two sides to the story.

Many speakers include references to “flow” when trying to explain the joy of playing games. This idea is central to @avantgames portrait of gamers at productive work.

It should be pointed out that Csikzentmihalyi actually talks about high and low states of flow. The confluence of emotion, cognitive function, social affect and self perception.

Gamers also suffer negatively from low flow experiences, yet it’s affective impact is generally ignored when trying to entertain us with games magical effects. Gamers are easy to criticise themselves and feel depressed in low flow. The have trickle trouble processing information such as “time to get off” or “if you don’t get off …” type ultimatum.

Now here’s the question. If a kid is made to play a game at school which produces low flow (boring, too easy, too hard etc) … then the kid will react by not taking in information, feeling bad about the result of play and so on.

This could well mean so called educationally mutated “games” make kids depressed and learn less than if they could avoid them by doing something else.