Inciting a state of flow

Today I went on the worst date of my life (so far), I wanted to leave almost instantly. I went home watched F1, decided to get drunk because I felt bad, watched DTM. Once all the racing was over I was properly drunk and decided I would play Bloodborne and listen to 100 Gecs sets. Whilst playing, I noticed I was in a state of flow, I did quite well getting to and then beating Ludwig to get the moonlight sword. I am unsure what factors put me in the flow state, it may have been one or all.

Flow is a intense state of focus, I process it as interpreting information and reacting to said info in the same rhythm. Thatgamecompany's game Flow was built around the concept but the little I've played of it never left me in the same state.

When have you found yourself in a state of flow?
Can you incite it intentionally?
Does it assist you when playing video games?
Do you even believe it exists?

Love that alcohol drives F1 fans to DTM.

A state of flow is totally a thing. Only a few games can really get me into the flow, though.

The first that comes to mind is Outrun. After a couple beers (and maybe a whiskey) I can race through that game and get to the ending with finesse and style. I do not advocate drinking and driving, however...

The other one is Williams Defender. When I get into it I get pretty good at zapping aliens and rescuing astronauts. Still can't get past the 3rd level though.

The two types of games that can do it for me most consistently are rhythm games (especially Beatmania IIDX) and shmups (especially pattern-based danmaku games). But arcade games in general are really good at inducing flow. That's part of what I like about classic Sega games, even their console exclusives like NiGHTS still feel like arcade games at heart.

@“beets”#p34621 first of all great post,

secondly, it does exist. I can sometimes reach it when playing a fighting game (including smash......sorry) for the first time. or it might be a fighting game i'm coming back to after a long layoff. basically i'm just reacting to the game in real time with zero pausing to consider what i'm doing. information is entering my brain and commands are leaving it neural cortex sits at the center of a vast network of relay switches, conduits and junctions, all lit in bright ultracore is processing incoming data and firing off instructions with only a nanosecond's delay...

after a while i start to think about which is punch and which is kick and start to come back down to earth. i also think i get tripped up on the idea that i should be getting better the more i play, which causes me to overthink every minute decision. oh, to be good at games......

@“milo”#p34632 I do advocate drink and virtual driving, much safer,

@"billy"#p34631 That and two of my favourite drivers, Lawson and Albon.

Hello Insert Credit goers, I am back and I am drunk again. I had a much better night tonight. I met up with my uni friends at a mexican themed bar in the mall in the cbd, had some cocltails and corn chips. We then went back to my friends place and played Buzz (PS2). I drank too much beer but I successfully made it home. I was in the perfect postion to resume the experiments.

Tonight I tried continuing Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocture but I could not get into a state of flow. I got lost and just did a bunch of battles against those bird demons but made it back into my starting spot. I hadn't played it in a number of weeks which is likely why I got lost so quickly.

I theorise to incite the flow state you have to be fairly familiar with the game, this is backed up by posts in this thread about racing, rythym, and arcade games; the type of games which reward memorisation and familiarity. I think familarity allows the mind to forgo the problem solving of a new situation to keep up a high thought per second and reach the flow state.

I still believe it is possible to enter the flow state with a new game but it would have to be a fairly simple or well taught game.

Have you flowed with new games?
Does a turn based game interrupt your flow?


Oh man, drunk RPGing is nigh impossible. That's like reading a book drunk. Can't do it.

The only time I've achieved a stage of flow in an RPG was Persona 5. Just knowing which attacks to use, exploiting enemy weaknesses and passing the baton, I got into this rhythm and it felt like playing an actin game almost.

@“beets”#p36246 I love this thread, and I think that getting drunk and playing games is an excellent version of this.

One of my favorite arcade style games is Akane. I would "Bottom Line" it as "Akane is Guided Meditation by Quentin Tarantino." It's literally running around just one level that has maybe four obstacles that are pretty spread out. You play as the eponymous character, who has pissed off the Yakuza, and you're tasked with killing as many as possible before you meet your end. You just run around a future Tokyo lot and slash a sword and shoot a gun. You and the thugs are one hit one kill (excepting the boss and tank enemies). I've poured something like 30 hours into it, and it really lends itself to a flow state with how intuitive and logical all of the emergent situations are.

The second game I would bring up is Dead Cells. This is one of my favorite games, and I've poured close to 3 hundred hours into this game, and a lot of the difficulty curve has felt like an uphill battle. (The game is tiered with 5 higher difficulties that you advance to after completing a run on the preceding difficulty.) Despite the difficulty, I have found many really excellent flowing runs. I think that this game, especially as you become familiar with it, has so much interchange between running and mowing down enemies and needing to take a second to either whittle down or avoid the larger threats. I think this is an excellent example of friction, as Tim frequently mentions.

I would describe flow as occurring on a spectrum between mindless and counterintuitive. I think that scrolling social media long enough to forget what time it is counts as flow, but I would also say that performing in an orchestra is also conducive to flow. I think that the right balance for an action game is having those choke points, where you need to be precise or careful about your next move, dispersed thoughtfully. I would say that my favorite games have a very satisfying balance between these fast and slow dynamics. I do, however, think there are excellent games along just about any point between demanding and simple as far as flow is concerned.

TL:DR - Dead Cells is cool


@“tapevulture”#p34646 (including smash……sorry)

Look, I'm no longer going to apologize for liking smash. I get it, it's not Street Fighter. It's a platformer basically. I find it to be much more intuitive than other fighting games I've played (which, admittedly, is a sparse collection). I think where Smash excels is the wide breadth of competition on many different levels before even necessitating practice on any serious level.

To be fair, I've never had to apologize to anyone for liking smash. I just have this conversation in my head every time it's brought up on the 'cast

@“dylanfills”#p36288 yeah some of my fondest gaming memories are playing four-player smash with me buds in like late high school and early college. had many extended sessions where we input cuss words using the three-character name input function. “ASS” etc. majorly slept on feature of the game IMO

@“tapevulture”#p36291 look, I love the podcast. However, I have a PC Engine Mini; thus, I've played Bonk. That game is so boring. Like, I get that Brandon grew up with it and has that imprinted appreciation for it, but most of us have that for Smash Bros

@“dylanfills”#p36328 /rant over


Bonk has a bonk button.

@“Geoff”#p36330 (so does smash…)

I've been thinking about the main differences of last night and the previous night.

  • 1. The first night I had loud music in my ears so I could tune out any thoughts.
  • 2. I knew Bloodborne (BB) a lot better than Nocturne (SMT3) so I could rely on my memory more.
  • 3. BB had higher fidelity graphics compared to SMT3.
  • 4. BB has no forced breaks (other than You Died) unlike SMT3's turn based and transisitons.
  • Hello Insert Credit It is almost the first anniversary of this thread. Congratulations!

    I'd like to report that after a bad 4th day on a new job plagued by technical issues I went on a walk, bought a chicken kebab and two tallboys. I drank one and played some Trackmania Turbo, I found it much easier to get gold times and was able to improve upon my silver times. It is now the 5th day and I have drunk the 2nd tallboy.

    Why does drinking and [virtual] driving work so well?
    It doesn't appear to be the flow state but I think I am less concentrated on perfection and not messing up. I am not so inebriated I am unable to predict/remember the next corner but I am also not thinking of it. I am just before it and then I am past it, the corner is not an object but part of the proceeding path. Don't brake just feather the accelearator.

    Waking up and drinking a Reign and playing through Sonic Mania and S3&K early in the morning when my mind is fresh, getting all the emeralds, has been a wonderful case of flow state for me lately. Not always are action games so perfectly tuned for my enjoyment and personal challenge. Those 3D emerald runs in Mania Encore especially got me in the zone.

    Definitely a fan of having exactly two beers and briefly becoming the best player in the world of whichever game you happen to be playing. I love fighting games but am not great at them. However, with two drinks in me, I can see the natural order of the world, achieve enlightenment and realise that yes, I probably would win Evo. Then the buzz wears off or I have another drink and I'm back to dreadful execution and whiffing combos.

    Flow tends to be associated with high execution games like fighting games, racers, DMC likes, puzzle games etc but I also think you can enter a flow state with a good action RPG like Yakuza. This happens when you have just the right mix of near term, mid term and long terms objectives that you are shifting around in priority, know the game world and are comfortable with the combat. Flow is all about your ability to make decisions quickly and execute the actions needed confidently and ARPGs work well for that.

    A good example of flow for me is Killer is Dead. It is an underrated BANGER and the combat system has excellent cancelling into blocks and evades, with evades leading to counter attacks. The normal levels are stop start with combat encounters but there is a small level that one must grind a lot of one wishes to max out their upgrades. This level spawns something like 100 enemies in a constant stream and allows you to just focus on your sword combat. You can enter flow very easily here, evading and counter attacking with time slowing kicking in as you evade and watching your katana grow as your combo increases. Good game with good flow inducing combat.