I'm wondering about a video game state of mind mentioned in an episode of Zero Punctuation in which Yahtzee states

then all of a sudden you enter a sort of cosmic state of hyper awareness and beat the boss perfectly. And it's like someone's lifted a whale off your lower back and you just feel serene.

This state sounds similar to diffuse mode thinking. Diffuse mode thinking is described in a TED talk Learning how to learn but after watching that and doing a quick internet search I don't know much about it and I'm not sure if this video game state is diffuse mode. Reasons why it might be diffuse mode:

  1. It can't be intentionally entered into. Focused mode can be done by wanting to use it but diffuse mode is more tricky. Likewise this video game state can't be used by simply trying to focus on playing the game.
  2. Being calm is required. One of the suggestions for using diffuse mode is to relax. Likewise this video game state can't be used when there's any emotion (excitement or fear). It can occur when causally playing (not trying to win) or after nearly giving up and no longer caring about losing.
  3. The subject's awareness seems to be more holistic taking in the entire screen and acting accordingly. Diffuse mode bounces randomly between different ideas not staying in 1 place but going all over. Likewise in this video game state vision and attention bounces between many things rather than just the part of the problem that seems like the most important to focus on.

Reasons why it might not be diffuse mode:

  1. Each description of diffuse mode I've read is specifically talking about using this mode to facilitate learning. Conversely this video game state doesn't help learn anything. The player already knows all about this video game stage nor does the strategy change. After entering this state and beating the challenge the player doesn't have an easier time using focused mode for these things (although practice in general helps).
  2. The suggestions for how to activate diffuse mode talk about doing something simple or menial (or by sleeping), something that could be multi-tasked and doesn't require concentration. Conversely this video game state is used during the most difficult part of the game. This challenge isn't something that could be done while carrying on a conversation. This requires the majority of the attention (rather than background thoughts) albeit unfocused attention. Another suggestion for using diffuse mode is to take a break, leave the room etc. Whereas for this video game state often the player continues to do the same thing without a break.
  3. Diffuse mode is about letting your mind wander and try different things. Conversely this video game state functions while having a specific objective and boundaries. Completing the challenge in this state is done by using the exact same techniques (nothing novel or creative) as normal, the difference is that the player's timing and reaction are better and there's fewer things that are failed to be noticed.

Is this state diffuse mode?

  • If not: what is it? Please provide some info about it.
  • If it is diffuse mode then can you explain how this is possible considering the reasons against (learning, simple, wander)?

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