Funny thing the brain is.

TL;DR; being in the zone is nice. But there is another level of it and, fuck it, I'm loving it!!!

level 0: phased-out, relaxed state. Not focused on anything in particular. Just going with the flow

level 1: aware of the situation and of what's going on, not engaging too much

level 2: alert, ready to react. Constant concentration

level 3: THE ZONE. Time continuum is broken by concentration on the task in front of you - while working on it, time passes faster by magnitudes than when you're in any lower level. Surroundings and periphery do not exist. On;y the task currently in hand exists. Restroom breaks can wait.

level 4: body works on the task by itself. Any cognitive engagement with any of it will only make matters worse. The body knows it better, just let it do the work - let your consciousness sit back and relax, think about something nice. It's a sort of biological version of DMA (direct memory access), bypassing the CPU.

I've only reached level 4 several times, briefly and only while playing BeatSaber. The boxes are flying at me and hands just hit 'em the right way by themselves. Only after the hit, do I realise what my hands did and how cool it actually is. If I try to intentionally look at the boxed and aim for them, I mess it all up. And it's not like muscle memory - level 4 copes with any non-Camellia Expert level, regardless of whether have I played it in the past many times or just a few, several months ago.

I love that feeling!

  • 1
    Only game I play on the quest2 (I know you have one) is superhot VR. Ever tried it?
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    @retoor yepp. And completed it all.

    Now the only thing I play is BeatSaber. Also a quest2
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    Level 3 is the most fun experience for me. Level 4 is actually a consequence of doing the boring stuff not needing too much actual thinking. But i can't do a more engaging cognitive task in parallel.

    So level 4 is the level that protects humans from getting bored to death when doing boring repetitive work that just has to be done. When i am mostly in level 4 while playing a game, the experience has changed from active engagement to a form of passive consumption (despite my brain still being technically active) and i probably stop playing soon.
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    @Oktokolo except it's not repetitive in that game. The position of targets for each hand is always different. And the direction each hand has to hit the target in also variates.

    And I fail to complete those levels if I try to do them consciously - they are just too difficult at that speed and complexity.

    It's as if each hand has its own instincts and can act rapidly w/o engaging consciousness. Only after the fact I realise what I did and how cool it was 😁
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    @netikras Grats. You mastered the game and trained the reaction patterns enough to enable your brain's autoplay feature. Obviously, skipping the consciousness is faster. And higher levels of that game are probably too fast for playing it consciously.

    Btw, repetition isn't for humans what it is for a CNC machine. Visually detecting an object, doing some trajectory predictions, translating the predicted future position into movements of your hands and performing that movement directly or via translated movement of a mouse or analog stick can very well be a repetitive task for a trained human brain regardless whether the objects are coming in randomly or follow a strict sequence.

    The vision-related repetitive task most commonly internalized by modern humans is driving a vehicle. If you do it often and long enough, you can do it without thinking about it most of the time. You just have to make sure, that you don't move the visual focus away from the relevant things...
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    That’s awesome.
    I’ve also picked up BeatSaber a couple of months ago.
    And I have the same experience as you, that I play better when I don’t try to concentrate and don’t make conscious decisions. It’s the same for racing games, also.

    I also noticed another weird effect:
    When I don’t play for several days (the more the better), the first round after that long break is always way better than anything else and I get a personal best score record. I have no idea why that is.
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