Why Does Trophy Hunting Make You Happy?

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There’s a great book which I’ve read a few times in the past year called “Ikigai”. Subtitled “The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” Ikigai is written by a group of writers who went to Okinawa, Japan, to look into just how and why Okinawa has the largest population of Centenarians (people who lived to be 100 years old or more) and why everybody there is so damn happy!

There is a lot of information in the book on the subject, mostly things about what to eat, how much exercise you should get and that pretty much everybody should be gardening, but the chapter which resonated most with me was Chapter 4, titled “Find Flow in Everything You Do”.

Ikigai | Find Flow in Everything You Do
Chapter IV: Find Flow in Everything You Do

Flow, put simply, is the act of moving seamlessly from one action to the next. There is a lot of satisfaction to be had from a job if you find a way to organise your workload in such a way that you can easily move from one task to the next, without needing to stop and reassess your workload after each task is completed.

The best way to do this is typically with check-lists. If you take a large task such as “Building a Website” and then break that down into several smaller tasks, for example; “Setup Domain”, “Install WordPress”, “Install theme”, “Setup Styling”, etc. You will get much more satisfaction from being able to focus on one small task at a time and then see yourself make progress as you check each item off your to-do list.

When I read this chapter, something in my mind clicked. I realised that flow is something which had been a part of my creative process my entire life. Whenever I was down as a teen I’d sink myself into a task, like creating a small video-game or illustrating a bestiary, for no reason at all other than to have that satisfaction of flowing from task to task with the end goal of having something of value to myself, and once I’d grown up and got myself a job that end goal became something of value to a client.

But in the end I realised it was never the end goal that kept me going, it was the happiness and joy I felt at moving from one task to the other, something I had become almost obsessed with, unable to pull myself away from a project – not because it was important that it was finished quickly, but because I was enjoying the fulfilment of that imaginary – or often-times physical – checklist. 

It’s important to note a specific portion of this chapter which lists the 7 most important factors for achieving successful flow:

  • Knowing what to do
  • Knowing how to do it
  • Knowing how well you are doing it
  • Knowing where to go (where navigation is involved)
  • Perceiving significant challenges
  • Perceiving significant skills
  • Being free from distractions
Ikigai | Achieving Flow
The Aforementioned Checklist

One thing Ikigai suggests is important for this is that your career needs to be something you’re passionate about. If you’re not passionate about laying bricks all day – not even a little – then you’ll struggle to achieve flow. Always checking your watch and counting the minutes until hometime, time will pass slower and the work-day becomes more and more depressing.

I’ve always been lucky in this respect. Aside from a short role at a local Blockbuster back in the day, I’ve always worked either in Graphic Design or – more recently – Web development/design. Things I’m passionate about. 

For people without that passion in their work there are hobbies. Coming home and painting, for example, is a hobby which – if that’s your passion – can allow the participant to achieve flow at home instead and find their fulfilment and joy from that.

  • Hobby: Painting
  • End goal: Complete a painting
  • Miniature goals/checklist: create a sketch, put down base colours, add shading, add highlights

Here are a couple more examples:

  • Hobby: Blogging
  • End goal: Publish a new blog post
  • Miniature goals/checklist: find a topic, write a draft, flesh out content, proof-read, upload, publish
  • Hobby: Baking
  • End goal: Bake brownies
  • Miniature goals/checklist: find a recipe, purchase ingredients, divide ingredient measurements, make mixture, distribute on tray, bake

Surely by now you see where I am going with this? 

Trophy (or achievement) hunting as a hobby is perfectly crafted for the participant to achieve flow and therefore experience joy within their hobby. Let me put this in the same format:

  • Hobby: Trophy Hunting
  • End goal: Acquire the Platinum trophy
  • Miniature goals/checklist: The trophy list is the checklist!

When you decide to attempt the platinum for a game, you’ll likely look at the trophy list and figure out which trophy you want to do next, after a while, getting a good idea of the ideal “flow” for taking you through each one of those bronze, silver and gold trophies with the end goal of a shiny new Platinum trophy!

Let’s look at those factors of flow once again and see how they compare with Trophy Hunting;

  • Knowing what to do – The trophy list provides you a clear guideline of which accomplishments must be achieved in order to acquire the Platinum at the end.
  • Knowing how to do it – Each trophy comes with a small hint at how the trophy can be acquired.
  • Knowing how well you are doing it – Simply making progress through the trophy list can be a good gauge of this, but there are also vital trophy hunting tools such as PSNProfiles which can give you a good idea of how long a Platinum should take to acquire, which you can measure against your own play time and see if you’re on track or need to improve.
  • Knowing where to go (where navigation is involved) – This is a given, you need to go load the game up or nothing is going to happen, but more specifically oftentimes it’ll be necessary to navigate a game’s world which most modern games are fairly good at aiding with.
  • Perceiving significant challenges – The colour of a Trophy (Bronze, Silver, Gold) can help you identify whether a trophy will be challenging to acquire. You will also likely learn more in this respect by visiting a forum or roadmap for the game you’re hoping to Plat.
  • Perceiving significant skills – This will come into play as you progress through the game, you’ll start to understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and this could apply in an even broader sense to a game’s genre. 
  • Being free from distractions – This isn’t really specific to any kind of hobby or role, just in general breaking from flow can be a very frustrating thing and it helps to block out some free time to partake in your hobby where you can be sure your flow won’t be interrupted.

So you see, working through the trophy list is achieving flow. That satisfaction and joy you feel as you make your journey towards the platinum, feeling more excited as you get closer, is one of Ikigai’s fundamental keys to happiness and the joy you get from Trophy Hunting isn’t the Platinum, but the fulfilling journey leading up to it.

So perhaps you now think I’m some sort of cheesy holistics enthusiast who likes to work on a Macbook in a coffee shop and lecture people about why they’re not happy, or maybe this blogpost resonated with you the same way chapter 4 of Ikigai resonated with me and you’ll start to appreciate the trophy hunting journey from start to finish, knowing that what your peers may think is a silly obsessive hobby is actually a healthy way to find happiness and fulfilment in your busy day-to-day life.

About the Author

More fond of single-player experiences and story-driven games than anything else, TheDblTap has a keen eye for secrets and collectables, a skill which serves him well as a Trophy Hunter. However, with little patience and poor timing, he can struggle where MrZhangetsu would succeed.

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