Early into Axiom Verge, a platformer like Metroid that benefits from technology to have fancier gameplay mechanics and cooler bosses, you get some weapons you can swap between like Mega Man. For one specific enemy, I focused on using one weapon since it seemed to be the most effective, until I switched it out for a long corridor shot, and found it equally effective. In life, some select tools can be adapted for many jobs.
Writing essays like this can help with communication, for example.
Although writing videogame essays has different nuances than writing standard operating procedures to technical writing standards, many of the core elements remain the same. I write and communicate in English. When I write, it closely emulates how I talk, so the more I practice writing and talking in one discipline, the more I can carry over into other disciplines. When we get too steeped in the details, that’s when people talk almost exclusively in jargon, which does help succinctly convey information, but itself becomes difficult for non-technical individuals to parse.
Equivalently, I prefer using simpler weapons/tools to complex ones.
Not having to fumble to switch out tools allows me to focus on what’s at hand. In a videogame, that might mean using an acceptable weapon that takes one more attack to kill, rather than the perfect weapon that isn’t significantly superior. In my vocational efforts, I’ll communicate casually by omitting capitals and punctuation if the message is still clear. In my avocational efforts, that’s realizing that good enough is better than perfect if attaining perfection takes significantly longer.
I used to enjoy having specific tools for specific tasks.
Now, I wonder how necessary those tasks even are at all if they require specialty tools that take up more room than they’re worth. That’s where I’ve been in the process of downsizing my retro computer collection. If I don’t need to repair anything, anymore, my repair tools can be limited to the essentials and some useful items, rather than everything I had collected throughout my years of vocationally repairing computers. It will take time to fully parse through, but eventually, just a screwdriver, some compressed air, and maybe enough to fill my toolbag would be sufficient. Any other cables I could order online.
Why do we want such a disparity of unique tools?
I think it might reside in insecurity. A Phillips-head screwdriver can do so much, yet we might want specific heads for specific tasks, such as locking out others or even being unique. For something like that, whenever I encounter non-standard screws for a computer I’m working on that isn’t especially retro, I’ll swap in something more standard so I won’t deal with propriety insecurity later. That could also manifest as we feel having more specific tools makes us more specifically apt at handling more specific issues.
Generally, though, versatility should be better than exclusivity.
As I look around my clutter, I see the remnants of my large VHS collection, and I wonder when those tools will go away from my possession. I have one specific tool that is useless for all but a few occasions, chief among them aesthetic, but I have a VHS rewinder shaped like a classic car. I forget the last time I’ve used my VCR and when I did, I was certain to press the Rewind button rather than add the additional steps of popping out the tape, plugging in this rewinder, and letting it do its thing, before returning the rewound tape to its case. For a tool like that, it’s more about what it represents culturally, and as I finish parsing through the remainder of my collection, that tool too shall go back into the hands of ideally a VHS collector but if not, it will go.
I’ve never minded plain chiclet-style keyboards.
Most all of my colleagues love having fancy keyboards with multitudinous colors and technical aspects that emulate the clicky-clanky Model M keyboards and such, and would justify it for various non-productive reasons. They liked that people could hear the keyboards over the phone. I had already learned to type vigorously enough to where typing this essay during quiet hours, without listening to music, shows me how I type when I try to be quiet compared to my normal. Normally, I’d type by throwing my fingers at the keys to probably intentionally try to break the keyboard, where now, I lightly hammer each key as though I wanted to conserve its life a few more years.
In time, I may end up streamlining all my keyboards to one good one.
Until then, I use laptop keyboards with no special add-ons or detached keyboards when it’s ergonomically saner, and use the tools that are good enough for the job rather than perfect for the job. Similarly, I think having specialty tools fulfills more of a vanity than practical purpose, but everyone should be entitled to their use of whatever tools they have at their disposal for whatever jobs they do. Those fancy keyboards could have ergonomic features that make them easier for some, just as VHS tape rewinders are useful when watching multiple tapes in a row.
If the tool isn’t useful for me, that doesn’t mean it’s not useful.
I’ve just been at a point in my life for long enough where I don’t value a cluttered inventory of weapons for various jobs. I’d rather just have a reliable tool, with enough backups to cover myself in case that tool breaks or otherwise runs out of juice. There will probably be more weapons in Axiom Verge that provide solutions to unique problems, so in a game like that, there will always be the occasional use for a seldom-used item, but when it comes to defeating enemies, it seems to be easier going with the generic rifle, as it tends to be easier going through life living how you want rather than sacrificing yourself for the entertainment of others.
For those situations, always keep backups weapons.
|Sources: My personal and professional experiences.|
|Inspirations: Playing Axiom Verge just for its own pursuits has limited value for me. If I can play in order to come up with new ideas, analogies, or even just to wade through the trepidations of life well enough to get back into stressful situations, then that’s a worthwhile use of time. I’m not sure how many essays I’ll write like this of this game, as I am approaching perhaps parts of the game that may have spoilers for those interested in playing, but I figure as long as I’m mindful it should be fine.|
|Related: Other Media Meandry essays.|
|Screenshot: Image: I was going to use this for “Distraction From Anger” but I messed up and between writing that and this essay, I decided to use the picture here. Also, see the full, non-shrunken picture here.|
|Written On: Written: 2020 April 03 [12:43am to “Why do we want such a disparity of unique tools?” at 12:59am. From 1:11am to 1:31am]|
|Last Edited: 2020 April 04 [Adapted from Gdoc, so, second draft; final draft for the Internet.]|