[Media Meandry] Picking Up Steam

For years, I’ve struggled with ways to balance my vocational work, my avocational work [writing], and my leisurely time. For years, that meant never actually taking much time to play games, relax, or do anything that would help me release steam. I’ve made attempts, through writing, over the years. One such experiment was allowing myself thirty-minute time slots to play games, if I wrote pithy reviews. Those reviews weren’t great, but the thought was good.

I used to be unwilling to keep myself disciplined over doing tasks.

I’d plan to do something then in flights of fancy, never get around to finishing them. For the first few years of this website’s existence, up until the past six months or less, I would find something to distract me, interact with it, then never wrap it up. I’d leave it “open,” like tabs in a browser, never quite doing what was needed to get them done. Keeping a daily calendar has been helpful in this regard, along with making sure these blocks of time and deadlines are flexible. For example, I sent in an email giving positive feedback for work done to the apartment-mansion, which I had originally planned to write a few days ago. I didn’t get around to it until just now. Rather than force myself to do it on the first day I added it to my calendar, I moved it forward to another day where I figured I could do it. It was a low priority thing, so I could keep extending the deadline out until I sent the email.

Same thing for scheduling time to play videogames.

When my headaches were at their worst and eye strain was preventing me from looking at the screen with enough time to even consider any leisurely activity at a computer other than writing, I deferred all digital entertainment until I was all clear. Now, I schedule the time on my weekends where I catch up on my publishing, and, give myself the time to play the games that I want to play. This sort of self-care scheduling helps me avoid the burn-out I flirted with for so many years. These Media Meandry essays also allow something productive to occur after engaging in these escapist entertainments, because invariably during the playing or watching process, I’ll think about something just enough to want to explore that in an essay. Having these essays as an avenue for that sort of exploration can justify the time, but also, it’s just a good way to blow off steam in a productive setting.

If the Sober Living essays are the negative side of life, Media Meandry is the positive side.

That’s why, during this publication expansion, I put this 6am Media Meandry essay in the middle of the Sober Living’s four weekend essays, just to lighten the heaviness. I’ve been prioritizing my writing time with writing about the headaches I’ve been experiencing and how it’s affecting my life, and it’s only been through those sorts of issues have I started to also prioritize my own self-care and need to blow off steam. Writing and exercise have done that well enough for me, but sometimes, just sitting around and doing nothing to let my mind rest, whether that’s in silence, in some videogame, or watching something insignificant, can help to keep things in check.

It’s been nice being able to putz around in new experiences.

For both Half-Life and Lisa, without having the avenue to produce content after experiencing them, I might have further deferred jumping in and giving them a go, just like with the email to the apartment-mansion management. Sometimes, it’s fine to just say, “hey, I don’t feel like doing anything productive,” and engaging in something where at the time you just will end up vegging out. My mind is constantly spinning through ideas and thoughts, so as I wrap up whatever escapism I’m engaged with, I’ll probably start thinking about what I need to do next. That’s where these pithy reviews below attempted to capture that spirit but didn’t quite succeed. I was aiming to achieve a degree of written productivity where in reality the productivity was reducing stress from my life.

The writing will happen if there’s anything to write.

If not, then if the day’s essays are done, the day’s chores are done, then what’s the harm in just having wasted a little bit of time? Not too much time. I’m not advocating for wasting days or years, but minutes and hours in the short-term of idle time can prevent days or weeks of suboptimal, burned-out, idle time that is forced on by a body overexerted, mentally or physically, and unable to function as it once did. I’ve been there, recently, and it’s no fun. I am learning to use my days off to actually take the day off. I am trying to learn to blow off steam, relax, and to disengage temporarily. Then when I feel better, I can return to form quicker.

I can always schedule less ambitious tasks.

When it comes to downsizing the apartment-mansion, I don’t need to do hundreds of things. Just a general daily glance through what I want to keep and what I can part ways with is useful enough. When it comes to selling things, I just need to look at what I think might be worth selling, do the research, then post them online. If it’s not worth the time, then get rid of it. If it is worth the time, engage with it when I feel like it. Maybe through that process, I’ll find some new favorite thing? If not, then at least I gave it my best go. The games listed below, well, I only played through Bastion and I thought less of it as I went through the game. That wasn’t really worth the time, since I didn’t write about it, but I’m writing about it now.

I’d drop the rating down to a 3-star and say “overall, acceptable.”

Reviews:

Kisima Inŋitchuŋa
Fantastic idea with frustrating execution. Would drop minus story and culture.
Bias: Really anticipated game
Rating: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]

Bastion
Light narrative, strong narration, atmospheric, and polished. Fun, yet a little light.
Bias: Really anticipated game
Rating: ★★★★☆ [4/5]

Battle for the Sun
A generic story with major structural flaws poorly executed.
Bias: Random bundled game
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ [0/5]

The Last Remnants
Trivial semi-interactive movie. Gameplay bits resemble RPGs and walking sims.
Bias: Random bundled game
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ [2/5]

Depth
Low gravity FPS/TPS. Divers versus sharks. Cool idea, execution needs polish.
Bias: Random free game
Rating: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]

Duet
Action puzzler that, like auto-moving platformer stages, inspires wishes to skip areas.
Bias: Random bundled game
Rating: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]

Limbo
Minimalist platformer that hides some frustrating, yet nuanced, puzzles under its art.
Bias: Somewhat anticipated game
Rating: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]

2064: Read Only Memories
Alluring story with zany humor that doesn’t outstaying its welcome.
Bias: Met the developers
Rating: ★★★★★ [5/5]

Ian’s Eyes
Interesting story. Decent execution. Needs more aesthetic polish and practice puzzles.
Bias: Somewhat anticipated game
Rating: ★★★☆☆ [3/5]

Epistory
Good idea. Well executed. Story starts off light; could use narrative spice.
Bias: Played for curiosity.
Rating: ★★★★☆ [4/5]

Viking: Battle for Asgard
Press H until you beat the game. Poorly-executed story.
Bias: No preconceived notions
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ [0/5]

Endtable:
Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal, professional, and gameplay experiences.
Inspirations: The original reviews were inspired after picking up Steam gaming again. The essay was inspired by Munchy’s Manuscripts, specifically Twenty Twenty. Read Carrots and Sticks and Tracks and Societies for more inspirations. But overall, I want to clear out all of my backlogged essays and things that are at least acceptable in quality. These reviews aren’t fantastic by any stretch, but the concept was cool enough to where I didn’t want to delete them, so they’re here.
Related: Other Media Meandry essays and I guess Videogame Reviews.
Screenshot: From 2064.
Written On:
Reviews: 2017 September 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27. 2017 October 09, 12.
Essay: 2020 February 10 [26 minutes. From 1am to “daily calendary” at 1:04am. From 1:08am to 1:30am. Gdocs.]
Last Edited: 2020 February 11 [Adapting from Gdocs, so, second draft; final draft?]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.