After accidentally launching Steam, I found myself playing a limited-time demo of Portal Knights for over three hours. I wouldn’t have let myself lust after such alluring worlds while writing my first novel, “A Story About Self-Confidence: What’s In A Name?,” a month~long story at Eville Medical in the Sammohini Arc of “The Story,” but after completing all my musts for the day, and not feeling terrible, I figured, why not give into digital allure?
Games like this Minecraft clone have some value.
They offer a saccharine world where you are the master of your own domain, everything is at your disposal, and the world is yours to shape as you want. I spent probably my thirty minutes playing by just tearing down a mountain, not even for resources, but that’s because that’s just what I do in these sandbox games. I tear down what I don’t like and rebuild it as I see fit. As I went exploring through this demo, I realized my mind was completely blank. I wasn’t thinking about any of the strife over my headaches, my vocation, or even deciding how best to balance my writing schedule.
I think that’s what makes this brand of escapism so addictive.
Real-life is scary and weird. Just outside my door could be anyone from some angry neighbor to someone weirder than me, but I’m safe here. All rules are easily understood and it’s fun to find some resources that you first learned you wanted hours before. I mined over 100 of the block of coal that was the key to unlocking some items. The thing that killed my momentum was the 300 seconds to forge a Mario suit, or sorry, the red shirt and blue overalls that whoopsie just kinda happens to look like Mario!
I also had to get back to work.
As I was peeing during that not-Mario forging, I thought back to how I had wanted to write then read, but sometimes, it’s OK to follow your flights of fancy. As I was forging the last of the coal on what I figured would be my final run into the coal mines, I thought about how there are media I will consume maybe once every ten years. If I never explored those mines again, I wouldn’t feel bad. I’d rather replay 100 other games and play 1,000 more. It’s just sometimes, you have to let your flights of fancy, that which your mind lusts after, seduce you into the mindstate it wants you to go into, here, a Minecraft clone with better graphics to remind me that I value building series of words together into nonfictional essays or fictional stories, or whatever, rather than building some cool digital sculpture.
I am limited only by my imagination within these words.
Videogames limit you within their imaginations and rulesets. Sure, that does mean that things tend to be safer, and that could have been the allure this morning, but I found that everything I did within that game world was just a little meaningless. I had fun. Fun should have some sort of quantifiable variable, and I suppose as I played, I thought about how I’ve learned to value the results of my productivity more than fun as an emotion. There are word choices, sentences, paragraphs, and sections of my novel that I’m proud of having written. I even had fun, overall, writing the novel. It was still more of an active process, whereas I could just screw around in this videogame and drop out whenever I wanted.
Now that I’m back inside reality, I wonder, how much of life is truly active or passive?
We typically choose many of the broader aspects of our lives, like our jobs, our residences, how we dress up our residences, and how we dress up our calendars, yet we don’t choose the specific aspects of our lives, such as when we leave for our jobs, when we come home from work to our residences, and this example might be just stretched a bit too thin. How much of our lives do we lust after? How much must we do? When we once chose our jobs or residences, or other aspects of our lives, we lusted after the value they would provide to us, and now that they become a chore, they’ve turned into musts.
Some occasional escapism is good.
In the broadest sense, letting the mind relax on something trivial is the easiest way to avoid it tensing up to the point of obsessing over more lustrous things. If it can just sit and mine for blocks of whatevers for hours, and just think about how nice of a path to carve through a mountain, perhaps in a certain way, it untenses the mind from thinking of abstract, unruly concepts. If it always takes about four picks of an ax to pick away at a block, and we can just mine on auto-pilot, our minds can pretend that they’re engaged and busy when really they’re not. For results-driven people that must make things, it can be nice to just have something dumb going on that requires no concentration.
Especially something that can be instantly turned off.
When it comes to sobriety, you might have fun with your trip up to a certain point, but you can’t just jump off the ride and be sober again. With a game, you can just turn it off. After I completed writing the novel, there were a few days after where I kept thinking of ideas related to it, even after spending the final days of writing the first draft mentally tying up all loose ends and the few days I had to edit doing the same with typing up any continuity errors. I couldn’t really get off that trip for a while. I’ll jump back in for a writer’s commentary after a few weeks, since there’s more I must do, including writing these essays.
I must lust after satisfactory results with the novel and these essays, however.
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium, my personal experiences, mainly.|
|Inspirations: There was an article I’d read some years ago about someone kicking an addiction by playing Minecraft. The hour I played of it, proper, fully activated all my addiction thoughts in the same way. So I never played it again. After playing this dressed-up version, I figured I’d write about it. I came up with the title during the novel-writing process, with a starter quote saying, “would I rather write or play videogames?” Nine times out of ten, I prefer writing over doing much else. This was one of those times where I just went for it and enjoyed it well enough. ★★★☆☆ for the game. I don’t see much of a reason to revisit it.|
|Related: Other 2019 Novel writings and Sober Living essays.|
|Picture: I thought of using one of the screenshots, and after I closed out of the game, I thought about jumping back in to take a screenshot of what my dude looked like after I was done, but|
|Written On: December 6th, 2019 [64 minutes if you count the gaming aside to grab the screenshots below, otherwise, I think it was like 8:40am to 9:26am, in WordPress, while listening to [the] minibosses’s live at the middle east twice through.]|
|Last Edited: December 6th, 2019 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|