[Sober Living] That Videogame Grind

Within the chaos of life, I’ve always enjoyed the order of repetitiously beating up baddies in videogames. Others find it tedious. I find it enjoyable. In FF7, just before Wall Market, there’s a place where you encounter a 4-baddie battle or a 1-baddy mini-mini-miniboss, of sorts. It’s fun for me to try my luck. If my party has half-health, can they survive another round without healing? These are unambiguous patterns, whereas life is completely ambiguous.

That ambiguity makes life interesting.

I find videogames to be boring when they’re either too repetitive or too challenging without any clear reward. I don’t mind if it will take a while for me to learn something, or to grind to achieve something, if it doesn’t feel cheap. Do the numbers appear frequently? When you’re leveling up characters, you can see little meters fill quickly. This much experience to the next level, this much until my limit break goes, and this much until I get a new digit of currency.

We lack gamification of reality.

We go to work and work until we’re able to leave, then once every pay period, we’ll get money to spend, but much of it is done outside of those cause-and-effect videogame confines. Within a videogame, if you beat a boss, you get instant rewards, whereas especially when you work somewhere long-term, you get into a rhythm where the money almost doesn’t even matter. The money will enter your bank account, and you’ll spend that money on rent or everything else required or optional in life.

You also have to grind for your 8-hour shift.

In videogames, when you decide to start up the game, you don’t have to go run around for a few more minutes to get that next level or that next item. You could always cheat. The version of FF7 I’m playing allows you to start at level 99 so you can just experience the game, dude, but that’s not what I want out of the game. Sure, I’m not going to go after everything in the game.

I don’t care about thoroughness or challenge in games.

In this next year, I’ll be playing more videogames with certain traits. I always like the idea of always having one turn-based RPG to grind away at in these sorts of moments, like the one I’m writing through now, where my left eye is twitching uncontrollably through a migraine that is making focus and concentration difficult. If concentrating on that for a 30-minute set while I listen to something in the background can help distract the worst of it before work, then cool.

If it can’t, then at least I gave it my all.

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past year, approaching my seventh year of sobriety, is the need for these sorts of self-care periods. We’re not talking hours of pampering. Just a quick escape to do something where you can’t fail. Worst case, a character dies, and I go back to recover their health. No one died outside the game. I didn’t cause an incident, collision, or tragedy.

If only I could do that now.

I can write like this, but I can’t do anything for this twitching eye. The heartbeat pulse that my eye is emitting when I lightly press on it, while typing this only looking out of my right eye, doesn’t feel good. I even woke up early and found myself awake sitting straight up in bed, feeling like the migraine on its now two-day would not get better. My other eye is not so light-sensitive, so right now it’s doing OK, but this all reminds me of the light sensitivity I used to get when I was younger. I thought it was just something innocent enough, maybe even playful, but now I realize that when I was 6, or 8, even, I was getting migraines. I’ve just kept grinding through them for so long I’ve built up some kind of tolerance.

When I close my eyes, it looks like a city illuminated by lights at night.

I don’t think it’s the computers or the videogame monitors I’ve stared at that caused this, exactly, but then again I’m not an optical-neurologist, yet, although with the limited amount of understanding with headaches many of these doctors I’ve talked to seem to have, I think by the time I fix these headaches, I will have the equivalent education and experience treating migraine and other headaches. I did just drop my monitor’s brightness from 20 to 10 out of 100, so at least that might be a start. I then dropped it to 0.

I look at situations like this as building tolerance.

When people talk about alcohol around me, most likely it will still perturb me, but my allowance to be perturbed by those events happens less often now. If someone talks about celebrating the New Year with tequila, then I don’t instantly think about my interaction with tequila, rather, they’re just celebrating the New Year. That’s no concern of mine. Same for these headaches. Compared to two months ago, where I called out sick because I had a sharp pain along the side of my head, now, I could probably have that same pain and maybe try to focus on some videogame, watch some show, write, or do anything to try to get past the worst of that paine.

Is that the same as leveling up?

Am I leveling up my tolerance to sobriety the more I practice it? Am I leveling up my tolerance to headaches the more I don’t let them take me down? Am I leveling up my tolerance toward writing about more advanced topics, I suppose, by writing more often?

I did write myself into a sentence, this one, without direction.

I stopped playing videogames a dozen or so years ago because I didn’t see their value. They’re not overly productive. That’s the point. They’re just playful things to take your mind off life’s many problems.

Same as socializing with friends. Play something to relax, dude.

Quotes: None. I was going to feature a quote from someone that said “I’d rather suffer at home than at work,” but I didn’t know how to fit it in.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: I’d been thinking about this for a while, both when I first started replaying the game back in June or July, and when I returned just recently. I’ll probably abandon many games when I get to their “cheater” point where I’d need to cheat to progress, or deal with inane goals and rules, but I’m not a real gamer. I’m just some dude that likes videogames, sometimes, for reasons like the above.
Related: Other Sober Living essays.
Photo: The spot where I came up with the idea for this essay.
Written On: 2019 December 31 [29 minutes. From 12:39am to 1:08am. Gdocs.]
Last Edited: 2020 January 01 [Possible edits adapting from Gdocs to WordPress. Would this be the second draft, then?]
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.