What is it about a videogame aimed primarily at children that appeals to me so deeply? Answering that question in detail will require going through specific experiences, so let’s summarize Pokémon, and specifically LeafGreen as the culmination of everything I had wanted from other videogames as a kid from a pure gameplay perspective. 150+ playable characters with individual strengths and weaknesses? In a saccharine, idyllic world? The games appeal to me most when I’m feeling unwell.
How can I level up my sobriety? Let’s look at how I’ve done so since I started writing about sobriety over two years ago. My biggest positive change was learning to recognize when I’m experiencing stress. That’s my main trigger for moments that might encourage me to indulge in insobriety. If life is going well, and not just from some outward appearances but if I feel like my life is going well, why risk that?
Throughout these essays where I’ve brainstormed while playing Pokémon LeafGreen, I’ve discovered realizations about videogame mechanics/stories I like and my motivations in life. I might not have realized half these were it not for this challenge of figuring out why I like or dislike certain things while playing. How will I apply these realizations? Besides playing more videogames with the leveling up mechanics I like and positioning myself toward a lifestyle that’s more predictably satiating?
Videogames like Pokémon LeafGreen aren’t ambiguous because you have to understand what you’re doing in order to play. Mostly… I hated the SpeedRunners demo I tried recently because the game drops you in without warning into its tutorial. Without the ability to change settings, get my barrings, or anything to reduce the ambiguity, I was left frustrated. Pokémon won’t let you play until you’ve covered the basics. If only life were less ambiguous like that..
“I had to see it.” There was something compulsive that caused me to think about playing Pokémon LeafGreen throughout my other tasks yesterday. That same compulsion runs through many elements of my life. It drove me to spend some time preparing my team and how I’ll use them throughout the game. This might be the signal of an addictive personality, but honestly, I’d rather focus on the positive aspects here, so let’s dig into obsessiveness.
Why do you play games? Primarily, of course, because you can play games for myriad reasons depending on your interests. Is your primary reason to learn their game mechanics to overcome some impossible challenges or challenger? Or, do you play games to soak in their sceneries? EarthBound was my primary nexus point for videogames, literature, and perhaps even life perspective. EarthBound is similar to FF7, which I am currently playing, because it has superb writing.
What’s my motivation for playing Pokémon LeafGreen when I know the final step is putting it away? I’m not interested in mastering the game. During this session, I realized that I was seeking unambiguous solutions to the infinitely complex problems of life. When my Geodude fights against Geodudes he can use Magnitude and versus Zubats he can use Rock Throw or Tackle. When I encounter multitudinous situations in life, there isn’t as clear a path…
My mind was so taxed that I spent hours – although not as many as this screenshot would suggest – enraptured in Pokémon LeafGreen. The idea crept in quickly. I stayed up too late playing. However, the need to play was so fierce that I had to comply. Were I not, then that harmless vice of playing videogames for some hours might be usurped by more dangerous vices. How can I play videogames… while still living my life?
Wherever I move to next probably won’t be as treacherous for ice and snowfall. It seems like every two years Seattle gets enough snow for a few days to shut everything down. It’s more adventurous on those days the further you live from the main roads. A walk to the bus stop becomes brutal or you oversaturate yourself with Pokémon for years. This year, I’m in the final weeks before finding another place for adventuring.
Junk shelves, random boxes, and “to do” lists are subtle ways to keep us organized by deferring the eventualities of cleaning. If pursuing perfection paralyzes progress, getting around to completing these cleaning tasks should just be a matter of time and interest, right? Throughout my moving process, I’ve discarded anything that doesn’t enrich my life, with some lingering questions: How many of this item’s collection do I want to keep? All or none? Maybe one?