Playing to work? Or playing to play?
I’ve written about this in the past, but I feel like bringing it up again. I have an issue I’ve been working on the past year or two. I am so caught up in being productive. I have a job and my art production on the side. While those occupy a lot of my time, the thing that really occupies my time is my interest in just about everything. I know I have a limited amount of time here on Earth, but I’ve set all my productivity for eternity. So my ideal is to act as if I would last forever.
I love video games. This site was originally not going to be called Game Praisers, but something more general. I’ve spent so much time researching and learning things unrelated to games. I have a good foundation of biology, chemistry, and physics. I’ve had my foray into business, programming, accounting, and a few other unrelated things. Just because I’m very interested in all that.
However, being a jack of all trades is time consuming, and I’ve felt that the pressure to be productive as I try to continue this hugely lateral growth is seeping into everything I do. And that includes video games. I think it’s very probable that anyone who has a job or is trying to get a new skill can have that same issue start to pop up in their lives. It doesn’t help that, contextually, we are in a covid-19 world where we spent a lot of time indoors. I know that didn’t affect me too much, because I am not a social person, but I saw other people struggle with feeling productive being indoors all the time.
That need for productivity is now in a place where I feel like it shouldn’t belong. Video games are meant to be fun. I’m not very good at relaxing. I’m always having to do something. I hate naps. I need to be doing something “productive”, which in this case has also come to mean that I must consume media at a desired rate as well. That Assassin’s Creed year last year probably didn’t help either.
So now, while I’m still trying to move around and get into all these games, I want to be more intentional with playing games . Playing games with the intention to have fun and the intention to relax. I was advised to intentionally relax. To have time set aside. To do things knowing that the purpose is for me to relax or to enjoy my time. This is why movies are a very good way for me to intentionally relax. I get focused and that’s all I can think of. The whole purpose of it is, well, it. But with games, especially because we have to make efforts to do things, I kind of get the feeling of having to be productive again.
I have to level this many times, I have to get this many resources, or I have to get this far into a level. But all that really kills the joy of gaming. Even if I’m playing with the intention of concentration like in cataclysm mode for Vermintide II, I have to really be focused on getting to that point to really get that flow and enjoyment.
And now, just now, when I’m already at a veteran-ish age in the world of gaming, I need to re-learn how to sit down and play for the intention of playing. This sounds dumb. I’m kind of repeating myself, but this is something that I think is important and something that I feel like might be unaware to some people. I think it’s a mental health kind of thing as well. I want people to recognize that our mental health will affect how we enjoy games. It’s an important part of our bodies to take care of, and I want us to enjoy games to the fullest.
The internet was really bad this last week, and I couldn’t even turn the computer on due to network issues. So I grabbed the Nintendo Switch and I booted up the random game I bought like, a year ago, and started playing. It was Final Fantasy Adventure in the Collection of Mana. I remember stopping several times because of the archaic systems of direction in it, but I had nothing else to do. I mean, I had other things to do. I have plenty of backlog research I could do. But I really just wanted to play a game, and this was one of my only options.
So I sat there and struggled, but then I decided to try and figure out this oldschool game. I found myself getting really sucked into it. Time flew by just like it did in my younger days. I played because I intended to really just play a video game. I sometimes lament this feeling of not having time to play games and then only playing thirty minutes to try and squeeze whatever I can before I have to get back into the grind of work, and I don’t enjoy it.
Sometimes circumstances make it really difficult, but I’m going to keep working on this idea of just playing purely for the game again. Even if it’s just the thirty minutes I have left of the day, I’m just gonna let it happen.
I did that last night on Deep Rock Galactic. Typing this now I just realized that. I had thirty minutes left, and I just went all in. I planned for one game, but I committed fully to just getting into it. I suppose I’ve come pretty far in this long journey of enjoying games again.
One last thing, for some of you, gaming might even have to take a backseat. It might be another activity that is more relaxing. Regardless, be intentional with your time to relax. It’s hard and, no matter how dumb it sounds, you might have to work at being able to relax. Keep at it though. Ultimately, our physical and mental health is pretty important.
So take care of yourself, stay safe, and let’s enjoy video games again. See you next time.