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for ages

maura @ 11:52 am

I am trying to get back into games. I’ve been here before, and admit that I still have lots of complicated feelings about games as leisure, probably mostly the fault of capitalism, feelings that I don’t have about reading or knitting or some of the other things I do in my leisure time. But games are fun, and free time is for fun stuff.

One thing that’s easing my way back into games right now is the realization that games on my phone can perhaps help with the unfortunate doomscrolling habit I’ve developed. Not that I think I’m unique in that habit right now, I mean, there’s still a pandemic and also a war, and climate change is more and more real every day. But doomscrolling is not at all helpful to me (and maybe not to you, either?), so having something else to do when I pick up my phone during the in-between times of my days is helping me pull my attention away from that temptation.

Some of the recent obsession with Wordle and its variants has been useful, though I haven’t gone too far down that rabbit hole. I do the classic text version each day, sometimes saving it as a treat for a time when I need a pick me up. I also do the Worldle each day, in which you’re given 6 attempts to guess what country is pictured, and with each wrong guess the distance and direction of the right country is revealed. That’s been a fun challenge that has made it clear to me how much geographic knowledge I’ve lost over the years — as a kid I loved maps and would often spend time looking at atlases and globes. And of course many things have changed geopolitically since I was a kid, too. I find that I usually either get the country right on the first guess or two, or I don’t get it right at all. And yes, predictably for a white USian I find that the Global South is much more of a challenge for me.

I also just — finally — finished playing Gorogoa on my phone. It’s a gorgeous puzzle game that I’ve had for a while and had started then stopped, for some reason. The layout is four tiles in a square, and you move through the puzzles by zooming in and out and using arrows to move left to right in the tile. Sometimes you have to line up two or more tiles to make something happen, and other times a tile turns into one or more layers that you pull apart. The puzzles are clever and just hard enough. It’s very, very pretty, too. And one thing I really like is that you can pick it up and play for 5 minutes or so, then put it down and come back to it later. That seems key to the anti-doomscrolling application for games, for me.

I did finally finish playing Breath of the Wild on the Switch, mostly because when he was doing college at home last year my kid kept teasing me that I’d never finished it. I’m not usually a big fan of the final boss battle and I admit I found it annoying, though it was satisfying to finish, and at some point I will go back and do some of the side quests I think. More recently I’ve been playing smaller games on the Switch. I loved A Short Hike so much last year, it was like taking a fun trip to nature when we weren’t really going anywhere, and the music is so lovely that I still sometimes listen to it while I’m working.

Right now on the Switch I’m playing Unpacking, which is a sort of puzzly game about moving but also really about life and growing up. The game takes you through someone’s life, starting when they’re a kid, then moving to college, then in an apartment with roommates, etc. Each level is a room or series of rooms that the person is moving into, and you have to unpack the boxes and arrange their stuff. There’s lots of freedom to put stuff wherever feels right to you, though you can’t leave anything on the floor or else the level won’t be complete. There are also stickers that you get for specific actions or arrangements of things — it took me a few levels to realize that, and now I’m kind of obsessed with looking at the names of the stickers I don’t have yet to try and figure out what I need to do to get them. As you go through each level you learn a bit more about the person who’s life you’re arranging. We have been in our apartment for 23 years this summer, and it has been a long time since we’ve packed and unpacked, and I am finding this mechanic to be super compelling here in pandemic season 3, too.

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