Games as an Escape

The news often sucks, and it’s a self-feeding depression cycle about how things are getting worse. In many respects they are, and in many others they are improving. r/mademesmile is a decent dose of good news on a daily basis, and I try to make efforts to avoid any 24 hour news channel.

Games are one of my escapes. There’s a slew of them, many of them season dependent, but gaming is the type of thing that seems to work in nearly any circumstance. Escapes may be the wrong wording though… Sure it has me focus on something other than my daily toils, which is a sort of evasion, but it also allows me to set and accomplish goals, which is full of that lovely dopamine kick we all need.

Over time my gaming habits have changed. I still do have the need to binge from time to time, but the larger commitments in my life prevent that from being any actual habit. Instead it feels more like there are burst of gaming, followed by lulls. Picking the right game, for the right time is the kicker. I’m not a monogamous gamer by any stretch… I need to try different things and experiences. I may have a few firm call backs that are a sort of comfort food (FF14, DSP are in that bucket), but there’s always that drive for something a bit different. Vampire Survivors came out of nowhere, and can scratch that 15 minute itch without much planning. Valheim certainly sucked all the air in the room for over a month. Lego Star Wars is right up there with about 50 hours played trying to get as many bricks as I can. Looking at my various game libraries, there’s still plenty to work my way through.

I will say that the games that are more experimental are the ones that seem to stick the most – puzzlers in particular. Return of the Obra Dinn, What Remains of Edith Finch, Disco Elysium, 12 Minutes … they are less (if at all) about a score, and more about a particular journey. Games that encourage experimentation, in the space that you effectively have no “wrong” answers, just different perspectives.

I do still enjoy the more braindead activities in games, where it’s just cruise control. Not much different than most stuff on TV I guess, or any MCU movie. There are times where I simply want to be entertained, and you’ll get something more like Lost Ark, Hollow Knight, or Hades. They may have a technical requirements, but once you get the rhythm down, the rest is just following through.

Which I suppose cycles back to the title itself and the desire for a game to have some sort of conclusion, an actual escape from its confines. I am not in the Achiever Bartle-type.. I could care less about trophies, or world rankings. I define a set of goals, work towards them, and then when they are attained, move on. With hundreds of quality games coming out all the time, it makes little sense to focus on one for a super long tail when I could just take on another awesome experience.\

Give me a problem and the tools to solve it. I’ll be a happy man.

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