Dubious Wisdom

Bill Harris has a great post from a couple of days back on the “Consolation of Gaming.” It really struck a chord with me. Not the self-assembling girl friend from Korea part but all the other stuff: The stress of all the events in the external world, the struggle with a deteriorating middle aged body and the escapism that gaming offers.

My rehab problem doesn’t sound anywhere near as difficult as Bill’s but it’s still annoying. Two months ago, spurred on by my kids burgeoning soccer careers, I decided to play in some adult pick up games. I hadn’t done anything like this for over 20 years. The last time I’d touched a ball in a game was when I played Div III college soccer in the Fall of 1987. The outcome of this mini-middle aged crisis was ugly. My mind thought it was still 21 but the body would not comply with its demands. The end result was some type of tendon injury in my heal. Now every morning I have to stretch the darn thing out.

My only twist on Bill’s story is that now that I have started working with computer games for a living, I’ve started having problems losing myself in the games. Not the worst kind of problem but also one that a pill you buy via an internet pharmacy can’t solve. The issue is twofold. First, I work at home so I always feel like I should be working. Punching the clock is a psychological effort not a physical one. It helps to have a family with schedules that pull you away (soccer, gymnastics, school etc.) but there is still the fact that my “office” also doubles as my sanctuary. Second, after so much time spent sitting in front of the computer working on a game, it takes a huge effort to get excited about “playing” something else. Its a combination of mental fatigue and media overload. That’s probably why I have gravitated more and more to board gaming over the last few years. There is something to be said for having to move to the kitchen table, set up all the components and chat face to face with real people. The physicality of it is refreshing.

Now don’t get me wrong. I still love PC gaming. It still scratches a mental itch and offers an escapism that other forms of entertainment just can’t match in the same way. But the binging is gone and probably for good. It’s both a casualty of age and the work choice that I’ve made now. It was something I could see coming even when I was making infotainment CD-ROM’s a decade ago.

This all brings me to something I’ve been thinking about that relates to the strategic direction of Cryptic Comet. When I’m brain-fried and can’t think about coding anymore for the day my mind wanders to the type of projects that I’d like to take on after Solium Infernum. I’ve got a notebook full of such things and 4 solid ideas in various stages of cannibalized board game mock ups. I’ve definitely decided to pick the one that falls into the “Light Adventure Strategy” category. I build things things not just to sell them but because I want something for myself to enjoy and after this development cycle on Solium Infernum, I’m feeling like I need a light time waster…. something like a Puzzle Quest or Solitaire. In the board game space it would be something like Lost Cities/Ticket to Ride….thinking along a single dimension. Something that requires mindless thinking if you know what I mean. That’s the type of engagement that I’m finding very therapeutic.

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