After a long hard day’s work there is nothing quite as therapeutic, as well as soul nurturing as playing a computer game. Gaming truly is an artificial balm of meditative serenity, easing the aches and strains endured over several hours of monotonous labour. A consolidating sedative that radiates with fostering respite and stabilised reprieve from the hostile provocations of work. I’ve always maintained a very laid back, devil-may-care approach to work, adopting a regimented commitment to my job without it interfering with my personal life. Usually if a day presents irritating challenges that impedes my ability to do my job effectively I can safely separate that as soon as I leave, distancing myself from the wearisome grievances of the job. But the pressure to keep up with the unseasonably demanding workload has recently had a startling effect on my demeanor.
I find it increasingly difficult to disassociate from the stresses of work. Much of the strain comes from being underpaid and woefully understaffed, coupled with colleagues illness and holidays. As a result every day is an exercise in futility, compounded by an exhaustive level of fluctuating work that only seems to grow in quantities and necessity. And I’m struggling to enforce a principled work ethic with any sustainable conviction. I’m not depressed or even resentful, just tired. But the one constancy in my life that I can rely on to preserve what little sanity I have rattling around up there is the sanctuary of gaming.
This indispensable tool of distraction is the singular catalyst that prevents me from smearing fecal matter all over my body and streaking through town brandishing an unusually long carrot, wielding it like a medieval sorcerer and bonking random strangers on the head. A strangely specific interpretation of insanity but a relatively accurate one. Sure my family offers a comforting respite, but they’ve also endured a long day themselves and there’s only so much they can do for an insufferable grump like me.
So to posses the capacity to satisfy such mindless endeavours is crucial to the overall recuperation of my volatile mind. To just submerge in the decadent wreaths of an open world, lavished with a plethora of errands I can complete when I’m good and ready. Immerse myself in the spectacle of being the most important figure in a virtual world, whose mere presence commands attention, arbitrarily scripted though it may be. The ability to escape, even virtually for a few hours is so comforting. My girlfriend often asks why I don’t go to bed at a reasonable hour, instead choosing to linger long past midnight, allocating my twilight hours to the acquisition of some new ability or exploring a newly discovered land. And the only real explanation I can give is because I need too!
I’m often susceptible to submissions of cynicism, indulging in the kind of scrupulous arrogance that rejects anything positive with an apathetic shrug. The only thing that I’m ever capable of doing with any real confidence is accurately predicting whether something is going to be bad, and worst still almost reveling in such prophetic assumptions. Who really wants to live a life committed to such pessimism and satisfaction of being right about something being bad? Not me, but that’s rarely the case with gaming.
I resonate with a distinct positivity that alludes me outside the confines of these virtual trappings. I get excited, angry, pensive, giddy but mostly I feel genuinely alive, reinvigorated even! It’s like a mug of hot chocolate on a cold winters day. This emotional attrition is satiated, my faculties renewed with new purpose and resiliency. Sure I’ve had a bad day at work, but at least I’ve defeated Bowser in Super Mario Odyssey! Sure that same characteristically cynical affliction will emerge from time to time, but it’s tempered by my absolute pleasure for gaming. Deep down, below the cold calculating exterior is my 10-year-old self that knows Ni No Kuni 2 “will be” better than the original. That Red Dead Redemption 2 “will” move me in ways I can’t possibly fathom. And that tonight when I play whatever it is I’m going to play, whether I’m good or not, I’m going to have fun!
What games do you play regularly that make you feel better? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
Here’s a fun fact: did you know that the human eye can actually recognise the visual obstruction of the nose, but the brain chooses to ignore it? Pretty cool right? It’s amazing that your brain is able to determine that the nose doesn’t require a concerted visual consistency to know it’s there, and that it has a systemic program that alters your perception of reality to accommodate the individuals vision. Considering the distended size of my nose this is a very useful exercise for my own brain to coordinate. By extension the human brain, depending on the occupier of course is capable of applying such valuable disregards to other areas. For instance being able to ignore a plot hole in a movie elevates the enjoyment you perceive exponentially. Possessing the capability to abide certain game-play issues or cliche character dialogue provides a much more meaningful experience to a game that could potentially compromise enjoyment because of these problems. Personally there’s a lot I can let slide. The murderous endeavours of Nathan Drake. Rocky Balboa beating Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV” despite Apollo Creed, an opponent Rocky barely defeated by one second, dying within two rounds sparring with the same Russian juggernaut. The fact Buzz Lightyear believes himself to be a space ranger, yet still remains totally inanimate whenever Andy enters the room doesn’t bother me either. No what concerns me is something a little more tenuous. An understated phenomenon in gaming implemented without any real explanation. I’m of course referring to the naturally occurring cell regeneration that afflicts a number of player controlled protagonists.
The ability to heal one self is without a doubt the most useful, inert skill a player controlled character can have. It’s inclusion hastens the rapidity of combat allowing for a far greater emphasis on dynamic entertainment rather than the methodical conservation of health, ultimately depleted by tough and engaging confrontations. But just because I accept its assistance shouldn’t precipitate that I understand it. Games that primarily strive for realism often adopt the inherent regenerative properties without any real explanation? Is this evolution? Have the characters inherited these unique skills through some freak accident? Were they born like this? Perhaps bitten by a radioactive aspirin? I don’t know. It’s never explained! This troupe takes logic outside and shoots it in the face! Presumably a critical wound it would recover from! Realism, when applied to esoteric scenarios or arresting situations like the ones in Resident Evil 7, where environments are so incredibly detailed yet the nature of the story is as realistic as a David Icke account on global politics. Having a character that can casually recover from a gun shot wound just by concealment behind a crate makes little sense anyway. As does life nurturing elixirs.
Often regenerative potions or wounds remedied by embellished salves are administered as a statutory resource for all physical maladies. A characters life bar is flashing red intermittently indicating that immediate hospitalisation is necessary to recover from the life threatening wounds sustained in combat, such as a bullet to the face. But wait you have that first aid kit that you recovered from that ravine earlier on! Yes, that’s it. Let me quickly rap this bandage around my hand which should heal said gunshot….on my head? One minute you’re rasping at deaths door, the next you’ve become a Knight in a Monty Python sketch! “It is but a flesh wound”. Resident Evil 7 perpetrates evocative themes of torture or indeed amputation that can be treated with some absurdly powerful medicated solution is something I’ve never quite trained my brain to ignore. That small part of my brain that feels compelled to rationalise this explicable feat of medical engineering, is a conceptual blemish somehow more distracting to my immersion than how adept I am at reloading a gun. Or how my assimilated persona has the physical capacity to haul enough weapons, garments or other life preserving regents without encumbering my expeditious agility, that allows for consistent almost inexhaustible ability to sprint. Why would I question the legitimacy of such incredible actions when I can barely get out of bed in the morning without injury, let alone heave a bag up a mountain that weighs the equivalent of a whales uterus? Or even how all of this hefty equipment fits inside a satchel?!
I realise how trivial this argument is, if you can even call it that but it’s still something my mind simply can’t ignore. Dying and re-spawning unscathed at a designated checkpoint? Yep, makes perfect natural sense to me. By self healing? That’s just so unreasonable! Even the simplest of explanations would satisfy my curiosity into this obscene logistical anomaly. Explaining that the character in question possessed a strong constitution against death and dismemberment would suffice in my erratic little brain! Alternatively God could bestow me with a life. That would be nice.
What gimmick in gaming annoys you? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
Now I’d never disparage our taxpayer funded NHS. It’s an integral service providing critical emergency care to the most vulnerable, regardless of their social standing. A system legislated to ensure any malady, regardless of the severity can be isolated through rigorous, considerate consultation from men and women that demonstrate tremendous fortitude for their practice, and conciliate patients ill health without the recipient incurring enormous medical bills. Our national health service is a publicly funded, and thoroughly accessible system that facilitates a variant of benefits not least of which is the assurance that it will provide the care you require when you most need it. I feel privileged to have such a service at my disposal whenever the necessity to use it arises. Having said that it is a system completely undermined by staff shortages and critically lacking in financial investment. Now I’m not moaning, merely stating particular observations that have enabled me to objectively….all right; moan!
Ever since the birth of our daughter Rose, resulting from an emergency caesarean, my partner has experienced persistent, potentially dangerous breathing difficulties. As such we have been frequent visitors to the hospital as doctors attempt to establish the cause of the subsequent repository infarction, which turned out to be a build up of fluid on her lung. The most immediate solution was unfortunately a more invasive procedure than we had anticipated. So on Monday, a bank holiday no less, we arrived at the hospital for a scheduled procedure to drain this excess fluid via a tube inserted through her back and into the offending lung. Obviously my girlfriend was very anxious about this operation and just wanted to get the procedure under way as soon as possible. We were advised by her doctor to arrive at our earliest convenience so that we may get the draining started sooner. Of course if you’ve ever been to a modern hospital then you know just what a labyrinth the sterile environment is! Just a series of blank, indistinct walls with equally vacuous corridors that make negotiating you’re way to the toilet confusing?! I’m surprised I wasn’t greeted by a Minotaur actually! In any case once we had found the correct ward a receptionist informed us that there was no record of our names booked in. “Great” I thought. I already knew what kind of day this was going to be. Thankfully another doctor intervened and said that she was the one that had contacted us in regards to the drainage issues (my girlfriend hated me calling it that). She directed us to the A&E waiting room while she would locate a room for us to accommodate.
Roughly 2 hours, 3 examinations and the consumption of a cookie that tasted like it had already been eaten, then reformed into a cookie like shape later our doctor finally returned and ushered us to our temporary courters. She explained the technicalities of the procedure, informed us of some of the side effects and pain my partner could experience during the operation. My partner, whose nerves had not abated agreed to the conditions and was soon given a general anaesthetic to numb the area where the tube would be. Despite a few grimaces and sporadic grips of my hand the tube was inserted without incidence and we waited for the fluid to disperse. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, whereby the doctor revealed that she estimated that there was at least a litres worth of fluid trapped in my partners lung, the bag that was funnelling the dispensing liquid had almost reached that estimate! My girlfriend began to experience a great deal of discomfort at this point, which we had been informed was completely normal due to the lung expanding, so the activity was stopped and we waited for the pain to subside enough for her to continue. A couple of hours later, my girlfriend feeling fatigued but well enough to continue, a nurse exchanged the full bag that’s contents resembled that of urine for an empty one and began to patiently wait for the draining to finish. After 3 hours of waiting there were still no significant signs of any further liquids, which was a very good indication that there was no more fluid left stored in the lung. We notified the appropriate nurse who indicated that she would contact our physician to come and remove the pipe, conduct one final examination as well as a final X-ray to confirm that the lung was indeed absent of any secretions and discharge my girlfriend. So we waited…….and waited. And waited. And, well you get the idea.
It’s surprising just how exhausting idleness can be? Particularly after 6 hours! For me it was boring, for my girlfriend it was far more excruciating. It’s certainly not the kind of procrastination we had expected to endure on a bank holiday. You see due to laws and other regulations staff are unable to deliberately let people die simply because of first come, first served ideologies (which is unfortunate) and have to prioritise patient safety by the immediacy of the danger to the infirm. For instance a man walking into accident and emergency complaining about a rash will always be neglected in favour of another admittance with a drain pipe protruding out of his lungs. We were the man with the rash in this instance. So by the time our overworked, equally fatigued doctor had returned to discharge us it was nearly 10 in the evening. And it’s occasions such as these that make you appreciate the convenience of virtual wounds and afflictions. You can get shot, stabbed, punched, thrown off a cliff, run over or sustain any number of accidentally incurred injuries and recover just by simply hiding behind a crate to regenerate health. Sometimes I really hate reality.