Is this going to be forever?

Let’s talk about me.

Super Smash Bros. Melee wasn’t released at a very good time for me. I was in col­lege, away from home and most of my gam­ing friends. Also, it was released for the Nin­ten­do Game­Cube, which his­to­ry has shown us wasn’t a ter­ri­bly suc­cess­ful con­sole. In fact, I don’t think any of my clos­est friends back then owned a Game­Cube.

But because I know peo­ple who know peo­ple, there was a hand­ful of oppor­tu­ni­ties to play Melee over the next few years.

I’d be at people’s hous­es and find mostly-young, mostly-male groups gath­ered around the TV trad­ing smash attacks between sig­na­ture Nin­ten­do char­ac­ters in the most won­der­ful­ly whim­si­cal car­toon fight­ing game imag­in­able. Mor­tal Kom­bat this is not. Con­tin­ue read­ing “Is this going to be for­ev­er?”

On wishing for boredom

This is not a post about Steve Jobs. I read enough of them in the days and weeks after his death. I read in these a lot of what I already knew and learned some new stuff for sure, but one Steve quote stood out to me in Wired’s obit­u­ary:

I’m a big believ­er in bore­dom,” he told me. Bore­dom allows one to indulge in curios­i­ty, he explained, and “out of curios­i­ty comes every­thing.”

I’m not sure if I’d head this quote from him before, but it put into words some­thing that has been trou­bling me for some time: I haven’t been bored in years.

The first time I noticed this was in the mid-2000s, and  I only real­ized part of it, and I saw it through the lens of my Inter­net usage, par­tic­u­lar­ly RSS. Even today, as the cool kids have moved on to fol­low­ing Twit­ter feeds (real­ly, talk about a step back­wards) of web­sites and blogs they find inter­est­ing, I’m still a huge fan of the no-bullshit, user-in-control, decen­tral­ized pow­er of RSS.1

What occurred to me back then was that hav­ing posts pushed to me dai­ly gave me more read­ing mate­r­i­al than I need­ed. And since I could nev­er get all the way through the unread glut of posts from blogs I’d sub­scribed to, my need to ever go for­ag­ing for inter­est­ing things to read basi­cal­ly dis­ap­peared. RSS gave me tons of serendip­i­ty (thank you, linkblogs!)… and at the same time, prac­ti­cal­ly none at all. I miss the old days — some would say the bad old days — when I’d get my online enter­tain­ment and ran­dom bits of enlight­en­ment by brows­ing aim­less­ly from link to link, being per­son­al­ly point­ed to inter­est­ing things by friends on AIM, fol­low­ing lat­est links post­ed to proto-blogs like Pix­el­sur­geon, and… I don’t know, how­ev­er else we found cool shit back then.

The sec­ond time I felt this effect of this was at some point over the last few years, but this time in a more gen­er­al sense. This time it was big­ger than RSS; this time it was about every­thing in my life.

I real­ized I have far too many options for enter­tain­ment. There are two rea­sons for this: mas­sive dig­i­tal stor­age devices and the fact that, being employed gives me an actu­al enter­tain­ment bud­get for pur­chas­ing paid media and fan­cy devices on which to expe­ri­ence it. Between a pile of unread books and bunch of e-books; more unwatched movies, sea­sons of old TV shows and ani­me series than I can name; and games galore that I’ll nev­er fin­ish (thank you Nin­ten­do Wii and DS, Android phone and a still-kickin’ Atari 2600), I’m pret­ty much set for… for­ev­er.2 Even if I don’t seek out any­thing new, it’ll be years and years before I get through all of this. And it’s not like I can just ignore new releas­es and stuff I become aware of in the mean­time!

I might be able to enjoy this world o’ plen­ty, if I could for­get about what life was like when I was grow­ing up, before we had the com­put­ing pow­er, stor­age and net­work capac­i­ty to expe­ri­ence all the dig­i­tal rich­es of more enter­tain­ment than we’ll ever need. I spent so much time being bored grow­ing up, aim­less­ly think­ing and day­dream­ing and such. This was before my first com­put­er; I had tons of books and had prob­a­bly read almost all of them, made good use of the pub­lic library, played with toys, action fig­ures and stuff a whole lot and still found time to be bored and day­dream because it seemed like I had run out of things to do.

If you live a sim­i­lar­ly full, media-rich and employed first-world life, and can still ever find your­self so lux­u­ri­ous­ly bored, how do you man­age? And can you teach me?

  1. Google Read­er, please don’t die.
  2. I didn’t men­tion music here, because the way I con­sume music is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. I still clear­ly have more than I “need,” but I don’t feel the same sort of pres­sure to get through it all, thanks to shuf­fle mode.

…I just want some snack cakes

I was play­ing some Scar­face: The World Is Yours ear­li­er this evening on my Wii and while the game is in many ways a series of mis­sions that don’t vary all that much, a part of the game that is pret­ty con­sis­tent­ly inter­est­ing is talk­ing to ran­dom peo­ple on the streets. (What does that leave? A pret­ty stan­dard 3D open world, drive-cars-shoot-people-deal-drugs rush rush affair that hap­pens to take place in a Mia­mi I don’t quite rec­og­nize.)

But like I was say­ing, the con­ver­sa­tions.

I can’t remem­ber what pur­pose this serves in the game, but you can have back-and-forth con­ver­sa­tions with the seem­ing­ly hun­dreds of unique NPCs that line the streets of the game. Walk up to one, press A and Tony spits out a line, to which they respond with some­thing that more-or-less makes sense. Press A and Tony replies with some­thing most­ly rel­e­vant to what they said. Do this back-and-forth exchange a few times and your “Con­ver­sa­tion” count increas­es by one. (You can only con­verse with any giv­en indi­vid­ual once, at which point talk­ing to them con­sists of seemingly-random one-liners that seem to either pro­pose sex­u­al rela­tions or bod­i­ly harm… or are just strings of Scarface-style exple­tives.)

So ear­li­er, I (well, Tony) was vis­it­ing our local bank branch when I decid­ed to talk to some of the peo­ple hang­ing around in the stair­well. We walked up to one African-American gen­tle­man in an ugly sweater and the con­ver­sa­tion basi­cal­ly began like this:

Tony: Mia­mi is full of pussy, meng. You just need to be rich to get it.
Gen­tle­man: Man, I don’t care about pussy. I just want some snack cakes.

I’m gonna let that one hang for a moment.

Okay, I fuck­ing love this game.

Fine wine games

There is a cer­tain class of video game whose exis­tence I’ve been slow­ly dis­cov­er­ing over the last few years. Let’s call these fine wine games.

My idea of a fine wine game1 is one that is best expe­ri­enced a bit at a time. You know, enjoyed in mod­er­a­tion. The kind you only pick up and play every once in a while… because it’s just that good.

Does that sound counter-intuitive? Why would you want to take it so slow­ly with some­thing so great? Well, here’s oth­er side of the coin: this sort of game also has an ele­ment of rar­i­ty, or scarci­ty to it. It’s not the sort of game that prints mon­ey, sell­ing mil­lions of copies, so the chances of a sequel being made aren’t very good.

So enjoy the game itself. Savor it as you go. Don’t cry because there won’t be a sequel; think of how lucky you are to play it in the first place! Wring every drop of enjoy­ment from the expe­ri­ence that you can.

Here are a few games you’ll find in my cask:

Zack & Wiki (Nin­ten­do Wii) The orig­i­nal fine wine game in my book. Crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed; sold quite poor­ly. Chance of sequel? Slim-to-none. Thus, I decid­ed that I’d only play Zack & Wiki spar­ing­ly.

With save dates as my basis, I’d esti­mate that I would pick it up every cou­ple of months, play for a day or two (enough time to strug­gle through my cur­rent lev­el feel­ing like the world’s biggest moron until final­ly feel­ing like the world’s great­est genius, which is what this game does to you). And then, back on the shelf it would go, to wait for the next time I’m in the mood for savory gam­ing great­ness.

Thus, despite hav­ing bought this game in 2008, I only com­plet­ed it this past week­end. $40 so very, very well spent.

Soul Bub­bles (Nin­ten­do DS) While I bought my copy from an Ama­zon Mar­ket­place sell­er, this game was released in the U.S. as a Toys R Us-exclusive title. If this arti­fi­cial­ly lim­it­ed its audi­ence, that’s sim­ply unfor­tu­nate, because this is a beau­ti­ful game… one that I tend to for­get all about for months on end before redis­cov­er­ing it anew every time.

I’ve been tak­ing my time with Soul Bub­bles, and have more than half of it (read: years of enjoy­ment) left to go!

Mother/EarthBound series (Nin­ten­do NES/SNES/GBA) Enough has been writ­ten about this series of quirky, rather un-RPG-like RPGs, which have attract­ed a cult-like fol­low­ing. Thus, I’ll offer only this quick assess­ment: the fact that English-speaking gamers have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to play any of the three games should be enough to make a fan thank their lucky stars.

While it could be said that three games released over the course of fif­teen years effec­tive­ly nul­li­fies any sup­posed rar­i­ty… hey, you know what? Fuck you. Nin­ten­do trans­lat­ed Moth­er and then prompt­ly shelved the Eng­lish ver­sion, Moth­er 2 (Earth­Bound) received one stinker of a U.S. mar­ket­ing cam­paign, and the Eng­lish trans­la­tion of Moth­er 3 had to be under­tak­en by a team of incred­i­bly devot­ed fans.

Moth­er games in Eng­lish are some mighty fine wine.

Cave Sto­ry (Win­dows, Wii­Ware, et al.) Cave Sto­ry is the work of one ded­i­cat­ed ama­teur over the course of five years… work that was sim­ply giv­en away for free as a Win­dows game, and lat­er port­ed to a hand­ful of pop­u­lar plat­forms by fans.

I start­ed Cave Sto­ry a few times over the years, but the lack­lus­ter Lin­ux port kept putting me off of it; I knew I should wait for a good port to be avail­able for a plat­form I use. The Wii­Ware ver­sion was released a few months back, and the rest is his­to­ry. After years of antic­i­pa­tion, I swilled this one down in a decid­ed­ly non-fine-wine man­ner.

Whoops.

Whether games or oth­er media, what do you con­sid­er to be your fine wine?

https://writegeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/prints_money.gifpr
  1. Ini­tial­ly, the idea I had was that a game of this sort (it was Zack & Wiki that brought this to mind) would be enjoy­able to play quite lit­er­al­ly with a glass of wine, as this is the sort of game that would be best enjoyed at a relax­ing pace, in a chill atmos­phere. But last week­end, I instead start­ed think­ing of these games metaphor­i­cal­ly; the game itself is the wine. I liked that thought, and knew I had to write this post.

How to kick your own ass

So last night I was let­ting my mind wan­der while sit­ting around play­ing some Cave Sto­ry,1 try­ing to decide whether I should blog the sto­ry of how I learned the word “res­i­dence” (yes, these are the things you think about when you are me), when I had a fun­ny thought. Yes, a sec­ond one.

It went a bit like “Everett, you could share bits like that on your blog, but you do real­ize that in doing so, you’re can­ni­bal­iz­ing con­tent that you could be sav­ing up for the mem­oir you may one day write, right?”

I chuck­led at the thought and con­clud­ed that the sto­ry of how I learned the word “res­i­dence” may not, after all, make for that great a blog post. But in anoth­er moment of insight, I took my sec­ondary thought to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion: if I were seri­ous about con­sid­er­ing writ­ing a mem­oir (and I wasn’t), per­haps at this point in my life I should wor­ry more about who would even want to read such a book.

That’s not to put down my life and those who have played a role in shap­ing it, but… sor­ry you guys, I just don’t think it would make a com­pelling book. And a life spent sit­ting around won­der­ing if I should write a book about my life seems even fur­ther away from a life worth writ­ing about.

I won­dered if maybe this prin­ci­ple (one wor­ry­ing more about some poten­tial future, at the expense of the present, which could be bet­ter used to get one to their desired future) is some­thing that a lot of peo­ple do, some­thing that has broad­er impli­ca­tions than some hypo­thet­i­cal, self-indulgent tome. Con­sid­er the exam­ple of rel­a­tive­ly not-well-off peo­ple who oppose that which would be ben­e­fi­cial to them, by, say, hav­ing polit­i­cal lean­ings that do more for those who are much bet­ter off than they are. Why would they do this? Do they actu­al­ly think they’re like­ly to be in that oth­er class some­day? Plan­ning on win­ning the lot­tery, much?

It’s one thing to plan for the future. But it’s anoth­er to fetishize some out­come that, be real with your­self, is unlike­ly to hap­pen… and is all the less like­ly, yet, if you sit around day­dream­ing about it.

  1. Awe­some, awe­some game. Free down­load here for Windows/Mac/Linux/etc. or buy it for $12 on Wii­Ware.