Deleting Games

When does a video game cease being fun, and start being tedious? The answer for me is usually long before I actually realize the game isn’t fun anymore and I pump hours into a game when I should really be learning how to farm.

My brain chemistry is drawn to games with strategy, games with quick wins and losses, which allow me to try things out, fail quickly, and hone my skills. My brother-in-law and I have played countless hours of Carcassonne. I’ve probably played over one thousand games of Yahtzee solitaire against the optimizer. And most recently (until not twenty minutes ago, in fact) the game was Pokemon TCG on my iPad.

I started playing to learn the rules to play with my daughters. I kept playing because it was fun. I kept kept playing so I could earn enough “coins” for one more “pack”. It was fun trying out different decks and all that, but I realized I was just going through the motions as the strategy gets fairly repetitive. I realized I wasn’t having fun anymore, so I deleted it.

The other games my brain are drawn to are the high dopamine, just-one-more-turn type of game. These are the Civilizations, the World of Warcrafts, even grinding levels in a Final Fantasy. These games are RED ALERT, DO NOT TOUCH games that will suck weeks of my life from me in one go, like The Machine from The Princess Bride. I can’t play those games for just an hour, I can only play them in time measured by geologists.

So now I’ve got a text editor, and a blog to publish to… and Super Mario Run. Crap. I’ll talk to you after I finish getting all the black coins in World 3.

Rooting for the Republic

Wil Wheaton on Star Wars and real republics:

I realized that the Republic — our Republic — is worth fighting for, and even though it feels like nothing matters at all right now, everything is terrible, and the forces of evil are going to get away with it because the so-called “leaders” in Congress put their party and their ambitions ahead of their patriotism — maybe because of that — it may soon be time to get off of Tatooine, and join the Rebel Alliance.

May the Force be with us.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.


Here I am on a Friday afternoon, with a mild fever, having reorganized my OmniFocus and feeling more in control. What kicked me over the edge besides a week of feeling bad about myself? I figured out how to get my work’s corporate OneNote to open on my iPad. That’s it. That’s what it took today. The idea that I could do more of my work on my iPad made me finally get my external brain in order. Brains are weird.

I go in cycles. I’m simultaneously a creature of routine and one who rebels against routine. I organize myself in OmniFocus and live the “mind-like-water” life for a couple weeks, then I slip up somehow and say to myself, “System? I don’t need no stinking SYSTEM”. I’ll play with alternative systems—I’ll try to organize my work stuff solely in Outlook; I’ll try to use Reminders on iOS. I’ll do everything to avoid the actual getting things done part of Getting Things Done.

Some people’s default mode is doin’ stuff. My default mode is the opposite. I don’t think I can change that, but I can work to know myself better so that when I’ve got a burst of attention, I make the most of it, building good habits so that my downswings are tempered by mindless, but useful routine. And, when I’m in a valley, I recognize it and don’t beat myself up about it. That only makes it last longer.

What habits do I want to start?

Sam Recommends: The Tiffany Aching Books

I love reading the Tiffany Aching books to my kid. A young-adult series written by Terry Pratchett, we follow the early life of Tiffany Aching as she learns how to be a smart, helpful, independent woman (called a “witch”). The series starts when she’s nine, and ends when she’s stepping fully into adulthood.

Tiffany is smart, fierce, brave, dumb, and scared. She makes mistakes, but demands to clean up her own messes. She almost always solves problems in ways you don’t expect, in ways that aren’t so much tricksey, but her not bowing to narrative convention or expectations—her making the world the way it should be.

I couldn’t recommend this series without also mentioning the Nac Mac Feegles, little blue fairy folk with Scottish accents (written phonetically). They drink, fight, and steal, but are immensely loyal to Tiffany and have a very strict moral code for their own definition of morals. Their leader, Rob Anybody, and his brother Daft Wullie, have lead to many shared guffaws with my kid.

Pick up these books wherever books are picked up.

The Wee Free Men

A Hat Full of Sky

The Wintersmith

I Shall Wear Midnight

The Shepard’s Crown