Casual Gaming as a productivity tool

In which I cajole you into procrastination with your smartphones

Photo by: Gilles Lambert

Casual gaming is closer to productivity than you think.

The quote “rest for the wicked” only applies to those as-yet-unchallenged by sheer no-bullcrap physiology. The mind is also a muscle which, while regular exercise is advised, inevitably falls into a state of fatigue. And at this state, having your mind soldier on is often counter-productive.

Perhaps for some, overworking their brains doesn’t make a zombie of them. All’s well and good — that be the case. Alas, for the rest of us, this “state of fatigue” is an “all effort is futile” scenario.

And so we resort to a few ways of letting our minds slip into passivity, ease the waves a bit. Angelo Moriondo didn’t draft his brain for days of slavery to have invented the first espresso machine, did he? Surely he must have taken a few time-outs here and there.

I’m acquainted with people whose careers demand at the least 12 hours off their daily lives. You know that one friend who proclaim his work hours like it’s a trophy of sorts? More likely than not, it’s also the same friend who six months after is going to call you at the dead of night and cry to you he’s just spent, his mind and body. (This definitely happened, too.)

Lately I’ve been sharing the same dilemma with that friend — subtract the condescension.

My work requires me to be by my phone’s side all day, and during work hours in front of a computer screen. Outside of that — films, books and music — is work too. I always say the moment you embrace cinephilia you are embracing the death of you, and I always mean that. Working on a film community is no small task.

The main difference with me and that friend is that, unlike him, I’m lucky to have discovered the Games category of the Play Store.

Casual gaming is the most accessible than it ever was, what with the plethora of games available on the smartphone. A list of recommended games is beyond this writing, but if I’m to blurt out a few titles: you might see me taking a break playing Crossy Road — a modern iteration of the game Frogger — which in hindsight is just asking for trouble. You take an animal character and you have them cross the streets. In the high chance that your chicken gets derailed by a speeding train, it’s not the game’s fault — it’s on you. You try the game again, trying to redeem yourself.

For some reason this is therapeutic.

Almost the complete opposite of Crossy Road is Bing Bong, which is what Frogger looks like in your abstract mind. The mechanics are simple, and you guessed it, addicting.

If you allow me a moment of nerdom, I’ll point you to games like Freaking Math — pure adrenaline rush of a game in which you are to answer yes or no to a simple math equation; you know one plus one equals two, you heard that in a Beyoncé song, but your stupid finger reflexes seems to have a brain of its own— and Atomas — a soothing game in which you create elements using, well, atoms. They make effective ways to veer your mind away from work.

Another game I recommend is Magic Touch: Wizard for Hire. If you need to take your head off things, killing golems by way of popping balloons harnessed on their backs is no more a satisfying a feeling.

These are stimulating games, for sure. but how do they exactly pass as a productivity tool?

I can go the usual route and present you chart after chart of facts and metrics — bore you to total damnation, that is — but the truth of it is you only have to realize that productivity is a matter of control. It’s understanding that productivity is not about overkill, nor is it about underachieving. If, however, you are feeling you are overworking yourself, you are very well entitled to take a break from your work.

How else do you think writers step off lapses of the now-almost mythical writer’s block? How do athletes approach light-headedness during workouts? They take a walk; they take a rest.

Which is the same for any type of work, then as now. The only difference, really, is that now you always have games with you to take your mind off work.

You know what they say — Stephen King said it long ago in the , Stanley Kubrick amplified the thought in the film adaptation (very long story!): “All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.”

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