Simulating Life and Worlds

Regressing to former habits

Objective:


I was, for a brief but intense period of time, obsessed with a certain genre of mobile phone games, these life simulation clicker games. It’s the kind of game where you just keep tapping and that’s all you do; not so much a game really as it is a shortcut to carpal tunnel. I’m fascinated by the brief variations of all of these games. There are so many, and they all present different ways to model the passage of time. In one, you tap a button to advance a week into your life, and for every week you are allowed to take only one action, like work, or eat, or pursue a relationship. In another game, one tap equals one-year passing, but every year, you are allowed to take as many actions as you want. These games usually have a pretty similar set of allowed actions: working, eating, education, advancing romantic, platonic, and familial relationships, and hobbies/self-improvement. The most important game mechanic is always money. In some games, it is clear that the core of the game is to amass as much wealth as possible over a lifetime. In these cases, the addictiveness of the game comes from watching your net worth rise as you get older. Everything can be boiled to watching numbers increment higher and higher. 


In my ears is the sound of the ocean. I’m not sure where it is coming from but it feels like the whole room is humming. Then that sound is suddenly replaced with sharp tinnitus. Yes, in the morning, the sun will wake me up, but my jaw will inevitably be sore, my teeth clenched through the night, making clicks like texting noises. And yes, I’m familiar with that blue glow of screens, under the covers, like when I was six and my GameBoy was my life, my world. Those hours spent under those covers, mashing buttons and breathing the limited, humid air inside the cocoon of sheets. I would have to poke my head out intermittently. I remember that feeling of the crisp air on my cheeks. At night I had to play games silently. When I played during the day, those game sounds became something to savor, even through that tinny speaker, through that sunburst-shaped arrangement of holes. It sounded like light shattering. Or crystals forming. Thank you, whoever composed those sounds. I’m turning these sounds around in my head right now, viewing them from all angles, something to soothe me while I grind my teeth at night.


Last December, I gave my sister my 3DS. Big mistake. Pure hubris. I thought I wouldn’t need it anymore, that I was better than that, that I had better things to do. Huge error. Like what, I was gonna write poetry? Or draw? Or make work? Or read books? Not even close. Now I’m just laying in bed with no games to play, re-watching anime that I used to watch when I was twelve, thinking about how happy I was at that age when I was living in China and could download pirated DS games straight from the internet to a microSD card to a bootleg DS cartridge with a microSD slot. That’s pure joy right there, having hundreds of dollars worth of stolen content right at your fingertips, for free. Now I’m just addicted to playing Animal Crossing Pocket Camp on my phone. I have no other games, no other options. Pocket Camp is maybe one step above those life simulation tapping games. There are basically only like 3 things you can do in the game, but at least there are no ads.


Here is a list of anime that I’ve been watching:

Sing ‘Yesterday’ to Me —Boring angsty slice-of-life, but extremely easy to watch for some reason (Ongoing)

Wave, listen to me—gutsy, offbeat, about an amateur radio host (Ongoing)

Kakushigoto—actually just not good, only kind of cute, about a mangaka who doesn’t want his daughter to know he’s a mangaka (Ongoing)

Gleipnir—This is what the image above is from. About a boy who turns into a furry suit and a girl who climbs inside of him. Really fun. (Ongoing)

Woodpecker’s detective office—serialized mystery anime set in the Meiji era, only slightly gay, hopefully turns more gay later. (Ongoing)

Digimon Adventure 2020—A new remake of the first season of Digimon. So far there are only 3 released episodes (delayed because of COVID-19). It’s pure nostalgia bait, but in that sense, it’s worth watching. (Ongoing)

Nodame Cantabile—Really cute rom-com that makes me wish I never stopped learning piano. Somehow tricks you into listening to (and caring about) classical music (Complete)

K-ON—Pure, unadulterated Moe. (Complete)


If anyone has any good BL they’ve been reading/watching, please contact me…tiger.dingsun@gmail.com or @tiger.dingsun. And check out Reading Machines

If you are interested in creating a letter, or have questions, email jwenzhuang@gmail.com