Reading may be my number one hobby but sometimes I even need downtime from that. So what’s my next go to? Video games.
There's something about plugging in to a different world that feels like giving your brain a break. You don’t have to build it all in your head, it's right there on the scream in front of you. With the freedom to interact with it. I’ve always enjoyed gaming, although I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore gamer. I’m actually pretty picky about what I play. I usually prefer casual or open world style games. So what have I been playing lately.
The Fallout franchise has been at the top of my favorites list for years now. Ever since randomly picking up a copy of Fallout 3, my little brother had rented. Now the idea of Fallout 76 made me leery at first, I am NOT a multiplayer kind of person. Not to mention it initially made people abandon all hope with its buggy release. But I did start it up a few months after release and with constant updates, I haven't had much trouble. I like that I don’t actually have to interact with the other players and they’re not as obnoxious as I was afraid they’d be. I’m all about the casual set up of the game. I can wander all over the map, build a crazy C.A.M.P., buy/sell and scrap items all day, or even complete random easy quests. It's not everyone’s favorite still, but it's a hell of a time killer.
Stardew Valley has taken over my life on the Nintendo Switch. I know everyone in lockdown jumped into Animal Crossing, and I do love those games too but Stardew is 100x more relaxing to play. It’s an easier version of Harvest Moon even. Building up your farm and harvesting crops provides a really simple routine, you interact with towns people, help solve their problems and even witness some fun drama. It's easy to zone out for long periods of time while planning out your set up each season, and I’m guilty of playing late into the night because I just forgot to stop.
Another great casual play game is No Man’s Sky. You can spend all your time going on small missions, mining for elements to craft things, or just exploring. The bright graphics make for an eye catching adventure, with hundreds or maybe even thousands of planets that you can explore. Each new planet you land on has unique elements and hazards, along with a variety of plants, minerals and creatures for you to scan and document. You could play all day, just exploring new uncharted worlds. The game even has a pretty in depth economy system across it’s galaxies. There is a main quest line (that I don’t completely understand), and the opportunity for multiplayer. I’m all about the small missions though and getting all the $$$.
Honorable mentions also go to The Outer Worlds, for feeling like a fun mash up between Fallout gameplay and the Sci-fi genre, with major Firefly vibes. I played through the main game pretty quickly and am looking forward to its upcoming update. On the ridiculous side of things if you haven’t checked out Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout yet, you really should. It’s completely silly but addictive. For such a simple concept of running your way through an obstacle course against 60 other bouncy bumbling guys, it really makes you want to keep earning those rounds and get all the points. The rounds go quickly so it’s an easy pick if you’re just trying to kill some time.
So that’s where I’ve been escaping too when I need a break lately. Gaming is as much self-care as binging your favorite show in bed.
Everyone knows about introverts and extroverts right? I mean if you don't then you must be from another dimension (please save us). Anyway, both of these personalities present in a wide range of ways, and on the far end sits me, an EXTREME introvert.
What does this say about me? I'm often very avoidant of social situations, yes I have a million and one valid excuses like children and chronic illness, but I'll also desperately find other ways to avoid people. Now let’s not confuse this with social anxiety, I'm not nervous or afraid of judgment. There's no panic involved. I'm just completely uninterested in interactions with other people. I’d gladly do every bit of shopping online and never answer the phone again just to be left in peace.
Everything I do is internalized, my thoughts run a nonstop conversation with myself. I'm not bored, I'm not lonely. I have friends, they're out there somewhere right now. I like them. When's the last time I called just to have a conversation with them? I don't have a clue. Not because I don't care, but because the thought of it never even occurs to me. Starting a random conversation, just to talk, isn't something that crosses my mind. You might as well be asking me why I haven't tried running 3 miles up a hill during a hurricane.
Now I'm not totally averse to chatting with people, especially online. I make casual comments and I reply to them, granted it may take me a few hours to remember to reply but I will answer. Does this make being a self-published author difficult? Definitely. Introducing yourself to others can be difficult when you’re bad at making connections. The stories and words are nonstop in my head. Even here in a simple blog post, I feel like I could probably go on forever, because it feels like I'm just talking to myself, like keeping a personal journal. I'm not exhausting myself by interacting with other people. Because that's the real fight.
It's not about being shy or being antisocial. It's having an internal battery that only charges in private. Every interaction, every forced excitement or activity feels completely draining. Sitting alone in a room, I can find dozens of hobbies to entertain myself and be completely content that way. I can live completely inside my head without a problem. Sitting in a room full of people who want to talk is like work, it drains the battery. I stay silent, I listen, I observe, I get tired.
How do I market myself to people when I can't bring myself to socialize, well there lies the problem I'm still working on. It's a strange puzzle, not as easy as you'd think. Introduce myself and strike up conversations with strangers? It feels like you’ve just ordered me to perform a root canal with a Playskool doctor's kit...I'm completely ill-equipped, and slightly horrified.
So instead I creep through, I watch everyone's feeds, read all the tweets, and enjoy the fact that I'm doing it from the safety of my own personal bubble. Go ahead and wave at me from yours, I may enjoy being stuck in my quiet ways but finding common ground through small interactions can also be an amazing thing.