Friday, 29 July 2016

Computer Games and Life - Revisited

A while back, I wrote a post about how the computer game Solitaire is a lot like my life. More recently, I’ve been playing a lot of FreeCell, and you know what? I’ve realised it’s pretty much the same.

Sometimes, for instance, I seem to be doing okay, but then I suddenly reach a dead-end, there’s nowhere to go, nothing more I can do. Or I have this troubling feeling that I’ve gone wrong somewhere, only I’m not sure where…  So I go through it all again, move by move, but I’m rarely able to figure out where I went wrong. I’m always left with this feeling like there is One Key Thing that I’ve somehow missed.

If I can’t be bothered with that, I restart the game, or abandon it and start a new one. And yes, that means the ‘this counts as a loss in your statistics… (you loser!)’ message popping up. Again, and again, and again. Like I need reminding

Repeated failures usually only mean that I become reckless, and lose all the faster, and more decisively. Sometimes, I feel like I can’t win at all. Sometimes, I even become cynical, and feel like the games are rigged, or that they’re somehow getting harder and harder.

Part of my problem, I’ve realised, is that I tend to become too obsessed with ‘tidying up this part here’, or ‘what’s happening in this corner’, and neglecting the bigger picture. And I don’t learn from my mistakes either, because every game feels different. It’s like walking into different rooms, with different people, indulging in different antics and power plays, and you have to figure it all out anew.

So often, I wish I could just once go straight through a game, without hesitation, backtracking, second-guessing, and blind trial-and-error. And when I do finally win through, the feeling is “Duh, but of course, it’s done that way, how else could it be done?!!” And feeling like Everybody Else would know this, and wonder why I couldn’t see it.

Small wonder then, that I’ve always seen myself as stupid.

In fact I never really ‘get it’, and I never will, I see that now. And I’ve realised that with this game too, there are ones I shouldn’t even start. Trouble is, it’s hard to spot them. A game can seem welcoming, promising, but then a while into it, suddenly, you’re in the swamp up to your neck, and with no idea how you got there or how to get out of it, other than just walking away.  

And what does it mean, to walk away? Do you forswear all games, or just start an entirely new type, hoping that this time it will work out okay? Not likely, when you’re just as ignorant, just as hopeless outclassed, as you were the first time you played.

Of course, technically I could stop playing games altogether, and find something else to do. But life itself is a series of games, and you have to play one or another, in the end.

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