After spending a solid 20 minutes on one battle Draw-ing 100 Blind spells for each of three characters in Final Fantasy VIII on my PSP last night, I realized something. I’m not sure why I didn’t realize it sooner, like when I spent a solid summer playing nothing but Animal Crossing: Wild World – even then, the playtime was largely on the toilet until my legs fell asleep – or that time I had to teach Ultima to everyone in the Game Boy Advance port of Final Fantasy VI, one Cactuar at a time, to prepare for the final battle. I don’t play handheld games for the riveting story, or “meaning,” or immersion (although finding those things is great). I use handheld systems, including my smartphone, as a time suck. I play them to waste time, or kill time, or do any number of other unspeakable acts to time because – to me – they are merely a stopgap until I can get back to my “real” games on my home consoles.
And that’s okay. Continue reading
My grandmother died on New Year’s Day. So just one week after I made the 1,500 mile trip from San Francisco to northern Minnesota for Christmas, I was back for the funeral. It was yesterday.
The trip was familiar. Same airports (SFO, MSP, and DLH), same airline (Delta), same in-flight snack (cookies), same gate (C20), same fast food restaurant that I neglected to eat at (Chik-fil-a). Same. Same. Same. Only the reason for the trip was different. There were no Christmas presents to look forward to this time.
I made sure to come back for Christmas because Grandma had been in rough health for years, and her steady decline made it pretty obvious that this would be her last holiday season. I knew when I left a week ago that I probably wouldn’t see her alive again. It was a sad feeling, but we could all tell she had given up. She was ready to go, and it was only a matter of time.
So when, after a surprising heart attack, she died three days later, it was only a little bit of a shock. I left for my parents’ house the next morning. On the way, I needed an escape on the flight. I retreated into video games. I retreated into LittleBigPlanet on the PSP. Continue reading