342/365 – Meditation Games #342 – Snowflake Mechanics

Developer: Jerry Belich

Launcher Quote: “When I was in university I had a lot of trouble focusing on work. I had a lot of trouble finding aspects of the school that supported my interests and provided any kind of useful mentorship. It was also a very religious institution that felt completely at odds with everything I had understood to be the tenants of what we all supposedly believed. As a result, I felt unfocused, alone, and lost. The campus itself was in a very beautiful area, surrounded by water and woods, especially serene come winter. As a method of coping, clearing my mind, and thinking without distraction, I would often walk into the woods in the middle of the nights, a deep trail of disturbed snow left behind me. Once I found a quiet spot surrounded by trees I would lay down and just stare up at the night sky. The deep snow protected me from the cold of the wind and absorbed sound creating a quiet stillness I’ve never experienced anywhere else. It anchored me to that time and place, a distillation of peace that was mine.”

Games as escapism is perhaps one of the primary reasons a lot of gamers tend to play them. There’s a sense that you can go ahead and, for at least a little while, lose yourself in another world or another setting where the only things that are important are trying to have fun playing the game and doing so while using the mechanics the game uses. It’s a kind of process where, like anything you learn, takes some time to get used to but ultimately is able to be looked at as a satisfactory process where you accomplish some sense of mastery of the games in question.

There’s a bit of both of this in this particular entry from the developer. They tell a story about how they use nature and the snow to escape a bit of the difficulties of university life, and also introduce a mechanic for catching snowflakes and for breathing that fits that experience in a game. It took me a bit to get the timing right, and to see what the various things you did affected what you ultimately could do, but I did manage to catch a few of the snowflakes the right way on my character’s tongue. The thing is, I suspect that trying to master this kind of mechanic, in real life, more than likely serves the same purpose as playing a game that has it does – it’s a mechanic meant to distract you and focus your mind on something else other than the troubles you’re going through, but when accomplished, in its simplicity, is satisfying. Even in the sense that this is not the most important thing in the world to master, and its most certainly temporary in terms of serving as a salve for your troubles, it helps.

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