The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Did Video Games Make Me More Productive This Weekend?

I’ll start by mentioning that I stopped following video games in high school. The two systems I really owned and played were SNES and N64. I played a ton of both through high school and Mario Kart for N64 proved to be a big dorm room game in college. We even ended up playing Kart 64 at my bachelor party. But I couldn’t tell you the first thing about any platform created after 1998.

Typically, I keep my games packed away. On the rare occasion that I’ve got someone to race against, I’ll take the time to set up the system. This is partially strategic. I tend to get very sucked into things and I don’t need yet another distraction in my life. A couple weekends ago, at my wife’s suggestion, I visited Arisia, and sci-fi con of sorts local to Boston. They had a room set up for video games, complete with an NES, SNES, Sega, and N64. The game selection was small, but I was still a kid in a candy store. I also felt like I had given myself permission to play all I wanted. I’d paid my admission to the event, it was up to me how I spent it.

A week later, I see an old elementary school friend and his brother share on Facebook a video explaining a glitch in Super Mario World for SNES. This is arguably my favorite SNES game, and the one game I was ever really a pro at. I didn’t think anyone cared about the game and I also didn’t think there was anything else for me to learn about the game. I then fell down one of the deepest YouTube holes of my life. I watched speedruns, I watched glitch explanation; matter of fact I’m still a few episodes into a 50-something part series explaining glitches in every level. This was how I spent my commute time all this week. I was that jerk on the T who was totally absorbed in his phone. And I wasn’t even playing the game. I was just watching. As this weekend arose, I knew I had to play.

For whatever reason, I decided to skip on Super Mario World and play Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I had never gotten very far in the game the last time I played (which was at least a decade ago) and decided to give it another whirl. I was, of course, immediately sucked back into the game play and the story line. SNES RPGs are my favorite. Turns out, lots of people think SNES was the best platform for RPGs, too.

This is exactly what it feels like to play this game. Mostly.

This is all to say that I played a lot of video games this weekend. Oddly enough, I got lots of done otherwise. It felt like one of my more productive weekends. I got some cleaning done around the house, I wrote a record review, I finished artwork for my band’s new release, we finally put away all the gifts from our wedding; these and a host of other items got checked off my to do list this weekend. How’d that happen? I went into the weekend thinking it would be lost to gaming.

My working theory is that I by allowing myself to play for an hour or two at a time, I was focused during the time I wasn’t playing. I essentially was parenting myself. “If you do all your chores, you can play your video games.” So I plowed through my chores. Can I make this work again? I’ve already decided I don’t want to continue the game on weekdays (snow days being the exception here) given how fast the week goes and how little downtime I have, but I’m considering picking up this strategy next weekend to see how it goes. I think I really earned those pendants.

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