Rage 2 Part 6: Win Some, Loosum

By Shamus Posted Thursday Feb 27, 2020

Filed under: Retrospectives 55 comments

The next person we meet on our Wasteland tour is one Loosum Hagar, Mayor of Wellspring. She’s one of the few returning characters from the original Rage in 2011. You might know her as the teenager with the wingsticks from the original:

Here's Loosum from the first game. Fun fact: Back in 2010, I never realized she was an important-ish character. I wasn't interested in the wingsticks weapons and I never attempted to talk to her. I assumed she was another no-dialog background NPC.
Here's Loosum from the first game. Fun fact: Back in 2010, I never realized she was an important-ish character. I wasn't interested in the wingsticks weapons and I never attempted to talk to her. I assumed she was another no-dialog background NPC.

It’s been 30 years, and she’s now mayor of the town her father founded. She’s added a bit of gunslinging to her arsenal and the wasteland has made her cynical and hard-edged. She wants to help us with Project Dagger, but this is a video game so of course there’s a catch.

Klegg Clayton is some sort of wasteland douche lord. He’s rich, creepy, self-aggrandizing, vain, insecure, and ambitious. He’s trying to oust Loosum so he can run the city himself. Also, he’s somehow managed to get his hands on the super-secret Authority super-tank required for Project Dagger. So you need to deal with him.

Here's Loosum in Rage 2.
Here's Loosum in Rage 2.

In order to get in to see him, you have to gain access to the Winner’s Lounge. In order to do that, you need to win a car race and also win as a contestant on Mutant Bash TV. This kind of reminds me of becoming Champion in Fable 2 so you can get access to the villain’s lair. Like, really? The ONLY people Clayton associates with are dual-discipline ultra-badasses that have become champions in two different unrelated “sports”? It’s not good enough to just win one or the other? As with Fable 2, once you finally get inside it seems like you’re the only ultra-champion and all the other recruits are just regular peasants.

This doesn’t really bother me. Fable 2 took itself obnoxiously seriously and had a plot that featured child-murder, family-murder, pet-murder, and genocide. Rage 2 isn’t really funny per se, but it is aiming for comedy and it seems to be aware of how absurd this whole idea is.

Although just to be clear: In a storytelling sense, this is still technically bad form. Even in a comedy, you’d want to lampshade this or use it as a setup for jokes.

So now we have two sidequests / alternate game modes to go throughOne nice feature is that you’re allowed to do these ahead of time. If you happen to come across one of these activities while roaming around, you can play it right then. You don’t have to get to this point in the story in order to “unlock” them.. Let’s do the racing one first…

The Racing One

The two cars ahead of me are always ahead, but don't worry. They very sportingly slow down in the last lap.
The two cars ahead of me are always ahead, but don't worry. They very sportingly slow down in the last lap.

The race isn’t hard. It’s mostly an exercise in not crashing. It’s pretty standard rubber-band AI, and as long as you’re familiar with the course by the third lap you should be able to leave everyone in the dust. The interesting thing here is the race promoter Chaz Morass, because he’s a perfect example of the most annoying problem with the writing in this game.

This writer has a really weird tic, and it drives me up a wall. They’ll think of three different ways to phrase something, and instead of picking one they’ll smash them together into a big paragraph of redundancy. This problem goes all the way back to the original Rage. If anything, it’s worse this time around. I didn’t look at the credits so I don’t know if this is the same writer or a new writer with the same bad habit, but it’s damned annoying.

This problem applies both to spoken dialog and text-only datapads. Here’s an example of the latter:

The writing repeats itself a lot. You can see the writing says the same thing several times. This makes the writing redundant, because the repetition makes it repeat itself by saying the same thing several times. This repetition makes the writing repetitive. ARG. I WANT TO EDIT THIS WITH A MACHETE.
The writing repeats itself a lot. You can see the writing says the same thing several times. This makes the writing redundant, because the repetition makes it repeat itself by saying the same thing several times. This repetition makes the writing repetitive. ARG. I WANT TO EDIT THIS WITH A MACHETE.

I’ve never seen anyone else complain about this so maybe it’s just me, but this text is so bad it’s kind of angering.

First, the petty complaint: The overall voice is really weird. Is this supposed to be a text summary of an audio recording, or is this a text report that Ranger Goldman wrote? The phrasing doesn’t feel like spoken word at all, except for the bit where it says, “I’ve had several run-ins with ’em now.” It doesn’t make sense that Goldman would WRITE “’em” in a report, but the rest is too stiff to be spoken. “Old Eden is such a place” is a fairly stiff or formal statement, but “I’ve had several run-ins with ’em now.” is very informal / conversational.

The more serious problem is the sheer redundancy of the thing. He says their attacks are random and disorganized three different ways, and then immediately contradicts himself by saying they’re organized, which he says twice. I get that the point is that they seem chaotic in their attacks but you can tell they have a plan if you look for patterns, but he takes five sentences to say something I just said in one, and then he doesn’t even bother to explain what this alleged grand strategy is.

Most of the dialog in the game is like this. People talk for ages while saying very little, a problem which is exacerbated by the slow-ass delivery. Everyone spends a lot of time doing… dramatic… PAUSES! and drawing words out with weird accents and shouting.

This is an action game, not an RPG. The player doesn’t want a lot of exposition. What exposition we do have needs to be as fast as possible, as dense with information as possible, and as entertaining as possible. And if we can’t make it dense or entertaining, then it’s even more important to make it quick.

I know it looks like he's being highlighted in VATS or something, but actually there's just a really powerful green light, apparently shining through the opaque corrugated metal wall to the right, and making Chaz glow while having almost no impact on the rest of the environment. I dunno. It's odd.
I know it looks like he's being highlighted in VATS or something, but actually there's just a really powerful green light, apparently shining through the opaque corrugated metal wall to the right, and making Chaz glow while having almost no impact on the rest of the environment. I dunno. It's odd.

To do the race, Walker has to meet with Chaz so he can explain the rules and integrate the race with the fiction of the world. Most writers will tell you that dumping exposition on the player is something to be avoided. When you can’t avoid it, you try to make it fun by giving the exposition dispenser some sort of interesting twist like a weird personality, a curious backstory, or a series of running jokes. That way the dialog can pull double duty by delivering exposition and revealing this character. This character flavor is the sugar to make the expositional medicine go down.

This cutscene seems to be structured as though the “character flavor” is the point of the conversation. This conversation doesn’t advance the plot, explain the setting, or fill in any backstory. The conversation exists just for the sake of telling jokes.

Chaz’s personality quirk is that he uses lots of food-based metaphorsSUPER-trivial nitpick: His food references don’t make a lot of sense in this setting. Like, does anyone in the wasteland even know what a pancake is?. His dialog lasts for an excruciating minute and a half, and most of that time is just awkward pauses and food-based “jokes”. It feels like the writer came up with a couple dozen food-based lines of dialog, and instead of just picking the best three they used them all whether the scene needed them or not.

How I’d fix it:

CUT IT. Chop it down to the essentials. Spend the voice / animation budget somewhere that matters. For example, we could use Chaz’s dialog to convey…

The Missing Joke

Walker signs the contract with her left hand, even though her handling of firearms indicates that she's a righty. Is this intentional? Is this an animation oversight, or yet another joke the writer never got around to telling?
Walker signs the contract with her left hand, even though her handling of firearms indicates that she's a righty. Is this intentional? Is this an animation oversight, or yet another joke the writer never got around to telling?

The best idea in this scene isn’t really communicated to the player. The whole point of the scene with Chaz is that he has you sign a contract before you can race. According to this article, this is actually part of the joke of the world. There’s nobody in the wasteland that can arbitrate or enforce contracts. Chaz has you sign a contract not because it’s needed, but because he’s heard that this is how people did things before the apocalypse. These people don’t know how the Old World worked, but they’re sort of copying it anyway, as if the whole Wasteland is one big cargo cult.

That’s a great idea! I love it. It gives you a way to excuse any random Old World anachronisms you like. It’s funny, and it makes the world a bit lighthearted.

The problem is that this idea is never established in the minds of the audience. There’s nothing in the game to suggest that this contract-signing is based on a misunderstanding of the Old World. This is a punchline without the setup.

How I’d fix it:

Just lampshade this. Lampshadding – the practice of drawing attention to elements in the story that might seem like a plot hole, inconsistency, or simply something confusing – is a fantastic tool. Without it, you risk ejecting the audience from the story with something that makes them go, “Hey, waitaminute! I thought you said kryptonite would make Superman powerless and maybe kill him, but now he’s HOLDING some of it?!? This writer doesn’t know what they’re doing!” From there, the audience is on their way to story collapse.

But if you lampshade this – if you specifically have a character in the story point out this apparent oddity, then the audience understands that the writer DOES know the rules and IS paying attention. Instead of being ejected from the story, they become curious. The inconsistency then becomes a setup that can be paid off later. Maybe it will be a reveal, or a joke, or a plot twist.

“Oh! I get it! Clark Kent wanted to show he wasn’t Superman, so he held a chunk of glowing green plastic. Ha ha. Superman is so clever!”

For example:

Intent is the difference between a plot hole and a setup, and it’s nearly free! It can usually be established in a single line of dialog. Here in Rage 2, all we’d need to do is have Walker question the need for a contract, and then have Chaz explain why he’s doing it.

Walker: A contract? I don’t get it.

Chaz: Back before Apophis, everybody signed contracts.

Walker: Yeah, but without a court system to arbitrate, a contract doesn’t-

Chaz: (Interrupting.) Slow down, chickpeaI’m just copying the existing gag where Chaz calls you food things. I don’t think it’s a great gag, but I’m trying to make my dialog fit.. Civilization might be destroyed, but that’s no excuse to be uncivilized.

(Beat.)

Walker: Okay fine. Whatever.

(Signs the contract.)

Do this a few times with different peopleYou’d need to do it at least twice to show that this is a quirk of the world and not just a quirk with Chaz., and the joke will sustain itself without needing to be explained. Then you can put random silly crap in the game and it all becomes part of the ongoing meta-joke. You just need to give the audience the proper setup so they know this is intentional. Your character then becomes the straight man in this giant wasteland circus.

Next time we’ll get back to the job of getting in to see Klegg Clayton…

 

Footnotes:

[1] One nice feature is that you’re allowed to do these ahead of time. If you happen to come across one of these activities while roaming around, you can play it right then. You don’t have to get to this point in the story in order to “unlock” them.

[2] SUPER-trivial nitpick: His food references don’t make a lot of sense in this setting. Like, does anyone in the wasteland even know what a pancake is?

[3] I’m just copying the existing gag where Chaz calls you food things. I don’t think it’s a great gag, but I’m trying to make my dialog fit.

[4] You’d need to do it at least twice to show that this is a quirk of the world and not just a quirk with Chaz.



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55 thoughts on “Rage 2 Part 6: Win Some, Loosum

  1. Lino says:

    Whole page on the front article, boss. I mean, whole boss on the article front. I mean… oh, you get the idea. Do your WordPress magic!

    1. Sven says:

      I’m beginning to think WordPress needs some kind of warning that says “This article doesn’t contain a break, are you sure you want to submit it?”

      1. eaglewingz says:

        Well, that would certainly throw a drink into the wrenching game.

      2. CloverMan-88 says:

        Didn’t Shamus say in the past that he does that on purpose, and then add the break at the later date? Or am I missremembering things/didn’t get the joke?

    2. DerJungerLudendorff says:

      As the prophecy foretold!

  2. Gethsemani says:

    An alternative could be to have someone later point out that Chaz is weird for doing the whole contract thing (Walker: *after explaining all she did to win the race* “And he made me sign a contract.” Hagar: “Yeah, he does that with everyone and everything, Jackie had to sign a contract to never bring him food again.”), which would make it obvious that Chaz is just trying to come off as smart and educated.

    Either way, the contract needs to appear more in other parts of the game or someone needs to lampshade Chaz’s use of contracts for the gag to work. But from this series so far it seems obvious that Avalanche struggled to get both tone and narrative to gel with the gameplay. So Rage 2 is yet another game were I’d love to know the problems that faced the writing team.

    1. Syal says:

      If Chaz keeps doing it and nobody else does, it doesn’t really matter if the player thinks it’s Chaz or the world, the joke will still work. Might even work better; the player can draw the absurdity line wherever they think it fits best.

  3. ElementalAlchemist says:

    I’d say the lighting issue is someone placed a character light to simulate the effect of the traffic light prop behind him, so it doesn’t affect the scene geometry (presumably they are using baked lighting for indoors stuff). The fact that it is hitting him from the front is probably down to choosing an omni instead of a directional, and/or poor placement/sizing.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I was going to suggest something similar. Because his right shoulder is lit red from the back and his left shoulder is lit green from the back, it looks like it’s maybe suppoed to be those traffic lights behind him. The lighting he receives though, makes it look like it should only be a single larger traffic light that’s turned sideways. (Like, red is camera left / Chaz right, green is camera right, Chaz left.)

  4. Karma The Alligator says:

    Looking at it with only the context of this article, maybe Walker is signing with her left hand to get some plausible deniability afterwards? Like “Dood, I’m right handed, that looks nothing like my signature”, then she proves it by using her right hand. Dunno, first thing that came to mind.

    1. SharpeRifle says:

      Most rifles pistols and whatnot are designed with right handed shooting in mind since that’s your most common handedness. Some ambidextrous designs exist but most lefties learn to shoot right handed because of this.

      Edited to add: Ambi designs are most commonly seen in modern semi-auto pistols with magazine releases slide catches and safeties occurring often on both sides of the weapon.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        I saw some YouTube videos featuring rifles and shotguns, where those parts of the gun can be swapped from one side to the other.

        1. GoStu says:

          Speaking from experience: I’m left-handed but all of the firearms I trained with were intended for right-handed use. Casings ejected to the right on the rifles, cocking handles and the like were on the right for machine guns.

          It was easier for me to just train to shoot right-handed. Even if left-handed variants had been available somewhere, it was rather unlikely they’d dredge them up for a recruit. By the time I was back to a full-time position where something like that might have conceivably been available, I was already practiced in using them right-handed.

          A few other lefties did opt to use their rifles left-handed and it’s fine; the casing deflector usually works and life’s just a little more exciting with the chance of hot brass down your shirt. Machine guns on the other hand… they’re the way they are and nothing’s changing it. They’re also not the sort of precision tools where your own shooting habits are critically important; they throw swarms of bullets and that’s that.

          TLDR It’s totally plausible that a character writing with their left hand shoots right-handed, even beyond gameplay handwave of “more players prefer seeing the gun on the right side of the screen”.

          1. Decius says:

            For rifles, eye dominance is more important than handedness.
            Most right-handed people are right-eye dominant, but so are most left-handed people.

          2. Cynic says:

            I remember hearing about how bad the SA80 was for lefties, the charging lever was liable to smack people in the face, on top of the thing ejecting casings onto you

  5. Christopher Wolf says:

    That is exactly how I would sign, even though I play sports with a right hand bias. I theorize that I am naturally left handed but was just trained for sports (broad motor functions) to be right handed, and still write left handed (fine motor skills).

  6. GargamelLeNoir says:

    The story of this comment is : this user is very glad that Perd Hapley is now working in video-game writing, which is now his profession!

  7. Orillion says:

    Regarding the pancake thing, pancakes are one of the foods that every civilization on the planet independently developed in one form or another throughout the course of history, so it’s safe to say that, yeah, if the wastelanders actually DO eat anything, they’re probably aware of pancakes.

    1. Lino says:

      Fun fact: here in Eastern Europe, this is what we mean when we say pancakes, rather than what most Americans probably imagine when they hear the word “pancake”.

      1. Joshua says:

        We would call those Crêpes here. :)

        1. Nimrandir says:

          I was going to go with a blintz.

      2. Echo Tango says:

        If I was in the apocalypse, I’d probably eventually invent some kind of pan-cake, if the original “pancake” was lost to time. Some kind of flour[1], something to hold it together[2], plus whatever I had to sweeten it / add flavor[3]. It’d probably be a hands-breadth thick.

        [1] Wheat if you’re lucky, corn, nuts, acorns, cat-tails, or any other starchy plant would work in a pinch.
        [2] Eggs, fat, oil or grease would help, if you’re not using wheat or other flours that have gluten.
        [3] Crab-apples, strawberries, choke-cherries and high-bush cranberries would all be fairly resilient plants after some apocalypse. At least up North here, eh?

      3. kincajou says:

        Heya, checking in from france, :)
        From my experience in italy, france, belgium and the UK:
        – for everyone apart from the UK, pancakes = the american type, the thin and wide ones are crepes.

    2. Shamus says:

      You brought this on yourself. Here is the Actual Dialog from the game:

      Vague quasi Cajun(?) accent:

      “Tell me you sent me this beaut to race like a stick of butter on a pile of pancakes! After you Hot Sauce.”

      (You both go inside.)

      “Racin’ baby! I can see you got the grit to be great! You got the meat it takes to take the plate. And you got all the… trmmins’ too. I got a contract right here, prime cut. Mmm-mm. You sign that, you sign in blood[1]. You race your way to the top like a knife through sirloin, and you emerge victorious and take the gravy too!”

      (Walker signs.)

      “You start at the bottom, fresh meat. Get the pity bucket. Prove your sizzle in that slow-mo ride, and then move on up, simmer to the very top like the slickest grease in a gumbo.”

      [1] You actually sign with a ball-point pen.

      1. Hector says:

        That is… really something…

        It isn’t funny, but not quite creepy. Just weird.

  8. Syal says:

    “In the old days, people would finish an agreement by taking a marking instrument and twitching their hand over a piece of paper to make vague lines. They called it, a ‘hand-shake agreement’.”

    1. Mephane says:

      Now this is brilliant.

  9. zackoid says:

    Hopefully I can say this without making it A Thing, but it is surprisingly nice to see a middle-aged woman character in a video game. Seems like they’re most often either 20 or 70 with nothing in between.

    Loosum still has the thigh-high boots but somehow stuffed pants into them. Or, my preferred interpretation…she’s wearing jorts.

    1. Joshua says:

      Angela Deth from Wasteland 2 is probably around her mid-30s or so. She even takes a gentle dig at the player characters when you start the game as being “just babies”.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        WL2 is terrible, and therefore inadmissable as evidence. :P

        1. John says:

          I dispute the existence of Angela Deth, or indeed of any character in Wasteland 2 who isn’t the cowboy hat man. I’ve installed the game twice. After the opening cinematic, my party is left facing the cowboy hat man. I can select and un-select party members. I can type things in the chat-o-box (to no effect whatsoever). I can hit Esc and bring up the main menu. Absolutely nothing else works. As far as I am concerned, therefore, this is the entire game, which, yes, is definitely terrible.

          Thank goodness I resisted the urge to actually buy it for all those years before the free giveaway.

          1. Syal says:

            Dude, mark those spoilers! Like, there’s an opening cinematic?! I’ve played the game like six times and never made it that far.

            (Yeah, always crashed on title card for me.)

          2. tmtvl says:

            First time I played I had similar issues, but one of the patches fixed it for me.

            The game is… meh. Not horrible, but feels more like a smaller ’90s game such as Septerra Core, Gorasul, or Akuma Demon Spawn.

      2. zackoid says:

        I suppose in the Wasteland, 35 is ‘middle-aged’, though as someone slightly older than that, I prefer to think that it’s a bit later in our time :)

        1. Joshua says:

          Well, I was referring to your comment of nothing between 20 and 70. At 35, she wouldn’t be considered a young woman by any objective measure. That’s certainly old enough to be a grandmother while just being a hair’s breath away from parenthood happening to legal adults in each case.

  10. BlueHorus says:

    To me, that writing style just screams ‘rewrites’ and ‘design by committee’. Several people conferred on what information should be relayed:
    ‘It should say A, and it should say B…’
    ‘Okay. Anything else?’
    ‘Oh, make sure it also says C’.
    ‘Good point! Yes, C too.’
    ‘Hmm, do you think it should say D as well?’
    ‘Better safe than sorry…’
    ‘Right, we’ll put D in there as well.’

    Then some underling is tasked with making sure everything’s in there, which they do….leading to the mess of disjointed redundancy on display.

    Also, that screenshot of the Ranger’s briefing is great, because Walker’s visible hand is in exactly the position that I imagine Shamus’ hands to be in while reading that report.

  11. Hector says:

    As a history nerd, I must point out that contracts are very, *very* old and don’t require a formal system. As in, they go back at least to the invention of writing and probably older. They’ve been a way for people to formally agree to something for over five eons. If a given community says the contract is valid, and are willing to punish wrong growers even passively, you can have a contract.

    The *funny* part would be that it’s written in legal-ese after the apocalypse. Especially if the characters have no idea what it means or are misusing technical Latin terms.

    1. Joshua says:

      Ironically enough, I’m currently taking a class on International Business Law, and one of the notable features of International Law is the lack of a “hard” enforcement mechanism like you’d see with a domestic court (the UN is not going to send International “Sheriffs” to enforce a fine or judgment), so there’s more “soft” and passive mechanisms like you said.

    2. Paul Spooner says:

      After signing, Walker gains a bunch of contract-law inspired combat taunts?

      “All bullets I fire in this exchange shall remain my property, regardless of physical posession!”
      “Adjustments to wounds received shall be supported in writing!”
      “I’m calling in the penalty clause!”

      1. The Despot says:

        “THIS HURTS YOU… financially!”

        “MY CONTRACTS WILL TEAR YOU APART!”

        “ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL… of your assets!”

        1. Hector says:

          None yet replied so I did want admit those jokes cracked me up every time I glanced at them. If ME2/3/A didn’t take themselves a little too seriously that would have been a hilarious gag.

    3. Cynic says:

      I think they could have gone all in on the ridiculousness of the legalese. Like, where is the punchline in that joke meant to come from?

      But also, yes, you are right about contracts, but the point of this game is that there isn’t really a proper community nor any way of arbitrating. If you break contract with Chaz, what’s he going to do? Turning his community against you wouldn’t help, you’re literally not going to be there, and have better places to be, so it’s entirely pointless to get it in writing. They’re living in a place where you can essentially do what you like, and might makes right, he doesn’t need written justification to punish you for not keeping faith with him, he doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone, he could just shoot you if he likes.

      1. Hector says:

        There’s enough of a community for small businesses, fanclubs, car racing, etc.

      2. Joshua says:

        Contemplating this a bit more, I think part of the issue is what Shamus calls a “Bent Premise”. Part of the post-apocalyptic concept in these kinds of stories is that people are basically entering into “State of Nature” and getting into non-productive brawls with each other with no concern for their own lives, and very little attempt to rebuild society. So, with a deliberate bent premise of “people don’t reform society”, it’s hard to get into a serious discussion of binding contracts.

  12. Agammamon says:

    There’s nobody in the wasteland that can arbitrate or enforce contracts.

    Except – there are. Arbitration doesn’t require a *nation*. It just requires someone with either enough respect from the parties to accept their judgement or enough power to enforce their judgement (usually a combination of the two).

    Contracts have been around for longer than nation-states have.

    According to this article, this is actually part of the joke of the world.

    Which is sad. They’re trying to write a story in a post-apocalypse but they know nothing of spontaneous order, anarchy, how people lived before government. And they’re assuming everything about modern life stems from government when the vast majority of this stuff existed prior and the duties of administering is were taken on by governments over time.

    1. John says:

      Herodotus relates the story of an arbiter so respected, so popular, so in-demand that he eventually refused to arbitrate any more unless he was declared king of (I believe it was) the Medes, who until that time didn’t have anything resembling a state. It worked, too. The Medes had themselves a nice little empire there for a while after they did in the Neo-Assyrians and before they were done in by the Persians.

      So, yeah, formal system of government not really required for arbitration.

  13. Mephane says:

    The two cars ahead of me are always ahead, but don’t worry. They very sportingly slow down in the last lap.

    What do you mean, “don’t worry”. As someone who sucks at racing games, minigames, anything racing really, who therefore doesn’t enjoy it either, loathes racing sections in unrelated games, I wouldn’t even make it to that third lap. I’d probably assume I failed, abort and retry from the start, before the 2nd lap is finished. Why should I even expect to be suddenly able to overtake them in the third lap when it proved utterly impossible in the first two, when I know I suck at this and have no reason to believe my failure was entirely my own fault and not some insidiously prescripted part of the race?

  14. Smith says:

    This writer has a really weird tic, and it drives me up a wall. They’ll think of three different ways to phrase something, and instead of picking one they’ll smash them together into a big paragraph of redundancy.

    Ah, yes, David Weber syndrome.

  15. Minor nitpick. The Hagars in the first game were a distinct settlement from Wellspring, which was run by a “Mayor Clayton” as I recall. I guess that suggests that this Klegg character is the old mayor’s son or nephew or something, and he sees ruling Wellspring as his birthright.

  16. Wangwang says:

    This question isn’t related to the article. I want to put it in mailbag for the diecast but I can’t find the mail button anywhere. Also I will post this question again in the next article to get your attention. (Only one more, I promise.)

    Now, since you play games as both a hobby and a (part time?)job, it would be weird to bring this matter up. But has your gaming habit ever conflicted with your life? I am a college student, and in my head, game-craving clash with studying really hard. When I open a book, I want to play game. And when I play game, I want to study. I try to have a fix amount of time each day for gaming, but it only last a couple of days before I go over it. I have this trouble for a long time and I can not settle it no matter what. I find so many online advices and try to apply but none of them work.

    I don’t know if my case can be considered game addiction or not. If I play game for 5 hour a day than I’m satisfy and can spend the rest of the day to do other stuffs. But of course 5 hour is still a lot. And when I try to lower it (say 3 hours), the craving come back. I don’t know what to do. It drives me crazy.

    I know you’re not a therapist or a consultant, but I like your opinions (most of them), and I hope perhaps you can give some insight to my problem. But it’s still cool if you don’t.

    And to other people who read this. Please don’t reply with variation of things like “You should try harder”, “You should be more determined with you life”, “You should have priority with your life” etc. If those advices work then I would not have this problem to begin with.

    1. Wangwang says:

      Oh and the worst part is. Many times, I don’t exactly want to play. I know if I start the game I will get bored. I would much rather spend that time to do other thing. But If I don’t start the game then it will nagging me in the back of my head and I can’t concentrate on doing anything else. So I start the game and play for 15 minutes up to three hour even though I don’t really enjoy it. It doesn’t make any sense.

      1. Syal says:

        …well, nobody asked me and I’m terrible at following up on my own goals but I have opinions and people will read them.

        But, need more information to have meaningful advice.

        Is it a particular game, or any game?
        Is it a gaming device, or is the game installed on something you need for school?
        Do you enjoy your classes? How similar are the class demands to the game demands?
        Are there any friends you could get to join you in studying, to keep you on track? I’m complete garbage at self-motivating but I can keep someone else’s schedule pretty well.

        If it’s a particular game, figure out why you like the game, and find other media that does that part. Colorful comic books, or moody music, or squeaky hand grips; something that can hit the meat of the appeal but will be finished in minutes instead of hours.

        Might need to get rid of the games entirely. That might not be an option if it’s on your phone or something. But maybe try deleting the game every time you stop playing, and see if having to re-install it helps keep you away.

        Make sure you actually want to do well in your classes; if you’re just looking to avoid them, you’ll find other ways to do it too. Picture something cool you can do with the class knowledge, and focus on that.

        Fun people make everything better. Find some fun people who really like the class and hang around them until they’ve taught you enough to pass your tests. Your professors might be willing to do that to an extent.

        If you can’t find cool study partners and you can’t throw away the game, try setting obnoxious timers for several minute intervals. Or, like, drink half a gallon of water before you start playing so you’ll be forced to take a bathroom break and re-assess.

        If you get a free day, you could try to burn yourself out; play the game for twelve hours, or twenty-four hours, and see if you’re still willing to look at it the next day.

        Sounds to me like you’re just stuck in a rut; nothing is appealing so you go back to the game as the least-unappealing thing. That’s a tough one to get out of, that mostly involves trying random new things until you find something engaging. It’s a pain, but, it won’t improve until you do the painful thing. Like pulling a bad tooth. Only, in reverse. Like… jamming a new tooth into your mouth.

        (Oh right, you could also find Youtube videos on the study topics and play them in the background while you game. It’s not a great fix but better than no studying.)

      2. pseudonym says:

        I don’t know if my case can be considered game addiction or not. If I play game for 5 hour a day than I’m satisfy and can spend the rest of the day to do other stuffs. But of course 5 hour is still a lot. And when I try to lower it (say 3 hours), the craving come back. I don’t know what to do. It drives me crazy.

        Oh and the worst part is. Many times, I don’t exactly want to play. I know if I start the game I will get bored. I would much rather spend that time to do other thing. But If I don’t start the game then it will nagging me in the back of my head and I can’t concentrate on doing anything else. So I start the game and play for 15 minutes up to three hour even though I don’t really enjoy it. It doesn’t make any sense.

        You are doing the thing, while you do not want to do the thing, for hours on end, day by day. This qualifies as an addiction. Since following advice on the internet does not work, I want to give you the following advice: get help! In my country (Netherlands) there are people employed by universities and other educational institutions who will help students when they struggle with problems (health, psychological or otherwise) that interfere with their studies. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. I am certain you are not the only one who has this game/life balance problem.

        As a student I also had a game/life balance problem at some point. For me it was primarily a distraction from the study. This was a good thing until it spun out of control and instead of working on my report I spent hours not doing that (including a lot of gaming).

        What worked for me:
        1. A lot of students, whether living in a student home or with their parents, have one room where they sleep, study and relax in. The room is therefore associated with sleeping, relaxing and studying. This association as a thing that will keep your brain from thinking about relaxing when you should be studying. Solution: don’t study in your room. Go to a place in your educational institution or somewhere else, such as a library where you can study without these distractions.

        2. What applies to your room, also applies to your computer. Starting up your PC and see a lot of game icons immediately does not help. In my case, when studying I had a PC and an old second-hand laptop. The old second-hand laptop was slow, but fast enough for Linux and text-processing. So I used that to work on my reports. If you have a laptop on which you game and study: make a separate account for your studies. I do this for work. I sometimes work from home, but when I do, I log in to a separate account on my PC. This account has no games and only work-related stuff. This works very well for me.

        3. Get a rhythm. While I had finished all courses needed to graduate, I applied for a course on history with two short lectures per week anyway. These lectures were in the morning and I love history lessons, so this was a motivation for me to get out of bed. Every weekday I was present at the university to work on my report. When I returned at the end of the afternoon I was “free”. I had done the stuff I needed to do, so now I could spend my time however I wanted. Including gaming. In other words setting a time slot (no gaming during office hours) is much more effective than setting a time limit.

        4. Get regular exercise and go to bed on time. Your brain cells are connected between each other for communication. There is also brain fluid that flows between the cells. This fluid carries away waste from the cells and delivers nutrition. These two things are at odds. If your brain cells are closer together they can communicate better (concentration) but if they are further apart, the fluid can flow more freely and do its necessary maintenance work. This maintenance occurs during sleep and exercise. When you concentrate too long, the waste piles up and ‘poisons’ your brain. This will lead to a decrease in concentration. So if you can’t concentrate, your initial response might be to game as a distraction, but this will not help (gaming requires concentration). It is much better to go for a long (30 minute plus ) walk. After that your brain will be more refreshed. This goes hand in hand with 3. If you have a rhythm and a no-gaming time slot, all you can do for relaxation is this long walk during the no-gaming time slot. A rhythm will also help you sleep better.

        5. Don’t feel guilty. Guilt is a bad feeling. “I have done no meaningful studying today, I feel so bad”. My way of coping with this was… more gaming, to shut out the feeling. Needless to say this does not help. What worked for me was acknowledging that those hours had been wasted. I turned it around with points 1 and 3. By dedicating time slots for my report and going to the university to work on it I could always say to myself that I had spent time on my report. Sometimes I was not productive at all during these time slots, but this was compensated during other time slots that I was extremely productive. While I tried to work until 5PM, sometimes I recognized it was better to go home at 4PM , and other times I was in a flow and worked until 7PM. Regardless, when I got home I had nothing to feel guilty about and I could play a computer game or two.

        This was how I turned it around, but as you are a different person you may find that other things work better for you. Regardless, please ask for help. You are not on your own. There is institutional help, help from your peers and help from your parents. Asking for help is not a weakness. Part of growing up is recognizing when you can help others and when others can help you. No human lives in isolation, we are all part of a community and we all need each other. Asking the Diecast for help is a good start!

        If you want the Diecast’s help: diecast at shamusyoung.com. I am sure Shamus and Paul will have something meaningful to say about this.

        Good luck!

    2. RFS-81 says:

      You can see the e-mail address in the header image of the Diecast.

      (I don’t want to type it in so that it can’t be picked up by spambots.)

      Good luck with your problem! I hope you can find some help at your university, as pseudonym suggested.

  17. Hector says:

    Dang it, the page should have been called “Winsome Loosum”.

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