As I’ve been looking to both improve my mental health and build my Twitch channel, one of the video games I’ve had my eyes on is Unpacking, a puzzle-style game where you unpack items from boxes to organize various living spaces. I’ve enjoyed puzzle games all my life, and the low-key nature of Unpacking definitely places it in the “cozy game” genre that I’ve been trying to play more of, to help me maximize the benefits of using video games to help me unwind from the stresses of contemporary life. The game went on sale earlier tonight, so I picked up a copy and played through a little bit of it just now, and while I’ll need to play a lot more of the game to form a good opinion of it, I can definitely see myself playing it a fair deal in the months ahead.
Between when I first learned of Unpacked and today, though, a transgender woman I follow on Twitter mentioned that she’d played through the game, and that it triggered strong emotions in her because the game’s aesthetics made her feel like she’d just been able to organize her bedroom as a girl’s bedroom, when she hadn’t had that experience when she was younger and had yet to realize she was a woman. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard other transgender people talk about having experiences like this when performing activities, but I’m pretty sure that it’s the first time I’ve read of a video game triggering this response in someone. I don’t know if I necessarily had the same response in terms of my own gender and how I identified when I was vounger, but I definitely got a very strong “simpler times” vibe from organizing the young person’s bedroom at the start of the game with all its bright colours and fun objects. Given the difficulties of the past couple of years (as well as the challenges of starting another new semester earlier today), that kind of reaction is completely unsurprising to me.
I don’t like contemplating all the “could haves” and “should haves” of my earlier years, at least all that deeply. On some level, thinking about the opportunities I didn’t get when I was younger does help me out, since it fuels me up when it’s time for me to help my students take advantage of the opportunities they’re presented with. It’s very easy to overdo this, though, and particularly over the past few months, I feel like I’ve fallen victim to that far too much. Again, I think the difficulties posed by the pandemic are kind of a natural reason for my brain to take these tangents, but I don’t seem to be able to harness those energies for positive purposes as well as I used to. In all honesty, thinking about that stuff for any real length of time just makes me feel like I’m spinning my wheels here, and that’s not a good feeling to have at any time, let alone when I’ve got so many other things I need to work on.
There are other options, of course, and I’ve been giving some thought lately to taking some of the most painful moments of my early life, fictionalizing them, and creating some kind of new project from them. I’m not in a position right now to start another big project, though, so again, thinking about doing that just feels like it will only lead to more frustration and disappointment. Maybe I’ll feel differently after I get a couple of weeks into the new semester here, and I’m better able to handle the challenges of the term since I’ll have a better grasp of my new students’ unique needs, but that feels like something so far in the future that it’s pointless to think about it now. I’ve got a lot more unpacking to do before then.