I was telling my sister about how when Brenna and I first moved to Seattle, we inadvertently popped into a bar which was the kind of bar you pop into if you are a lady who likes ladies. I told her the name of the bar, and she laughed and laughed. This wasn’t merely a gay bar; it was apparently a very gay bar, one you might not be gay enough to enter. She said it had a “bath house” downstairs, which I was surprised to learn, because I thought that was more or less an urban legend. It was a striking piece of imagery: the town I knew, undergirded by erotic warrens jam-packed with unregulated sex.
I forget what I was talking about.
Oh! Now I remember. We made a comic about Find My Friends. Okay, whew. Alright! I’m back.
I’ve been playing Puzzle Craft because until three days ago I had no idea there was such a thing as a Puzzle Craft; I saw it on this or that Round Up (Joystiq, I think) and the prose was so hot with heat that I wondered how I could have missed such a thing. That’s the easy part, actually: attention is a currency, and it was simply spent elsewhere. But as someone who endured both a pronounced, obsessive Dungeon Raid phase in addition to a rapid descent into the Triple Town “lifestyle,” the ability to play both games simultaneously was an incredible timesaver.
But playing Puzzle Craft reminded me of 10000000, which is rendered verbally as “Ten Million.” If I had to choose a game from the last year that had the biggest effect on me, one I’ve thought about the most, that’s almost certainly it.
It’s Match 3 I guess, I guess? That’s not my memory of it at all. The game is about a person stuck in an oddly well appointed dungeon, one with a safe, comfortable bed and a weight room. Sliding tiles around was so abstract to my actual goal that it was almost effervescent.
The goal of any run on the dungeon is to get out. What this means is that you lose every time, every every time, until you win. And you win once. It’s about increments - you might come back with some wood or money or something to progress your character, maybe you unlock different potions that customize each run, but the entire play experience is The Montage. This is the part a movie runs through very quickly with driving musical accompaniment. In Ten Million, every bicep curl is rendered with maximum granularity.
When I finally did beat the game, I barely realized that I had; I was by that time so trained, so armed to the gills, and so deep in mystic trinkets that in functional terms I just walked out of the dungeon. I never played it again; why would I go back? I’d escaped: not just from the metaphorical dungeon, but from the reptile twitches of obsession, trying to make order out of those symbols. That’s a gift, a real gift. And I don’t think that was an accident.