where did the time go?

Most individuals start off their day with a shower, a coffee, or by heading to the gym. For me, my day starts off by logging into my favorite action role-playing game, Genshin Impact. Every day, I log in to receive my daily rewards and complete my daily quests. Doing so ensures that bit by bit, I progress in the game; because in the end, the small things really do add up. This progress is further supplemented with events and story quests available each patch. For instance, this past Tuesday, version 2.2 of the game was released, unlocking a new area on the world map with new story quests to boot.

“Tsurumi Island” was the latest island to be added to the “Inazuma” region, which takes heavy influence from its real world counterpart Japan. In typical Genshin Impact fashion, with each patch comes new puzzles, new game mechanics, and new bits of lore for the player to discover. As a die hard fan of The Legend of Zelda series as a whole, and with a particular love for its puzzles as well as its take on the open-world genre, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I was more than happy to oblige and binge every aspect of this new area. I spent far more hours on exploring this new content than I would like to admit, but I would remiss to say I did not absolutely adore every minute of it. The feeling of completing a difficult puzzle, of defeating a difficult boss, of learning more about the in-game universe, is simply indescribable. It is almost as if the player is unraveling the secrets of the universe they are playing in alongside the main character. In fact, it is precisely this unique feeling and experience that enables a player to feel truly immersed in the Genshin Impact universe, and thusly, allows a player to spend countless hours getting lost in the game.

A similar experience had occurred to me earlier this week during my first clear of the roguelike action dungeon crawler, Hades. I was simply aiming to learn more about the game and its mechanics in order to one day clear it in one run, as intended. Somewhere, between learning about new mobs and their attack patterns, between learning about new abilities and when to use them, and between learning more about the characters and where their goals lie, over six hours had passed. Yet again, I had found myself absolutely immersed in a video game, which by the end of it had left myself wondering, where did the time go?

From an outside perspective, spending hours and hours playing video games may seem like a waste of time, but to those of us who choose to do so, often times that sentiment is farthest from the truth. Personally, I am of the belief that it is through these adventures and through these experiences that I am afforded the opportunity to expand my world view; by learning about characters, their goals, their hardships, and how the developers intended for them to overcome their hardships. Do these stories take inspiration from mythology? From the developers own experiences? Regardless of the source, it is these experiences crafted through countless hours of immersion which creates a sense of camaraderie within a game’s community. This camaraderie, which allows for individuals to come together to discuss the game, the game’s lore, create fan art, and protest when the game they love goes in a direction they don’t, is ultimately what I believe continues to fuel my love of video games, and is what will inevitably have me asking yet again, where did the time go?

mushroom game simulator

When I was a young lad, I had what some may call an unhealthy obsession with the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) “Maplestory”. Every day, after biking home from school, I would log in, say hello to the friends, and continue about training and leveling up my characters. I vividly remember the messages the game system would broadcast after three or more hours of consecutive play were registered: “You have played MapleStory for X hour(s). We suggest you take a break from Mapling.” To me, those system notices were almost like badges to be worn on my chest, a testament to the dedication and love I had for the game. Unbeknownst to me, this childhood game of mine would serve as the stepping stone to my first real encounter with computer programming.

Fast forward a couple years from playing on the public Maplestory servers, a few of my online friends had made the jump to play on the latest craze, which took the form of a few dedicated private servers. On these servers, the EXP rate had been altered in a way that EXP received would be 500x, 1000x, and sometimes even 2000x what was normally obtainable. The appeal of being able to fast track our way through the game, through what was normally months and months of grinding away was simply too tempting for any of us to withstand. Being able to fully experience the game and all it had to offer which had previously been gated by time and money offered us an experience like none we had had before. Eventually, a friend had learned for himself how to make his own server, and our little group of friends had gone from players to game masters almost overnight.

Initially, I wanted to invite some of my school friends to join us in our little escapades. My online friends had guided me through the set up for our personal server, but setting up access to the server for others was something I had yet to try my hand at. In my middle school brain, I thought that simply dragging the MapleStory desktop icon to a USB would suffice. Imagine my surprise when the game failed to load. What my middle school self had failed to also copy over were the rest of the files that game required to launch. Without them, the desktop shortcut would not properly load the game. It wasn’t until later on when one of my online friend pointed this out that I had realized that there was more to the game than just the desktop icon.

Ironically, the same friend that explained the concept of game files, the same friend that had set up the server for us so quickly, had also taken it down just as fast. However, he was keen enough to teach me how to set up my own server for me and my school friends to play on. Logistics aside, creating the server and learning to modify the code within to my liking served as my first real programming experience, to which to this day stands firmly as a fond memory that I can be proud of, and that I look to as my first real introduction to the field of computer science.

squid game

Squid game this, squid game that – when is the internet going to s-quit spoiling the show for me?

The latest trending survival show, “Squid Game’, has absolutely blown up the internet – evidenced by its widespread presence on social media; from Twitter, to Instagram, and even to my own “For You Page” on TikTok. Seemingly no matter where I direct my focus to, “Squid Game” is there. This morning, I could help it no longer and caved to see for myself exactly what the hype was about. I had originally attributed this show to be similar to Netflix’s other survival show, “Alice in Borderland”, but no, the pacing of this show was an entirely different beast.

The premise of the show is essentially this: a survival of the fittest, fight to the death tournament with 456 individuals all competing for the grand prize of 45.6 billion won, or about 38.4 million USD. However, these contestants are not strictly fighting each other to the death “Battle Royale” or “Hunger Games” style; they are competing against each other in a series of children’s games. You heard me, children’s games; and no, we are not talking about something as trivial as Pokemon or YuGiOh, we’re talking old school games you would find on the playground during recess. Imagine playing freeze tag or handball for 40 million dollars against 455 other individuals. I’m sure most of you would think you could win easily, but this is life and death we are talking about. Win, and you move onto the next round; lose, and well – you die.

“Squid Game” does an amazing job of exploring both the mindsets of its characters and the overall situation at hand. How do individuals cope when faced with life or death? What motivates the characters to do what they do and go as far as they do? How much is too much? Watch the show for yourself and you will find that nine episodes is simply not enough. You will find yourself caught up in the story, eagerly anticipating what will happen next. You will also find yourself asking where the next season is, much like I did this afternoon after binging the show for nine consecutive hours. Simply put, the show deserves the hype and I would recommend it to a friend in a heartbeat. 9/10, avoid spoilers while you can!