Now is not the time to talk about a quest to be more productive – and yet here we are. Amid high levels of stress, worsening work-life boundaries and a terrible news cycle, listening to that inner monologue about what you could or should is doing at any time is difficult for one’s mental health. But still I want to talk about it because I am poor when relaxed. And there may be a way to lessen the pull of productivity: Pokemon Legends: Arceus†
I firmly believe that I can’t help how I feel about things. (I’m ashamed of my addiction to Merge townhouseeven though I know that I should not have to my obsession with productivity, with life hacks, with getting more done than I physically can at any given moment, is a byproduct of how my brain works, how I was raised and a lot of societal factors that require a completely different story to unpack. It’s a poisonous cocktail, but one that I’ve accepted and have no control over. My brain always wants to be productive. The trick is not to give in. I benefit from downtime and I have to stick with it even when it doesn’t feel right – the long term benefits are too necessary.
That’s true for sure types of video games are coming in. Games are ideal for decompressing because they keep my hands busy while forcing my brain to check out of the digital, always-on, always-connected world. Collection-style titles, in particular, have the itch to get things done fooling my productivity-minded mind into thinking I’m accomplishing something, even if it’s just for fun.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus is perfect for this. I’ve been tempted by many a Pokémon game before, but this is the first one I actually bought and played. Many people I trust told me it was ideal for people new to the franchise, and they were right. I like structured or quest-based open world games because they give players the freedom to do whatever they want without being overwhelming (too many options isn’t good for my brain either). Arceus isn’t exactly open world, but it’s close.
The story is as follows: You, as the main character, fall into a mysterious world through a portal with no memory of who you are. What you do have is an affinity for catching Pokémon, the mysterious creatures that inhabit this world. You are recruited to become a Surveyor, with the task of cataloging the creatures in your Pokedex. There are missions and a story, as well as the mystery of your own origin, but you have a lot of control over what you explore and progress with. You don’t really need to focus on the story unless you feel like you’ve exhausted one area and want to unlock the next.
This is where the productivity hack comes in: I spent so much time filling out the Pokedex instead of actually making progress in the game. For each type of Pokémon, there are different things you can do: collect a certain number of them using stealth or defeat them using a certain element-based move, for example. As you make your way through the Pokedex, it really does feel like checking things off a to-do list. And if you’re someone who writes things down after you’ve done them, just to tick them off (I see you!), you’ll understand this satisfaction.
If I have a very anxious day and recognize that I need some serious relaxation, Pokemon Legends: Arceus is where i turn. It makes relaxation productive, it calms my mind even when I’m super stressed. It may seem strange to let your brain think that relaxing is working. But if you’re great at working hard and terrible at blowing off steam, you’re doing what you need to do, whenever and wherever you can.
And now I can finally check off “decompress” from that endless to-do list.