Now it is not time to talk about a quest to be more productive – but here we are. In the midst of high levels of stress, deteriorating work-life limits and a terrible news cycle, you are listening to the inner monologue of what you could or should to do at all times is hard for one’s mental health. But still, I want to talk about it, because I’m bad by relaxing. And there may be a way to alleviate productivity traits: Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
I’m convinced I can ‘t let go of how I feel about things. (I am ashamed of my addiction Merge Mansioneven though I know should not feel like that.) My obsession with productivity, with life hacks, with getting more done than I can physically at any given time, is a by-product of how my brain works, how I was brought up, and a whole lot of societal factors that would require a completely different story to unpack. It’s a toxic cocktail, but one that I have accepted I have no power over. My brain wants to be productive all the time. The trick is not to give in. I benefit from downtime and I have to stick to it even when it does not feel good – the long-term benefits are too necessary.
It’s there for sure types of video games coming in. Games are ideal for decompressing because they keep my hands busy while forcing my brain to check out from the digital world, which is always on and always connected. Collective-style titles in particular are itching to get things done, fooling my productivity-focused mind into thinking I’ve accomplishing something, even if it’s just for fun.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is perfect for this. I’ve been tempted by many Pokémon games before, but this is the first one I actually bought and played. Many people I trust told me it was ideal for people who were new to the franchise and they were right. I love structured or quest-based open-world games because they give players the freedom to do what they want without being overwhelming (too many options are not a good thing for my brain either). Arceus is not really open world, but it comes 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 have, though, is an affinity for capturing Pokémon, the mysterious creatures that inhabit this world. You will be recruited to become a surveyor tasked with cataloging creatures in your Pokedex. There are missions and a story as well as the mystery of your own origins, but you have a lot of control over what you explore and progress with. You do not really have to focus on the story unless you feel that you have exhausted one area and want to unlock the next.
This is where the productivity hack comes in: I’ve spent so much time just filling out Pokedex instead of actually getting ahead in the game. For each type of Pokémon, there are different things for you to do: Collect a certain number of them with stealth or defeat them with a certain item-based move, for example. When you go through Pokedex, it really feels like ticking things off a to-do list. And if you are someone who writes things down after you have done them, just to be able to check them off (I see you!), Then you will understand this satisfaction.
When I have a day of high anxiety and recognize that I need serious relaxation, Pokémon Legends: Arceus that’s where I turn. It makes relaxation seem productive, it calms my mind even when I am super stressed. It may seem strange to trick your brain into thinking it’s work to relax. But when you are good at working hard and awful at blowing the steam off, you do what you have to, when and where you can.
And now I can finally select “decompress” from the infinite to-do list.