Time-Wasters Aren’t a Waste of Time

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  • You love it, or you loathe it – that seems to be the way opinion falls on games these days. The pressure to say something, anything about the new hotness herds you into one of those two camps, because to toe the line is to be diffident, indecisive, boring.

    The thing is, some games warrant the middle-of-the-road response: the games that are competent but entirely unremarkable, or the games that have a neat idea but don’t do much with it. By their very nature, these games rarely receive the attention of their loved and hated brethren, and that’s disappointing. Sure, they might not blow anyone’s mind, but they can still be a whole lot of mindless fun.

    Sometimes, after a particularly brain-melting day, I just want to sit down with a meat-and-potatoes game game, one that I can cruise through on autopilot while I listen to a podcast and let my mind reconstitute itself.

    On days like these, I don’t want an intricate narrative packed with hard-hitting ethical quandaries or a twitch shooter that raises the hairs on my neck every time I step out from cover. Just give me a clear goal, straightforward controls, and a wee burst of endorphins every now and then, and I’ll be content.

    As unremarkable as they are, some of the games within this mold rank among my most pleasant experiences. Influx, a peaceful physics puzzler of the rolling-ball variety, isn’t necessarily a pinnacle of its genre, but its combination of light puzzle-solving and lush environments was just the antidote I needed after a stressful week.

    Nor does Gas Guzzlers Extreme do a whole lot to differentiate itself from other car-combat racing games, yet I spent a good few hours mindlessly burning rubber across its bitumen. Then there’s I am Bread, the absurd physics-based slice-slinger that kept me chuckling even after playing all its cards on its first level. Apparently, the best cure for a fried brain is a skateboarding slice of bread. Who’d of thunk it?

    These games are by no means bad, and there are undoubtedly people out there who love them, but for the most part they came and went without leaving much of an impression on the community at large. That’s a shame, because there’s a place for the humdrum in this industry. Mindless fun is still fun. A game might not be memorable, but that doesn’t mean it should be forgotten.

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