Update on that no-media experiment

Things I successfully avoided in my experiment: Fiction. Surprisingly, that was the easiest thing to do. Mostly because there is such interesting nonfiction in the world! Podcasts were easy to avoid, too (with one exception that I knew I couldn’t quit. PCHH, I love you too, too dearly.)

Otherwise, I cheated a whole heck of a lot. I did occasionally still watch things, but I tried to keep it as a reward at the end of a week, or documentaries. I found myself replacing my TV-downtime with games, which I honestly hadn’t thought about. I replayed most of The Talos Principle, which was not the best use of my time, but oh well.

(Sidenote: Seriously, if you haven’t played The Talos Principle, maybe you should?? And then we can talk about it??? It’s about consciousness and puzzles and what it is to be a person and free will and lasers and a storm-engulfed tower and robots, so I don’t know how there isn’t something for everyone in there.)

And then I played through Botanicula and was this close to replaying Samorost and the Submachine games…

So instead, since it’s been about a month, I’m taking a moment to look back on the experiment.

Among other small accomplishments, I did write messy drafts of two new stories, and I got two of the three workshop stories out on submission. That’s not bad. I’m not really attempting to write poetry so much as literally playing with it — I took some paragraphs of stories I’ve written, and pages out of books I was reading, and I cut them into their component parts (copies! don’t worry) and have, occasionally, while listening to music, been reassembling them into poems. And realizing that magnetic poetry is a form of dada cut-up, and yet somehow misses the spirit of the game entirely.

As September creeps into view, I’m going to shift the experiment a little. After a month, I was craving some fiction. So I picked up The Sundial and am reading it, nice and slow.

As for TV: does anyone have some willpower they could loan me?

The problem with people, if I may be so bold, is that you’re all convinced you’re people from the inside, but there’s no cast-iron way to confirm as much from the outside.

— The Talos Principle

This game is so good, friends. Except for the three spots I keep rebooting due to laser mines.

the project of civilization

Firstly! The Talos Principle is an amazing puzzle/exploration game and is only $10 right now on Steam.

To expand:

I am a weird gamer, in that I’m not one and kind of wish I were. For console games, I peaked at SNES and have barely so much as looked at a console since. (Nothing will ever beat Chrono Trigger.) I have loved certain computer games in my time, but nothing from, say, this century.

But I do look at games now and then, and want to play them. Beautiful visuals, interesting stories, great work being done. But. Then there’s fighting, or whatever. I get frustrated when you have to manage quick keystrokes during high tension (like getting hacked at by a monster), or you just have to get killed a lot, or get good at physical mechanics of the controller through rote repetition. Also, I don’t have a controller, and playing on a keyboard and mouse isn’t the best.

Anyway, this is all to say that I finally bought The Talos Principle when I had a snow day and, boy, friends, do I love it.


First of all, look at the pretty! It’s so pretty! Ruins and varied skies and plants and shiny portal things and a few laser guards that kill you, and all of it is gorgeously executed.

Secondly, it’s puzzles and exploration. This appealed to me so much about Portal, but Portal became too quickly about maneuvering and dodging and all the dangerous substances. This, though it has some of that, is moving slowly into it. It’s not the point of the game.

THE TOWER (ominous music)

The world is the point. The philosophy. The story. The choices you make, I think, and what it makes you think about.

There is a voice booming from everywhere. There is a prohibition on a certain Tower. There are notes left by other unseen people. There are time capsules telling a slow story. There are questions of personhood, of civilization, of purpose, of intelligence.

And also there are puzzles!

I’m only a little ways into it and I’ve been playing almost 4 hours, so I’m excited about the amount of gameplay I have ahead of me. At the rate I go, this’ll probably do me for, oh, all of 2016.