Finding Peace in Point-and-Click Adventures

This post comes across as quite bloggy. Apologies in advance if such a thing offends you.

We lost everything. I originally wrote up a multi-paragraph uber-descriptive epic explaining everything as it happened, but all you need to know is that we lost everything. Because of certain circumstances that my skipped-webpage-design-in-high-school mind will never understand, tripped into a tear in the fabrics of the Universe last Friday only to tumble out as if it were June 21st, removing two entire months of published materials in the process. With backups beyond saving, I geared up with my game face over two nights to copy and paste cached content as our only hope at restoring those 100-plus pages. Fueled by caffeine and three Christopher Nolan films, I spent over seven hours repeating these tedious tasks. I retitled, reformatted, recategorized, and reuploaded to bring about our ultimate recovery.

In other words, I’m as important as the people saving lives and curing cancer. And with actions this heroic, I might even commission my own documentary.

To be serious, I didn’t do a single difficult thing. Boring? Of course. Carpal tunnel-inducing? Almost certainly. And stressful? You have no idea.

My baby, may no harm befall you.

Over the past six or seven months, and especially since the start of summer, Gamers Association has reached childlike levels of specialty in my eyes. I adore it, am proud of what I do with it, and it pained me to see her in a compromised state. In addition, my calm and vacation-full June and July only amplified the uneasiness. Now compound those tense moments with my other unsettling realities of moving into a new apartment four hours away this week while preparing for a job interview before organizing for PAX and coming back the day before college begins anew…

To put it simply, I got a little panicky.

Worse, though, was the terrible taste to come out of the aftermath, that sour sick leaving me with a strong desire to distance myself as much as possible not only from this site but from gaming in general. Like a post-traumatic stress disordered soldier, the mere thought of dodging dragonbreath or blasting baddies with a barrage of bullets sent my psyche screaming, horrified to enter another high anxiety environment.

I required a ridiculous amount of relaxation, without a doubt, but how to attain it?. I’m not a smoker, not a drinker, and I’d already done a fair share of laid-back reading. Gaming usually slips in here as my go-to free time hobby, but to game meant to attack, to run, to kill, and to die, and I didn’t want anything to do with activities born out of adrenaline. No, what I needed was something simple to wind down with. Something slow-moving but still engaging. Something calm, yet something slightly stimulating.

For the first time in my 22-year-old life, what I needed was a point-and-click adventure.

Never before has the dark and dreary been so inviting.

I chose Machinarium to make me well again, and it was marvelous. Easy on the eyes and ears, this beautiful decision stood as the standard to represent all of the point-and-click genre and its ability to be truly therapeutic. Asked to do nothing more than move my mouse with a couple of clicks (alongside a significant bit of thinking, I might add), I forgot my real-life and admittedly first-world fears and fell into the imaginative world of metal and machines. The game is so charming, with silly animations amounting to scenes of unexpected humor, that I couldn’t help but smile. There were no guffaws, not even an audible chuckle, yet those sharp exhalations accompanied with a grin were more than enough to wash away my worries.

Like the lot of you, I’ve achieved more fantastic feats over the course of my gaming career than I could ever count. I’ve beaten bosses, persevered past the impossible, and even held the high score on a well-trafficked Galaga arcade cabinet until it was unplugged. Despite my experience, however, point-and-click adventures are relentless at making me feel completely incapable and spectacularly stupid. Still, something about the absence of a true failure state fought the frustrations away. Also, it’s undeniable that no reward could ever rival the satisfaction derived from solving a rather tricky point-and-click puzzle without Alt-Tabbing out to a GameFAQs walkthrough.

Adorable robots render anxiety obsolete.

Living novels, point-and-click adventures provide the perfect balance between overwhelming narrative and great gameplay chunks so far removed from the plot that it’s nearly forgotten in the firestorm. The genre straddles this fine fence without favoring one emphasis over the other to deliver a delightful and ideal story-driven experience that couldn’t be found with any other mechanism or medium. Some call them outdated or dead, while others have never heard of them at all, yet point-and-click adventures are the supreme remedies for stress, like bottled bliss ready to induce relaxation at a moment’s notice.

With school starting soon and the weather eventually taking a turn for the tear-your-hair-out unholy, we’ll all discover another day of distress when we need to collect our composure and calm down. In those times of trial, while comical counselors expect us to exercise to reduce stress, remember the point-and-click adventure and feel relieved from the comfort of your own home.

You, I, and everyone at Amanita Design will be happy you did.

Written by: Luke Frazier

Gaming industry addict. Twitter fiend. Unabashed lover of Kingdom Hearts. Other favorites include The Legend of Zelda, Portal, Bioshock, Journey, and peanut butter & banana sandwiches. Also, oatmeal. Let's be friends. @LukeAFrazier – Steam/PSN: GodAlliz