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How games helped me finish my master's


Before you ask, no, I’m not happy to have ‘finished’ my master’s dissertation. But if you’d like to ask ‘hey, aren’t you just glad you were too tired to read the shameful stream of word incontinence you sent in one minute before the deadline?’ Then the answer is: ‘Why yes! Thanks for asking!’

And if I’m being honest, after a few years of practical work in hospitals, it felt pretty good to be engrossed in proper bookish study for a change, to once again dust off my impenetrably mysterious Creative Process (half-hourly fridge visits, sporadic shaving etc.). I also played a lot of Downwell.

I’ve been playing the tight little platform-shooter on my phone – though it’s on other platforms too – and its hypnotic rhythm of free-falling and firing would feel great even without work to avoid. But because it’s so instantly satisfying, it’s also become my go-to fix of catharsis, nicely punctuating my study sessions in two ways.

Firstly, as a quick breath, a needed pause in the flow of new ideas whilst reading and ruminating. Like a psychological comma, a semi-colon or – rather too often – a full-stop. A full stop with lots of blank space afterwards (My Creative Process okay!).

But it’s also punctuation in the way it gives needed rhythm and form to otherwise pretty overwhelming trains of thought. In particular I’ve noticed that it’s just at the eureka moment of a new idea, or soon after a sudden dawning of comprehension, that I instinctively reach for my phone and some Downwelling.