Little Breaks in Littlewood

#298: Lara tells Link and Josué about Littlewood, a soothing game similar to Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing, and how the mechanics of these kinds of games help us deal with stress. Josué gushes about Genshin Impact and Link suggests Pokémon Snap as a fun and soothing time.


Josué Cardona 0:06
Welcome gt radio on the Geek Therapy network here at Geek Therapy, we believe that the best way to understand each other and ourselves is through the media we care about, my name is Josué Cardona. And I’m joined by Lara Taylor.

Lara Taylor 0:15

Josué Cardona 0:16
and Link Keller.

Link Keller 0:17

Josué Cardona 0:18
today we’re talking about little town?

Lara Taylor 0:21

Josué Cardona 0:22
littlewood, littlewood.

Lara Taylor 0:24
It’s a little town called littlewood,

Josué Cardona 0:27
a little town called littlewood. And we’re in Lara has been taking Lara has been taking little breaks in littlewood.

Link Keller 0:34
And yes, longer breaks in littlewood

Josué Cardona 0:39
Okay, so what this game looks, I don’t know. Looks looks uh, looks fantastic to me. But

Link Keller 0:48
tell us a little about littlewood.

Lara Taylor 0:51
Which is so funny. Because every time I tell people about littlewood I say the name, they’re like littlewood, little wood heehee

Link Keller 0:59
hee hee hee

Lara Taylor 1:03
That’s because I surround myself with people who have the sense of humor of a 13 year old but it’s okay. It’s okay. Yeah, yeah, this game is more sophisticated than that. It’s wonderful and beautiful. It’s a little 8bit like, town builder game. A client of mine actually recommended it to me and I’m so appreciative. It is the most like, okay, I would compare it to Stardew Valley, which we’ve talked about how it is sometimes an anxiety provoking game Stardew Valley, but the cool thing about littlewood is the reason I play it so much, is there’s no countdown clock, there’s no timer, like I can just let it be in play. And here’s Josué playing the game. I wish there was a multiplayer option. Ooh, you placed your market in a very interesting place

Josué Cardona 2:00
i played for about 45 minutes, and

Lara Taylor 2:02
this is gonna be so distracting to me.

Josué Cardona 2:04
Yeah, no, I just, you know, if you’re if you’re watching this live, you can see what the game looks like. And yeah, it’s it’s very distracting. I told you not to play.

Lara Taylor 2:14
Very cute little eight bit game. Um, it is a the premise is you were the hero of the big story, like you defeated the dark wizard, you and your friends. And you wake up one day, and you’re in littlewood, and you don’t,

Josué Cardona 2:33

Lara Taylor 2:34
littlewood littlewood, like Hollywood littlewood.

Josué Cardona 2:37

Lara Taylor 2:38
um, you don’t remember any of it, you don’t remember your friends, you don’t remember beating the dark wizard. And over time, you’re learning about your adventures with your friends and building connections and building a community. And you’re building the town literally build your house, you build your friend’s house, you’re collecting resources to do that. But you can romance all the characters, including a duck. It’s really cute. Um, and you get to cook food. And it’s just it’s so relaxing. And I think what gets me is I loved the concept of Stardew Valley. But I would get so anxious when it got close to the end of the day, I have to do all these things by the end of the day. And this game, it’s a stamina bar. So you can only do so much by the end of the day. But it’s not counting it down, like and you go to bed and the next the next days there. It doesn’t feel as stressful to me. I have spent so much time playing this game in the last few weeks.

Josué Cardona 3:48
That’s a good point, everything you do fills up the bar. So you can just kind of hang out and talk to people forever. Without not progress time forward. But when you do things so you know you have a limited number of tasks to do

Lara Taylor 4:02
and building things doesn’t count against your bar. You can do as much like modification and landscaping and all of that so that piece doesn’t get doesn’t cut you out of extra time you get to do it’s mostly the chopping wood. Collecting stone, fishing, cooking, catching bugs, much like Animal Crossing.

Josué Cardona 4:24
It sounds a lot like Animal Crossing, which was the game where you needed this time last year and it came in right just the right time. It sounds

Lara Taylor 4:33
like this is the game that I mean right now. Because Animal Crossing still feels like a chore after playing it for so long. This game it’s like Animal Crossing but it has story right like there’s you wake up some mornings and

Josué Cardona 4:49
wait wait there’s a story in Animal Crossing

Lara Taylor 4:52
you build your own story and but I’m talking like

Josué Cardona 4:55
you gotta get K.K. to come over.

Lara Taylor 4:56
Once you’re done once K.K. is there, the story is done this game, you get bits each day. Exactly. Roll credits, and it’s done. Yeah, I beat that game over a year ago.

Josué Cardona 5:13
I was rereading reality is broken recently. And you know, I think I think Jane explains so well, the, the gamer enjoyment cycle where you’re like, Oh, it’s like shiny new learning new things, flow mastery. And then you can only do that for so long. And then what you do is you just get off of that one. And then you start the whole cycle again with another one, right? So for some there, there have been many times where I’ve thought, Oh, I really want that Animal Crossing experience. But I can’t get it from Animal Crossing anymore. Does like, the only in some games, I would have just deleted my island and started over for that feeling. But I haven’t felt like doing that. Because it’s been too much of an investment to get the things that I have. And I don’t want to do that. So I yeah, so I needed something else. I just, I just got littlewood today. And I’m

Lara Taylor 6:15
are you are you invested?

Josué Cardona 6:18
well it was all the things you said, right. It’s like it’s all the same. It’s very similar elements. It’s even, it’s a different art style. It’s different than Stardew Valley. It does many of the similar things, the things that I already like, but it does things in a slightly different way. A lot of the objectives are similar. Um, but so far, I like to I like the system i like i like that. And it’s just like it feels it has that aesthetic. And that I don’t like energy level, right? That is just very,

Lara Taylor 6:49
it’s a mellow energy level, and the music is so soothing. And I can just leave it on and walk around and then come back and be like, Oh, yeah, I was trying to pick my carrots out of the garden today or whatever.

Josué Cardona 7:04
Yeah, yeah. I yeah, I’m glad I probably won’t play it now. Because I there’s another game that I’ve been playing a lot. And this I didn’t expect, I’ve been playing genshin impact a lot for the past few months. And that game basically just had an update that added animal crossing into it. So I’ve built an island and landscaping and I’m like, I have pets now. And I’m building furniture and I’m cutting you know, I’m getting material and cutting down trees and building fabric and doing all these same things that for some reason, just it’s a low cognitive load, not difficult. It’s just that it feels good. Like I’ve built a new thing and I can move it and I can all those small things and but it’s pretty shallow now like it’s pretty limited. So I think I think between that and and littlewood I can definitely, if I need it. I don’t feel like I needed as much now as I needed Animal Crossing last year. But at all. It’s It’s good. Yeah.

Lara Taylor 8:06
Yeah. Yeah. It’s so peaceful. And I like the idea of the story. Like, your character doesn’t remember anything. And yeah, your friends still love you and wants you to remember and don’t make you feel bad for not remembering and like, it’s just like, Oh, I remember how we used to do this thing together. We used to we remember that time we went across the bridge, and the bridge fell down or something and like, it’s just so sweet. They just, they just tried to help you remember, I don’t know where that story is going yet. I’m on day 46?

Josué Cardona 8:43
I’m on day two, and it’s already noticeably optimistic and cheerful in a way that even Animal Crossing as cute as it is like there’s some jerks and Animal Crossing, right? Like some people, right? Like there’s you got a little bit of everything there. And this one here. You’re right. And there’s I don’t know, how I’m curious how you feel or how you would describe that feeling of the moment you start? is it’s it’s like the it’s like the epilogue to so many other games that you’ve played.

Lara Taylor 9:16
Right, right. It’s like, it’s your time to relax. You put down the sword and just like, go chop down some trees.

Josué Cardona 9:25
I was like, that’s like she was sleeping for three days. Why? I don’t even remember that. You won. You beat the game. You You defeated the evil wizard. Right. And that was a hell of a battle. This town is all messed up. We should probably fix it. I don’t even know what it’s called. What do you want to call it? I’m like, What is happening? What? I love that as a as a basis for for for a game.

Lara Taylor 9:49
Yeah. And then you get to build a town square with a statue dedicated to you in the town square. It’s

Josué Cardona 9:55
Oh, yeah. i havent gotten that far

Lara Taylor 9:56
you haven’t done that part.

Link Keller 9:57
that that feels more like fable.

Josué Cardona 10:00
Yeah, I hope I don’t have to kill a dog at the end or choose nothing.

Lara Taylor 10:04
I hope that I hope not. I don’t think they would do that.

Link Keller 10:07
But tell your duck wife,

Lara Taylor 10:08
my duck wife, my duck wife, there are so many. It’s, it’s interesting because you can you can compliment and flirt with all you build these relationships with anyone you want in the town. I’m trying not to do that with everybody. But I’m like, okay, you start with you and your two best friends Willow and Dalton. So you get to pick and you don’t even have to pick you can pick neither. You can have both of them. You can. You can romance everybody. It’s wonderful. But I think it’s great that there’s that choice and that option to do whatever. There’s the duck person, there’s an orc person. There’s an old man that you can romance as well, which is really cute. And he likes to go fishing with you. Because he used to teach you how to fish. Okay. Yeah, um, you got a hot air balloon that you can fly to all kinds of places. Someone in one of the main the port city is trying to get me to donate my money to help restore the port city. I’m like, No, I gotta restore Littlewood. But it’s, um, there’s so much going on. But not enough that I get overwhelmed. Because we’ve talked in past episodes how I get overwhelmed when there’s too much going on in a game.

Josué Cardona 11:36

Lara Taylor 11:37
But there’s, there’s a lot to choose from, but not too much. And I don’t think I’m going to get bored with the game in the way that I think I did. Like, at one point Animal Crossing got to just every day I get up, I pick all the weeds, I dig up the fossils.

Josué Cardona 11:57
But that’s every day, right? Like, there was a time when I was like, that was fulfilling and exactly what

Lara Taylor 12:03
a certain point it was like, that feels like work. That’s happened, right? There was also

Link Keller 12:07
the difference in Animal Crossing being on real time. And so I think that adds a whole different experience to it, than in Stardew Valley or littlewood.

Lara Taylor 12:22
Right right

Josué Cardona 12:23
thats true

Link Keller 12:23
its like, there’s a difference of doing the same thing every day, seven days for a week, then I did the same thing. Seven days in one play sitting. And all seven days passed. And now I’m on the eighth day.

Lara Taylor 12:37
Yeah, yeah. I like the I like the setting in littlewood where like, instead of there’s like the season, each season has, like 30 days or something like that. And they just have four simple seasons. And there’s a certain amount of cool, fun events in each one.

Link Keller 13:01
You, you were talking about? How in littlewood, you were on day 42. And you don’t know for sure where this story is going.

Lara Taylor 13:17
Maybe that’s where we’re at. But I’m really excited to see where the story is going. I like the idea of like the retired hero. I like spins on the traditional story right. Yeah. That’s pretty cool.

Link Keller 13:33
Yeah, instead of the traditional hero’s journey, that video games love to go for. They’re like, hey, what if what if our video game is it’s just the very end It really does feel like It’s an epilogue to another game.

Josué Cardona 13:48
Yeah, I often mentioned that I don’t. I have strong feelings about the hero’s journey. It’s not really the hero’s journey itself. I love Joseph Campbell. That’s not the issue. My issue is

Lara Taylor 14:00
there are other storytelling.

Josué Cardona 14:02
There’s other stories and I hate it when people seem to try to fit life narratives and any story and try to put it into that story into the to the hero’s journey cycle.

Lara Taylor 14:17
If it fits, it fits if it doesn’t, don’t force it.

Link Keller 14:20
Well Yeah, it ends up being it is the go to example for describing narrative and how narrative works. And that ends up being a lot of people’s only interaction with that that concept and learning about narrative and so it’s similar similar to the the stages of grief, which were misrepresented in what they were supposed to be doing. But it’s so easy to pass along that that bit of information and it feels so apt. People are just like that’s it. We did it. That’s enough. That’s enough for me. I got it. but There’s, there’s more.

Josué Cardona 15:02
I get it. Joseph Campbell had that realization, he was like, Whoa, a lot of stories follow the same. Same same exact thing but not all of them. Until you don’t have to try to fit yours into to that does that does a TED video about a father talking about how much he hates the hero’s journey, because of how his daughter couldn’t relate to the typical stories that are told through the hero’s narrative. It is pretty good. He could say these things Better than he can express my feelings more than I can. But yeah, I do you love the idea that it’s not just up, like, there is actually a narrative reason for doing this for doing all these things. Everything is set up. And it also just, you know, takes all these tropes and just changes them. And I love the setup of that. I really like that a lot. I love the memory part. I mean, we talked we had that episode about memory, but the fact that your character doesn’t remember things, and you’re still

Lara Taylor 16:03
and you don’t know why. Like it could be just like it could be got hit on the head could be a magic thing could be trauma. i dunno.

Josué Cardona 16:11
who knows. it gets real dark later

Lara Taylor 16:14
Maybe it does, maybe it does. I don’t know. One of the things I think I really like about it is, as I as I was trying to get to is like I’ve been going through a lot of stress the last few weeks, it’s been a stressful few weeks. And this game has been a good escape. But it’s almost like I need an epilogue like I need the peaceful epilogue to like, relax and chop down trees. And like, this is a different kind of like Animal Crossing was the game I needed last year because I needed to get outside because I couldn’t go outside. Now it’s more acceptable to go outside and be around people just a little bit. But now I need the relaxing epilogue just like my stress is done. Let me go escape for a little bit in this game, and romance, some characters and go fishing and try to build some houses and decorate my friend’s houses the way they want to be decorated and build a coffee house and build a tavern and cook. It’s so good.

Josué Cardona 17:28
Is there a goal? Like are there specific goals that you’re trying to achieve? And not even just in the game? I mean, you personally,

Lara Taylor 17:37
I think, well, in the game, there are plenty of goals, there’s a quest board, they give you things you’re trying to build a museum Haha, just like animal crossing there’s a whole bunch of things. For me, my goal is I want to learn more about the story I want to get through because they give you I don’t know exactly how things trigger. But if you go to your journal in the game, it gives you little markers that fill in when you have met all the people. And they don’t necessarily you don’t necessarily meet them in a certain order. Same thing with the memories that come up in the morning. They don’t necessarily go in a certain order. So I’ve gotten like the first five memories, and then there’s one that I don’t have. And then there are other ones I have. So I think each one is triggered by something that you do

Link Keller 18:27
sort of like how Hades did their storytelling, where where there’s a background systems, keeping track of the things that you’ve done, and certain triggers will set off certain conversations.

Lara Taylor 18:42
Yeah, yeah. And I like that. It makes it like, Josué you could play similarly to how I’m playing but a little different and get maybe we get a few of the same memories. But like maybe there’s something you see that I won’t see yet. Because I haven’t done a thing. Like maybe you’re more interested in helping the guy, there’s a guy that moves in named ash that is focused on mining and stuff. And maybe you do that and that triggers a memory compared to me trying to do a lot of the fishing and spending time. In games, I tend to lean into the first few characters I run into, like when I play a JRPG. And I’m like, first char, that’s my party. I don’t need to add anyone else except for red 13. But, um, I think that that’s the party. I don’t want to mess with it. It’s balanced. So I kind of feel the same way with this. I’m like, Oh, it’s cute. You get the idea that I think that Willow has had a crush on you. And I think they kind of imply that with Dalton too. And so it’s like,

Josué Cardona 19:57
well, I mean, willow was the first person I’ve dated About a year so I’m no. I want to

Lara Taylor 20:03
hey you practice flirting, you can practice.

Josué Cardona 20:07
I saw hearts never have any dialogue with me. today.

Lara Taylor 20:11
She told me that she appreciated the compliment. Because she says that.

Josué Cardona 20:16
Yeah, no, I mean, I think it’s great. It’s going well, I think it’s going well so far. I haven’t met that many people in town yet. I just got there. But um,

Lara Taylor 20:26
you can do nice things for her. You can build the whatever she wants, you can build her the bookshelf she wants, you can decorate her walls the way she wants built. You can build her the bed she wants

Link Keller 20:39
anything for my wife. I love my wife.

Lara Taylor 20:45
My wife that I live in a separate house from everyone lives in separate houses is a nice little commune.

Josué Cardona 20:52
The first day she was hanging out with me. And she stayed with me the entire day. Until I went all the way. And then it was like go to bed. Like she was still like with me. It just it just

Lara Taylor 21:07
didn’t you didn’t say stop hanging out? She was still with you. Hmm.

Josué Cardona 21:10
I don’t I didn’t see. I mean,

Lara Taylor 21:13
you can on the pause. So you hit the button that goes to like, I

Josué Cardona 21:18
i wanted to see what happened. Yeah. It just skipped to the next morning. And so

Lara Taylor 21:23
if you try to go sleep in someone else’s bed, it says you can’t sleep in their bed. So you can only have people over to your house.

Josué Cardona 21:29
So you’ve tried this. huh lara?

Link Keller 21:33
Josué had a lesbian first date the 36 hour date.

Lara Taylor 21:40
the uhaul date

Link Keller 21:43
She just She never went home. I never asked her to leave and she never left. So now we’re married.

Josué Cardona 21:49
On the lesbian date spectrum. What is it when you build a house for the other person? Like literally upon meeting?

Link Keller 21:56
high on the lesbian level

Lara Taylor 21:58
that’s not uhaul But it’s very high. I mean, you use the carpentry skills to build a house.

Josué Cardona 22:03
That’s it. Yeah. I mean, yeah, she technically when we hung out, we just like cut tree cut down trees together and did a whole bunch of like, we went to the equivalent of like, a hardware store and yeah, yeah, yeah. Are there Subarus in this game?

Lara Taylor 22:21
You know what? I don’t think so. But can we have? Okay, okay, maybe? Okay. I mean, there’s duck people

Josué Cardona 22:30
that are there like horses and stuff. Like Can you ride? Oh,

Lara Taylor 22:33
I don’t know about riding horses, but I just got a cow to live in my town. Okay, yeah. Oh, I didn’t go pet the cow. today. I need to pet the cow before I save.

Josué Cardona 22:45
This game is is extremely cute. And and fun and funny.

Lara Taylor 22:55
There’s a whole scene with two people having an apple eating contest.

Josué Cardona 23:03
Okay, okay. Okay.

Lara Taylor 23:04
And it’s like a battle. It’s so cool.

Josué Cardona 23:07
I remember. I don’t I don’t think it was the Animal Crossing episode. But it may have been last year. And I just it just the way that Link said that particular game was soothing. That has stuck with me. And and whenever I use the word to thing, I think Link talking about that video game. And, and it’s just it feels like that, right? Like so. So you said you were stressful. You needed something like this. It just like it hit the spot. And it’s it’s been it’s been working.

Lara Taylor 23:37
And it’s a game that like, I don’t know, Animal Crossing, I felt like because it was real time I had to like, I didn’t want to put it down. I wanted to do things at certain times of the day, you had to do things at certain times of the day to catch whatever bugs or

Link Keller 23:53
or cheat

Lara Taylor 23:54
or cheat, I don’t cheat. But littlewood is one that like, I don’t feel I can pause it, put it down, come back to it. Hopefully remember what I was doing. But it’s it feels more like I can have things in a bite size if I need to. Or I can play for a long time. Or I can mindlessly chop down wood. And like break stones while I’m doing something else. like sitting in a meeting at work.

Link Keller 24:26
a meeting game. Hmm.

Josué Cardona 24:30
How long have your play sessions been? On average? I

Lara Taylor 24:36
think it depends sometimes like I put it down because I have to go get something from a high cupboard for Nina because I’m taller or something like that. But I have played think the longest is like an hour and a half.

Josué Cardona 24:51
Okay. I asked because I was watching a video about genshin impact and people were complaining about like, oh, there’s nothing to do but we’ll blah I’m like Yeah, but you’re like, you’re paying for like, 12 hours a day because you’re a YouTuber and a streamer. Right? And so they talk about, they’re like, Well, you know, unless you’re one of those people who just pay the play for like, an hour a day, like, yeah, that’s exactly. That’s exactly that’s about as much time as I have

Link Keller 25:15
most of the systems seem to be built that way.

Josué Cardona 25:18
Yeah. And, and, in a way, like, what I really like about about genshin. And why it’s been, I played it back in November, I think it came out in September, October, I played it in November, played for a little bit didn’t touch it again until like late January. And, and it was similar thing, where I was like, Oh, this is the game I need right now. And, again, the the Animal Crossing, part of it just arrived. And it’s fun. And it and I really like it. But the game has so many different systems. And there’s so many different ways to accomplish things. Which is, which is something that animal crossing and games like this have, right? It’s like, it’s up to you, right? Like, do you want to just cut down trees and build this resource Do you want to build this do you want to do this over here?

Link Keller 26:05
Nothing but fish? you can live that dream

Josué Cardona 26:06
nothin but fish right just become just have the most fish. And and everything you do has some kind of value, right that you can then use it at a like there’s nothing genshin feels a lot like Breath of the Wild in the sense that it’s an open world and anywhere you that you always see something that you can do that game, I mean, you can tell in the design that there’s, there’s always it’s huge and has a lot of open space. But there’s always even just like, there’s like a plant that you can pick, or an animal that you can hunt or something, there’s something that you can do in all places. And there’s so many systems on systems and systems and things that you can dedicate yourself to. So there’s like a grind that you can do every day that feels satisfying, like, do these four things every day, you get a bonus. And so like I try to do that every single day. But if I have more time, there are all these other goals that I’m working toward that I’m like, oh, I’ve got I’ve got some extra time I got this resource, I’m going to cash this in and do this and try to get this other thing, right. And then there’s like events every six weeks, actually, I really like two there’s like the cadence at which this particular game is going is very impressive. But it’s giving me all of these things that to keep me engaged. And perhaps one of those most surprising things is that it has so many different systems like there was an event a couple weeks ago, that had minigames in it, where you were like dodging bubbles or like climbing things. And like one was like you’re falling in like picking these things as you’re like gliding down. And it’s such a fun world to be in that, that. That’s the thing like nothing feels to there are things that are really difficult in the game. But overall, it’s just bright and colorful. And it just, it just makes me feel good to be in there. And the characters you care about each and every one of the characters every character comes in. And they even like the game even does the surveys. And they they’ll give you extra like currency if you if you complete the surveys. And one of the previous ones was about like, why do you choose like, why do you invest in a particular character? And to be honest, like, it’s like, they each have a personality and a backstory?

Link Keller 26:33
Because i love them

Josué Cardona 27:35
And because I love them. Yeah, basically,

Link Keller 28:17
I love you my son I love you.

Josué Cardona 28:19
And what about one of the things that they did, like even they even capitalized on it, like this game is so many different things. But about a month ago, they added what they call hangout events, hangout events, but they’re basically dating sims for some of the characters. And then so you go and like you can, you can go on, like, you spend a day with these characters. And you have the whole thing where you’re like, face to face, and you’re talking in the and then there’s the different options. And you see that there’s a that it’s like a like a one of the the, like Detroit and become human now.

Link Keller 28:53
Choose Your Own Adventure, style

Josué Cardona 28:55
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right. It’s like, there’s this whole chart and you see like, Oh, you got like one of the six possible things like go ahead, like do it again. And they’re kind of short. And it’s just like, oh, you’d like these characters. Let’s build a dating sim in, why not? And then you just get to hang out with them. And then you get a like, a cute picture at the end. Like, yeah, no, absolutely. Because one day, I want to play the game. And that’s just all I want to do. I just want to hang out with Noelle one day. That’s it. That’s all I’m gonna do. And then another day, I’m like, No, I’m gonna go like, destroy this boss character for this giant dragon. And you can do all that in the same place. But it’s, yeah, like it’s bright, it’s colorful. The, it’s everything about it is just soothing. In many in many ways.

Lara Taylor 29:39
Yeah. It’s so interesting. Recently, my therapist asked me like, What games do you play to relax? My answer was not any of these kinds of games.

Josué Cardona 29:53
which murder simulator did you?

Lara Taylor 29:55
well I was at the time I was taught I had been playing at the time. I’d been playing tell me Why, which is a very fucked up dark story with some cool aspects to it. I loved how we talked about memory and relationship and learning about yourself and learning about your, your parents and learning about things from your past. That was really cool. But my answer was like, I think it’s because I enjoy playing games where the problems are bigger than my own, so that I can, like defeat a problem that’s bigger. If I can do that, then I can handle my own real life human problems.

Josué Cardona 30:37
Do you mean that narratively, or, like, mechanically,

Lara Taylor 30:42
both, like, if I’m, if I beat the game, or I am defeating a battle of defeating monsters fighting a battle, and I win the battle, like, it feels like, Okay, cool. I’m doing something that if I as as Lara actually did, I would probably not be okay. I have this sense of mastery. And like, I defeated the thing, and I can actually see the thing and my problem seems smaller. Like in playing Tell me why the story is so big, and like, there’s so much going on, these people have been through so much trauma. And it’s like, Okay, my problems seem a little smaller than that right now. But now, I don’t know. Like, I feel like there’s room for both for me. But now, littlewood is a game that I like I need

Josué Cardona 31:31
so what’s the answer? What was the answer?

Lara Taylor 31:33
Well, the answer was I hadn’t even started playing a littlewood when she asked me this.

Josué Cardona 31:37
Right. But like, what

Link Keller 31:39
the answer is it depends

Lara Taylor 31:41
It depends on what kind of stress i’m feeling

Link Keller 31:44
Yeah, that’s that’s the real, the real answer is like, depending on the context of the stress difference, different games are going to provide different kinds of outcomes for you. And depending on what kind of stress you’re feeling, you’re going to be looking for different kinds of outcomes. Something you know, you said, What, tell me why it’s having a story where the problems outweigh yours in such a way where you can be like, woof, I feel better about my situation now. But it can also be like I need to disassociate from my problems, and I need to chop 100 trees, and that is absolutely doable, and being able to achieve that goal. Makes me feel better. Yeah,

Josué Cardona 32:26
yeah. Yeah. I have a coworker who I was trying to pitch to play genshin. Like, they were like, Oh, is it? Do you have to grind? And I’m like, Yes. Like, that’s the best part. Like, like in like, in life, there’s no, there’s is nothing that black and white. Nothing. Is that clear? Right? It’s like, if I like you mentioned the 100 trees, if I cut that 100 trees, I can get this thing. I know exactly what I need to do. So I have a goal. Have strategies to accomplish

Link Keller 33:00
its explicit, it’s achieveable

Josué Cardona 33:02
yup, unlike life, life has none of that. Why are you what are you crying?

Link Keller 33:07
Life is like, well, you grind and then maybe something will happen. You won’t know until then.

Josué Cardona 33:14
But genshin is a gacha game. Right? Which means that it has a loot boxes, basically. Right? Like that’s a type of elements. Like, that’s more like real life. Like, yeah, you can drop $1,000 and that still won’t guarantee that you’re gonna get the thing that you wanted. You might maybe also somebody else might spend $2 and get the same thing. Oops, yep, that’s life sorry. Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. I like this idea of the little breaks that you said, like, we’ve had really long gaming sessions. But, you know, shorter breaks like that. It’s hard in other games to have that kind of sense of accomplishment. Because even even a game that has a level that you get to the other end of it. That doesn’t necessarily feel like an accomplishment. Right? Like sometimes you watch a TV show, and you get to the end of an episode. You’re like, I feel a sense of accomplishment cuz I finished the episode. But if that thing ends in a cliffhanger, right, like, it’s you feel worse. It doesn’t feel better.

Lara Taylor 34:21
I just fit I just finished Yashahime. The first season.

Josué Cardona 34:25
cliffhanger. Of course. It’s got a cliffhanger.

Lara Taylor 34:27
cliffhanger. And the sad thing is that I put off watching the final episode because I was oh, I could watch the I could watch the final episode after I watched the penultimate episode, right. I put it off because I was like, I don’t want to be sad today. Yeah. And then I was like, yep, cliffhanger.

Link Keller 34:46
womp womp.

Josué Cardona 34:47
Yep. Link what have you been playing lately. Have you been? Have you been playing any soothing games?

Link Keller 34:53
I’ve been playing Pokemon Snap, which is a very soothing game.

Josué Cardona 34:57
Oh, that’s that’s probably Probably, I should have bought that instead of bought it down. Yeah, that’s gotta have all these elements, right? I mean,

Link Keller 35:09
yeah, yeah, um, Pokemon Snap is is pretty wonderful in that same way it has short levels, they’re only, you know, four, six minutes long. And then you pick your pictures and you get scored on them, but like you don’t get in trouble if you don’t do good. You just get more points when you do do good. Yeah, and it’s fun to see to see the Pokemon doing cute little things and they they do different things, the more times you go to the same levels.

Josué Cardona 35:40

Link Keller 35:41
And there’s something very nice about taking pictures. That’s that’s sort of a fun, soothing thing.

Josué Cardona 35:48
Also, it’s Pokemon. It’s bright, and colorful

Link Keller 35:51
it’s beautiful is there’s a whole thing in this pokemon where the Pokemon get have a special thing where they get very sparkly at night. And so like, not only is it bright and beautiful, but then there’s a whole extra layer where it’s like, and now also they glow in the dark and are very glittery like you’re welcome.

Josué Cardona 36:13
I hate nighttime in video games, because usually things get either harder or scarier.

Link Keller 36:19
or both!

Josué Cardona 36:19
Yeah, yeah. The idea that I would look forward to nighttime in a video game is even an animal crossing like the store is closed at night. You’re like, aw dammit, I can’t buy you know, I can’t go in and check with. Yeah, the nook’s are selling. It’s like, ah, like, Yay, I’m

Link Keller 36:36
excited because I can catch tarantulas now. But I’m less excited because now I have to hold a big pocket full of tarantulas till the morning.

Josué Cardona 36:44
Yeah. Oh, okay. I like this. I, again, this is another I don’t know of any other game that I look forward to it. Being nighttime. I love it when games let you just like control time, and skip forward. genshin does this allows you to do this and I keep going back to it. The game just has everything. It just at any moment, you could just skip ahead of time, but there isn’t like it’s not like a hyrule and suddenly, you know, the horrors come out, you know, the moment the sun goes down. And the music changes with

Lara Taylor 37:20
the littlewood the nighttime is only like the smallest shift section of your stamina bar. Right? It’s true. It’s and it looks nice when it’s nighttime. Oh, it got dark but like in the town, everything lights up and it’s nice. Cuz

Josué Cardona 37:35
that’s my next I’m gonna invest in lighting for the town because the one time I have had a nighttime It was very dark, cuz I’m just there’s nothing there.

Lara Taylor 37:44
I have a lot of houses in my town now.

Josué Cardona 37:46
Yeah. Can I build like a lighting infrastructure?

Lara Taylor 37:50
I don’t? I don’t know yet. There’s a whole bunch of things that you have. Yeah, I don’t know. You have to collect things to build them. So you probably there might be lighting somehow. But like, I have probably like eight people living in the town now plus, like, five or six other structures. So there’s light coming from all of those places.

Josué Cardona 38:17
these I don’t I don’t know so much about Pokemon Snap yet. But because I haven’t played it. And I don’t know enough about it yet. But that has been one of the things that has been that I’ve really, really loved about about genshin and other games like this and even Animal Crossing. It’s like, the It feels like that, that what you invest in it results in something in return. So it’s a different kind of satisfaction. Right? Ah, like, we can play a battle royale game right? And then like your skill might improve or decrease in there that try to build in these things that you can accumulate but it’s it doesn’t feel like you’re affecting the world like the things aren’t changing. But the idea that you’re doing something in the case of littlewood you’re building a town right it’s like well, you know, there’s like oh look at everything that I’ve done because I the time that I invested it feels like something that you got something out of it. It’s not that in other games you don’t because it’s just it’s just not tangible or or even quantifiable. It’s just like I had a great experience. And that was that’s what I wanted I got to hang out with my friends it was cool I have like this story now that I can tell because this epic thing happened but in there’s like a simplicity to these games. It’s like you know chop 100 trees you can build the house. I wanted Yeah, yeah, I’m, I feel

Lara Taylor 39:44
want some points for taking pictures of Pokemon Go. Like when I was when I was younger. I wish I had my camera so I could actually do I used to be in photography into photography, I would say go out and do black and white film photography and That was my way of de stressing at the end of a long week, I would just go somewhere in the city in San Francisco and take pictures. And I my camera was stolen out of the back of my car and I felt like pretty upset about that. And then my stepbrother gave me a new one that I haven’t used. But I think, you know, I don’t want to have to drive to San Francisco and go take some pictures. Maybe I’ll take some pictures and some Pokemon in a game.

Josué Cardona 40:28
Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Lara Taylor 40:31
It’s less of an ordeal like that could be like I make a day to go take pictures, but like, Pokemon Snap could be there anytime I want it to be. I.

Link Keller 40:43
So I’ve been playing Pokemon Snap for like the last week weeek and a half. But yesterday I was like, Oh, go for a little walk. And I walked around to the cul de sac I live in now. And there. There are a bunch of rhododendrons that are all in bloom right now. So it’s very beautiful. There are lots of pretty flowers and bees and stuff that I took out my my new phone with it’s very fancy camera on it. And I was taking a bunch of pictures. And then a neighbor cat came up. I took like an action shot of that kitty

Josué Cardona 41:16
How many points was that?

Link Keller 41:18
They felt they felt like this was definitely a diamond shot. I got large, centered. It was doing something cute at the moment like yeah, nailed it. That’s a top tier.

Josué Cardona 41:29
Yeah. What do you unlock?

Link Keller 41:32
The nighttime level? I guess I can go out later tonight. once the sun sets

Josué Cardona 41:38
if that cat is glowing? I don’t think that’s a good sign

Link Keller 41:42
it’s a very cute cat, a dirty street cat. I love it.

Lara Taylor 41:47
dirty Street cat.

Link Keller 41:49
Yeah, I think I think that, like Animal Crossing last year, these games are providing the sort of tend and befriend action sequences that are less common in video games, but are becoming more common. As testified by the conversation we’re having today with several examples of games that are all about the, the tend and befriend aspects of life instead of more on conflict and violence and aggression and stuff. I do think it’s good that there are new ones, because I also got a little burned out on Animal Crossing, I don’t think that it’s necessarily because there’s anything wrong with Animal Crossing, or that Animal Crossing has done something, you know, that they could do better. I think it’s just part of human nature for us to do something for a while, and then you get acclimated to it, and you’re looking for something novel, it might still be fulfilling the same things that you were fulfilling before, but you needed, you know, a new art style. You know, a new a just a slightly new system, where instead of logs and rocks and grass to grow things, it’s like, there’s a fourth element and it’s goo or something, you know, just just a little a little extra, something that adds you know, a little bit of novelty, but not so much that the system’s feel unfamiliar or overwhelming or anything, it’s like you’re still getting the calm, achievable goals, things that you can just opt into or not, and the game doesn’t punish you for choosing to just do your own thing. I love that.

Josué Cardona 43:36
I want to keep talking about genshin for a while because I think it’s it’s it’s impressive in ways that I think

Link Keller 43:45
genshin is, from what I have heard about genshin is like four or five games that are smushed together, and you can just play the ones that you like. And that’s cool.

Josué Cardona 43:57
what’s what’s fascinating about it is that it has elements from so many different games, but it’s just, and the way that the company is dealing with it and actually producing it. And is is impressive, because it’s trying to address all of the things that Link just brought up. It’s trying to mix things up in a way so that you have something new to do. And it uses different ways to do that. It gives you plenty of time to do it. But there’s still limited time events. So there’s like, there’s a there’s a scarcity piece of it that motivates you. There’s just novelty. But it’s not I mean, a lot of the battle royale games and other games do this kind of thing. This game is it has a story, like with voice acting, right i mean side quests and story.

Lara Taylor 44:52
that’s the beauty of MMOs

Josué Cardona 44:54
Well, yes, but MMOs again, it’s it’s it has this isn’t it? MMO it’s not an MMO it’s building out that story in different ways. It is and it isn’t right. Like, like,

Link Keller 45:10
it has aspect it is borrowed aspects for so many different types of games. That definitely MMO is apparent in there.

Josué Cardona 45:19
It there’s again there are just things, there’s something about this game that I don’t understand why. I mean, it’s making the money

Link Keller 45:28
the gatcha stuff makes so much money and, like continued engagement that I’m sure that it is completely funding their ability to try other new systems and new ways to engage with the characters and everything and actually like, hey, players, what do you want? Like, what do you want? You want to kiss them? Well, we can build a kissing game. Now we got all that gatcha, money. We’ll build you a kisser. Yeah.

Josué Cardona 45:55
So so the so it has it has this this element from like, MMOs in which like, oh, like, the story has ended, right? It’s gonna keep growing, and there’s new pieces to the world. But then there’s something about the fact that like, they actually have a cadence that they’ve stuck to. Like, every six weeks, there’s an update that like changes things. There’s new characters every couple weeks. It’s like, it’s got so many different things that are again, I don’t know, it’s just impressive. Like, it looks and feels like imagine a breath of the wild just kept getting an update every two weeks. That’s, that’s my like, my dream game, right? And then, and they were like, but you know what? You might want different characters, right? It’s like, why would I want to play with someone other than Oh, yeah, no, no,

Lara Taylor 46:37
I’m gonna I’m gonna have a hard I would have a hard time with this game. I got my I got my people. That’s it.

Josué Cardona 46:43
Um, so

Lara Taylor 46:44
my starting people

Link Keller 46:45
So what it would what it would do is it would introduce you to a character that was sprung forth from your head, the perfect character. And then they would be like, oh, but you can’t have this one. Not yet. There’s Don’t you want? Don’t you want her? Look how beautiful she is?YES I want the five star version, please.

Josué Cardona 47:06
So that’s one thing that the game does it actually it gives you some of the worst characters are your starters. And then it lets you play for a moment in the story as different characters that you’re like, this feels completely different. I mean, it’s it’s, it’s they’re very, it’s very strategic, what they’re doing.

Lara Taylor 47:22
i love talking with my clients about which characters they love the most. And why one of them loves the, the starter characters, because nobody else likes them. Yeah,

Link Keller 47:34
I love that. When people that

Josué Cardona 47:39
character, but um, but but one thing, one thing that the game has done, you know, everything that I said before about there being this predictability to two things, right? Like, Oh, I know exactly what I’m gonna get. One of the things that has been the most I don’t know, the impactful in genshin is the fact that you’re always gaining things. And then suddenly, like, you do earn your did this loot box system, right? And then you get like a brand new character. And it kind of it, it’s enough to shift things around. Right? It’s like when you when you’re in a game, I’m trying to think of a game that has Animal Crossing did this I don’t know. And I don’t know if living littlewood has a version of this. But like, I mean, in the first day, you can’t cut down trees, right? So you can’t move things around. And then you get this new tool. It’s like, Oh, this changes everything. Because now I can I can actually cut down the trees and like, it opens up this whole different area. So genshin does this in a way that I think is, I think is like I want to I want to study this game hard. Like I think it there’s so many that it is so impressive. It does feel like someone pitched like, the perfect like, we need a game that addresses all these things. And, and they went to China and he was like, Yeah, okay, we’ll give you a ridiculous amount of money that no one else would give you to actually try to do this. And it’s it’s working. Anyway, but ultimately, I’m it’s also a mobile game, right? Like it like it’s, it’s, it’s on phones. So you can just play for a little bit and get all of these elements. And I was telling someone the other day about how, you know, most video games aren’t finished, you can like, you can go into trophies on Xbox or Playstation on Steam, you can see achievements, and you can see how many people have finished the game. The percentage of people who ever finish a game, it’s super, super low. And this is mostly like narrative games, right? Like, it’s the same thing you go through, you get what you you needed.

Lara Taylor 49:36
unless There’s a pandemic and then people who never finished games like myself finish a lot of games.

Josué Cardona 49:43
But you get to a point right where you’re like, Okay, this is what I I got what I needed out of it. It wasn’t the end of the story, and then you go forward and you do something else. So we talked about that the beginning Link is right. This is something that in general, which is why I’m genshin has surprised me in the fact that it just adds These random elements in a way that that are additive, like sometimes. Like, like my favorite villager leaving an animal crossing doesn’t feel good. Like if that doesn’t that doesn’t mix things up in a way that I feel. I feel great about.

Link Keller 50:15
Believe me.

Lara Taylor 50:18
I don’t know if anyone in littlewood leaves but I so far they haven’t. So I don’t think they do. Also, I like Willow more.

Link Keller 50:29
Yeah, I think it’s more the Stardew route where the people are the people. You just get to decide what kind of relationship you have with them.

Josué Cardona 50:39
Like Animal Crossing punishes you for not and in ways for not for not being around.

Link Keller 50:46
it emotionally punishes you.

Josué Cardona 50:48
Yeah, yeah. to all your friends move away they make you feel guilty. There’s like, roaches in your house. There’s like weeds everywhere like, like it’s little things? And, and I know stardew was kind of the same way, right? It’s like, you. You weren’t fast enough? You didn’t you didn’t get all the crops, aren’t you like, wasted time? Right? Um, yeah. Littlewood sound like a dream. I’m going to.

Lara Taylor 51:12
I love it so much. And I was telling Link when we had our little technical difficulties earlier, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be playing it because Mass Effect. The remastered edition is coming out. And I will be playing that because I never played mass effect

Link Keller 51:30
provides a different kind of soothing experience this soothing experience of wanting to kiss space ladies. [kissing noises] I love you Liara.

Josué Cardona 51:39
Yeah, I think we’re gonna revisit some of these ideas, when we probably definitely talk about Mass Effect at some point. And we’re gonna be streaming it on on the twitch channel too. There’s like I never finished I don’t think I’ve ever finished. Not that I finished one. I don’t know. It’s like some. I don’t think I finished one. But then I was so excited about two and I finished two. And then when three came out, I was excited. But I never finished three. It was like it’s this this the same thing that we’re talking about? Like, oh, like I’ve had enough. I’m good. But then when it resets, I’m like, Oh, yeah, no, no, I’m in. But But when games like this, it’s like, well, if you didn’t get to the end, then you can’t continue your story.

Link Keller 52:19
you can, you’re just a little confused.

Josué Cardona 52:22
No, I mean, like, like, you can continue your story. If you finish the end of one. You can carry those events off into two. Right? But like, you have to finish them. I got to do the new one like, Yeah, I don’t know. those are good games. We’ll talk about those. So Jonathan is in the chat. Unfortunately, I cannot play typical relaxing games, because they require a lot of time. But then I play Monster Hunter. And I’m assuming MH is Monster Hunter and I love just going on expeditions and exploring the landscape. And wildlife without hunting anything. A Monster Hunter, I was obsessed with that game for a while. And for a lot of the same reasons. That was one of these, like when you said Lara when you said, you know hunting, like taking down a monster. Monster Hunter is incredibly satisfying in that sense. Ironically, so let’s say like, hunt can take like 40 minutes, you know, 50 minutes even. They can take the longest time.

Lara Taylor 53:19
a day in littlewood Take like five minutes.

Josué Cardona 53:21
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, you can’t you can’t just like do part of a hunt in Monster Hunter. Right? Like, it requires a larger commitment. But definitely a littlewood it’s shorter even even in genshin like there’s a lot of little things that you can do. Or you can start a story and progress through and do a whole bunch of things. I really recommend that and like you said, Pokemon Snap, it’s like, five or six minutes, right for for level.

Link Keller 53:46
Yeah, they’re, they’re different. And some of them like I said, they they change the more you go to them. So it’s like some of them will have secret routes that add on an extra 30 seconds or whatever. But yeah, they’re they’re very bite sized. I live with a baby right now. And so Pokemon Snap, it does have a pause function, which, obviously that’s necessary and needed. But even even with that, it is nice to be able to be like okay, I’m just gonna I’m gonna play one, one loop. Yeah, and then hopefully Roz will stay asleep until the end of it, but if not, it’s okay.

Josué Cardona 54:22
Alright, so Genshin is my new Monster Hunter. Littlewood is Lara’s new Animal Crossing? What is what is Pokemon Snap replacing for you like? Oh, Hades, it’s your new Hades.

Link Keller 54:34
i guess yeah.

Josué Cardona 54:40
Hades I mean had short runs too, right? Like they could be even even a full run to take Yeah,

Link Keller 54:46
depending on how it went. I feel like most

Josué Cardona 54:48
all of mine were short because I failed.

Link Keller 54:52
i feel Like most of my my completed runs were between 30 and 40 minutes so I wasn’t like hitting the speed. Run scores that I’ve watched some people on YouTube do where they’re like beating the whole game and six minutes or something which is like boggling. But yeah, that was Hades was also set up that it wasn’t a huge deal if you just paused it and set it down and went and did something else. Yes, each room was encapsulated so you could clear a room and then

Lara Taylor 55:23
just don’t pause in the middle of a boss battle,

Link Keller 55:25
I mean, you can but you will probably get get eaten. Yeah, yeah. Pokemon Snap is Pokemon Snap that I never got to play as a child is what that’s replacing for me.

Josué Cardona 55:41
Gotcha. Gotcha. So you recommend that?

Link Keller 55:43
I do I do. If If you listeners viewers, were like me where you were not of means and so you didn’t get to play Pokemon Snap as a child and you just played the Pokemon Snap demo at the blockbuster on their special Pokemon Snap machine. Pokemon Snap for switch. It’s it hits the it hits the spot. It’s time travel back to ye olden blockbuster days. Except, you know, so many new pokemon so many new pokemon.

Josué Cardona 56:21
Yeah. Yeah. Cool. So I think that’s it for this episode. Thank you very much for joining us. There’s 298 or two weeks away from 300. I still don’t know what we’re gonna do. But I’m very excited. All the taggs videos are up. So if you are interested, and you missed, you somehow missed the first ever therapeutic and applied geek and gaming summit, where we had tons of great speakers, including Link Keller and Lara Taylor. And a lot of there’s, there’s over 80 hours of content. And it worked. We recorded everything and it’s up. It broke my computer in like three different ways. But I and my brain and like four different ones, but we did it. We did it. They’re all up. Tell your friends. Check it out. Find that at tagg summit.org. in the show notes, you’ll find links to all of our community spaces where you can come and hang out. Places like the GT forum where you can comment on all our episodes. This episode is being streamed on YouTube. We’ve been we started streaming on YouTube. So if you’re if you’re watching this Hello, if you’re listening, just know that every week, Wednesday nights, Wednesday nights in the US, we are we are recording and broadcasting on YouTube. And but our twitch channel isn’t going anywhere. Well, we’ll be playing like Mass Effect soon on Twitch. Yes. Okay, we got we got a lot of exciting stuff coming. It’s a it’s very exciting. Thanks for listening. remember to geek out and do good. And we’ll be back next week.

Link Keller 58:08

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Characters / Media
  • Littlewood
  • Animal Crossing
  • Stardew Valley
  • Hades
  • Genshin Impact
  • Tell Me Why
  • Yashahime
  • Pokémon Snap
  • Monster Hunter
Themes / Topics

Conversation Topics:

* Self-care
* Burnout
* Love
* Making new friends
* Trust
* Other: Tend and Befriend

Relatable Experience:

* Self-soothing
* Clarity/Understanding
* New Life Event (New Rules)
* Other: Needing a Break

Questions? Comments? Discuss this episode on the GT Forum.

Links / Social Media

Check out the GT Network: network.geektherapy.com

GT Forum: forum.geektherapy.org

GT Discord: geektherapy.com/discord

GT Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/geektherapy

Find us at www.GeekTherapy.org | @GeekTherapy | Lara: @GeekTherapist | Link: @CHICKENDINOSAUR | Josué: @JosueACardona

Ask us anything through the Question Queue and we’ll answer on the show: geektherapy.org/qq

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