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Games should be uncomfortable if they have purpose

Metroid II’s music is unaccomodating and discomforting because it’s reflective of the premise of exploring outer space and alien worlds.  Games should be uncomfortable if they have purpose, if they’re handled with tact and emotional intelligence.  Too often games are about endless pleasure loops—the moment we’re frustrated or confused, we’re taught to see this as a flaw because videogame tastemakers of yore sold us the toxic myth that fun is paramount.

A Maze of Murderscapes: Metroid II by S.R. Holiwel

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Curation Should Be A Feature, Not A User Interface

There is this ubiquitous tendency where “recommendation” has become another word for “advertisement”. Entire UIs are designed around how curators (both human and algorithmic) can suggest content for you.

Dave B, “Curation Should Be A Feature, Not A User Interface
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Tough Love: On Dark Souls’ Difficulty

One of the key psychological models behind human motivation is something called self-determination theory, which posits that for a person to persist and feel motivated by an activity, it has to satisfy three different needs: mastery, autonomy, and relatedness.
[…]
This is, of course, not conventional game design. Conventional game design eases players into an experience, gradually introducing new concepts and abilities before putting you in any real danger, rather than dropping you right into a world full of things that are trying to kill you as swiftly and horribly as possible and watching you get on with it.

Keza MacDonald, “You Died: The Dark Souls Companion”
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Stop Googling. Let’s Talk

In solitude we find ourselves; we prepare ourselves to come to conversation with something to say that is authentic, ours. If we can’t gather ourselves, we can’t recognize other people for who they are. If we are not content to be alone, we turn others into the people we need them to be. If we don’t know how to be alone, we’ll only know how to be lonely.
[…]
One start toward reclaiming conversation is to reclaim solitude. Some of the most crucial conversations you will ever have will be with yourself. Slow down sufficiently to make this possible. And make a practice of doing one thing at a time. Think of unitasking as the next big thing. In every domain of life, it will increase performance and decrease stress.

Sherry Turkle “Stop Googling. Let’s Talk”
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The cradle rocks above an abyss

The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour).

Vladimir Nabokov, “Speak, Memory”

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Productivity is a Very Big Waste Paper Basket

I hope that you will not think me presumptuous or rude if I say that one of the secrets of productivity (in which I believe whereas I do not believe in creativity) is to have a VERY BIG waste paper basket to take care of ALL invitations such as yours—productivity in my experience consists of NOT doing anything that helps the work of other people but to spend all one’s time on the work that Good Lord has fitted one to do, and to do well.

Peter Drucker, in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “Creativity”,
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An individual human existence should be like a river

The best way to overcome it [the fear of death]—so at least it seems to me—is to make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river: small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being. The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue. And if, with the decay of vitality, weariness increases, the thought of rest will not be unwelcome. I should wish to die while still at work, knowing that others will carry on what I can no longer do and content in the thought that what was possible has been done.

Bertrand Russell, “How to Grow Old”
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Ploughing Fields and Carrying Water Buckets

These forfeited food surpluses fuelled politics, wars, art and philosophy. They built palaces, forts, monuments and temples. Until the late modern era, more than 90 per cent of humans were peasants who rose each morning to till the land by the sweat of their brows. The extra they produced fed the tiny minority of elites – kings, government officials, soldiers, priests, artists and thinkers – who fill the history books. History is something that very few people have been doing while everyone else was ploughing fields and carrying water buckets.

Yuval Noah Harari, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
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To invent your own life’s meaning

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them. To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.

Bill Watterson, “Some Thoughts on the Real World by One Who Glimpsed It and Fled”, Kenyon College Commencement
May 20, 1990.
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All the Unhappiness of Men

When I have occasionally set myself to consider the different distractions of men, the pains and perils to which they expose themselves at court or in war, whence arise so many quarrels, passions, bold and often bad ventures, etc., I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber. A man who has enough to live on, if he knew how to stay with pleasure at home, would not leave it to go to sea or to besiege a town.

Blaise Pascal, Pensées