Mark Watches ‘Steven Universe’: S01E11 – Arcade Mania

In the eleventh episode of the first season of Steven Universe, Steven rewards the Crystal Gems with something that goes too far. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe. 

You know, I have a very specific video game habit. Aside from games on my iPhone, I can only play one of them at a time. I will play said game until I can approach perfection as near as possible. If the game has certain missions that are optional and only give you XP, I will do all of them. I will try to attain every medal or reward. I will reach the max XP level, and I will try to find all the secret areas, and I will collect all the top weapons and gems and tools and WHAT HAVE YOU. I can find myself entertained by the most mundane tasks in video games, while I’ll balk at anything too stressful and anxiety-inducing. I actually kind of hate super hard video games, and I don’t know how I’ve made it through multiple modes of games like Fallout or Borderlands, but perhaps that’s a sign of my petty, obsessive need to complete everything.

I had a realization a couple of weeks ago: there is perhaps no single game better suited to my needs and desires than Pokémon Go. None. EVER. It is low stress, it is repetitive, and it allows me to reward myself for incremental accomplishments. Some of those are easier – such as cracking a 2km or 5km egg – while others feel monumental, such as each and every time I’ve leveled up beyond level 20. I’m just shy of reaching level 30 in this game, I have all but 9 Pokémon in my Pokedex, and it is the only iPhone game that I’ve spent more than a few bucks on for in-game transactions. There’s a comfort that comes from catching everything in sight, from exploring parts of the world with my phone in hand. I’ve actually started scheduling the game into my daily routine, taking myself out of the house after I’ve recorded my last video of the day, all so I can reward myself with a few hours of Pokémon hunting in places where they spawn frequently.

I’m actually at a point where I know exactly where to go for this goddamn game. I have a pattern! Most nights, I’ll work somewhere in Santa Monica, and then spend a couple hours walking about the boardwalk, the pier, and that little park between Ocean and Highway 1. If I have enough time, a walk to the Venice boardwalk and back is great for cracking eggs and collecting tons of Poliwags and Magikarp. Sometimes, USC and Exposition Park works best; Grand Park in downtown LA is my jam. And Shoreline Aquatic Park in Long Beach? Perhaps the most ridiculous place around here to play the game. I’ve seen more Rare Pokémon Stampedes there than anywhere else in the world.

So what is it about video games that drive this kind of obsessive behavior? Garnet clearly found something soothing and satisfying about Meat Beat Mania, and for many of us who are gamers, we can all relate to the experience of finding a game that just perfectly works for us, and it’s so different for everyone, too! I know gamers who only want the challenge, who thrive in difficult games full of impossible tasks. I know others who just want to play The Sims. Or build farms. Or who obsess over setting up characters in role-playing games, or who want to play every storyline in said games. It varies so much from person to person! Like, I have met plenty of people who despise the repetitive nature of Pokémon Go, and I would never fault anyone for complaining about the many problems with that game. SO WHY DO I STILL PLAY IT?

Perhaps I am (unsurprisingly) think too deeply about this, but I wonder why this game affected Garnet so much. Does it have anything to do with her third eye? (WHAT A REVEAL, OH MY GOD.) Or was this just a story about how we need to be careful about what we get obsessed with? Because Garnet’s obsession made it difficult for the Crystal Gems to complete their mission. Actually, it was worst than that. Yeah, finding out that Garnet is the technical leader of the Gems and that she is the one who “perceives” the missions that they all go on. SHE EVEN DOES MISSIONS ALL BY HERSELF. So, her obsession actually pulls her away from her responsibilities. Which is not a good thing! And we should not let video games take us over like this!

Which reminds me of when I first started playing the Fallout games years ago and let this exact thing happen and I’d play until like 3 in the morning… yeah. With work at 7 the next morning. NOPE. BAD.

Anyway, this episode was hilarious AND answered a huge question I had about the Crystal Gems. CHECK OUT THAT THIRD EYE BY THE WAY. I am so excited, y’all.

The video for “Arcade Mania” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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