The relationship we have with rest varies from person to person…some of us love it, others despise it. Generally, resting seems poorly-timed in gaming and life, but it’s still critical every so often.
I’ve always thought it was weird when I played role-playing games that didn’t make me tired at night. The introduction of time adds so many dimensions to games, allowing an entire new world to surface based on the in-game clock. And then there were Pokemon Gold and Silver, games which ran on a real-time clock; you could only find certain Pokemon during the day, others only showed up at night. When I first played it in middle school I was pretty much mind-blown. But my Pokemon Trainer never seemed to need a night’s sleep.
Even in complex, sandbox-style games like Fallout and Grand Theft Auto, we tend to have characters that can soldier on for days, unfettered by a need for sleep. Role-playing games tend to introduce hotels and beds into the equation, but just for you to restore your health: you might sleep for eight hours 30 minutes after you first getting out of bed if you get attacked by a massive swarm of nearby spiders, or you could push through the equivalent of a week’s worth of adventure and questing, subsisting off of adrenaline, health potions, and healing spells from the party cleric. Strangely enough though, though we may not sleep, we always seem to find time in these games for rest: random exploring, playing mini-games in taverns or casinos, buying various snacks from stores. Somehow, even in a world where all the rules are made up and there’s a specific quest to complete, we feel the need to rest every so often.
Sleep is one of the many mechanics of the body we don’t fully comprehend. Sure, we know we need it, we know that things start going poorly if we don’t get it, but we don’t get exactly why we sleep. But sleep is connected to rest, and our relationship with rest seems to be even more controversial in the modern era. We’re obsessed with productivity, the idea that we need to spend our time doing/making/being something constantly. That usually means we feel some guilt when we rest and we aren’t completely spent, but we usually perform better after a decent rest. If you need proof, just ask Jigglypuff.
In the original, turn-based Pokemon games, the Rest move allows a Pokemon to skip two turns and sleep, regaining some all its HP in the process (and healing status effects). Jigglypuff’s Rest move in the arena fighting game Super Smash Bros. Melee lets her pass out for a couple winks in the middle of the battlefield, a move which…doesn’t make much sense in most cases. Here’s the thing: use Rest with the right timing, when you’re close enough to an opponent, and that opponent gets knocked across the screen with a massive attack. Jigglypuff stays on the screen, vulnerable for a few moments, but that move can totally change the course of a battle. Neither of these feel like ideal places to take a quick snooze, but when timed properly, they’re critical to success.
Similarly, well-timed rest sets us up for success in reality. It’s why I’m taking a Technology Sabbath today: no phone, no internet, no computer, no video gaming for 24 hours. I’ve been working pretty hard the last few days, and I’ll come back even more recharged and ready for battle.
It’s somewhat worth noting that my main character in Super Smash Bros. is Marth, by the way. I’d be remiss for not mentioning him in a Smash post.