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Laziness is a Lie and Ico is Trans! with Social Psychologist Dr. Devon Price
Episode 2011th May 2021 • Pixel Therapy Pod • Pixel Therapy Pod
00:00:00 01:32:07

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OMG y'all, why's everyone keep talking about "return to work" when we never stopped working? Not just in places like jobs, but literally working to emotionally, physically, and mentally survive a literal pandemic? This week, Spencer and Jamie kick things off by chatting through the feelings of overwhelm and tiredness that a lot of folks seem to be able to relate to right now, especially as technology continues to blur the boundary between work and life. You are not alone! Capitalism just wants you to think you are! And who better to break it all down than Dr. Devon Price, nonbinary icon, social psychologist, and author of Laziness Does Not Exist! This convo was absolutely electric, as Devon helps us see how the "laziness lie" and our society's obsession with productivity is hurting all of us, traces its origins to white supremacy, and shows us how playing video games (and other activities often seen as "lazy") are actually really, really good for us. And you know we couldn't let them leave the studio without sharing their transmasculine reading of Ico!!

Plus: Returnal's mixed accessibility reviews, Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion, Emily is Away <3, Mad Men?!, and more!!!

Check out Steve Saylor's work and perspective on Returnal: https://stevesaylor.net/

Read Devon's book: https://bookshop.org/books/laziness-does-not-exist/9781982140106

Follow Devon: https://twitter.com/drdevonprice

Side Quest

https://www.lightfoundchi.org/

The Lighthouse Foundation invests in Black LGBTQ+ liberation internally by developing Black Queer Leaders: a cohort that builds community, sets goals, and creates public programming for Black Queer people in Chicagoland.

About Pixel Therapy

New episodes drop every other Tuesday. Learn more at pixeltherapypod.com or follow us on social media @pixeltherapypod. We're proud members of the But Why Tho? Podcast Network: visit ButWhyThoPodcast.com for everything pop culture in an inclusive geek community! If you like what you hear, please take a moment to rate us, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts (or your listening app of choice) & subscribe! Want more? Unlock monthly bonus episodes for $2/mo and help us save up for streaming equipment at patreon.com/pixeltherapypod !

Transcripts

Jamie:

Pixel Therapy is a member of the But Why Tho Podcast

Jamie:

Network

Spencer:

Go to butwhythopodcast.com for an

Spencer:

inclusive geek community offering pop culture news

Spencer:

reviews and podcasts.

Devon:

When we look back on our lives and think about the things

Devon:

that matter to us, sometimes achievements will figure in

Devon:

there. But a lot of times it'll be like, Oh, this play that I

Devon:

worked on with friends that nobody came to and didn't sell

Devon:

any tickets like, Oh, this d&d game where we came up with these

Devon:

hilarious jokes. And you know what? We didn't record it. It

Devon:

wasn't a podcast. It wasn't, It wasn't something for anybody

Devon:

else. Those things like make up, like the real like tapestry of

Devon:

our lives. [intro music]

Jamie:

Welcome to Pixel Therapy, the video game podcast where we

Jamie:

look at the games we play through the lens of the player,

Jamie:

where what you play is just as important as how you play it.

Jamie:

And where emotional intelligence is a critical stat. Every other

Jamie:

week we bring on a guest who may or may not consider themselves a

Jamie:

gamer to discuss the games that have made them and changed them

Jamie:

and all the feelings they have about our favorite pastime. I'm

Jamie:

your co host Jamie pronouns, she her

Spencer:

and I'm your co host Spencer pronouns, they them.

Jamie:

And this is Pixel Therapy. Buckle up your seat

Jamie:

belts, folks and friends because we've got some new and

Jamie:

noteworthies for you.

Spencer:

Strap yourself into your Snuggie or plush robe.

Jamie:

Yes, yes, snuggies love that. All right, we're gonna

Jamie:

kick it off with our Patreon monthly shout outs. This is our

Jamie:

special thank you to the folks who are subscribed at the name

Jamie:

in the credits Tier or above, over on

Jamie:

Patreon.com/pixeltherapypod for the month of April. Those fine

Jamie:

people are Yinka, Vale and Jane. Thank you so much to you three,

Jamie:

we really appreciate you and everything that you're doing for

Jamie:

us. If you, listener who is not Yinka, Vale, or Jane, want to be

Jamie:

like those three and get your name in the credits, you can

Jamie:

head over to Pixel Therapy's Patreon where you can check out

Jamie:

our plethora of perks that start at just $2 a month and gets you

Jamie:

a monthly bonus episode including our May release which

Jamie:

dropped just last week in which Spencer and I take Quantic

Jamie:

Foundry's gamer motivation profile survey. We just you

Jamie:

know, we needed to figure out just exactly what kind of gamers

Jamie:

we even are and you know if I'm being honest Spencer I already

Jamie:

went in and changed a few answers. So-

Spencer:

Oh my god, you would. I'm just like, "Okay!" Throws it

Spencer:

away next day.

Jamie:

That's anxiety for you. So if that sounds like something

Jamie:

you'd like to hear, then pop on over to

Jamie:

patreon.com/pixeltherapypod and sign up for only $2 a month

Jamie:

today. Of course if that's not in the cards for you No worries

Jamie:

because there are lots of other ways to support the show and one

Jamie:

of those is of course rating and reviewing us on your podcast

Jamie:

platform of choice. Spencer it's happened again.

Spencer:

It's happened?

Jamie:

Yes it has happened again. Which is and the it is

Jamie:

that we've got another five star review over on Apple podcasts.

Jamie:

From a lovely reviewer who goes by the handle forgetmenots24.

Spencer:

We shall not.

Jamie:

We shall not forget you forgetmenots because you wrote:

Jamie:

"Best gaming podcast I have come across, exclamation mark! Best

Jamie:

gaming podcast I have come across exclamation mark! I found

Jamie:

this podcast accidentally when I saw someone on Instagram post

Jamie:

about it and I was initially drawn by the cover art."

Spencer:

Oh, shout out to @jellodemon slash Zar, Zar

Spencer:

Sikora. They are freaking amazing and did our cover art so

Spencer:

thank you for-Thank you, Zar, for making such a great album

Spencer:

cover that it just pulled someone right in

Jamie:

literally, literally brought in a listener. "I

Jamie:

thought to myself, it looks quirky and the art style makes

Jamie:

me feel like it will be a safe space. And oh, was I right?

Jamie:

Spencer and Jamie have created a beautiful space in which they

Jamie:

discuss and unpack games in a nuanced way being able to hold

Jamie:

both their love of gaming and criticism of the industry and I

Jamie:

think that is precious. They discuss topics so close to my

Jamie:

heart and it is nice to have a gaming space that acknowledges

Jamie:

and discusses queerness race, disability etc with so much

Jamie:

empathy and humanity while also tying it in with the emotional

Jamie:

experience of gaming and how we relate to games. I think one of

Jamie:

my favorite things about it is the fact that a discussion about

Jamie:

a game is never just flat and dry. mechanics are discussed not

Jamie:

only in respect to how they feel in play, but with respect to

Jamie:

what they what do they say? Are they accessible? Same goes for

Jamie:

narrative always looking at the bigger picture. Anyway basically

Jamie:

I love this podcast and you should give it a go. You'll feel

Jamie:

right at home and safe." Holy cow!

Spencer:

Wow, I've never felt so seen.

Jamie:

Yeah, that was such a nice review. Thank you so much

Jamie:

for taking the time to write that for us, forgetmenots.

Spencer:

Yeah, there's actual it's like an actual little tear

Spencer:

forming of my eye because I just, that, the way, I feel

Spencer:

precious. I'm glad that you find this precious because I feel so

Spencer:

held by your review

Jamie:

100%, Yeah. And like, I don't know, it's just nice to

Jamie:

know that we're making a space where you do feel safe and where

Jamie:

you feel represented. And I don't know, yeah, I feel like we

Jamie:

do make a big effort to try to, like, hold all of the

Jamie:

complications of the things that we're talking about in our hands

Jamie:

at the same time. And yeah, so-

Spencer:

But still keep it light. And cute. [laughs]

Jamie:

Still make this you know, like, actually enjoyable to

Jamie:

listen to you. And, you know, not the opposite. So, thank you

Jamie:

so much for your kind words, and for taking the time to write

Jamie:

that to us, it means a whole hell of a lot. And reviews like

Jamie:

this, you know, we've said it before, but these are really

Jamie:

important for the growth and sustainability of what we're

Jamie:

doing here. So if, if you do have something to say about the

Jamie:

show, and you have a moment to drop us a rating or review, we

Jamie:

do greatly appreciate it, folks. And we may just have to read it

Jamie:

on the show, to let you know how much we appreciate you. Finally,

Jamie:

today, I have an update for everyone. As folks know, Spencer

Jamie:

and I did a lil', lil' fantasy draft over on

Jamie:

fantasycritic.games, where we picked the games that we thought

Jamie:

would review the best this year. And I have a little update for

Jamie:

folks on where things stand. Spencer, how does it feel to

Jamie:

have my foot up your ass?

Spencer:

Oh, my God. [both laughing] Well, I, what's the

Spencer:

context? Hold up, because this is another thing I completely

Spencer:

forgot. [more laughing] Smooth brain. It's only Stardew Valley

Spencer:

and coffee and sleep. I'm like, Where am I? Who am I? OMG, that

Spencer:

was visceral. What's the update? [still more laughing]

Jamie:

Yeah, I'm sorry. I don't know. I'm not actually a

Jamie:

competitive person. But I do enjoy some trash talk. Like he

Jamie:

second that like someone's like really competitive, I'm like

Jamie:

"Nevermind, I yield!" and I show my belly and it's like "You can

Jamie:

win. I don't care." Yeah, so where things stand right now

Jamie:

over on fantasycritic.games. MeowMeowBeanz, which is

Jamie:

Spencer's illustrious publisher is sitting at a fat 19.1 points

Jamie:

right now. And that is off of two game releases. And that we

Jamie:

mentioned last time, which is It Takes Two and Oddworld

Jamie:

Soulstorm. However, I have had three game releases at this

Jamie:

point. And I so Monster Hunter Rise was my first one. I also

Jamie:

picked up Returnal a couple of weeks ago when I saw the

Jamie:

previews were looking good. And Resident Evil Village just came

Jamie:

out today. So the score might fluctuate a little bit. But at

Jamie:

this point, I'm sitting at 47 and a half points.

Spencer:

Okay. Oh my god, I need to go. I need to. I'm just

Spencer:

living in my own little fantasy world. You're so smart looking

Spencer:

at what's coming out and updating your thing. OMG. Have

Spencer:

you played with Returnal at all?

Jamie:

I haven't. And honestly, I'm probably not going to. That

Jamie:

game. Hard games-

Spencer:

Scary.

Jamie:

First of all, just it looks a little scary. But I'm

Jamie:

more just turned off by how punishing people are saying it

Jamie:

is. And I'm glad that folks are into that if that is what you're

Jamie:

interested in, please pursue it. I'm not-this is not me like

Jamie:

hating on anybody. But I just don't want a game that I might

Jamie:

have to put three plus hours into to just die and not really

Jamie:

get anything from it. And I've heard I've heard some folks

Jamie:

comparing it to Hades. But then in the way that they're talking

Jamie:

about it. I-look, I played Hades, I haven't played

Jamie:

Returnal, maybe it's an apt comparison. But I've also heard

Jamie:

folks saying that Returnal does not give you like progression

Jamie:

across deaths in the same way that Hades does, which I feel

Jamie:

like kind of misses the point about what made Hades so

Jamie:

special, which was that dying didn't feel like failure,

Jamie:

because it felt like you were still progressing. And I get

Jamie:

that this is like, this is a roguelike thing. Like, yeah, we

Jamie:

could talk about how roguelikes work all goddamn day to like

Jamie:

really get to the bottom of it. In general, it's not a genre

Jamie:

that appeals to me a lot as someone who like, does like to

Jamie:

feel like I'm progressing when I'm playing a game. And I know

Jamie:

progression can like manifest in a lot of different ways. But for

Jamie:

me personally like having to do the same thing over and over

Jamie:

again. Just it doesn't-Even though you are getting better at

Jamie:

the mechanics, you're getting better at the tools that you're

Jamie:

presented with, you're getting better at dodging the enemy's

Jamie:

attacks and learning the enemy's attacks. I don't like the idea

Jamie:

that I could play a game for 90 minutes, two hours, three hours,

Jamie:

get introduced to a new enemy, and not be given an opportunity

Jamie:

to really learn how that enemy works before I'm punished for

Jamie:

failing at it.

Spencer:

Ooo, I didn't think of that.

Jamie:

And it does sound like that's the thing that this game

Jamie:

does. And it's something that Hades would do to to some

Jamie:

extent, right? If you run it-when you get into that new

Jamie:

boss fight but There's still something that felt more

Jamie:

accessible about Hades than than this one. So no, I'm not, I'm

Jamie:

not gonna play Returnal, are you gonna play it?

Spencer:

I'll probably watch some streamers play it because

Spencer:

yeah, I just get really stressed out and anxious playing games

Spencer:

with a lot of shooting, and then things where there's, like

Spencer:

monsters coming for me really quickly. Like, again, like not

Spencer:

yucking anyone's yums. But I do, I do appreciate the sort of the

Spencer:

discipline that it takes to, you know, identify those patterns

Spencer:

and get into a zone where you're, like, you're really

Spencer:

immersing yourself in the game and getting better and better

Spencer:

and better. Like, I can definitely see how that's

Spencer:

rewarding. And I know there's people that get a lot out of the

Spencer:

kind of repetition of these kinds of games. I think, I tried

Spencer:

to play Control and just in the training section where I was

Spencer:

shooting my not even a real gun, but like, my mind gun, I was

Spencer:

getting stressed out. And so I just don't think I like guns,

Spencer:

but I like watching people also, I just I get so scared of

Spencer:

aliens. And so I think it's one of those times where I will just

Spencer:

watch someone else and support them from afar.

Jamie:

Yeah. There's also been, this game has triggered the

Jamie:

discourse, the capital "D" discourse, I don't know, it's

Jamie:

just it's-

Spencer:

Why what happened?

Jamie:

Well, for one thing, the game is really inaccessible.

Jamie:

Like specifically to folks who have disabilities. There's no

Jamie:

save-you can't save during a run in the game. So anyone who might

Jamie:

not be able to just sit and play for three hours straight, right?

Jamie:

You're screwed. There's no difficulty settings at all.

Jamie:

There's no way to-there's no assist mode, no way to make any

Jamie:

adjustments. And so it's, you know, it's bringing out that

Jamie:

conversation of like, developers vision versus making games

Jamie:

accessible. And I just gotta say, I'm firmly on the side of

Jamie:

like, games should be accessible. If someone wants to

Jamie:

play a game, there should be a way for them to do that. And

Jamie:

like-

Spencer:

Your quote, unquote, vision sucks if it can't be

Spencer:

played by a fuck ton of people. Like, sorry.

Jamie:

I want to be clear, I don't know enough about, like,

Jamie:

Housemarque is the developer has said, like, we see your

Jamie:

complaints, they haven't said like what they're doing, if

Jamie:

anything about it, they are not the ones though sitting here

Jamie:

saying like, this is our vision. This is this is the audience,

Jamie:

the audience comes out here. And they're like, "Some games aren't

Jamie:

made for everyone." It's a bad argument.

Spencer:

Right. Because the vision is the story you're

Spencer:

trying to tell and the emotions you're trying to evoke, and the

Spencer:

themes you're trying to explore. The vision isn't, you know, Can

Spencer:

Can someone press pause? Or can can someone hear this? Or will

Spencer:

this control trigger xx action? Like that's not the vision,

Spencer:

that's just the the technical requirements needed to bring

Spencer:

your vision to life. So if you're not thinking about the

Spencer:

technical requirements, that's not about your vision, that's

Spencer:

just you not being inclusive. I don't know. It's just-

Jamie:

Yeah, it's I think it's a, I think it's unfortunate, I

Jamie:

would love to see, I know that there are developers who are

Jamie:

paying attention to stuff like this and are moving in this

Jamie:

direction, I'd love to see Housemarque take this feedback,

Jamie:

and whether or not they're able to incorporate it into Returnal

Jamie:

specifically, or if they learn from this and they bring it into

Jamie:

the next game. Like, I feel like that's the best case scenario is

Jamie:

that this is heard and that there's learning from it. But I

Jamie:

really think people on the internet who are like, there's

Jamie:

also been a lot of shaming of folks who didn't finish the game

Jamie:

and still reviewed it. And it's just, there's, it's the it's

Jamie:

brought out that entire group of gamers who are like, you're a

Jamie:

gamer, if you play hard games, and are good at them, like just

Jamie:

that get good mentality. The game shouldn't make any

Jamie:

concessions to you as the player, you've got to be this

Jamie:

very specific type of person to be accepted as a quote unquote,

Jamie:

real gamer and I just hate it. It just sucks. I wish that that

Jamie:

side of the gaming community did not exist because it hurts all

Jamie:

of us. It hurts all of us.

Spencer:

Right. Like there's nothing wrong with turning the

Spencer:

game into sport. But games don't exist to be gauntlets through

Spencer:

which you prove whether or not you deserve to play a game like

Spencer:

like, yeah, that's a different thing. Like I don't know. I

Spencer:

don't like that.

Jamie:

I don't like it either. Yeah, I don't know. I just

Jamie:

wanted to mention it's been Yeah, it was one of those things

Jamie:

the whole week of the reviews coming out there was a lot of

Jamie:

conversation happening around it and I just I don't think we need

Jamie:

to be so exclusive in the way we provide these experiences.

Spencer:

Cool. Well, even though I'm not gonna play Returnal,

Spencer:

I-more power to everyone that is, and I think if folks want to

Spencer:

read more about what others experiences have been with the

Spencer:

game, for better or for worse, someone you should definitely

Spencer:

check out is Steve Saylor. He also goes by the name of The

Spencer:

Blind Gamer and he gives like really cool accessibility

Spencer:

reviews. He has his own opinions about Returnal so if you want

Spencer:

o learn more about what Jamie's alking about, definitely check

Spencer:

ut his Twitter, Steve Saylor nd his recent podcast

Spencer:

ppearances, because I think e's been talking a lot about

Spencer:

he game.

Jamie:

Yeah, yeah, that was he's one of the main people that I've

Jamie:

heard is, you know, liking the game a lot. But but bringing

Jamie:

some I think, valid critiques of where it misses the mark in

Jamie:

terms of its accessibility. And yeah.

Spencer:

Cool.

Jamie:

So, if you-we got on this conversation, if you recall-

Spencer:

I hope you're already cozy. [both laughing]

Jamie:

We got on this conversation topic, because we

Jamie:

were talking about our fantasy draft. And if you want to hear

Jamie:

that original fantasy draft, you can catch that on our Patreon,

Jamie:

patreon.com/pixeltherapypod. We did do the original draft back

Jamie:

in March as our Patreon bonus episode. Alright, enough of the

Jamie:

news and the noteworthies and our derailed conversation. I

Jamie:

should have known we couldn't just get through a chunk of

Jamie:

these. That's silly me, silly me. But it is now time, folks.

Jamie:

If you have not already, please get cozy.

Spencer:

You're now allowed to get cozy,

Jamie:

You're now allowed to get cozy. Before I hope, you know,

Jamie:

you were un-cozy. But now, it is okay to be cozy. To pull up your

Jamie:

arm chair, feel free to lie down on your couch. We're going to

Jamie:

talk about our feelings. Spencer, what are you playing?

Spencer:

Yeah, well, um, you know, as I've mentioned, I've

Spencer:

been kind of in this space of playing some quick, light palate

Spencer:

cleanser type games. There's this tweet, I read the other day

Spencer:

that I thought was super relevant, especially for you

Spencer:

know, the guest we're gonna introduce to you in a little

Spencer:

bit. But this tweet was from Mekaelia Davis, who works in

Spencer:

philanthropy. You can totally find her on Twitter, but she

Spencer:

writes, "Can we please stop using the language 'return to

Spencer:

work' in our planning? We have never stopped working. We were

Spencer:

not on vacation. In fact, we've been working even more. Language

Spencer:

is important. Please and thank you." And she follows up by

Spencer:

saying, "You know, this isn't just folks who have had the

Spencer:

privilege of of not having their work interrupted. There are

Spencer:

plenty of folks who even without employers have been working so

Spencer:

much harder than ever before, to care for their families to just

Spencer:

survive." Like we've all been been working constantly non

Spencer:

stop. And so, you know, I think that this, this language around

Spencer:

returning to work returning to normalcy kind of just ignores

Spencer:

the fact that like, it wasn't like there was ever this was a

Spencer:

break.

Jamie:

A nice, little vacation year for all of us.

Spencer:

Yeah. And so, you know, I've been, I think I've been

Spencer:

feeling kind of burnt out lately. And I'm trying to, like

Spencer:

now that we're all working, like so I'm someone who has a remote

Spencer:

job. So I'm basically on the computer on zoom all day long.

Spencer:

And I do find that just I don't know if it's just the repetition

Spencer:

or that everything be in the same space. But whereas I used

Spencer:

to kind of take less frequent vacations between longer spans

Spencer:

of time, I'm finding that my capacity for continued

Spencer:

uninterrupted work is like lower. And so things like

Spencer:

blocking off my Fridays to not have meetings, or maybe just

Spencer:

taking more frequent three day weekend vacations than like long

Spencer:

time vacations could be helpful. But with games, I guess, long

Spencer:

story short, I'm just I've just been tired and so I've been

Spencer:

playing some quick ones. There's a game that I'm excited to talk

Spencer:

about. And it's called Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion.

Jamie:

I love the title so perfect. I just saying yes, I

Jamie:

have not played this game at all but the title just like it warms

Jamie:

my heart.

Spencer:

I feel like it it perfectly. It's just the

Spencer:

juxtaposition is incredible. Yeah, like I feel like that

Spencer:

title just it tells you everything you need to know

Spencer:

about the game. So this developed by Snoozy Kazoo and

Spencer:

published by Graffiti Games.

Jamie:

I love that name too!

Spencer:

Snoozy Kazoo is great.

Jamie:

Snoozy Kazoo. You guys got it.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

You've figured out how to do names.

Spencer:

Yeah you've really nailed it. Can you please help

Spencer:

us rebrand? Just kidding. Let me just read their little synopsis.

Spencer:

"Take control of an adorable turnip who happens to be an

Spencer:

absolute menace to society. After failing to pay taxes and

Spencer:

getting evicted from your home You must go on an epic quest to

Spencer:

pay back your massive debt to Mayer Onion, using garden tools

Spencer:

to solve fantastic puzzles, meet eccentric vegetables and fruits,

Spencer:

and take on treacherous fights along the journey to uncover

Spencer:

what's spoiling this garden community and rise to tear down

Spencer:

the corrupt vegetable government." Oh my god. So The

Spencer:

reason I wanted to talk about this game is because I

Spencer:

definitely picked it up having little expectations like it was

Spencer:

on sale It was like $4 on the Nintendo Switch e-store. And

Spencer:

it's it Look, it's beautiful. The pixel art is-the colors are

Spencer:

very warm and inviting. It kind of has a very like it. Like

Spencer:

folks who like Stardew Valley or Littlewood, or Cozy Grove like

Spencer:

those kind of lush and inviting.

Jamie:

That's us! We like all those games.

Spencer:

Yeah. Like that kind of, you know, soothing and

Spencer:

nature filled environment like it has, it has all of that. It's

Spencer:

very, I was I was struck by how thoughtfully designed it was,

Spencer:

like the music is, is really engaging and well done. The

Spencer:

dialogue is like literally laugh out loud, funny, I don't know,

Spencer:

the last time I've I've laughed so hard playing a game that has

Spencer:

no voice acting. Like just the, it's so witty, and just has

Spencer:

these really goofy, but it's really sharp observations of

Spencer:

everything, like just our current kind of pop culture

Spencer:

moment. And just everything from streaming culture to, you know,

Spencer:

anime and manga to, you know, gentrification and kind of like

Spencer:

millennial attitudes, and just Gen Z trends and it's, but it

Spencer:

does it all with so much charm that you're never like offended.

Spencer:

You never feel made fun of it's, it's just like, we're all sort

Spencer:

of in this together. It's a it's a very self aware game. And I

Spencer:

and I also just love that it's so I think it can be sometimes

Spencer:

hard, or we talk about things like, like, just like earlier,

Spencer:

when we're reading that beautiful review about the

Spencer:

podcast, like it can be hard to balance, having a cute, fun time

Spencer:

with trying to tackle really big topics like, hey, maybe

Spencer:

landlords shouldn't be a thing? Maybe gentrification and

Spencer:

capitalism are bad? Maybe like, like, maybe we should-

Jamie:

Maybe we should start a revolution? [both laughing]

Spencer:

Yeah. [more laughing] I don't want to say too much about

Spencer:

the plot because it's, it's, it's so fun to play and it's

Spencer:

really quick to pick up. It's not a super long game. Like you

Spencer:

could beat it in like eight to 10 hours. But it has all of

Spencer:

these elements that work really well together. Like it has

Spencer:

little farming elements, it has RPG like using a bunch of

Spencer:

different tools to solve a problem or beat a boss. It has

Spencer:

surprisingly robust and entertaining combat. Like the

Spencer:

you basically you're adventuring around, you're, you know, doing

Spencer:

tasks, you're meeting vegetables, you're helping

Spencer:

people or vegetables, vegetable people. And then you're having

Spencer:

these, these boss fights to progress to the next level. And

Spencer:

it's, it's designed, like I would say that there are

Spencer:

definitely levels but it's sort of laid out like an open world.

Spencer:

So it doesn't feel like a like a platformer. It's not a

Spencer:

platformer, like you're you're able to run around freely, but

Spencer:

it has surprising depth. And the boss fights like you really have

Spencer:

to get creative. In terms of like, figuring out the tricks to

Spencer:

getting your opening and making those hits. Like it's incredibly

Spencer:

satisfying, which I was not expecting from this little

Spencer:

turnip.

Jamie:

Is it like is it hack and slash? Like how are you

Jamie:

fighting?

Spencer:

it's kind of like a bullet hell situation is kind of

Spencer:

how I'd describe it. So you have you have what's called, like you

Spencer:

have a sword that you grew out of the ground and watered so

Spencer:

it's like a wooden sword that you fight with. You also have a

Spencer:

watering can where like there's certain plants where you can

Spencer:

water them and they turn into bombs and you can kick them at

Spencer:

the enemies. They also-there's this thing it's like a potted

Spencer:

portal plant. And it's literally like the orange and blue like it

Spencer:

creates portals like from the game Portal that you can use.

Spencer:

You can place them strategically to kind of like you could either

Spencer:

like you can jump in the portal yourself to jump across the

Spencer:

screen but you could also like set them up and then like throw

Spencer:

a bomb into the portal and then it'll come out the other end and

Spencer:

and hit someone or something like you can kind of use it

Spencer:

strategically. I don't know why. It's not like the games that are

Spencer:

funny can't also be thoughtful.

Jamie:

Yeah, yeah.

Spencer:

But I was just kind of getting into it for the palate

Spencer:

cleansing aspect but I'm just delighted by all the care that's

Spencer:

been put into it and it's it's it's honestly a great time.

Jamie:

Yeah, it looks cute as hell and I think like your point

Jamie:

about it. Truly laugh out loud funny games I really don't we

Jamie:

really don't see them very often. You know, you might you

Jamie:

might hit a moment here or there that a game might give you a

Jamie:

good belly chuckle but games that are made like to be

Jamie:

comedies to be comical, I don't think happens very often. Like

Jamie:

it's pretty few and far between.

Spencer:

Mm hmm.

Jamie:

And and even then, like the ones that have have

Jamie:

happened, like I'm thinking of the South Park games which-

Jamie:

-were fine, but it's that's not necessarily my cup of

Spencer:

Right.

Spencer:

Or like WarioWare like mini games.

Spencer:

tea. So the fact that uh, yeah, they're-

Jamie:

Yep. Yep.

Spencer:

Like, it's funny, because that's, it's made to be

Spencer:

funny and to kind of like, I guess I feel like a lot of funny

Spencer:

games. It's like, Everything about it is in service of the

Spencer:

fact that it, it it's almost it's almost not apologizing for

Spencer:

itself. But it's almost as if like, oh, funny games aren't

Spencer:

like real hardcore games. It's like its own genre of like,

Spencer:

you're doing this to almost like take a break from gaming and,

Spencer:

and the game itself becomes a joke. Whereas I feel like this

Spencer:

game is sort of the self awareness and the fact that you

Spencer:

are this adorable little turnip in a vegetable world, but it's

Spencer:

but it's the things that's talking about and speaking to

Spencer:

you are very, very real. Like, it's kind of turning the whole,

Spencer:

like, the whole what is a game and why do they exist, like on

Spencer:

its head. Like, it's interesting!

Jamie:

Yeah, yeah. That's so cool. That's so cool.

Spencer:

So definitely check out Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion.

Spencer:

It's on Switch. I think it's also on Steam. Awesome game. So

Spencer:

what have you been playing?

Jamie:

Thank you for asking Spencer. I have been playing a

Jamie:

little game called Emily is Away <3. Except the three looks like

Jamie:

it's the little heart thing or like-

Spencer:

Less than three?

Jamie:

Yeah, less than three. So it looks like a little heart.

Jamie:

And I've talked about Emily is Away on the podcast before I

Jamie:

believe it was a lil' Rex at some point? It's a there's three

Jamie:

of them now. So Emily's away one, two and three. These are

Jamie:

games developed by just one person. His name is Kyle Seeley,

Jamie:

Everyone in Boston listens to our podcast.

Jamie:

independent solo Game Dev. I actually learned today that he's

Jamie:

based in the Boston area. So shout out Kyle. Thank you for

Jamie:

making these games. I really like them. He probably doesn't

Jamie:

listen to the podcast, but maybe he d

Jamie:

Everyone in Boston listens to our podcast. Yeah. For folks who

Jamie:

are missing the reference here. Spencer and I are based in the

Jamie:

Boston area. So anyway, Emily is Away <3 is a really lovely

Jamie:

little game that I spent about six hours with this week, which

Jamie:

was enough to beat it. It's not very long game. I played it on

Jamie:

my computer, officially a PC Gamer now. So hit me up. I think

Jamie:

that makes me a real gamer. Right?

Spencer:

Yeah, you're like real now.

Jamie:

If you play on PC-

Spencer:

Your card will be coming in the mail.

Jamie:

Thank you. I'm so excited. Finally vindicated.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

Dashboard Confessional.

Spencer:

[singing] I am selfish. I am wrong. I am right I swear

Spencer:

I'm right.

Jamie:

Careful. You might get a copyright strike that was so

Jamie:

spot on.

Spencer:

Anyone remember Spider Man? Tobey Maguire?

Jamie:

Spider Man 2 specifically?

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

Had that soundtrack on CD. There we go. Throwback.

Jamie:

Which speaking of throwbacks, Emily is Away is a game series

Jamie:

that is absolutely designed to be a complete throwback, this

Jamie:

game is a little bit hard to describe. Because the whole

Jamie:

format for the game is that when you open it up, it makes it look

Jamie:

like you're on a computer from a different time period. And that

Jamie:

you're engaging with-So the first two games, all of the the

Jamie:

entire game plays out over AIM chat, AOL Instant Messenger, for

Jamie:

folks who grew up in the 90s

Spencer:

By a different time period, you mean like 20 years

Spencer:

ago and not the 19th century? [both laughing]

Jamie:

I do mean, 20 years ago, but do you It feels like feels

Jamie:

like so long ago. I mean, so Okay, I'll just I'll out myself

Jamie:

a little bit here. I'm 32 years old. I you know, in the 90s I

Jamie:

was that was like when I was growing up, right? So these

Jamie:

games really have a deep nostalgia for me that I don't

Jamie:

think I can, like, remove from my enjoyment of them. So when I

Jamie:

talk about these games, like I loved this game, I love all

Jamie:

three Emily is Away games. I don't know how much of that is

Jamie:

predicated on the fact that Kyle Seeley 100% nails the feeling of

Jamie:

what it felt like to interact with these applications, when

Jamie:

you were that age. So talking specifically about Emily is Away

Jamie:

<3. So the first two games play out over a fake AOL Instant

Jamie:

Messenger application. This third game is set at the

Jamie:

beginning of Facebook, it's set in 2008. The characters in the

Jamie:

game are in their senior year of high school, I graduated from

Jamie:

high school in 2007. So it's it's this is like, really like,

Jamie:

I feel like a deep connection with like, the actual time

Jamie:

period that's on display here. And it's Yeah, it's set at that

Jamie:

very those very early days of Facebook, in the game, they call

Jamie:

it Facenook. But basically, when you boot up the game, your

Jamie:

screen looks like your Facebook profile. And then when you play

Jamie:

the game, the way the game plays out, is that you're getting

Jamie:

Facebook Messenger chats from your friends. And it pops up in

Jamie:

the little box just like it would. And like they've nailed

Jamie:

the sound design, like it sounds exactly like Facebook sounded.

Jamie:

And they even like he even goes so far as to like when the game

Jamie:

is like loading initially, it like sounds like an old computer

Jamie:

booting up,

Spencer:

Oh, wow, and immersion.

Jamie:

And the dial up sounds of the internet and connecting to

Jamie:

the internet. And then yeah, you get the little little pop noise

Jamie:

of the chat coming through. And your friends will say something

Jamie:

to you. And on the screen. in the chat box, you'll have 1, 2,

Jamie:

and 3. Three options of how to respond. And the text that you

Jamie:

can see, it's kind of just a sense of what the response is

Jamie:

going to be, it's not the full response that you're going to

Jamie:

have. But it's enough that it gives you a sense of the color

Jamie:

of that response, you have to press on your keyboard, one,

Jamie:

two, or three, based on what you want to say. And then after you

Jamie:

hit that button, you then have to pretend type on your keyboard

Jamie:

and, and the text of what you've chosen to respond with appears

Jamie:

in the box. So it literally it like corresponds with your

Jamie:

keystrokes. So it literally like it puts you completely you're

Jamie:

like it's the most immersion I think I've ever felt with a

Jamie:

video game experience. Because the way I'm interacting with it

Jamie:

feels like I'm I'm really truly participating in this narrative,

Spencer:

Yeah the typing is really interesting as a function

Spencer:

of really, like I'm used to, you know, you select your direction

Spencer:

of dialogue or your or your literal dialogue option. And

Spencer:

then you see that portrayed.

Jamie:

Yeah, that's the end of your engagement.

Spencer:

Yeah, the act of then actually having to craft it

Spencer:

yourself is really cool.

Jamie:

It's like the equivalent of like, if a game could both

Jamie:

let you choose your dialogue, and then force you to speak it.

Jamie:

But they've actually been able to do that, like you're both

Jamie:

picking what you want to say. And then you're, it's forcing

Jamie:

you to quote unquote, speak and it's forcing you to forcing you

Jamie:

to input that into the thing. Now granted, I'm not typing out

Jamie:

exactly what the character is saying. But I'm still having to

Jamie:

get the text to appear on the screen in a manner that feels

Jamie:

like I'm actually doing it. So all this is to say is that like,

Jamie:

yeah, these these games are hella immersive. And I just, I

Jamie:

literally just, I spent probably four of the six hours that I

Jamie:

played just grinning ear to ear at my screen, because it's just

Jamie:

so immersive. Like, it made me feel like I was 17 again, in

Jamie:

Facebook, like having these chats with my friends.

Spencer:

Back when engaging with social media and the internet

Spencer:

felt somewhat innocent.

Jamie:

Well, yeah, so this is exactly my point, right? Like I

Jamie:

was trying to figure out like, so I love the hell out of the

Jamie:

game. I think people should go play it, I think especially if

Jamie:

you're kind of in this age group, if you interacted with

Jamie:

Facebook, when it was young, and you have these memories of being

Jamie:

on there and chatting with your friends and, and having these

Jamie:

these tense interactions where it feels like you're baring your

Jamie:

soul.

Spencer:

Risky text, risky text!

Jamie:

Right? Like and it's like you don't know, like you're

Jamie:

trying to feel out like Do they like me? Do they not like me?

Jamie:

And you know, where do we stand? Like, how do I seem cool, but

Jamie:

still available? Like how do I tell this person I like them

Jamie:

without telling them that I like them? They do the fucking notes.

Jamie:

The notes? Do you remember Facebook notes?

Spencer:

Oh, wow. Wow. Yeah, nostaligia hit.

Jamie:

Yeah. So you get to do a Facebook note. There's one of

Jamie:

the you know, the girl-So the way the game plays out is that

Jamie:

and actually I in this game like it you create your, your

Jamie:

Facebook profile to start and and all the characters are

Jamie:

represented, rather than having like detailed pictures of each

Jamie:

of the characters. It's it's kind of just a pixelated

Jamie:

silhouette, silhouette of the character. And that's-and each

Jamie:

character is represented by a different color. So you pick

Jamie:

your own silhouette, and you can there's no gender attached to

Jamie:

the silhouettes they just have like, it was like six or seven

Jamie:

different ones that kind of look like different haircuts, and you

Jamie:

pick the one that you want. So I thought that was interesting.

Jamie:

There was kind of there was no sort of choice in that in the

Jamie:

previous games. It is I do think it's a limited narrative. I

Jamie:

think, you know, people who want to critique this game for it

Jamie:

being a small narrative limited. Yeah, you're probably Right,

Jamie:

like you're going into this game, it's essentially a teen

Jamie:

drama where your character can choose to romance one of two

Jamie:

girls, two young women in the game, there's Evelyn. And

Jamie:

there's Emily. And they're both a little bit stereotyped. It's a

Jamie:

little bit cliche. But at the same time, it's like they're

Jamie:

stereotypes in the way that they are people that I knew.

Spencer:

Right.

Jamie:

Like, Evelyn is the one who like drinks a little too

Jamie:

much parties a little too hard. She likes punk music. She

Jamie:

smokes. Like I knew people like that, like, Yes. Is it, Is it a

Jamie:

high school cliche? Absolutely. But like, I knew that person.

Spencer:

Right.

Jamie:

And like Emily's a bit more straight laced, she's into

Jamie:

indie rock. She does her homework on time. You know, I

Jamie:

don't know, these are people that I knew. So you kind of

Jamie:

you're in the because the dialogue is so well written. It

Jamie:

feels so real, it feels so authentic to like how we

Jamie:

actually communicated at that age. And on those platforms. It

Jamie:

just, it just sucks you in. It's, you know, my partner came

Jamie:

back here and knocked on the knock on the door to the studio

Jamie:

the first night I was in here playing it. And he was like, "uh

Jamie:

it's time to go to bed." And I was like, I'm trying to ask my

Jamie:

girlfriend to prom. I can't go to bed right now I've got to

Jamie:

find out if she's gonna go to prom with me. So-

Spencer:

High stakes.

Jamie:

It is! It's high stakes. But yeah, I think kind of the

Jamie:

point you're making earlier about, like, when social media

Jamie:

felt more innocent, refreshing, I don't know, there's something

Jamie:

about this, that it really did remind me of what social media

Jamie:

and chat platforms how they used to feel like, it used to feel

Jamie:

like a place that you could try to find connection with someone

Jamie:

in a way that you couldn't do in person, because of all of you

Jamie:

know, as someone who has so much anxiety and like always has and

Jamie:

like is so introverted, like connecting with people IRL has

Jamie:

always felt so challenging, like I never know how to be or how to

Jamie:

hold myself or how to stand or, and then I think that's all just

Jamie:

exacerbated at the that age, when you're preteen, teenager,

Jamie:

you just feel so awkward and uncomfortable in your own skin.

Jamie:

And something about like being able to do that on the other

Jamie:

side of a computer screen, there was a level of intimacy I

Jamie:

remember achieving with my friendships, that was not

Jamie:

possible in person, like things we never would have said to each

Jamie:

other, if we were sitting face to face could be said through

Jamie:

the chat box because it felt like some, it both allowed you

Jamie:

to be vulnerable and felt safer at the same time. And that's

Jamie:

that was really, it was really special moment. It's like such

Jamie:

an I don't know if kids today get that in the same way because

Jamie:

of what social media has become. And also, I feel like,

Jamie:

especially now after a year of like living through this

Jamie:

pandemic, and living my entire life through screens and text

Jamie:

boxes, and only interacting people in this with people in

Jamie:

this way. Like I feel so burned out on it, I hate it so much.

Jamie:

And something about playing this game just like reminded me that

Jamie:

it that it used to feel special that there that there used to be

Jamie:

like a promise in it or a possibility of connection in

Jamie:

that that I don't feel when I engage with social media

Jamie:

anymore. And so it it ended up being like a really special and

Jamie:

refreshing little experience to have this week. It's $10 on

Jamie:

Steam. I think people should check this game out. You can run

Jamie:

it on a toaster. Yeah, yeah, I think people should check it

Jamie:

out. Especially if you're from that age group. It just yeah,

Jamie:

that's a really nice little way to spend a few hours this week

Jamie:

and remember how these platforms used to feel a lot less draining

Jamie:

and a lot more exciting.

Spencer:

That sounds so incredible. And what you said

Spencer:

about the possibilities really resonated, I think I know

Spencer:

something about social media today, it feels very

Spencer:

performative. Like you feel very pressured into presenting a

Spencer:

certain curated picture into your life, like it's very much

Spencer:

about others looking in and seeing something that you have

Spencer:

very intentionally crafted. Whereas I feel like back then,

Spencer:

like you said, it was it was just about connection, just

Spencer:

about sending out a line of text and, and getting something back.

Spencer:

Something that you could never say in the light of day. And

Spencer:

like, I think too, we were so we could be versions of ourselves

Spencer:

that we couldn't really be IRL, even down to like, I think back

Spencer:

then, like there was such an emphasis on profile pictures

Spencer:

that were, you know, drawings or photos of nonhumans or like

Spencer:

names like screen names that you could craft and like it was just

Spencer:

There was a playfulness there. It feels like we take social

Spencer:

media a lot more seriously now in a lot of ways.

Jamie:

Well, I mean, it's how much like-employers look at your

Jamie:

social media now. Right? Like it you're, yeah, I think you're

Jamie:

kind of you're you're definitely hitting on it's like there. At

Jamie:

that time, it was much more a place to experiment and explore.

Jamie:

And I think now, your social media has to be the most

Jamie:

polished and like consumable view of yourself, because it's

Jamie:

like an advertisement for who you are in real life. And if

Jamie:

those things don't-Now, obviously, speaking broadly,

Jamie:

lots of people get on social media and are anonymous, but

Jamie:

then they seem to just like to be fucking assholes. It's like,

Jamie:

I don't know, there was something really special

Jamie:

about-It wasn't, you weren't being anonymous, you were just

Jamie:

like, you were just playing with your identity in a way that felt

Jamie:

really free. And like, Facebook's trash man the whole

Jamie:

time. They were-

Spencer:

Of course.

Jamie:

siphoning all that information and being awful.

Jamie:

And,

Spencer:

I mean, it was an app invented so that dids could like

Spencer:

flip through all the women on Harvard's campus. So like, no

Spencer:

need to romanticize its origins.

Jamie:

Yeah. This is not me, like defending Facebook or,

Jamie:

like, even it's it's really just me talking about like, what what

Jamie:

was special, what was special about Emily is Away. And what I

Jamie:

remembered was special about that time, when the internet

Jamie:

felt so much more full of possibilities than then I think

Jamie:

it it does today. And I don't know, the possibilities are

Jamie:

still out there I think if you look for them, I think maybe I'm

Jamie:

being a little cynical, but I too have just felt so exhausted

Jamie:

by social media lately.

Spencer:

There's a lot more risk today to the sort of becoming

Spencer:

that you would sort of be going through as you're growing up,

Spencer:

like we did in those sort of chat rooms and spaces. Like if

Spencer:

people saw the embarrassing things you said, or the, you

Spencer:

know, the the ways, because there'll be shitty to each

Spencer:

other, like, like, there's just there's no room for error in

Spencer:

today's social media. And I'm not saying that people, there

Spencer:

aren't people out there who deserve to be called out, held

Spencer:

accountable, canceled, etc. That's not at all what I'm

Spencer:

saying. But there's still like, in order to learn, you have to

Spencer:

fail and and to grow, you have to be uncomfortable. And I think

Spencer:

a lot of people try to be they spend so much time curating and

Spencer:

thinking through and, and planning how they're going to be

Spencer:

coming across that there's just very little space to fail or to

Spencer:

accept others who fail.

Jamie:

Yeah, yep. I agree with that. 100% modern social media

Jamie:

feels like there's a there's an invisible scorecard somewhere.

Jamie:

And someone's tallying the points.

Spencer:

Mark Zuckerberg.

Jamie:

His face just like popped into my head and all I can do is

Jamie:

like laugh or puke.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

Well I think we'll go ahead and transition over to our

Jamie:

guest for today. But yeah, you should you should all go check

Jamie:

out Emily is Away. Throw Kyle Seeley some $10.

Spencer:

Feel something.

Jamie:

Yeah, go feel something, man. But anyway, this week,

Jamie:

we're chatting with Dr. Devon Price, social psychologist and

Jamie:

author of the book Laziness Does Not Exist, which is a

Jamie:

fascinating and thorough examination of what Devon calls

Jamie:

the laziness lie, which falsely tells us we are not working or

Jamie:

learning hard enough. Laziness Does Not Exist is filled with

Jamie:

practical and accessible advice for overcoming society's

Jamie:

pressure to do more. We spoke with Devon in depth about the

Jamie:

laziness lie, how the focus on productivity in our culture

Jamie:

functions as a tool of white supremacy, and how playing video

Jamie:

games just might be a bigger help than you may think.

Spencer:

God, this interview really goes everywhere. It goes

Spencer:

all the places

Jamie:

it does. Yeah, it was one of those conversations that was

Jamie:

just it was electric from start to finish. And we're so excited

Spencer:

And I did it in the closet.

Spencer:

to be-

Jamie:

Yeah, Spencer hard to start the interview by being

Jamie:

like, "lol, I'm in the closet and my cat is-"

Spencer:

Scratching down the door.

Jamie:

"-scratching at the door." You know, podcaster woes.

Jamie:

Anyway, we loved talking to Dr. Devon Price, I hope that you

Jamie:

will enjoy listening to the conversation we had with them.

Jamie:

So without further ado, here is our interview with them. [music

Jamie:

break]

Spencer:

Hello to our wonderful guest and thank you so much for

Spencer:

joining us in the virtual Pixel Therapy studio. To start, would

Spencer:

you mind letting us know your name and pronouns?

Devon:

Yeah, my name is Devon Price and my pronouns are they,

Devon:

them.

Spencer:

Thank you so much, Devon for being here. Devon, how

Spencer:

do you spend your time?

Devon:

I do love that that's the question instead of like, what

Devon:

my what my job is, but right now, I've mostly been. I'm a

Devon:

psychologist, and I'm autistic. So right now, I've been working

Devon:

on a book about autism lately, it's been the thing taking up a

Devon:

lot of my time, I just finished my first draft of that. So I've

Devon:

been walking around outside a lot and putting off prepping for

Devon:

the psychology classes I'm teaching over the summer. So I'm

Devon:

in this, this balance of writing, psychology, trying to

Devon:

be a hedonist as soon as it's possible to socialize again.

Devon:

Those are the things that are, that are in my mind, and in my

Devon:

life right now.

Spencer:

Oh my god, when you say that, just put it like counting

Spencer:

down the days until we can be hedonists again, like, it just

Spencer:

makes me think about, I don't know if this resonates with you,

Spencer:

but I feel like I've been talking with a bunch of trans

Spencer:

people about how, like, in quarantine, and this, this space

Spencer:

where we've been so separate from any sort of queer community

Spencer:

that was physical, like so much of queer community before the

Spencer:

quarantine, like I, everything would be like a parade, or a

Spencer:

party or a dungeon party, or, like, just everything was, there

Spencer:

was a lot of places where it was our physical presence was very

Spencer:

important to the, to the sharing of space. And so also just the

Spencer:

fact that we're no longer seen in the same way that we used to

Spencer:

be, like, I found that a lot of my rules around like how I

Spencer:

present as trans-I've relaxed a lot of them and, and I, I may

Spencer:

have even gone through some period of not being sure what my

Spencer:

identity was when I was no longer defining it in relation

Spencer:

to how acceptable I was to cis people. And so that's just been

Spencer:

a thing, I don't know. I just said a lot of things. Does that

Spencer:

resonate at all?

Devon:

There's Yeah, there's so many layers to like how

Devon:

quarantine affects you as a it's like, so the first point that

Devon:

you're speaking to, like, right now, I feel like we're all

Devon:

online. And so we have the worst parts of the queer community,

Devon:

the worst elements of like, people being very anxious and

Devon:

traumatized and re traumatizing each other, without any of the

Devon:

good, joyous parts of like, getting to like, you know, go to

Devon:

a bathhouse or something. So it's just like having

Devon:

celebratory moments, and getting to show off your outfits, I

Devon:

really miss all of those things being a part of people's lives.

Devon:

And also it is such a trip, like I am one of the few people who I

Devon:

was getting, once I started having to wear a mask outside,

Devon:

like I would get gendered correctly more often, which I've

Devon:

heard the opposite, particularly from a lot of trans masculine

Devon:

people that they start getting, she/her-ed more often. But I had

Devon:

the opposite experience. So in some ways, it's been cool. And

Devon:

you know, I haven't had to put on my like, respectful reading

Devon:

as the gender I want to be read as at work, drag, that's kind of

Devon:

not the real, you know, it's it's the easy to parse version

Devon:

of who I am. So being free of that is huge. It's just been a

Devon:

real trip. It's just like, we're in our heads so much and like

Devon:

having these big moments of introspection, which has been

Devon:

great, and it's also been hell.

Spencer:

A lot.

Devon:

Yeah.

Spencer:

It's funny, like with the mask thing, it just made me

Spencer:

think, like, my partner and I are both, I guess technically

Spencer:

trans guys, I don't even I don't even know what I am anymore. I'm

Spencer:

on I, I take testosterone and I'm, I'm gender queer. Let's

Spencer:

leave it at that.

Devon:

Mood.

Spencer:

Because before the pandemic before masking, I feel

Spencer:

like when he and I were out and about and seeing together, I

Spencer:

think he presents very masculine like, even the way he carries

Spencer:

himself, like I've always been kind of, like some people are

Spencer:

just born. And they are like, I don't know, I don't want to say

Spencer:

this in a way that would invalidate anyone's gender

Spencer:

identity. But everything about him just exudes boyishness like

Spencer:

down to the way he carries himself and his voice. And even

Spencer:

before he was ever on T, people would think that he was a cis

Spencer:

man, just by mistake. Not that there's any way to look cis,

Spencer:

necessarily, but that's just a thing that happened. But in the

Spencer:

past, people would read us as a gay couple, gay, gay masculine

Spencer:

couple. Cuz I have facial hair. And I don't know, when I was

Spencer:

binding and stuff, that was a thing. But now that we're in

Spencer:

masks, anytime anyone glances at us, they just assume that I'm a

Spencer:

woman, and he's a guy. And it totally made me think like, I

Spencer:

don't know, like, what is it about me? Like, these gendered

Spencer:

habits are so deeply ingrained in our society. And so we could

Spencer:

talk for an hour about gender. But let me just take a quick

Spencer:

conversational left turn. [all laughing] The reason we brought

Spencer:

you here with us today, Devon is, as you mentioned, your

Spencer:

writing-so prolific! You're working on a new book, but you

Spencer:

actually wrote another book that's really freaking awesome.

Spencer:

It's called Laziness Does Not Exist. And in this book you,

Spencer:

Devon really like debunks and illuminates how this fear of

Spencer:

being perceived as lazy and our avoidance of, of laziness, is so

Spencer:

destructive to our health, to our well being. And it even

Spencer:

affects the way we see other people and kind of poisons that

Spencer:

too. I feel like I've seen this book all over the place lately,

Spencer:

people are really, really resonating with it and being

Spencer:

like, Oh my god, this is like all the things that I never had

Spencer:

the words for. Thank you for writing this book. Just because

Spencer:

the book is about how pervasive this laziness lie is in our

Spencer:

society, like how does that feel hearing all of this praise and

Spencer:

how amazing it's been for people to read the book?

Devon:

Yeah, so there's this phrase that I encountered on a

Devon:

blog, and that was for adults who were estranged from their

Devon:

families that kind of went viral a few years ago. And that author

Devon:

describes themselves as sad-proud of like, Oh I'm

Devon:

connecting with all of these people. And so many people get

Devon:

this pain of having to go no contact with your family. And

Devon:

it's, I'm really proud of that, but I'm really sad that it's

Devon:

even needed. So it definitely feels very sad-proud to realize,

Devon:

okay, yeah, this problem is really huge. Everybody feels

Devon:

like they're lazy or not doing enough. Everybody is pointing

Devon:

that same laser of judgment at everybody else. And people need

Devon:

to hear this. And it's, it's kind of harrowing to me how

Devon:

often people need to hear it, because even the same people

Devon:

will react will respond to me saying laziness doesn't exist in

Devon:

whatever way multiple times. Because you have to hear it so

Devon:

many times because it's so ingrained in us. So that's like,

Devon:

Oh, God, is the work ever going to end kind of a feeling

Devon:

sometimes.

Spencer:

Yeah. And and Devon, what is the problem? What is the

Spencer:

laziness lie?

Devon:

Yeah, so the laziness lie is my kind of handy term for a

Devon:

bunch of implicit beliefs that are really deeply embedded in

Devon:

our culture, and really deeply embedded in our history, about

Devon:

the value of productivity, and that being how people's worth is

Devon:

defined. So I break it down as having kind of three core

Devon:

tenants, that your worth is defined by your productivity,

Devon:

that you can't trust any needs or limitations that you feel

Devon:

inside of yourself. Because those are really just barriers

Devon:

to your productivity. And then the third tenet of the laziness

Devon:

lie is that there's always more that you could be doing. So even

Devon:

if you are just really working yourself to the bone in one area

Devon:

of life, you can feel bad about the fact you're not doing enough

Devon:

activism, or you're not showing up for your friends emotionally

Devon:

enough, or your house is a mess. Like, there's just an unending

Devon:

litany of things to feel inadequate about, and we can't

Devon:

ever really win, if that's how we define our lives.

Spencer:

And when we talk about laziness, like what are some

Spencer:

ways that we can sort of reframe our understanding of it?

Devon:

Yeah, so the first thing, I think, is just learning to

Devon:

kind of observe and describe how you feel and how you spend your

Devon:

time with a spirit of observation. And this is data.

Devon:

This is not something I'm going to judge as this is wrong, that

Devon:

I'm spending my time this way, or that I need this many hours

Devon:

of sleep, or video gaming, or whatever it is just noticing

Devon:

your habits and going, Okay, this is how I actually live my

Devon:

life, I might set out to do you know, 20 things on my to do list

Devon:

every day. And I never hit that number. Instead of beating

Devon:

myself up for it. Why can't I look at Okay, I only tackle

Devon:

about five things on the to do list per day. Maybe that's what

Devon:

my to do list should look like four or five things. And that's

Devon:

kind of a simplified version of it, but really just looking at

Devon:

when do I feel tired? When do I feel cranky? What times of day

Devon:

is it hard for me to pay attention. And instead of seeing

Devon:

that as a problem to solve by drinking more coffee or beating

Devon:

yourself up over it just going, Okay, I need a break. I'm tired.

Devon:

I'm not focusing. Let's go do something else.

Spencer:

That's so real. Like what you're speaking to earlier

Spencer:

of this fact that no matter what we can never win, because it's

Spencer:

like, if you take the time to take care of yourself, then

Spencer:

you're neglecting your friends or you're not working as hard as

Spencer:

you could if you spend too much time on work, then you're not

Spencer:

taking any time for yourself or, again, your friendships suffer.

Spencer:

I think it's hard to focus on the like just because of

Spencer:

quarantine and stuff we've been so isolated. So maybe the

Spencer:

personal time can also start to feel like work because at least

Spencer:

for me, like with everything being on zoom, zoom just feels

Spencer:

like a hell portal where that sucks all my energy and so I

Spencer:

don't want to be with my friends on zoom. I want to be off of the

Spencer:

computer and I can't do that. So I think that's just just really

Spencer:

relatable is when you step back and look at it like We keep

Spencer:

telling ourselves just try this and it'll it'll fix things,

Spencer:

you'll have the balance. When really the system's designed to

Spencer:

never let you get that balance.

Devon:

Yeah, yeah, self care is a total like sham like, like,

Devon:

yes, it's true that we do need to do things to take care of

Devon:

ourselves. And, you know, develop skills, even if

Devon:

sometimes it's like sneakily finding ways to get the time

Devon:

that you need, like, you know, to-or finding the tools to

Devon:

advocate for yourself, but like, it's not going to fix the

Devon:

structural problem that we're all working more and more for

Devon:

less and less, historically speaking. And, and that's also a

Devon:

big tension in my work, like, how do I give people practical

Devon:

advice, while also saying, hey, if you find that you, there's

Devon:

nothing that you can do. That you're doing your best to try

Devon:

and navigate this stuff, like, you're not a failure for still

Devon:

being exhausted, because it's set up that way. [music break]

Spencer:

Something I really liked is that there's also

Spencer:

multiple Mad Men references in the book. Specifically, you

Spencer:

quote how Matt Weiner, who's the creator of Mad Men. He once said

Spencer:

that the show was about, quote, unquote, becoming white. And I

Spencer:

thought maybe Devon, would you mind taking a minute to kind of

Spencer:

explain that phrase, like, what does it mean to become white?

Devon:

Yeah, so so whiteness, of course, is a social construct.

Devon:

It's this kind of big idea of like, the neutral default state

Devon:

of being that absorbs more and more groups of people over time,

Devon:

because of their proximity to privilege, right. So like, the

Devon:

most famous example of that is that Italian people weren't

Devon:

always considered white, they certainly didn't have the same

Devon:

level of oppression as lots of other like darker skinned people

Devon:

in the US. But there was kind of this idea of like, you deviate

Devon:

from the norm of the people who colonized this country in enough

Devon:

ways, both visibly, and culturally, that we see you as

Devon:

other and lesser to some extent. But so like, whiteness is just

Devon:

kind of this idea of kind of the monolithic, you know, occupying

Devon:

force. And, and anyone who kind of deviates from this image of

Devon:

not only like, conforming to a certain kind of European

Devon:

culture, that's pretty narrow, but also being having a level of

Devon:

status where you're not presenting like an inconvenience

Devon:

to anyone else, or kind of violating the culture's rules,

Devon:

those kinds of things are like seen as kind of like deviating

Devon:

from whiteness. So, so in Mad Men, Don Draper, obviously like,

Devon:

is a white man, but he's a, he's from a hillbilly family. And for

Devon:

a really long time, in American culture and history, we've had

Devon:

this image of quote unquote, white trash or quote unquote,

Devon:

hillbillies, as people who are white, but because they're poor,

Devon:

and because they are in multi generational homes, and their

Devon:

cultural practices are a little bit different, that they are

Devon:

like a betrayal of whiteness, they're like an embarrassment to

Devon:

whiteness, if that makes any sense. In Mad Men, Don Draper

Devon:

kind of learns to hide where he's from, he has to change his

Devon:

name. These are all you know, decades old spoilers, and take

Devon:

on a new identity and create and hide all also all of the kind of

Devon:

like abuse and trauma that came from his life growing up in

Devon:

poverty as well to make himself into this like sanitized man in

Devon:

the gray suit, very poised, no emotions, no needs, you know, he

Devon:

becomes less and less of a human being. And that's really what it

Devon:

is to become white. So even though it is a little tricky,

Devon:

like I don't ever want to, like give the implication that like,

Devon:

you know, coming from like a hillbilly family that is, you

Devon:

know, mostly white passing through several generations at

Devon:

this point, like, yes, people in that situation are white, and

Devon:

they do have white privilege, but the whole fact that we have

Devon:

this concept of whiteness is used to like destroy cultures,

Devon:

and, and sanitize and silence. If that makes any sense.

Spencer:

Yeah, thank you. And there was a passage around this

Spencer:

chapter of the book where you write: "The laziness lie

Spencer:

encourages people to conform for the sake of succeeding at work.

Spencer:

We're rewarded when we choose to become white in our

Spencer:

presentation, professionalism and work habits. From a young

Spencer:

age we're taught to admire women writers who had to take male pen

Spencer:

names in order to be published, and to celebrate the black

Spencer:

inventors and scholars who had to work twice as hard as their

Spencer:

white peers for a fraction of the money and acclaim. The

Spencer:

people who resist the world's bigotry are branded as lazy

Spencer:

complainers who don't have what it takes to succeed. The more a

Spencer:

person can buff out all their rough edges, becoming as smooth

Spencer:

and featureless and normal seeming as possible, the more

Spencer:

they and everyone around them can ignore systemic problems and

Spencer:

focus on being productive." Which backs again to this whole

Spencer:

laziness myth. This passage, it-and I think you speak on it

Spencer:

specifically later in the chapter. Just for folks who-you

Spencer:

should read this book, just read this book. But it just it really

Spencer:

resonated with me as a trans person who has often been told

Spencer:

that my presence in a corporate environment is distracting,

Spencer:

which is something that you speak on as well. Like, for me,

Spencer:

I think as a younger person, and as someone pre before coming out

Spencer:

and transitioning, which I had to do publicly because of being

Spencer:

an office. I really thrived-I really thought that I thrived in

Spencer:

corporate environments. I saw work as a place that had very

Spencer:

clearly defined rules. And if I followed those rules, I could

Spencer:

get ahead didn't matter that I was mixed race, didn't matter

Spencer:

that I was queer, it didn't matter what my background was. I

Spencer:

thought that if I came in and followed the rules, I would be

Spencer:

okay. After I came out, I realized that those rules

Spencer:

weren't there to equalize the playing field, they were there

Spencer:

to make sure that only certain types of people got ahead. I did

Spencer:

nothing else than just existing in my body. But my body became

Spencer:

more and more threatening to people, the less and less, it

Spencer:

looked like what people expected to see from someone of a certain

Spencer:

gender. And it just completely shattered everything that I had

Spencer:

believed about the work environment, like every year

Spencer:

would pass, and I would see more and more of my trans colleagues

Spencer:

having to take leaves of absence having to leave the corporate

Spencer:

world to take a job that was not as stressful, having to take

Spencer:

medical, like, Who knows when they're coming back to work? And

Spencer:

every time that happened, I thought, Oh, you know, that

Spencer:

won't happen to me, because I was feeding into this laziness

Spencer:

lie that it was must have been something, you know, that I

Spencer:

don't know what it was. But then it got to the point where it was

Spencer:

happening to me, I could not keep going. And I just think

Spencer:

that people don't necessarily think about how all of these

Spencer:

aggressions and oppressive actions, and even the ways that

Spencer:

to ourselves and each other, that we tear each other down or

Spencer:

separate ourselves from each other. Because of these tenets

Spencer:

of, of laziness that we've internalized so deeply, like it

Spencer:

really fucks you up. So [chuckles]

Devon:

Yeah, and it makes you so easy to exploit, right? Like the

Devon:

whole promise that like if you just work hard enough, that will

Devon:

make up for how bigoted the world is against you.

Spencer:

Right.

Devon:

That it's possible to do everything right. It makes you

Devon:

so compliant and exhausted and apologetic, and it just worsens

Devon:

all of the problems and injustices ultimately.

Spencer:

100%. So Devon, what does it look like when we stop

Spencer:

pressuring ourselves so much to be this quote, unquote, normal

Spencer:

seeming? Like, who can we be when we stop measuring

Spencer:

everything we do in comparison to the laziness lie? I was

Spencer:

curious, like, in your own experience, how you've seen that

Spencer:

kind of unlearning process manifest in positive ways.

Devon:

Yeah, so for me, it's a lot of saying no. It's a lot of

Devon:

saying like, what's your budget for this? It's a lot of like,

Devon:

being at a meeting and being like, why are we here? Do

Devon:

we-does this need to be a meeting? Do we need to be doing

Devon:

this? Is this a realistic goal? And I know that like, because

Devon:

I'm a professor, I'm able to, like, be really candid about a

Devon:

lot of these things. And I have flexibility over my job, and my

Devon:

commitments, professionally and otherwise in a way that most

Devon:

people don't. So I always do want to highlight that. I think,

Devon:

in certain professions and fields we do get it really

Devon:

drilled into us that we're not allowed to say, No, or to ask

Devon:

questions, when actually, if we do take that step, it frees up

Devon:

everyone around us to do the same. So I do kind of encourage

Devon:

people to like question like, Can you say no? Can you question

Devon:

things? Can you say, Well, I spent this many hours on this

Devon:

thing that I'm not getting credit for, in any way, it's not

Devon:

part of how my job is evaluated. So can we like restructure

Devon:

things here? Because I think it does get really drilled into us

Devon:

to be passive, compliant, agreeable, and to not be

Devon:

difficult. And when we are more, quote, unquote, difficult, it

Devon:

helps everyone around us by re establishing like a new culture

Devon:

where it's okay to do that. But at the same time, again,

Devon:

incredibly privileged thing to have that, you know, to not have

Devon:

firing hanging over my head for things like that. So I think,

Devon:

you know, some of the other forms that takes for me outside

Devon:

of the workplace are still similar things, you know, being

Devon:

okay, disappointing, a family member or a friend, turning off

Devon:

all of my notifications on everything, and just like

Devon:

cultivating relationships where, you know, like, I might send you

Devon:

20 texts in a row when I'm really excited about something

Devon:

and you might do the same to me, and then sometimes we might not

Devon:

talk for a week or two, and that's fine. You know, like

Devon:

really developing those relationships where you can say,

Devon:

No, I don't feel like it. I don't like this. I'm

Devon:

uncomfortable. I can't commit to this, you know, and, and getting

Devon:

tolerant of the like distress that comes from saying no, when

Devon:

you're so used to compulsively being a people pleaser and

Devon:

saying yes all the time.

Spencer:

Does it get any easier to say No? [laughing]

Devon:

It does. And it doesn't like there's some things where I

Devon:

am very, very confident in it now professionally because I

Devon:

know I can get away with it. And with certain friends who have

Devon:

proven time and time again, they're not going to be assholes

Devon:

to me if I say no to something. But there are still things where

Devon:

I have to, like, let my tears be the thing that speaks for me,

Devon:

because I'm not really willing to hear my own No, that's like

Devon:

screaming inside of me, sometimes for just like, really

Devon:

silly things. Like I was watching this show with my

Devon:

partner that like, there was a character in it that was like,

Devon:

basically a drag King, but it kind of hit in a very

Devon:

transphobic way to me, and I felt stupid for being offended.

Devon:

And so it's like, he could tell I was upset. And I was like,

Devon:

he's like, you want me to stop the show? And I was like, No,

Devon:

it's fine. You know, like, wanting to be cool and not

Devon:

difficult. But then I started crying. And that was such a good

Devon:

thing. You know, like, our emotions protect us. And so I

Devon:

think that's a big part of it. Sometimes. Sometimes, the way

Devon:

that we stand up for ourselves is really messy. And it looks

Devon:

like crying in the middle of a show you don't want to watch

Devon:

because you're embarrassed. Like, I think that's like

Devon:

equally, like, that's really important to do, too.

Spencer:

Yeah, your body's like, I've got you. Validating you.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Devon:

Yeah, my body was like, okay, you're, if you're not

Devon:

going to protect us, I'm going to protect us, bitch. [all

Devon:

laughing]

Spencer:

Turn off the show! [more laughing] [music break]

Spencer:

Bringing it back to gaming, I just thought it was-I really

Spencer:

wanted to bring you on the show because I feel like by and large

Spencer:

to people who don't understand them, video games are seen as a

Spencer:

huge red flag of laziness and a total waste of time. In your

Spencer:

book you write, like, literally that wasting time is a basic

Spencer:

human need. And it's one of the keys to start building a

Spencer:

healthy, happy life. I was wondering if you could take a

Spencer:

minute to say more about what it means to waste time and why

Devon:

Yeah, so we treat ourselves like we're like

Devon:

that's important.

Devon:

objects. We like self objectify in these horrible ways where we

Devon:

see our minds and our bodies as just a means to an end. How am I

Devon:

going to earn money, learn a new skill that's going to be

Devon:

valuable to an employer or somebody else? How can I make my

Devon:

needs smaller and smaller, and my own desires smaller and

Devon:

smaller, so that I can like maximize my productive capacity?

Devon:

And it's all for other people. It's not for us. And, and our

Devon:

brains and bodies really can t ll the difference between s

Devon:

mething that we're doing be ause we feel like we have to, or

Devon:

that we're doing out of a se se of, you know, economic co

Devon:

rcion, or just fear about the fu ure, versus when we're just sa

Devon:

ing, Okay, I'm doing this be ause it's playful, it's jo

Devon:

ful to me. It has no goal. And and throwing time and att

Devon:

ntion into things that are quo e, unquote, wastes of time is re

Devon:

lly, really restorative. And ev n more important than that, be

Devon:

ause this isn't all about li e, restoring your capacity to go

Devon:

back and be productive again. It s just part of what makes li

Devon:

e pleasurable. You know, li e, when we look back on our li

Devon:

es and think about the things th t matter to us, sometimes ac

Devon:

ievements will figure in th re. But a lot of times, it'll be

Devon:

like, Oh, this play that I wo ked on with friends that no

Devon:

ody came to and didn't sell an tickets. Like, Oh, this d&d ga

Devon:

e where we came up with these hi arious jokes. And you know wh

Devon:

t? We didn't record it, it wa n't a podcast, it wasn't, it wa

Devon:

n't something for anybody el e. Or, you know, hours that we

Devon:

that we spent on a video ga e, or you know, on some forum on

Devon:

ine, those things like make up like the real like tapestry of

Devon:

our lives. And they really re lect us like, listening to wh

Devon:

t actually feels good versus th s is going to earn me ap

Devon:

roval, money, secure my st tus in society, because I'm re

Devon:

lly vulnerable. And we really di count that stuff, to the po

Devon:

nt of even being embarrassed so etimes to talk about the th

Devon:

ngs we put a lot of time into th t aren't like impressive, or mo

Devon:

etizable.

Spencer:

Yes, yes. Oh, god, what you just that last part about

Spencer:

being ashamed or embarrassed to share something that doesn't,

Spencer:

you can't derive value from? You mentioned that just talking

Spencer:

about, speaking of hours spent playing games. In the book, you

Spencer:

mentioned this phenomenon called vacation guilt. It's kind of

Spencer:

like an American thing where there was this 2018 Glassdoor

Spencer:

survey that found that Americans only used half of their vacation

Spencer:

days and already Americans have like half of the allotted

Spencer:

vacation days of like Europeans. Like I work in a company that

Spencer:

has a lot of Irish employees and a lot of American employees and

Spencer:

folks over there, get at least like three to four weeks of

Spencer:

vacation, and whereas folks in the US are want to just not do

Spencer:

it at all. Like I work at a company that has unlimited

Spencer:

vacation days, but what you find is that when they're not given a

Spencer:

min-I feel like people should be given minimum vacation. I think,

Spencer:

Jamie, you and I have talked about this before, but people

Spencer:

should be given vacation minimums, because if you just

Spencer:

tell them, do whatever you want, they're gonna feel so guilty

Spencer:

that they're not going to take any on that. And that's fucked

Spencer:

up. But back to the point, I feel like I have gaming guilt,

Spencer:

because games always keep track of how many hours that you play.

Spencer:

And it can be tough for me to not look at that number when it

Spencer:

feels like a blink of an eye 50 hours have gone by and not feel

Spencer:

guilty in some way. But while I was reading your book, I was

Spencer:

thinking like, why can't I reframe that? Why not look at it

Spencer:

as 50 peaceful hours? 50 hours I spent free of stress and

Spencer:

obligations? 50 hours that were packed full of achievable goals

Spencer:

that I could progress towards and grow from? Just 50 hours

Spencer:

that were a gift to myself? And isn't it also, you know, a

Spencer:

testament to the people who work for years, in some cases to make

Spencer:

these games that they commanded 50 hours of my time? Like, I

Spencer:

just think that it's a simple reframing, but it just really

Spencer:

speaks to how we, you know, just assign negative values of these

Spencer:

things that aren't immediately tied to capitalism.

Devon:

Yeah, yeah. And the fact that that time went by, like in

Devon:

a breeze for you, like, that tells you that you were having a

Devon:

lot of fun and you were immersed, and you were away from

Devon:

your like, everyday worries for like, once in a goddamn while,

Devon:

which we all need so desperately, especially now, but

Devon:

always. And, and it's so funny that like, if someone gets lost

Devon:

in a book, and they read a book in a single setting, we would-we

Devon:

never moralize that like, basically ever unless it's like,

Devon:

if somebody wants to go with a really like sexist or age-ist

Devon:

like, oh, you're reading YA fiction? You're frivolous or

Devon:

whatever. Like that sometimes happens, but, but usually if

Devon:

someone reads because we decided for some reason that reading is

Devon:

like hard and rigorous and therefore acceptable.

Devon:

You can get lost in a book. But if you get lost in a

Spencer:

Right.

Spencer:

video game, people immediately pull up these stereotypes of,

Spencer:

and there's a lot of things tied up in it, right? Like the like

Spencer:

fat lazy gamer who doesn't have a job. Like I think of all the

Spencer:

prejudices that are all nested within each other there. And

Spencer:

it's and also it being immature, that's another kind of bigotry

Spencer:

that gets wrapped up in there that there's certain ways to

Spencer:

spend your time that are that make you an adult, which

Spencer:

basically means make you a person.

Spencer:

Builds charachter, yeah.

Devon:

Yes, yeah. Versus if it's like being a child. That's, you

Devon:

know, that's unacceptable. So yeah, it sucks. And I still have

Devon:

that too. I have that about, like, watching anime and manga

Devon:

and stuff like that also.

Spencer:

Yeah. Oh, my God, mood. Um, and then it also makes me

Spencer:

think too, in your book, you write about burnout and to burn

Spencer:

out is basically what happens when we work too hard and too

Spencer:

long without rest. It can result in emotional apathy, crankiness,

Spencer:

loss of purpose and identity. You were writing about the work

Spencer:

of social psychologist, let me know if I'm pronouncing her

Spencer:

name, right, Christina Maslach?

Devon:

Mmhm.

Spencer:

So Christina Maslach found that "curing burnout isn't

Spencer:

just about working less. Burnout is actually far less common when

Spencer:

you feel rewarded and recognized and when work isn't just an

Spencer:

endless slog." With that in mind, I guess I was wondering if

Spencer:

you had any thoughts on how video games may actually have

Spencer:

the capacity to be really helpful in treating burnout?

Devon:

Yeah, so, so one thing we can look at here is why so many

Devon:

people find games so motivating and enjoyable. And that is

Devon:

because pretty much just like you said, it's the inverse of a

Devon:

burnout creating structure. Like workplaces that cause burnout

Devon:

are really emotionally taxing, you don't get appreciated for

Devon:

the work that you're doing. The work never seems to end or

Devon:

progress in any way, you just feel really powerless. And also,

Devon:

like you're just constantly grinding, which there are some

Devon:

video games like that. And we can actually talk about how

Devon:

games have gotten, sometimes increasingly that way, certain

Devon:

games and, and being all about achievement hunting, which for

Devon:

me ruins the game experience. But like, people like having a

Devon:

structure people like having the ability to progress and say I've

Devon:

grown I can do this kind of attack. And so now I can handle

Devon:

this kind of Boss, I have this tool. So now I can open this

Devon:

part of the dungeon. That is really, really rewarding for

Devon:

people, especially in a world where you're like email inbox

Devon:

just never empties and you never get any acknowledgement of

Devon:

you've worked really hard on this report and it's great. You

Devon:

and you don't get any pay raise related to it either. So video

Devon:

games really give a lot of people that that hit of dopamine

Devon:

is really helpful especially for people with ADHD who really like

Devon:

having both reward and structure and stimulation in a way that

Devon:

like, our world just has a dearth of for most people. And

Devon:

it also lets you feel powerful and like you have choice and

Devon:

control over things. And that's also really important because we

Devon:

are so disempowered in so much of our lives.

Spencer:

Hmm. Oh my god, it's so true. And back to what you were

Spencer:

saying a minute ago, like about achievement hunting, I'd be

Spencer:

curious to hear your perspective on like, how you've seen games

Spencer:

sort of maybe even leaning too far into that.

Devon:

Yeah, so I am someone who, if a game feels like

Devon:

checking my email, I find it really aversive. So a lot of

Devon:

things where you have to like, constantly, like be crafting and

Devon:

stuff like that. I know a lot of people find it incredibly

Devon:

rewarding to do that stuff. But there's this YouTuber, Jim

Devon:

Stephanie Sterling, I don't know if you know them. But they talk

Devon:

a lot about how, like the proliferation of like,

Devon:

microtransactions, and loot boxes and DLC, not in every

Devon:

game, but in a lot of games, those are designed to keep

Devon:

people pumping money and time into the same game over and over

Devon:

again, even if it is like pretty joyless, just oh, I need to get

Devon:

this achievement so that I can get this skin because the game

Devon:

doesn't let me just buy the skin that I want, or buy the, you

Devon:

know, upgrade that I want. And game developers, especially the

Devon:

big ones, the triple A developers have really started

Devon:

learning a lot from casinos, and just gambling psychology,

Devon:

basically to learn how to kind of manipulate people into

Devon:

pumping more time into something.

Spencer:

[whispering] Genshin Impact.

Devon:

Yes, yes. Oh, even though I do really love like-that game

Devon:

is beautiful and fun, but like, yeah, grinding and yeah, and

Devon:

gacha stuff-It's so frustrating. So some of those things are like

Devon:

literally designed to be frustrating, just in right, the

Devon:

right level where someone thinks, Oh, I almost got the

Devon:

thing I wanted, I'm going to keep going even though I'm not

Devon:

having fun. Versus games that have more of a spirit of play

Devon:

and open endedness. Again, that's not for everyone.

Devon:

Sometimes people do want, here's what you, here's a goal for you

Devon:

to meet. And that can be really rewarding. But yeah,

Devon:

unfortunately, some of the big games for the big studios have

Devon:

gotten all about just draining you of money and pissing you

Devon:

off.

Spencer:

It's fascinating. Like it, like, I guess I turn to

Spencer:

games to get like we talked about that little dopamine hit

Spencer:

of good job, you did it! And I always am, I'm always of the

Spencer:

belief that games are fair. At least I have this impression

Spencer:

that games, that games I buy for my console or whatever, that

Spencer:

they are inherently fair, like, they would never betray me. And

Spencer:

so I think it gets scary, to, like, I found watching my

Spencer:

partner play Red Dead Online, just like a open world wild west

Spencer:

situation. And it's like you can, you can work and toil and

Spencer:

eventually get enough money to buy the thing. Or you can just

Spencer:

spend a couple real life US dollars to get the thing and

Spencer:

move on to the next achievement. And I don't know, it's, I think,

Spencer:

too, because it's so immersive, you can easily find yourself-a

Spencer:

bunch of micro transactions can add up into something that you

Spencer:

never even anticipated. But it but the root of it is just

Spencer:

searching for that little piece of a good feeling that we are

Spencer:

just completely deprived of in any world that we're

Spencer:

experiencing in reality. So it's just all the way down.

Spencer:

[laughing]

Devon:

Yeah, I think I'm glad you brought up the point of

Devon:

fairness like this idea-or like that there's, you know, there's

Devon:

a consequence for an action in like a positive way in games,

Devon:

most of the time, that like we were taught as kids that that's

Devon:

how the world works, that we live in some meritocracy, where

Devon:

if you just be confident, work hard for yourself, things will

Devon:

pay off. And of course, that never happens for most of us. So

Devon:

having that realm and just having the ability to like alter

Devon:

your appearance, to go do something different if you're

Devon:

not enjoying one side quest, like the the freedom and, and

Devon:

what a game gives back to you relative to what you put into it

Devon:

is so-I don't know "healing" might be a little bit too much

Devon:

sometimes, but like, but like it is very satisfying. And it's, if

Devon:

only the world worked like that.

Spencer:

Yeah, so true. [music break]

Spencer:

On this show, we typically like to ask folks to talk about a

Spencer:

specific game that had an impact on their life. Devon, you

Spencer:

mentioned a game called Ico that was really important to you. And

Spencer:

for folks who may not be familiar. Ico is a PS2 game that

Spencer:

came out in 2001. And it's basically a spiritual prequel to

Spencer:

Shadow of the Colossus, which is a very, like cult classic. It's

Spencer:

one of Jamie's favorite games. So y'all have heard about it

Spencer:

plenty of times. But the protagonist in Ico was a young

Spencer:

boy who was born with horns, which his villiage considers a

Spencer:

bad omen. Warriors lock him away in this creepy abandoned

Spencer:

fortress where he meets Yorda, the daughter of the castle's

Spencer:

queen. The two of them pair up to escape with Ico keeping Yorda

Spencer:

safe from the shadowy creatures that are attempting to draw her

Spencer:

into the Queen's clutches and throughout the game, it's like a

Spencer:

like you control Ico as he explores the castle, solves

Spencer:

puzzles, lots of spatial stuff and platforming. And Devon, you

Spencer:

mentioned that you played Ico as a teenager. I'm wondering like,

Spencer:

what immediately pops into mind when you think of the game? What

Spencer:

makes it hold on so strongly in your memory?

Devon:

Yeah, so Ico is one of those games that I will forever

Devon:

be like the, I don't know, the like stoner uncle who's trying

Devon:

to tell you to listen to some album from before you were born.

Devon:

You know? Like this is where it all started, man. Like [alll

Devon:

laughing] Like, a lot of people know Shadow of the Colossus is

Devon:

this beautiful, artsy, very moving game. But like Ico is the

Devon:

blueprint, baby. Like it was the first game that made me really

Devon:

realize video games could be art. And not even in this

Devon:

intellectual way. It's just that it was like moving me as a good

Devon:

work of art does and transporting me. You know,

Devon:

there's no user interface, there's almost no cutscenes or

Devon:

dialogue. There's no boxes that pop up when interacting with

Devon:

anything, there's no tutorial, you are just dropped into a

Devon:

world and you have a stick. And you are trying to get out of

Devon:

this temple. And you have someone that you hold hands

Devon:

with. And when you run with her, you can feel the little

Devon:

vibrations as you're holding hands. So it's this incredibly

Devon:

like tactile, dreamlike, beautiful world where you are

Devon:

just like you've been like cursed and you're just trying

Devon:

to-and you've been like told your whole life that you're like

Devon:

supposed to be a human sacrifice. And like, I think

Devon:

there's a little bit of a trans masculine air of like, oh,

Devon:

you're born with these appendages you don't want.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Devon:

Like he's born with these horns. That is very resonant.

Devon:

And by the end of the game, they get they get knocked off. And he

Devon:

he's freed of that.

Spencer:

[gasps]

Devon:

Yeah. And. And it's very beautiful and moving.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Devon:

So like he basically, yeah, he gets top surgery. [all

Devon:

laughing]

Devon:

And you're escaping this prison alongside this person who is,

Devon:

there's a lot of themes of like kind of implied themes of like

Devon:

the cycle of abuse in families, where you there's this girl that

Devon:

you're helping also rescue from this prison. And she is the

Devon:

daughter of this evil queen. And she finds out that she's

Devon:

supposed to be the vessel for this Queen who's going to like,

Devon:

inhabit her body and take it over, because she's like,

Devon:

getting old, the queen is. So it's like, okay, like you are

Devon:

both a victim of this thing. And you're going to become the next

Devon:

person to enact this thing unless you get the hell out. So

Devon:

it's like,

Spencer:

Breaking the cycle.

Devon:

Yes, exactly. Yeah. So it's about two people finding

Devon:

each other in just complete isolation and kind of abuse and

Devon:

being told both of their lives that you're fated for this

Devon:

horrible thing. And then taking care of each other, and getting

Devon:

out of there together. And it also happens to be just like,

Devon:

incredibly beautiful, wonderful puzzles, like just tactile, very

Devon:

satisfying, like, again going to hold hands. To save you go and

Devon:

like sit on the couch together and lean on each other's

Devon:

shoulders. So it's just like, Oh, it's so moving. And it's

Devon:

just all about like connection as the as the way to escape

Devon:

abuse, basically.

Spencer:

Mm hmm. And yeah, I think something else that stood

Spencer:

out to me was just that there's this language barrier between

Spencer:

the two main characters, like Ico, I think speaks a couple

Spencer:

times in the game, but Yorda like her dialogue is represented

Spencer:

with these kind of pictographic symbols, like a language that

Spencer:

they created for the game. And just the fact that you never can

Spencer:

understand each other but through the lifeline of touch.

Spencer:

Like I've-everyone I've seen trying to talk about this game

Spencer:

just starts crying because of the emotional impact of it.

Devon:

Yeah, yeah, I'm glad you brought the language barrier up

Devon:

because it is all about this like evolving relationship where

Devon:

it's first it's just like, well, Who the hell are you? What do

Devon:

you want? Like, you have magical powers? I'm just like some boy

Devon:

with a stick. What are we trying to do here? And like the

Devon:

char-the other character Yorda just like wanders off to like

Devon:

chase after like doves, and like, look around the castle

Devon:

that you're in. But as your relationship kind of builds,

Devon:

then you're more in sync. And you can work together to kind of

Devon:

fight and solve puzzles. And you can tell her like, you can

Devon:

gesture like here, you need to go over here, but she always

Devon:

still has a will of her own. So it really is like an evolving

Devon:

relationship. And there is a game that they came up with

Devon:

after Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian that is all

Devon:

about you and this giant beast. And like, as your relationship

Devon:

evolves, he listens to you in a different way, not better, he

Devon:

never becomes an extension of you, it's just that you can

Devon:

communicate better, which is like, just so beautifully done.

Spencer:

I love when games, because I think games are often

Spencer:

designed to put the player at the center, and then you are you

Spencer:

become the master of a world like the world bends to your

Spencer:

will. And there's nothing that you can't do. I love games that

Spencer:

sort of remind you that you're a guest in the space and that it's

Spencer:

world exists independently of you. And that a character is

Spencer:

someone that you can bond with, but that you'll never fully

Spencer:

control. I think that's maybe the closest you can get to

Spencer:

forming a relationship in real life. I just, it's a really

Spencer:

powerful thing.

Devon:

Yeah, and you're really small in this game, like, you're

Devon:

just like a little boy in this huge castle. And you have like

Devon:

little wooden sandals on that just kind of clack against the

Devon:

tile in this way that just really sends home like how, how

Devon:

weak you kind of are. And like there's little, you know, this,

Devon:

the castle's in a state of decay. You eventually get to the

Devon:

area where the sacrifices, the human sacrifices happen. And you

Devon:

can see that it's been happening for centuries, just from the

Devon:

number of like, sacrificial, like pods are there. So it gives

Devon:

you a sense of your, your place in time as well. And so you're

Devon:

just really small, and the world is vast and beautiful and

Devon:

horrible. And that is just, I think part of what makes it so

Devon:

moving and overwhelming to be within.

Spencer:

Mm hmm. And were there any other reasons that like,

Spencer:

what was-What made Ico so important to you at the time

Spencer:

that you were playing it?

Devon:

Yeah, I think it is. It really just hits on a visceral

Devon:

level. Some of those themes that I was just talking about, like

Devon:

when I was playing it at 13, I wouldn't be able to say like,

Devon:

Oh, yeah, clearly this is a trans masculine allegory about

Devon:

escaping abuse. Like, that game doesn't have to tell you what

Devon:

it's about. Like it doesn't, it doesn't tell you. There's other

Devon:

people who would play it, who would get a completely different

Devon:

resonance with it, because it is just two really like, you know,

Devon:

vulnerable people protecting each other, and a really

Devon:

beautiful transporting environment. So like we were

Devon:

talking about escapism earlier, it's just so easy to just like

Devon:

disappear into that world, because it is so beautiful. And

Devon:

it's not asking you to achieve any particular thing other than

Devon:

survive and explore and discover what little weird things you can

Devon:

as you go. And you know, gosh, what else was I playing at the

Devon:

time, like I was playing a lot of like Zelda, which I

Devon:

absolutely loved, and is a beautiful game, but it is more

Devon:

structured, you know? It is more like, here's your rupee count.

Devon:

Here's, you know, here's how you do a spin attack. Whereas this

Devon:

was just like, utterly magical and otherworldly.

Spencer:

Incredible. Devon, thank you so much for being here

Spencer:

with us. I had an incredible time. It's also nice to just

Spencer:

have Devon around to finish my trailing thoughts when I'm just

Spencer:

going derailing and having Devon be like "I'm actually glad you

Spencer:

brought up x let me let me take you home." [all laughing] Where

Spencer:

can folks follow you and learn more about your work?

Devon:

Yeah, so my writing is at devonprice.medium.com. So that's

Devon:

D-e-v-o-n-P-r-i-c-e.medium.com. And then on Twitter, Instagram,

Devon:

all of those places. It's @drdevonprice.

Spencer:

Dr. Devon Price, thank you so much for joining us.

Spencer:

Everyone, you simply must check out Laziness Does Not Exist.

Spencer:

Thank you so much for joining us. It was pleasure.

Devon:

Thanks so much for having me. This was great. [music

Devon:

break]

Jamie:

Time is up for today's session of Pixel Therapy. Thank

Jamie:

you for tuning in. And we hope that listening to our thoughts

Jamie:

and feelings gave you some thoughts and feelings of your

Jamie:

own. If you want more Pixel Therapy come check us out at

Jamie:

patreon.com/pixeltherapypod where you can snag that monthly

Jamie:

bonus episode for just $2 a month plus opportunities to get

Jamie:

involved with the community and influence the show directly. If

Jamie:

you're not up for contributing monetarily but you enjoyed this

Jamie:

episode you can show your support for free by rating and

Jamie:

reviewing us on Apple podcasts and following us on Instagram

Jamie:

@pixeltherapypod. That stuff is just as important and we

Jamie:

appreciate it just as much. Remember that Pixel Therapy is a

Jamie:

happy member of the But Why Tho Podcast Network so you can

Jamie:

support us by supporting them and heading over to

Jamie:

butwhythopodcast.com. That's though with a t-h-o. Take a peek

Jamie:

at the inclusive geek community they're building around pop

Jamie:

culture news, reviews, and kick ass podcasts like yours truly.

Jamie:

And you can keep up with all this stuff and more by visiting

Jamie:

our website at pixeltherapypod.com.

Spencer:

Finally, since we like to put our money and our energy

Spencer:

where our mouth is, we end every episode with a recommended side

Spencer:

quest. Thank you so much to Devon for the recommendation

Spencer:

this week. This week we're so excited to talk to you about the

Spencer:

Lighthouse Foundation of Chicagoland and you can find

Spencer:

them at www.lightfoundchi.org, that's light-found-c-h-i.org. So

Spencer:

the Lighthouse Foundation was founded in 2019 and grew out of

Spencer:

a community need observed by members of the Lighthouse Church

Spencer:

of Chicago, a predominantly black and queer, LGBTQ affirming

Spencer:

faith community. It was founded in response to the sheer depth

Spencer:

of macro and micro aggressions, threats to safety, and deep

Spencer:

unwelcome experienced by black queer Chicagoans. The

Spencer:

organization also found that there was overwhelming support

Spencer:

from people outside of the Lighthouse Church who wanted to

Spencer:

get involved and make that community grow. And this led to

Spencer:

the creation of the Lighthouse Foundation. The Lighthouse

Spencer:

Foundation invests in black LGBTQ liberation internally by

Spencer:

developing black queer leaders, a cohort that builds community

Spencer:

sets goals and creates public programming for black queer

Spencer:

people. They also focus on leadership development, capacity

Spencer:

building and economic sustainability to grow black

Spencer:

power through institutional longevity. They write "We work

Spencer:

for black LGBTQ liberation externally by pursuing community

Spencer:

organizing, organizing campaigns that challenge institutions to

Spencer:

invest in black communities, address black needs, and follow

Spencer:

black leadership. Our leaders are queer, multiracial cohort

Spencer:

who direct the broader coalition of accomplices for racial

Spencer:

equity, where non black supporters follow our lead by

Spencer:

donating, amplifying our work and showing up for direct

Spencer:

actions. BQC leaders identify targets of our racial justice

Spencer:

campaigns and leaders move targets through the following

stages:

development and assessment, training, initial

stages:

actions, escalations, deeper actions and evaluation all with

stages:

input from black queer leaders." So again, check out the

stages:

Lighthouse Foundation of Chicago at lightfoundchi.org where you

stages:

can donate get involved and learn more about this really

stages:

awesome grassroots organization.

Jamie:

Awesome. Thank you for that side quest, Spencer. That

Jamie:

is our show for today. So go forth, run a story mission,

Jamie:

level up some stats and don't forget to hug an NPC every now

Jamie:

and then we'll be back soon with some more-

Spencer & Jamie Together:

Pixel Therapy.