A friend of mine once told me something that stuck with me: “don’t defer pleasure”.
It sounds like one of those Instagram quotes on a background of a sunset, I know, but it’s actually become somewhat of a motto for me, because I’m the sort of person that hoards things in video games and real life. My Skyrim house is full of potions; I never use the single Master Ball in Pokémon; and I tend to panic when my collection of snacks gets below 50% full, because what if I really want a bag of Twiglets one day, and I have none left?! WHAT WILL I DO?!?!?!
“Don’t defer pleasure” is a kindness to yourself. It’s asking your lizard brain not to save things for the potential rainy day that never comes, because if you’re thinking about using the potion/Master Ball/Twiglets right now, you probably need it right now. Let’s be honest, there is no future version of you that will think, “aw, balls, I really needed that potion right this second,” because you’ll probably get more, and if you don’t, well, maybe the game isn’t very well-balanced. You won’t resent that past version of you, anyway. She needed it.
I’ve been playing Resident Evil 4 for the first time, and I know I’m twenty years late to the “hey, RE4 has a really interesting inventory system” takes, but I don’t care! It has a really interesting inventory system! I’m a sucker for inventory management in general, to the point where my friends are point-blank refusing to play Stardew Valley with me anymore because I turn into a chest gremlin, and that’s a large part of the reason my partner forced me to play Resi 4. “But I don’t like zombie games,” I pleaded, before he showed me a screenshot of Leon Kennedy’s neatly-arranged attaché case and my eyes turned into heart emojis.
But my little zombie-killing briefcase is always full of pesky guns and ten billion grenades. Poor Leon’s basically a walking fireworks factory, and yet he somehow always forgets that he’s got grenades at all, choosing to get stabby with his pitiful knife before he remembers to lob a bang-egg at the approaching bad guys.
But last night, while playing Resident Evil 4 on stream, I used my rocket launcher on Salazar, and it cracked open my brain like a tin of beans on a rock, or a Salazar on the receiving end of a missile. My partner had described the rocket launcher as “basically a boss-skip button”, and my silly hoarding brain had whispered to itself, “save for rainy day, never use, yes, yes, the precious.” But it was towards the end of my stream, and I was hungry for pizza, so I decided to give the rocket launcher a go — and stupid Salazar died immediately.
Sure, there might be a tougher boss battle later on in the game. I literally have no idea! I know nothing about this game! I thought I knew what it was about, but then I had to fight a giant fish, invisible bugs, and a goddamn MECH made of marble! But you know what? It doesn’t matter. I wasn’t enjoying the Salazar battle, and also, importantly, I hate him. What better candidate could there be for a rocket to the face than the guy I’m fighting right now?
And that’s the idea behind “don’t defer pleasure”, you see. You deserve things now, because you’re living in the now. You’ll derive no pleasure from saving something, because generally, the more you save something, the less likely you are to actually let yourself have it, since you’ve convinced yourself that your need is never enough. That way, sadness lies.
I still forget to use my grenades in Resident Evil 4, and it was only VERY recently (I’ve been playing the game for ten hours) that I learned that flash grenades were useful at all. But my wonderfully, mercifully short rendezvous with Salazar’s stupid face inside a meat-tree before he exploded into sawdust has opened my eyes to the joy of just… letting myself live in the moment. And if that means chucking all my explosion nuggets at bad boys, so be it. I deserve it.