How am I coping? Not badly, I think. I've got a new addiction to lean on. Not to worry: it's not cigarettes or heroin. I'm a little late to the party, but, for the first time in my life, I'm soothing myself with video games.
It started with Candy Crush, the matching game, as a tool to help me get through sclerotherapy procedures. It's a potent distraction. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed playing. I've gotten all the way to level 96. The only thing that doesn't quite seem right to me is that, in the game, chocolate is my enemy. I am willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to gathering candy to help a crash-landed alien or a sad unicorn, but don't ask me to believe that chocolate is a malign force. That I cannot do.
A friend introduced me to Triple Town, a different type of matching game, in which you build a village from the grass all the way up to giant mansions, while being attacked by cute but angry bears. That one's pretty good too. It got me through my most recent appointment very effectively.
My favourite, though, is Neko Atsume, a "cat collecting game". It's not a typical game, in the sense that it doesn't require sustained attention. You start with a yard, stock it with cat toys and comfy places to nap, and then check the app every 15 minutes or more (usually more) to see which cats have shown up. As long as you keep the food bowl filled, you'll be assured of kitty visitors. This is what my yard looks like right now:
The long-term goal is to meet all the different cats in the game and snap photos of them for your collection. Some are rare. Some need to be attracted by special accessories, which you purchase with fish that the cats leave for you once they are done enjoying their treats. For example, that cowboy hat. Some cats have worn it, but it hides their entire head and looks very silly. However, "Willie the Kid" has visited, and that hat fits him perfectly. Sadly, I didn't manage to see him; I only know he was there because he left me some fish. All I can do is leave the hat out and keep my fingers crossed that he'll come back again.
This game is great because it's a simple, reliable source of delightful surprises. I can check it in between the endless series of annoyances at work, and it always makes me feel better. It's also free, although you can make in-app purchases if you aren't patient enough to wait days to accumulate the fish you need to buy that giant-cat-condo-scratching-post, or whatever it is in the shop that you're excited about. A dollar and change will buy you a whack-load of fish. I'm thinking of buying some because the makers of this game deserve a reward for being awesome.
Are you a phone gamer? What's your favourite game?