Rodrigo Franco's Notes

Meditative Games

There’s a small subset of games that trigger some weird zen focus state for me. I call them incidentally meditative or flow inducing games. This page lists them and tries to explain the subjective mechanisms that make this happen.

Updates

  • 03/18/20 — It's Just Mowing added

  • 12/26/19 — Endless Drive added

  • 12/22/19 — Perceived Triggers sub list added

  • 12/15/19 — List published

The List

  • American Truck Simulator

    • I play this on the easiest mode because I suck at driving games, using an automatic gearbox. I have no interest in the sim part of the game, usually playing it just by doing long-haul jobs and listening to something chill on the in-game radio.

  • Audiosurf

    • Rhythm-based arcade game. Music-based games are an easy way to get your brain into a flow state, but Audiosurf is even better. I play it on the hard mode, usually with hardcore electro tracks.

  • Diablo 3

    • I have been playing Diablo 3 on and off since it launched. I get in a very meditative state when playing with a character build I know by heart — flying from mob to mob, pressing the buttons in the same order, always moving and looting. The adventure mode is perfect for this — cutting downtime and lore noise — and the streamlined inventory and enchanting system makes it even better.

  • Desert golfing

    • My most-played mobile game. Simple physics-based golfing with no frills, story or fanfare. As soon you get the ball into the hole, you are presented with the next one. Perfect for long flights.

  • Endless drive

    • A car, a procedurally-generated road, and me there to drive it. Closest thing to American Truck Simulator on the mobile. It’s a driving game, not a racing one. Perfect attention texture for podcast listening.

  • It’s Literally Just Mowing

    • Awesome game (with a bit of IAPs) to play under COVID-9 quarantine. Not much besides mowing lawn.

Perceived triggers

  • Rhythmically uninterrupted

    • I should be able to play the game for a long time without being presented with a game over screen or any other blocker. It should be repetitive and have a singular rhythm to it. Games like Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution excel with this, but I usually suck at playing them.

  • Little to no storytelling

    • I should not be interrupted by cut scenes, or required to make life and death decisions that change the flow of the game.

  • Challenging but not punitive

    • Games must be easy but not trivial. They should be balanced so I feel that what I’m doing matters without being punished all the time. Mastery would be the predominant feeling.

  • Streamlined engagement loop

    • I shouldn’t spend time jumping through a number of different in-game systems to play it. If I’m driving, that’s everything I’m going to do; if I’m killing monsters, I should not be asked to spend time going through pages of stats to pick a weapon upgrade.

Page References