There's a lot going on — too much, and not enough time. It's not an uncommon situation in my life, and it's the sort of situation that makes it difficult for me to play video games as often as I might like. It's also the sort of situation that makes certain games especially appealing.
A Game Of Dwarves is not a heavy game. It's pausable, able to be run in windowed mode, and often can be left running while you dip into another room to wash some dishes or stare down at your phone, convincing yourself that you're multitasking and getting some entertainment in while whittling down your mountains emails and other tasks.
But you aren't really thinking about those tasks. You're thinking about Sockbeard's progress in creating that new undermountain bread & breakfast.
When Paradox announced A Game Of Dwarves, I was confused. It was certainly cuter and lighter feeling than the deep historical strategy I associate with the publisher/developer. It sounds like Dwarf Fortress, but lighter. Like Delve Deeper, but with more narrative. Like some sort of Minecraft management sim, but with shorter bodies, beards and comically enlarged facial features.
A Game Of Dwarves, like those other dwarven and mine-centric games, always has something going on, and that one more goal to accomplish before you save and quit. It's simple to pick up, and potentially hard to put down — although that might in my case be because turning away from the game means turning toward a world where repetition isn't as fun and isn't equipped with a fast-forward option.
So maybe it's a good game, or maybe it's just the poison I've picked. I'd try and fall back on an ostensibly more objective position, but there's not much to say about the mechanics. For the hours I've put in, it hasn't surprised me with mechanics. I don't mind the isomorphic perspective and its accompanying camera, having been trained in that view during the 1990s. I have enjoyed that renewable resources (wood — from a Log Plant, naturally, or a Log Tree, once you've upgraded a bit) can simply be waited for and sold to attain scarcer commodities. Not making progress? Sit back and wait. Poke at something else. Easy as procrastinating.
It's related to what's been called the Fantasy of Labor, though that term generally applies to games where persistence is rewarded (rather than strategy or skill). A Game Of Dwarves, unlike the standard Facebook time-suck, can go along running in the background while you type out an article or stare vacantly at Hulu, having switched to the wrong tab and now trying to figure out where that scene was shot in Chicago Fire. It's free bursts of endorphin through tiny jokes and inevitable accomplishment, and the occasional sadness that your favorite miner died trapped in a hole while you neglected to install a ladder.
What I'm saying is that, for all those who have seen me playing A Game Of Dwarves and asked about my thoughts, my thoughts are that I am not disappointed in my purchase, but that I'd like to have a more manageable inbox at least as much in the long term. But this short term is pretty alright, too.
Besides, I have no hope of ever actually being as cutely industrious as those dwarves.