I am a certified homebody. I may have done a reasonable amount of travelling, but it doesn’t mean that I use my apartment only as a place to sleep. On the contrary, I have filled my home-away-from-home with so much creature comforts that sometimes I hardly see any need to go out of the house.

Winter is hibernation period. After living in Japan for more than three years now, snow has lost its novelty. In time, the bitting cold, depressing lack of sunlight and dangerously slippery roads have become almost unbearably despicable. Much of this period was spent delighting in indoor warmth, impatiently waiting for the time when one can step outside without getting numb. Fortunately, just when I begin to think that the chills would never end, Spring comes.

There are two major events in the Spring season that I love the most — Hanami (flower-watching) and the Golden Week. The former ushers in Spring in the form of pretty pink and white sakura flowers, making you feel delightfully warm and fuzzy. The later is a celebration of the much anticipated long holiday — one week (depending on the year’s company calendar) of travel, sunshine, fun and most of all NO WORK! I am currently at the last day of my Golden Week, trying to savor as much fun as I could get out of it, for tomorrow it is back again to the salt mines.

My Golden Week was a combination of a homebody’s and a travel itchy person’s idea of fun. The first half was spent revisiting Kyoto and Kobe. After the scare brought about by the recent railway accident that occurred in that area, my friends and I decided to take our time and travel by car instead. I pity the designated driver (he had to endure hours of traffic), enjoy the unexpected pleasures of not having a driver’s license and at the same time, mourn over the limitations of not having my own wheels. As expected, it was a stress-free, pleasant travel. While walking around, admiring Japan’s pride in its history and the extent of the efforts that they spent in preserving the remembrances of the past, I internally despair over my own country’s lack of zeal in researching, protecting and promoting the nation’s history (which in my opinion is just as interesting, if only one will just take the time to look into it). Outside the history textbooks (some of which I daresay, are embarassingly erroneous), your average Filipino cares very little about the events that led us to where we are now. This I think is one of the reasons why my country can’t break free from the vicious cycle of committing the same mistakes and failures. We simply don’t learn from our past experiences because we don’t care to remember what they were in the first place.

Philippine Society 101 aside, the second half of my holiday was spent at home, doing nothing all day except discharging my weary brain cells in front of the boob tube, trying to convince myself that I am working on “improving” my Japanese skills by watching TV shows and playing PS2 games in Japanese. I know I should be seriously studying for the Japanese Language Proficiency level-up exams that I intend to take this December, but to put it in biblically, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak“. I am weak… weak… weak. The TV and PS2 combo is much too tempting to resist.

Thus I come to my thoughts on playing God. I never used to care that much for PC/PS2 games. My gaming attention span is very short — proof of which is an increasing number of unfinished PS2 games that are left collecting dust in my cabinet. However, lately I find myself getting strangely drawn and addicted to a particular type of game — real-life simulations. It all began with a crude version of Sims that I accidentally chanced upon in a second-hand PS2 game shop. The game appealed to my micromanaging self and got me playing until three in the morning. For several weeks I find myself groggily dragging myself to work, until I decided to impose some self discipline (play only until 12 am during weekdays, but reward myself for being such a good girl with play-as-much-as-you-can sessions during weekends). 

The game is premised on you being the almighty, all-seeing “god” (or manager, or whatever you’re comfortable calling it) who can control the “Sims” behavior and activities — which includes eating, sleeping, taking a bath, buying home furnishings, finding a job, socializing, dating, getting married, having a baby, etc. The game makes you feel powerful, which is strangely comforting in days when real-world circumstances beyond your control are piling up (but are significantly affecting you nevertheless). I get a glimpse of what it feels like to be a minor “god”, albeit fleetingly — interesting when things are going smoothly, exasperating once your Sims begin demanding too many things from you.

In those few precious hours that I play at being “god”, I get to escape reality. On entering that world where I become the all-powerful entity, I get to soothe my reality battered ego. I am the master of my make-believe universe until I get low on Sims money, Sims baby starts crying inconsolably, overdue bills start piling up, my Sims get stuck on crummy jobs without getting promoted, the sink starts leaking and my Sim has no time to fix it— that’s when it dawns on me that there’s no escaping reality. It continues to haunt you even in that small, insignificant corner of your created world….