Sometimes it’s hard to be honest with yourself about both what you want and what you need. When I landed upon My 49 Days with Cells on the Apple Store, I wasn’t thinking to myself that this was something that was going to teach me anything. A little bit like the game Eggs (which is a time sink, and a very good one at that!) I was expecting something similar: a simple, cutesy art style with a very simple premise.
That’s it. 49 days of these cell’s lives. You are the person who has to take care of them. Easy.
Well, not so much. It turns out that taking care of these little cells is about as difficult as it is to look after ourselves.
I’ve been on a journey for a little while now where I’m trying to learn how to take care of myself better. I’ve had some very intense life changes. Just a lot of life happening in a very short amount of time. I’ve lost my Dad suddenly and I’ve moved house 4 times in 3 years as a result of his death. I’d worked two jobs at the same time during that period, just to make ends meet. Then I began suffering massively with health issues. I had a lump removed two months after I got married as they feared it was cancerous. I was in a job at the time which was in pursuit of a dream that I wanted but it was slowly making me sick, and stressed because of the working environment. After leaving that job due to sickness, and burning out, I decided to return to college to pursue a masters degree and work simultaneously. However, more health issues occurred to a point that I wound up having to leave both my college degree and what work I was taking at the time. I’m now in a position where it’s necessary that I take on full time rest as I’m pending another surgery come January as things have gone awry since.
TL:DR Needless to say, I know firsthand the power of what one of those little cells hold.
Gameplay wise, we’re back to the land of simplicity. In My 49 Days With Cells you have bonus energy to spend on your first cell. Which is great, it gives you the freedom to see what you might like to do with your cell and you then set about scheduling your first week with it.
Your choices feel endless at first; food, exercise, culture, rest, play, study and wash are all your main categories and then they subdivide into individual categories. So began my first week. I tried living vicariously through my little cell, wanting to travel, to read and play endlessly. It didn’t work out that way though. There was always a trade off from doing so much without thinking about the cell’s other needs like eating or sleeping. By the time I was halfway through my first cells lifecycle I found that I was repeating the same mistakes I was making personally.
I wasn’t taking care of it. The little cell wasn’t eating properly, wasn’t able to rest, and barely had time scheduled to take a bath! I was so focused on cramming everything into its existence that I’d forgotten to take into consideration what it wanted or needed. I wasn’t listening to it. I was so focused on doing what I thought it needed and wanted that I lost sight of the objective of… it which was to listen to it.
Ultimately, by the time I’d realised that I’d left it malnourished, sleep deprived and stinky, it became too late to rectify that mistake. Thankfully it didn’t die (well, depends on how you look at it) but it made it to its 49th day and it decided to turn into a stone.
Disappointed, and equally a little mystified, I started my second round of My 49 Days of Cells with my cells previously divided cell (which carries all of the previous cells stats). A life cycle of a cell is anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes of playtime so it startled me when I realised that the cells respond to you when they’re in an event — If they don’t like an activity, they tell you.
This one wanted to be strong, it wanted to be in the gym all the time. It didn’t, and wasn’t interested in wandering around museums or going and seeing new sights. Don’t even think about making it read a textbook! (Even though it didn’t mind art class too much) so I leaned into that a good bit. I tried to cater to its desires and what it wanted to be as well as trying to balance its sleeping, eating and resting. It went a bit better than the last time, but I was still pushing my cell too hard, I was still trying to get it to do everything. I paid for it.
There is a mini game within My 49 Days With Cells that occurs through the game where you have to choose what competition you would like to enter your cell into. During that mini game you have to tap on your cell to clap for it to encourage it to perform well. Like if you saw your favourite band or a friend who is starring in a play. You encourage them and hopefully they’ll get better in their standings as a result.
My Cells have yet to get past the standing of a 3rd place. Always a podium placer but never the winner.
It took me some time to realise that life was imitating art in some ways. These little cells had hopes and dreams and in the pursuit of that accomplishment I forgot the key things to making that a success.
To listen, respect and care for it.
Much like how I’d forgotten how to listen, respect and care for myself.
It made me think things like “Oh, did I eat today? I can’t remember.” Or things that would make my quality of life improve overall. For me, that means a disconnect from things that stress me out like Twitter, and spending more time doing what I love. Which is reading and playing video games. Creating little rituals for myself about making sure I eat and being gentle and kind to myself as I would be with one of my little cells.
They say you should talk to yourself like you’d talk to your friends and I’ve never been good for taking on some advice like that. But something about My 49 Days with Cells really hit home with me, it taught me a great deal about myself and I’m sure it may teach you something too.