Rimworld Taught Me To Take Better Care Of Myself

I have a fairly high tolerance for squalor. I was a student for six years, and you see some weird things when you occupy cold and dismal accommodation for that long. I’ve lived in run-down houses that slum landlords will never repair because they know students have no power, weirdly shaped flats above dive bars, and a place inhabited exclusively by late-night bartenders, small-time dealers, and stoners. A bit of clutter or an unscrubbed countertop doesn’t really phase me.


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Don’t get me wrong, I prefer to live in a clean house, but with multiple housemates, I’m not going to spend ages tidying up just for someone else to come along and make a mess in an hour. I’ve got more important things to do with my life, like playing The Legend of Zelda series in chronological order.

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I’ve been between my flat, my mum’s, and my girlfriend’s house a lot of the past couple of months due to all the holidays, so I’ve been gaming on my laptop a lot more. It’s rubbish, so it only runs 2D games, and I’ve fallen in love with Rimworld all over again. As I commanded my pawns to get to work making sculptures to bring bedrooms up from awful to okay, trying to remove as many little mood debuffs as I could, I realised that while I don’t particularly mind smaller messes in my flat, those little debuffs stack up to something a lot bigger.

Rimworld hospital

One of the biggest challenges you need to overcome in Rimworld is preventing your sweet, derpy little pawns from having mental breakdowns. Being stranded on some backwater planet with constant raiders, giant insects, ancient dangers, and crap falling out of the sky doesn’t exactly do wonders for your nerves, who could have guessed? So you’ve got to keep their mood up.

Having a private bedroom, recreation, table to eat on, and maybe a pet or two drastically helps. At first, seeing a little -5 because of a shared bedroom or a dark room doesn’t seem so bad. But throw in an ugly living room, or a workstation outside that gets rained on, and chuck in a bout of food poisoning for good measure and those little -5s stack up. Suddenly you’ve got pawns at their limit, hoping to get a nice meal now that they’ve recovered from the last one, and seeing an animal corpse that’s been left to rot outside the kitchen becomes the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Split image of animals grazing in rimworld and a bear surrounded by people grazing in a desert

While each issue on its own is easy to look past and overcome, it’s death by a thousand cuts. As I gradually expanded the size of their bedrooms, remade furniture once a pawn’s construction ability improved, and put some sculptures and plant pots around, I realised I could improve my own living situation one small step at a time as well. I finally unpacked the suitcase I took to a Valorant tournament, I moved my desk so that it faced my living room instead of leaving my back to it, I finally put up a piece of art my friend gave me months ago. One by one, I turned those debuffs into +5s, and while they’re not a lot on their own, they stack up to a much better quality of life with pretty minimal effort.

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