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Have You Played... Windows Defrag?

Defrag your own brain.

Before there was Clicker Heroes or Adventure Capitalist, there was Defrag: the prototypical timewaster for the bored or disaffected PC gamer. SSDs have cost us dearly.

For years - the Windows 95 to XP years specifically - Windows Defrag was my hangover cure. Well, cure's the wrong word, but certainly it was something I used to stare at for far too long on Sunday mornings as an effort-free attempt to distract myself from my self-poisoning. I'd gun it up and watch Windows try to put my whirring, chuntering system drive in order.

Distraction. Pain relief. Therapy. Enlightenment.

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All those tiny rectangles flicking about and changing colour, creating some false sense of progress: that, after hours of this, my hard drive, hell, my whole PC, would become some roaring light-speed beast now that all its data was efficiently ordered.

Clearly, I projected myself onto this. My bruised brain slowly, painfully rebuilding itself, eventually reaching the point where I would feel able to rise from my chair and go make a cup of tea. That would be triumph.

'Twas a silly thing; an insane waste of time whose results upon my hard drive were probably more placebo than actual. But I missed it when I moved to SSDs (and when defragging of the larger magnetic drives that I use for document/photo/video storage was a) not particularly necessary b) automated by Windows anyway), and it was only when I was fairly deep into number-clicker game Adventure Capitalist that I realised I was replicating the same habit a decade later.

An ever so slightly more interactive variant, yes, but really I was in the same place as I'd been with Defrag - willing a progress bar to max out, falsely convincing myself that some great reward awaited at the end of it. It never did, never does: it only goes on.

If there is an afterlife for me, I am quite sure that it will involve watching an infinite hard drive defrag forever.

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About the Author
Alec Meer avatar

Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about video games.