One of my jobs is taking on update tasks to keep our guides and lists current. For instance, I updated a list of games with well-executed quick-time events the other day. It got me thinking about how many things in my real life feel like quick-time events.
If you're unfamiliar, a quick-time-event, or QTE, is a break in a game's cutscene that requires button inputs to continue the story. QTEs can be as simple as buttering toast or as risky as dodging a butter knife. However, I think QTEs can occur in real life too.
5 Taking A Dump
Look. We're all thinking it. Dropping the kids at the pool has to be a QTE. Speaking for myself, every time I sit on the bowl is a new experience. Sometimes it's a button-mashing BM. Other times it's like Shenmue, and I must remain completely still for everything to run smoothly.
No matter the stool, going to the bathroom is mundane yet specific enough to be an engagement point in the cutscene of my life.
4 Attending A Zoom Meeting And Trying To Stay Awake
Zoom meetings are something else, y'all. I remember a series of training meetings I attended for an outbound call center back in 2020 that was brutal. One employee thought it was acceptable to wear bathing suit bottoms instead of pants. And the number of questions that addressed what the trainer already said was mind-boggling. It was several hours a day of pure torture.
We've all been victims of the meeting that should have been an email. And, while we could log in with our cameras off, you never know when you'll get called out by that co-worker who just has to mention your presence. Maybe they use you as an example. Or perhaps it's a question. Either way, not sleeping on the job is more challenging than you think.
Staying awake has always felt like a QTE in and outside my work life. Like manualing in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, I constantly nudge my body left and right to keep myself from falling into my desk. And when I fail that task, the consequences can be brutal. (Ask me about Honors Sociology in college. Man, do I have a story for you!)
3 Microwaving Dinner
Microwaving dinner can be a fully-fledged video game, let alone a QTE. (Well, an indie title, anyway. There's no way Microwave Simulator is going Triple-A.) You must carefully read the instructions, enter the correct numbers into the keypad, and hope and pray your microwave didn't over/undercook your food.
I've mastered some foods down to a science. For instance, a Jimmy Dean Egg White English Muffin Sandwich gets set to 90 seconds at 30 percent power, then 60 seconds at 100 percent power (technically 55 seconds, since my microwave has a high wattage).
Pro tip: You can microwave food at two different power levels without resetting it! Press the power level button to set the first level. Then set the time you wish to cook it. After that, press the power level button again to set a new level for a second cooking phase! Then set the cooking time for the second phase. Finally, sit at your computer and wonder what your dull meandering life has come to.
In short, if it has precise button presses in a specific order, it's definitely a QTE.
2 Tapping Your Credit Card At The Store
Is it just me, or is the credit card tap the most satisfying shopping experience known to humankind? Forget the clunky chip insertion or the archaic days of swiping. Instead, with just one tap, I hear a satisfying beep and see my money dwindle away. Sometimes I wonder if my love for the card tap is the primary reason I'm broke.
So, let's review the QTE checklist:
- Mundane yet specific task:
- Requires decent timing:
- Haptic feedback:
Not a requirement, but heck yeah!
I think I made my point.
1 Rushing To Catch A Seat On The Train
Here's a charming story of a Long Islander for you. A magical network of tracks between the island and New York City exists called the Long Island Railroad (LIRR for short). Every day, between the peak hours of 4-8 PM, swathes of anxious, pushy, loud people called commuters gather in an underground hub called Pennsylvania Station.
Then, the commuters all wait around at the same gate, even though there are several less crowded ones, and ogle at an enchanted screen called the schedule. Finally, a mysterious voice shouts a secret code called a track number every five minutes. This mysterious number casts a spell on the commuters, causing them to rush and trample each other to the designated train track without regard for others, themselves, or their surroundings.
The fastest commuters get to choose their seat on the train. However, the slow commuters must stand in the train aisles. Or worse, they must awkwardly ask a random stranger if they can sit in the seat next to them. It's a time-honored ritual that has become custom to us.
Okay, now that my long-winded anecdote is out of the way, I can establish that getting your own seat on the train is a hassle no matter where you live. So the obstacle behind this task alone makes it a fantastic QTE. Catching a seat on the train is the QTE that happens later in the game when you're long past the tutorials. Its conditions are unforgiving, and failing can lead to disastrous consequences.
However, most of the time, it leads me to eat a slice or two at Rose's Pizza while I wait for peak hours to end because I'm just not in the mood today.
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