No Man's Sky has been described as a good “podcast game”, suggesting it's good but only when paired with another activity, something else to also entertain you, or possibly distract you from something that is actually monotonous and a bit tedious. But are those always bad things, and do we need the extra distraction?
Of course lots of games, heck most of them feature a bunch of repetitive tasks for the player to complete. Hopefully alongside those there is an interesting narrative that you want to see the conclusion of to keep you moving along, or satisfying challenges to overcome, systems to master, or whatever else might ignite your gaming interest.
Some games though, it's more about letting your lizard brain take over. With gameplay that is more of a reflex than calculated strategy.
Games like Destiny, where doing daily bounties or running around areas to collect crafting resources never really puts you in much danger, especially if you're high enough level. Planting and harvesting in Stardew Valley, or fighting in the mines, is all pretty tedious work that is repeated over and over. Surviving races in Trackmania is often easiest when you don't think about it too much and can get out of your own head. A classic is the Diablo series, right-clicking your way through dungeons without too much thought apart from possibly to check on any new gear that drops.
That's not to say that is all those games have to offer, Destiny has raids and hard missions, Stardew Valley has town events and times where you need to concentrate and plan etc. But for those periods where the game is effectively being run by your autopilot, the rest of your brain is alone with itself and free to decompress.
People play for lots of reasons, for many of them games offer a way to relax. Instead of going out for a walk or taking a long bath, instead they do what many would describe as boring. Often for inordinate amounts of time. And it lets their conscious minds take a back seat, to take stock of things, to process and problem solve.
Maybe No Man's Sky presents a bit too much contemplative time for some people. For others it might be just what they need when they get home after work, a bit of mindless tedium to see out the day. Luckily games of all shapes, sizes and tempos are coming out all over the place, all the time.
So some players may fill this time with podcasts, perhaps trying to be efficient with their personal time. Not everyone has a long commute or a job where one can listen to a podcast at the same time.
But try these games without the extra distraction, allow your brain some time to take a break and work through some things. Maybe you'll come out the other side refreshed, knowing yourself a little better.
Or perhaps you'll get extremely bored and hate the game and me.